The animals are commonly referred to as the African dog, the painted dog or scientifically as the Lycon Pictus. Interestingly enough, the wild dog is not part of the dog family at all! The wild dog can be found in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana… Zimbabwe boasts one of the largest wild dog populations; over several hundred dogs can be found in the Zimbabwean National Parks and the wild dog research station!
The wild dog population diminished from 500 000 to just over 3 000 over the past 10+ years … The species decreased dramatically for a variety of reasons, such as; hunting, snares, poaching, road-kills and bounty hunters. The wild dog was also seen as a pest on farms and was consequently hunted and killed. These cruel deaths as well as the diminishing wild dog population are the main reasons for the existence of the wild dog research station.
There is a common misconception that the wild dog is actually wild (angry, aggressive and dangerous); in actual fact they are not as ‘wild’ as other safari animal. For example; most animals that hunt ‘freely’ live by the concept that only the strongest survive…. the wild dogs will hunt and return to their pack and feed the ill and the sick animals first. With this misunderstood “wild” perception the wild dog was forced near to extinction….
The Painted Dog Conservation organization located in Zimbabwe is one of the few successful wildlife organizations in Zimbabwe. They have effectively re-introduced and rehabilitated many wild dogs into the National parks in Zimbabwe. The painted dog conservation group has achieved many wonderful results, such as; removed over a 1000 snares, fitted wild dogs with special dog collars that prevents their death in the snares, decreased road mortalities’, signed a cease fire with farmers, rehabilitated orphaned wild dogs, increased the dog population, set up a community conservation centre at Hwange National Park and signed off on special legislation to protect the Wild Dogs (Parks and Wildlife Act).
Wild dogs can run up to 66 km/hr and weigh anything between 17 – 36 kg. These painted dogs have become a rare sighting… However, visiting the educational centre in Zimbabwe will help to support their cause; they accept donations and all of the funds charged at the centre go directly towards the rehabilitation and protection of the wild dogs in Zimbabwe.