The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo. The Hills have formed over 2,000 million years ago with molten rock erupting across the landscape — this has eroded to produce smooth ‘whaleback dwalas’ and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation.
Zimbabwe: Painted Dog Conservation
The Painted or African Wild Dog, was once common throughout Africa, today it is endangered due to habit loss and access to food sources
We were staying in a resort very close to the main gate of Hwange National Park, Main Camp in Zimbabwe. As we were checking into the resort we picked up a pamphlet on the Painted Dog Conservation visitor centre and made a decision to go there during our stay.
It turned out to be only a few kilometres from the main entrance to Hwange on the road towards the main highway.
So, one morning we had to pick up some provisions for the next stage of our Zimbabwe road trip and on the way back we decided to head in the visitor centre to find out more about the painted dogs.
The main building itself was circular and had a tall, pitched roof. Somebody later told us this was modelled on the buildings of the famous Zimbabwe Great Ruins. Inside we got a great welcome and given a bit of history of the conservation programme and guided into the main exhibition room. On the walls of this circular room were 7 paintings all done by a local artist that told the story of a single painted dog from birth through to adulthood. Along with each painting was a written description of the story and information panels covering the zoology and behaviours of the painted dog, the impact of people on these beautiful and misunderstood animals and what is being done to conserve them. At the end of the story, you learn that this story was based on a real painted dog who lived in the area. We loved it.
After visiting the exhibition room, we were given directions to the hospital and rehabilitation area they have onsite. The centre has a large enclosure where rescued animals are placed to recover before being reintroduced back into the wild. We skirted around this to another enclosure, where we meant a lovely young man who explained to us about the two painted dogs who were permanent residents at the conservation centre. Their injuries had caused permanent disabilities that meant they could not survive if they were released. One was called Lucky and the other one I can’t remember that name of. When we arrived, they were happily hiding in the shade at the back of the enclosure. So, the young man disappeared off to get some meat. When he returned, he called the painted dogs, and they came hurtling over. He lobbed the meat over the fence, and after a loud commotion, one of the dogs ended up with the meat and sat down to eat its catch. This was a great opportunity to get up close to these beautiful animals.
Karen got talking to the young man about the education of local people in wildlife conservation. He participates in the camp programmes for young people that the conservation centre runs and it turned out that in the past he was a participant in one of these camps which had got him interested in working with wildlife.
The Painted Dog Conservation
Fewer than 7,000 painted dogs are left across the entire continent.
They may not be as famous as their trunked, horned, or maned neighbours, but these painted dogs —also known as African wild or hunting dogs—are beautiful, unique, and fascinating social animals.
Painted dogs are native to Africa, and aren’t found in the wild anywhere else on the planet. They live in small pockets across a handful of countries including Zimbabwe, the home of Painted Dog Conservation. There are roughly 700 painted dogs in Zimbabwe, and the conservation works with local populations of both humans and dogs—via conservation, education, and outreach programs—to help them not only survive
Planning your visit to the Painted Dog Conservation
|Phone:||+263 77 216 2852|
|Fees:||Free to visit but donations welcome|
Best time to visit Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park has distinct seasons, and whether the comfort level of the climate is what determines when you visit, we give you the relevant information below.
Winter Months – Mid May, June, July, early August, although the days are warm with beautiful blue skies, the evenings can get extremely cold and temperatures below freezing are not uncommon, so definitely bring warm clothing. It’s cold I promise you!
Summer months – September through to May. Hot to extremely hot days and warm evenings. Daytime temperatures can go up to 32 ° C (approx 90 ° F), usually, some time in October which is the hottest month of the year.
Rainy season – Generally between late November and April although the occasional rain can occur out of these dates. The showers provide relief from the high summer temperatures.
Best Game Viewing Months
August, September, October and early November are by far the best months for game viewing in this park. Water becomes extremely scarce and the animals congregate around the few pumped waterholes. Sitting patiently and quietly at one of these water holes will reward you with very good game viewing.
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