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AFC Flag Expedition #5:
Painting the Painted Dogs - Artistic Study of An Endangered Hunter
Expedition Artist: Alison Nicholls
Purpose: To raise public awareness of and provide tangible support for the plight of the endangered Painted Dogs.
Location: Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Africa
Scheduled For: August 2007
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About Alison Nicholls
About the Painted Dog
About Zimbabwe
Artist Commentary
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View the Photos...
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Artist Acknowledgments
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In late August 2007, Nicholls will embark on a six-week expedition to Hwange National Park in northwestern Zimbabwe to locate Painted Dogs and create a detailed artistic field study of the dogs and their natural habitat. The name Painted Dog is derived from the Latin name for the species Lycaon pictus. African Wild Dog is the more commonly used name, but this has a negative connotation and gives the impression of a feral species, failing to recognize the unique and ancient ancestry of the animal.  

The overall goal of this expedition and its related activities will be to raise public awareness of and provide tangible support for the plight of the endangered Painted Dogs. In the process, the project will also serve to support and draw attention to key stakeholders in this endeaver, including the Artists for Conservation and its Flag Expeditions Program, the Painted Dogs Conservation Project (PDC) and the artwork of Alison Nicholls. To achieve this, conducting a comprehensive publicity campaign involving print media, TV and Radio, Internet exposure, a slide lecture series and a traveling exhibition. In addition, Alison will be working to raise funds directly for the PDC through the donation of artwork, a slide lecture series and a traveling exhibition.

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Key objectives of the Expedition will include:

  • Track, locate and observe Painted Dogs in in Hwange National Park and on Starvation Island, as well as dogs located at PDC Rehabilitation Center.
  • Conduct a detailed artistic field study of Painted Dogs and their natural habitat that will form the basis for a series of studio watercolor paintings completed after the expedition.
  • Document the Expedition in a comprehensive, informative, colorful and lively manner, through a variety of media, including
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the PDC project and facilities.

Painted Dogs are a highly nomadic species that, like many top predators, have been regarded as vermin and eradicated accordingly. Their numbers have dropped dramatically from over 300,000 in 1900 to approximately 3,000 today. They have vanished from 25 of the 39 countries forming their historical range and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources (IUCN) list of endangered species.  Zimbabwe contains one of the last viable dog populations and the main threats to their survival today are snares intended for other species, disease, and road traffic accidents.

Painted Dogs are also highly social. They are cooperative hunters and the loss of even one pack member can have a devastating effect on the entire pack. Every member of the pack is involved in caring for pups once they leave the den and even sick and injured pack members are fed and cared for by their companions.

Nicholls will base herself at the Painted Dog Conservation project (PDC) in Hwange National Park where she will sketch the dogs and other species in the area. She will accompany PDC staff tracking the dogs and will also learn about the community projects and educational programs which are an important aspect of the PDC operation.   Painting the Painted Dogs an artistic study of an endangered hunter, will provide an opportunity for Nicholls to continue to exercise her creative talents and support a much-maligned species. 

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