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Thank you for helping an African icon

December is nearly upon us,which means it’s almost time for this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge.We’ll be revealing more about our new campaign soon, but in the meantime here are details of how the funds you raised last year have been used to help support the conservation of Africa’s Endangered painted wolves.

Beth and Giles neutering domestic dogs whilst entertaining a crowd

In September 2019 a veterinary team travelled to Zimbabwe, where vital vaccination clinics were held in a dozen local villages. We have been providing the clinical expertise for these clinics since 2010, usually once every two years. This visit was made possible thanks to the donations we received during the 2018 Big Give Christmas Challenge which enabled us to provide expertise, vaccines and other medications needed to make the clinics a success.

Working with our partners on the ground, Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), the veterinary team was able to neuter well over 100 domestic animals in just four days. More than 1500 dogs were vaccinated. By protecting them from disease threats like rabies and canine distemper virus, we can significantly reduce the risk that domestic animals will pass on these diseases to the wild painted wolves they live alongside. This is vital if the painted wolves are to be saved from extinction.  

The mobile clinics are very popular and our vets rose to the challenges of working out in the bush with minimal equipment. In addition to helping protect both domestic animals and their human owners, the clinics are an opportunity for PDC to educate people about the urgent need to save the painted wolves, and how keeping their own animals healthy has a vital role to play in reaching that goal.

The veterinary team was also able to help with the transfer of a pack of seven painted wolves from the rehabilitation centre run by PDC to a new life in a game reserve at Mana Pools in southern Zimbabwe. The team assisted with the anaesthesia, blood sampling and disease prevention treatment of the animals ahead of their big move.

You can see more about the move in this short film.

One of the puppies had a badly broken leg and the team were able to remove the solid caste, check the break and give her a more flexible one that would enable the leg to grow. Advice continued to be given, when asked for, remotely once the veterinary team had returned to the UK. Happily, she made a full recovery.

Sadly the threat to painted wolves from diseases like canine distemper virus remains very real. Just a matter of months ago,seven packs of painted wolves in Kenya were wiped out by distemper, while the researcher who had been following them for months was powerless to help. And as humans continue to encroach on their habitat, the painted wolves are also threatened by other predators, like hyenas, risk becoming road kill and are often caught in poachers’ snares. It’s this combination of factors which has resulted in their numbers plummeting over the last century, from half a million to just six and a half thousand.

Looking to the future, WVI is working to better understand the wider disease threats to painted wolves. With this aim in mind, our vets took over 150 blood samples from the domestic animals they saw during this year’s clinics. These will be used as part of a wider on-going study into disease in Zimbabwe’s painted wolves, other wild carnivores and domestic animals. This should hopefully provide a bigger picture of the threat from disease and how it can be better mitigated going forward.


Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign last year.

Together we can help the painted wolf fight back.