Tatenda Noreen Muchopa, Painted Dog Research Trust, Zimbabwe
*-Organization: Painted Dog Research Trust
*-street address: Conservation Ecology Center, Sizinda, Matebeleland North
*-mailing address, if different: 15 Ashby Glen, Glen Lorne, Harare
*-Work phone with country and area code: 00263774665390
*-Main email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
*-Organization Web site URL : painteddogresearch.org
*-ORGANIZATION’S WORK: Painted Dog Research Trust has the mandate to promote sound scientific research and integrity for the conservation of painted dogs in Zimbabwe and also to train young conservationists like myself. An establishing NGO, we are based in Sizinda, adjacent to the Victoria Falls National Park and we are within the KAZA TFCA. The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or KAZA TFCA, is potentially the world’s largest conservation area, spanning five southern African countries; Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, centered around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area (I have included a map of the area in the application package). The KAZA TFCA is home to an estimated 24% of the world’s remaining wild dog, Lycaon pictus, population (here painted dogs are referred to as African wild dogs which is an alternate name for the species) (Woodroffe 2012) making it a critical area for the long term survival of the species.The Painted Dog Research Trust is led by Dr. Gregory S. A. Rasmussen who has been exclusively researching the painted dogs since 1989, making his work the longest and most comprehensive study exclusively dedicated to this unique and endangered carnivore. He established Painted Dog Conservation in 1992 and he was the research director until February 2014 when he moved the research operations to Sizinda as Painted Dog Research Trust. Our work includes putting up warning signs at known painted dog crossing places especially busy highways, to warn motorists to slow down to avoid hitting painted dogs as they try to cross, painted dog pack monitoring using GPS collar data , painted dog photograph identification databases and radio tracking, faecal matter collection for DNA and stress hormone analysis in collaboration with foreign partners such as the St Louis Zoo, Missouri, United States and The University of Oxford, England, United Kingdom. The collars have features such as reflective ribbons which make the dogs more visible when crossing busy roads, steel plates that protect the dog from strangulation in the event that it is caught in a wire snare. All the work being carried out by Painted Dog Research Trust ties in with the broader KAZA TFCA objective, Research and Monitoring for conservation of painted dogs as highlighted in the KAZA Wild Dog Strategy (drafted November 2013). Dr Rasmussen was part of the panel of wild dog experts and policy makers from the five KAZA countries invited to draft this strategy but a colleague and I attended on his behalf. His work has seen the Painted Dog population rise from 400-450 in 1987 to around 750 in 2008 and this has not occurred elsewhere in Africa during the same period. The work we are carrying out on wildlife corridor identification is especially useful for transfrontier painted dog conservation and GIS and satellite image analysis are key components in this project.
*-ROLE IN THE ORGANIZATION: I am a Graduate research intern, tasked to do all map work, develop landscape analysis and layers for species modeling using GIS and database management skills. I have been working with Dr Rasmussen as my mentor since January 2013 while he was research director at Painted Dog Conservation and I am working under him at Painted Dog Research Trust with the same post. During this period I have managed all GPS collar downloads and done active fieldwork collecting data while out on camping excursions with the rest of the research team. Dr Rasmussen gave me full time access to a GIS station where I carried out all of my GIS work as the GIS person for the research team. My work includes the stitching QDS maps together to pull out more accurate and detailed layers (roads, rivers, land use) for the whole Hwange-Zambezi region, creation of maps using dog collar GPS data in order to track the dogs more effectively (overlaying GPS fixes with the QDS maps); this was key in retrieving a collar from Cochise, a painted dog which died after being snared in Mozambique having dispersed from Mana Pools (upper Zambezi region, the map is included). The GPS collars are very expensive so it is very important for us to retrieve any lost collars for refurbishment because these collars could save another dog’s life. I also actively took part in the capturing and collaring of a native pack of painted dogs (the Gombe pack) which we are currently tracking using GPS collar downloads. I also liase with external research partners on behalf of the trust (WWF Zimbabwe, Parks and Wildlife Management, University of Zimbabwe Earth Observation Center) with regards to any GIS collaborations. My main focus now is extracting useful layers form spot imagery (2.5m per pixel Spot images 2010: May, June, July) such as vegetation, terrain, elevation, and watersheds to map the location of existing and possible wildlife corridors.
Please describe the history of your personal work in conservation and GIS: I grew up in the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare but somehow I developed a great passion for all animals and nature. Soon after high school in January 2009, I joined the local SPCA as a volunteer vet assistant. My work there included nursing invalid domestic animals like dogs, cats and pigs. The vet also allowed me to watch while he performed surgical procedures such as spaying and amputations and I think this is what made me decide that I did not want to be a veterinarian surgeon. I stayed with the SPCA until I started my undergrad at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe in August 2009. On my fresh man holiday, I did an internship with Mukuvisi Woodlands Association in Harare. As an intern I shadowed and helped the estate manager with the day to day running of the wildlife enclosures and game park, monitored the animals’ general well-being and educated the public and school children by giving information on various environmental issues at the education center and organized educational bush camps, horse safari rides and walking safari tours. I was awarded a merit award in my second year in university which was a study abroad program at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. Afterwards I worked as an animal care intern at Binder Park Zoo, Battle Creek, Michigan were I performed outdoor duties including the daily feeding and care of domestic and exotic animals, cleaning and maintaining animal exhibits. I learnt how to maintain accurate records, communicate effectively using a hand-held radio and also acquired skills on how to relate positively with diverse groups of people including guests, staff and volunteers. After returning to Zimbabwe I completed the final year of university and graduated with an upper second class Honors degree in Natural Resources Management, majoring in wildlife management in June 2012. In October of the same year I started volunteering at the Wildlife Veterinary Unit, Harare, Zimbabwe. Here my duties included working in the laboratories helping with cleaning and storage of laboratory equipment and samples, assisting in the issuing of various wildlife related permits such as movement permits and medical permits, aiding the veterinarian on field excursions and laboratory procedures, carrying out various front office tasks such as document filling, switchboard operation and reception of visitors. It was during this period that I found out about the diploma in Applied GIS and Remote Sensing which I completed in October 2014. In December 2012, I got in contact with Dr Rasmussen then moved to Hwange to work in painted dog research January 2013 whilst working on the GIS diploma part time. Naturally I then fell into the role of the GIS person at the organization, testing my skills and training working any GIS related projects with regards to research work.