Happy New Year to all our readers and supporters. I would like to start this post by thanking all those who have supported us during 2009. Your donations have really helped to get us through some sticky financial patches and have made a very real difference to the conservation of the wild dogs. We couldn’t have done what we have without you.
I also want to welcome those relatively new to this blog; thank you for your interest and I hope you continue to enjoy the site over 2010.
We have very exciting plans for 2010 – ambitious and challenging, but with your support and the continued dedication of the team in Zimbabwe we believe we can meet our goals. We plan to focus on three main branches of conservation this year; environmental education, vaccination campaigns in domestic dogs to prevent the spread of rabies and canine distemper to the wild dogs, and increased investment in anti-poaching.
We aim to expand our current environmental education efforts signifcantly this year, with more schools being included in our program, teacher training workshops planned and the hiring of a local environmental education officer. We believe environmental education is crucial to any long term conservation initiatives and that well designed, long-term and sustainable education programs are extremely important.
Together with vets from the Aware Trust, we plan to carry out vaccination campaigns in the domestic dogs surrounding key wildlife areas in the south-east lowveld of Zimbabwe where we work. Not only will this considerably reduce the threat to the wildlife from diseases such as rabies and canine distemper, it also has significant health benefits for the domestic dog and human populations. We also plan to vaccinate as many wild dogs as possible against rabies over the forthcoming year (thanks again to those who donated funds to help buy the vaccines).
Snaring is one of the major causes of death for wild dogs in Zimbabwe. In 2009, over 80% of recorded wild dog mortality was due to snaring. Many other dogs did not immediately die from the snares, but carried them around their necks or legs, suffering from horrific injuries. And it is by no means just wild dogs; animals of all species are killed in a terrible way by these indiscriminate snares, in unsustainable numbers. We plan to help support and expand current anti-poaching efforts, and specifically to focus on keeping wild dog home ranges and den site areas free from snares. This is the sort of thing we are trying to prevent…
We will also be working more in Gonarezhou National Park next year, with the aim of trying to understand why the wild dog population (and the lion population) is so low there.
I hope you will stick with us during 2010 and I will do my best to keep you updated with our progress in these and other areas.
With best wishes from all of us at the Zimbabwe Wild Dog Project for a peaceful and happy 2010.