Wild dogs in southern Africa are currently one of the continent’s most endangered species. Known locally as painted dogs, there are now only 660 packs of these distinctive free-roaming canines left. A recent online crowdsourced fundraiser, which will donate proceeds to the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, is stepping up efforts to help address the situation by providing money to further anti-poaching initiatives, rabies vaccinations, and essential community outreach.
Here’s what you need to know about the dogs and the fundraising mission.
First up, let the record note that these are some remarkably eye-catching dogs. Check out the Dalmatian-esque spotting on this lil’ pup. Each dog’s unique markings also help conservation workers tell them apart from each other.
This grown-up guy, on the other hand, clearly used all sorts of fancy striping filters when he was designing his pattern in Photoshop. The classic color scheme of painted dogs is black, white and tab.
At this point, you might have also noticed another traditional characteristic of painted dogs — their special cup-shaped ears. (Alternative, non-genetic theory: Some wag dumped a bunch of Mickey Mouse ears hats over in Africa at some point and the dogs took a liking to them.)
When out hunting together, African wild dogs are renowned as one of the most efficient large carnivores in Africa. (It’s said that they claim the most effective kill-rate of any predator out there.) Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them being targeted by human hunters, who often use barbaric snare traps to stop them in their tracks.
When not out sourcing today’s meal, painted dogs are playful pooches who take delight at frolicking in group sessions. Water-based activities are a must.
Although as this pack elder demonstrates, every vigorous play session should be rewarded with some quiet contemplative downtime.
African wild dogs are all about strength in numbers. Check out the size of this particular pack of young ‘uns.
Now to the fundraising part. The current campaign is aiming to secure $50,000, which will go directly to the African Wildlife Conservation Fund’s core operating costs.
On a day-to-day basis, that means money to actively reduce poaching and rescue painted dogs who have been snared in traps, to improve research on wild dog behavior, and also help raise education and employment standards for nearby communities.