The Story of “Snare”, a special African wild dog…..


In the year of 2008, we spent much of our time observing a pack of African hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the south of the Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe.

Consisting of four adults, four yearlings and, initially, more than nine puppies, this pack had had more than its share of tragedy, including a python attack!

The young female, “Snare”, was so called because when we first saw the adult dogs, she had a wire snare tight around her neck, causing a gaping wound. She was difficult to approach since the pack had not yet denned down, still pursuing their nomadic way of life.

Snare with wire on her neck

Snare with wire on her neck _ photo by Lin Barrie

The Alpha female was visibly pregnant, and obviously hunting for a suitable den site.

All we could do was to keep alert for occasional sightings of the dogs, as our local research and conservation team, African Wildlife Conservation Fund,  had not yet managed to put a tracking collar on any dogs in this particular pack…

I truly became discouraged-Snare’s wound was so traumatic that it seemed she could not possibly survive if we were unable to remove the vicious wire.

her pain filled eyes said it all....

her pain filled eyes said it all…. Photo by Lin Barrie

At last, scouts from the African wild dog research and monitoring team, African Wildlife Conservation Fund, (AWCF), located a den site and we were able to begin to visit the dogs, slowly habituating them to our presence, and discovering that they had at least nine fat pups ensconced in a warthog burrow. 

As always I sketched and painted the social lives of these wonderful wild dogs, always a fascination for me and inspiration for my art.

Joyful hours were spent watching the new family, but we struggled to coordinate a darting team in the first few days.

the Alpha female and her new pups...

the Alpha female and her new pups… sketch by Lin Barrie

Each day I would watch poor Snare struggling to breathe and keep up with her pack. She resolutely trailed after them on every hunt, interacting as best she could with her boisterous siblings-always thinner than the rest and staying away from the new babies, unlike her sisters. Her siblings, in turn, cleaned her terrible wound and chaperoned her constantly. She tried hard to jump and play with them before evening hunts, but was always subdued in comparison to their exuberance.

Snare"s brother tries to remove the wire snare from her neck...

Snare”s brother tries to remove the wire snare from her neck… sketch by Lin Barrie

Another tragedy then hit the dogs-a huge python found the burrow, whether by intent or accident we will never know, and overnight it ate many of the pups-leaving only four, whom the Alpha female immediately relocated to another den close by.

only four puppies left..

only four puppies by Lin Barrie

After some aborted attempts to dart Snare, (because she was so clever at staying just out of dart gun range!!), eventually we got lucky and immobilized her, with the help of Reuben from the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, and Graham Connear of Hammond Ranch.

Rueben and Graham at work on poor Snare...

Rueben and Graham at work on poor Snare…

Once Graham had darted “Snare”, the pink dart made it  easy to see where she fell….

the pink tranquilliser dart

the pink tranquilliser dart

Removing the wire, we found that it had begun to cut into her trachea, thank goodness still a small hole. Cleaning the wound as best we could, we administered antibiotics and left her to recover.

removing the terrible wire

removing the terrible wire- photo by Lin Barrie

Clive and Reuben admire their handiwork…

Clive, Rueben and Snare

Clive, Rueben and Snare- Photo by Lin Barrie

Snare’s paw, gently held in my hand….

Snare"s elegant paw...

Snare”s elegant paw… Photo by Lin Barrie

We watched over her until she recovered from the anesthetic and wobbled away from the area, eagerly accompanied by her siblings who had call waited for her at a discreet distance while we worked on her.

Over the next few days I saw a transformation that was wondrous to behold-she went from strength to strength, daily interacting more and more with the four tiny pups and hunting enthusiastically with her pack.

On the Hunt

On the Hunt- sketch by Lin Barrie

Snare was a new animal, the breath still faintly whistling through the now healing hole in her neck, but her eyes bright and her enthusiasm boundless.

She became a leader of the hunt, often being the one to return first with the Alpha male, both bloody-necked from a successful kill, to regurgitate food for her mother, the Alpha female, and  the four new pups.

Here is my portrait painting of her, since used as a T shirt design as well.

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My sketch of Snare, playing with her siblings, reflects her joy…

snare and siblings

snare and siblings, sketch by Lin Barrie

Inspired by her story, my many oil paintings and sketches show Snare interacting before a hunt with her siblings, a symbol of the stamina and will that these dogs show in the face of adversity. She now had the strong potential to be a leader, an Alpha female with pups of her own in the future.

Snare  was my inspiration for a large oil painting, auctioned through Tusk Trust and Painted Wolf Wines, to raise money for African wild dog conservation  and to become a label for  “Pictus One”, a limited edition of Painted Wolf Wine…

Snare and her brothers-original painting for Painted Wolf Wines and Tusk Trust

Snare and her brothers-original painting by Lin Barrie for Painted Wolf Wines and Tusk Trust

The wine labels looking good! and tasting even better….

Pictus One

Pictus One

My paintings below celebrate Snare and her release from the deadly wire,  but her haunted eyes also emphasize the ongoing threat of wire snares set for bushmeat, which the wild dogs inadvertently run into when hunting at speed…

“Wild Dog Snare and snare wire under a full moon”, acrylic on canvas diptych, (2 x 2 feet each panel), plus two smaller works, each called “Pep Rally”:

Close view of “Sketch Pep rally III”, acrylic on canvas paper, A3:

“Sketch Pep rally III”, by Lin Barrie, acrylic on canvas paper, A3

The Story of Snare has since then truly inspired some great collaborations, such as the Tshirt printed range that Bertie Bondi of Canned Clothing has created, using my painting of Snare as inspiration.

Fun t shirts, celebrating the endangered African wild dog……

Canned Clothing, T shirts celebrating “Snare”
Snare, painting by Lin Barrie

In my artworks, Snare still has those haunted eyes, memories of the deadly wire tight on her neck, but her eyes reflect also also the wise and gentle light of a mature female in her prime, a mother, a mentor, and a dedicated chaperone to generations of puppies.

“Snare” the iconic wild dog female, whatever Happy Hunting Ground she now roams, is an everlasting symbol of resilience and conservation success!

African Wildlife Conservation Fund do endlessly great work in field conservation for Lycaon pictus, our endangered, social and fascinating wild dogs.

Plus their community outreach and education programmes make a real difference to rural communities living with wildlife in our South Eastern Lowveld of Zimbabwe…

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About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in adventure travel, africa, African child, African Safari, African wild dogs, african wildlife, african wildlife conservation fund, animal rights, anti poaching, art, art collaboration, art on clothes, beauty, bio diversity, citizen science, clive stockil, coats of many colours, community conservation, conservation, conservation education, conservation news, dogs, drawing, eco-tourism, ecosystem, education, endangered, endangered species, environment, family, landscape, Life Drawing, Lin Barrie Art, Lin Barrie publication, lowveld, painted dog conservation, Painted Dogs, painted Dogs, Painted Wolf Foundation, Painted Wolf Wines, painted wolves, paintings, photography, Poaching, predators, prey, pups, safari, Save Valley Conservancy, Senuko, sharing, sketching, travel, Uncategorized, wild dogs, wilderness, wine, wines, wolves, zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Parks, Zimbabwean Artist and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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