Conservation. Education. Community.
DEN DISTURBANCE PREVENTION
Safari and tour operators want to give their clients the best view of wild animals. However, this comes at a cost when dealing with painted dogs as these visitations often disturb the dens with mothers and pups. This disturbance will cause the dogs to abandon the den and move the pups. Each time this happens, it puts the pups at risk and can have detrimental effects on their survival. PDRT is working with tour operators and National Parks to minimize the impact of tours on den disturbance.
Painted dogs are collared during research trips in to the field for multiple reasons. Satellite tracking collars allow researchers to follow the movements of the pack as well as generate location and movement data. Reflective collars allow the dogs to be seen more easily on the road at night with vehicle headlights and can prevent them being hit by cars. PDRT designed anti-snare collars. As they typically hunt prey within the undergrowth, they can be caught by wire snares around the neck and severely injure or kill the dogs. The anti-snare collar with its front facing prongs will snap snare wire if the dogs come across a snare in the bush.
KAZUNGULA ROAD PROJECT
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the mortality rate of vertebrate animals’ deaths have been rising at alarming rates over the last few years. Recent data collection indicate an average death toll of 4,000-8,000 animal deaths per year on the seventy kilometer road traveling from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Kazungula, Botswana. These death totals include the loss of the highly endangered carnivore, the African painted dog. Every year these packs are wiped out and no reproduction or growth of the species occurs, continuing their untimely decline. Our most recent study and efforts have been focused on our Mortality Road Mitigation Project, dedicated to decreasing the ±16 daily deaths of wildlife on/or near the road.
We have identified blind spots where “Painted Dogs - Slow Down” signs should be placed to help decrease the road kills of painted dogs (and many other species) caused by careless and speeding drivers. With Ministry of Roads permission, we erected multiple road signs and engaged in a PR campaign through the national and social media. Working with authorities, speed traps have been established and fines will be levied, especially for those that hit and kill animals with their vehicles. The effectiveness of this was monitored and showed a 6% speed reduction. With this support, there is hope to greatly reduce this senseless killing.
RESEARCH ARBORETUM FOR HABITAT RESTORATION
The PDRT research arboretum aims to support effective sustainable pocket forests of sustainable indigenous species managed by local indigenous women. From within the community, we have a pool of workers who have been trained over the years in essential conservation building skills, utilising all resources available. This will establish the first research arboretum in Northwest Zimbabwe where an extensive variety of indigenous trees and companion shrubs are researched and grown for scientific, educational, and community value.
This project teaches the investigation of tap root growth, seed weight, shape value, importance of companion planting and microbial associations among trees of different species. Understanding tap root growth with a view of selecting indigenous species that are better adapted to withstand climate change and microbial diversity will ensure resilience is developed through companion planting.
Each seed is identified, its shape value analysed using ImageJ software, and its weight measured using a microbalance to get data on minimum shape value and weight of a seed that will successfully germinate. After germination, tap root growth is recorded at different time intervals.
The project aims to help climate change mitigation, habitat restoration and increase communal livelihoods through investigation of reforestation success measures in degraded areas, creating islands of endemism through habitat restoration.
INVASIVE SPECIES COMPOSTING PROJECT SUPPORTING WOMEN
The goal of this program is to harvest exotic and allelopathic species to pilot compost making and test compost quality. Here the indigenous community, mainly female based, will be paid to harvest known exotic and invasive species with a view to make space for indigenous flora of value to the community. The harvest will be converted into compost with an aim to finding economic value for an invasive "weed species" as it is eradicated. Once it has been demonstrated that there is an economic value to this project, it is intended that a community cooperative will be established.
Currently two major identified invasives: an exotic legume species, Senna obtusifolia, and one
allelopathic tree, Terminalia sericea, will be targeted. These will be selected with the total removal of S. obtusifolia and significant reduction for T. sericea, which is not browsed by any livestock and exerts its allelopathic invasiveness to ensure no other trees are able to grow or germinate in its vicinity. The intervention will reduce competition and make way for more valuable species for community utilization and commence species diversity richness.
WATER HARVESTING PROGRAM
With ongoing droughts in Zimbabwe since 2015 as a result of climate change, water has become a most precious resource. The ability to harvest any and all rainwater in a large enough capacity, then to filter and store that water is essential to the team at the PDRT Research and Ecology Center and the surrounding community. With assistance from community members, a large water catchment was made by blasting through over twelve feet of basalt, digging out the pit, and constructing retaining walls to hold 25000 litres of water. When the water accumulates, it can then be pumped through filters and into a water tower, for use by many people. These practical applications have inspired our local community. We strive to work with individual homesteads to identify how to convert erosion gullies into life-saving water supplies. Conservation is more than just helping animals. Through community-based projects that improve quality of life, those members are more likely to support and participate in conservation efforts, producing a win-win scenario.
Find out more about these and other projects we support.