By Painted Wolf Foundation - January 11, 2019

An incredible story of rescue and release

The Call & the Capture

In late June last year, Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) received word from Mpindo, one of the villages near Hwange National Park, that a pack of painted wolves were denning in their communal land. Painted wolves sometimes kill goats, a critical source of food and income for many impoverished communities. The Mpindo villagers informed PDC that  unless the painted wolves were moved, they would be killed as the predation was just too much of a burden. It is a huge testament to PDC’s ongoing work of PDC that the villagers reported the situation instead of taking care of the situation themselves.

The villagers showed patience and understanding as Zulu (PDC’s head of anti-poaching) explained that it might take a few days to get permission and make preparations for the tricky capture and relocation of the wolves.

Due to its distance from PDC, Mpindo is not a community PDC interacts with frequently, but they knew about PDC’s work and in particular the Iganyana Children’s Bush Camp.  The camp takes in students from communities surrounding Hwange National Park and aims to create a deep love for and understanding of wildlife among these children. PDC believes that education is how you change lives and make a difference. And it is working…a village more than 100 km away knows about the camp and chose not to kill the painted wolves in their back yard.

Within a few days, ZimParks gave permission to PDC to move the wolves from Mpindo and the team, led by Peter Blinston, set out to capture the wolves. Painted wolves living alongside humans are very nervous and it was a very tense situation as the team tried to get close enough to dart the wolves.

The alpha male and female were finally darted and safely stowed in crates. The team then spent hours, digging 2-3m down into the den to retrieve the 8 pups. The entire pack was moved to PDC’s Rehabilitation Facility in Hwange where they were reunited with each other.

Life at the Centre

Snow-Tail, the alpha female (Credit: PDC)

The Rehabilitation Facility at PDC was established in 2002, with the invaluable support of John Lemon and Painted Dog Conservation Inc. The centre allows PDC to house and care for injured, sick or orphaned painted wolves until they recover enough to rejoin their families in the wild. The facility also allows PDC to house painted wolf packs that are at risk from hostile landowners and other threats, keeping them safe until a new home is found.

Mpindo pups in December at 6 months old at PDC Rehabilitation Centre (Credit: PDC)

So many painted wolves have been saved by PDC and nursed back to health at the rehabilitation facility. The Mpindo Pack, led by alpha female Snow-Tail and alpha male Jonathan, thrived and the puppies grew!



Release of the Pack

Almost six months later, in December 2018, the pack was ready to return to the wild. Among the ‘release team’ were PDC staff, John Lemon from Painted Dog Conservation Inc in Australia, 2 vets and some friends of PDC. Snow-Tail was fitted with a VHF collar, kindly donated by Wild Dogs MTB SA. Jonathan, the alpha male, was fitted with GPS collar courtesy of Painted Dog Conservation UK.

PDC Team getting last minute instructions for the release of the pack into the wild (Photo credit: PDC)

#MpindoPackRelease #FreedomVideo Credit: Pieter Huisman @eyesealife

Posted by Painted Dog Conservation on Saturday, 15 December 2018


The pack was released deep inside Hwange National Park, and PDC has continued to monitor them to see how they fare.  With many successful kills, Snow-Tail and Jonathan are doing a great job feeding and protecting their next generation.



Wonderful wildlife champions

Mpindo Primary School Grade 6 class with their teacher and Ngqabutho Moyo (Photo credit:PDC)

To thank the Mpindo community, PDC invited the Mpindo Primary School grade 6 children and Ngqabutho Moyo from Mpindo village to participate in the Iganyana Children’s Bush Camp.


You can keep up to date on how the pack is doing by following PDC on Facebook.

Want to learn more about painted wolves? Take our quiz and become Part of our Pack!