A carefully crafted enclosure has been opened at Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park this week in a continued effort to save an endangered species.
The new purpose built painted dog reserve is now home to two-year-old sisters Ayandi, Nandi and Thabo who have the run of the 8,000 square metres.
The vast enclosure is crafted to replicate their natural environment and features pools, caves, woodland and dens to make them feel at home.
The purpose designed reserve is designed to help save the African painted dogs whose numbers have dwindled from 500,000 to around 5,000 in a decade.
The three female dogs are part of the European breeding programme and will be joined by a suitable male group once they have settled in.
“Painted dogs are heading for extinction so the breeding programme is crucial to their future,” said YWP CEO John Minion. “This is a major step forward in our efforts and we are delighted to be involved in helping these beautiful animals.”
The reserve is part of a co-ordinated European plan to conserve a healthy painted dog population in captivity.
The next step for YWP will be to introduce a male dog when it is recommended by the European Studbook keeper.
“This replicates what would happen in the wild when young females will leave their pack to find new mates. The females will wander far and check out many males before choosing the ones they like the best,” said Simon Marsh, YWP’s Animal Development Manager.
“The studbook keeper selects the males and females that are compatible at a genetic level and it is up to staff at YWP to make sure their first meeting goes well and they get on.
“The new painted dog reserve has been created to mirror their environment in the wild. They are found in savannah grasslands and woodlands and love playing in waterholes. The reserve has a variety of habitats for them to explore and although they have a house to sleep in they are allowed to dig their own dens and have caves to shelter in.”
Crusading YWP has been fundraising since opening in 2009 with for painted dogs to finance vital work to save the species – holding regular events to raise money.
Greg Rasmussen from Painted Dog Research in Zimbabwe flew over specially to see the release of the painted dogs into the new reserve.
Now the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation is also supporting Fauna & Flora International (FFI) working to protect one of the last remaining strongholds of lions and wild dogs in the 42,000 square km Niassa Reserve in Mozambique. The Chuilexi Conservancy will monitor and map the population of wild dogs and lions in Chuilexi as well as illegal activity over the next three years.
The aim is to get a clearer picture of the population of wild dogs and lions within Chuilexi along with the current threats and activities affecting the species YWP puts conservation at the heart of all its activities.
Visitors come almost face to face with some of the world’s most beautiful and rare animals, including Amur leopards and tigers, giraffes, polar bears and lions.
Cheryl Williams, CEO of Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation added: “We are committed to helping the conservation of all animals but our painted dog campaign was one of our first so will always hold a special place in our hearts.”