Sarah Bonnar, UC Davis
Experiences, Honorable Mention
SAVMA's IVEC Individual Scholarship Winner
The painted dogs of Africa are strange and fascinating animals. Classified as Lycaon pictus, they are the only surviving members of the Lycaon genus; their behavior, biology, and physiology is unique among extant canid species. I’ve been captivated by the struggle of this beautiful and reclusive endangered species since I was a child, and this summer—with help from SAVMA’s IVEC Individual Scholarship, and the U.C. Davis ICC Travel Grant, without which this trip would not have been possible—I had the opportunity to spend a month working for the Painted dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe. My internship was hosted and guided by Dr. Gregory Rasmussen, the founder of the longest-running research project on Painted dogs in Zimbabwe.
As a PDRT Research Intern, I was responsible for aiding in tracking, pack monitoring, fecal sampling, and darting operations. One of the most exciting parts of the trip was when I had the opportunity to aid in the location of an entirely new pack of Painted dogs in the Fuller Forest area of Zimbabwe; this type of wildlife work was entirely new to me, and the opportunity to contribute to such an important and delicate operation was amazing, both in how it contributed to my professional education and goals, and in the personal impact working hands-on with the dogs had upon me.
We spent several days tracking the dogs back to their den. Following a tip from a local forest service tracker, patiently and slowly traversed the bumpy roads deep into the Fuller Forest area, scouring the dust for spoor. I had the chance to learn from the highly skilled PDRT staff and trackers;