David Kuvawoga is the Operations manager at Painted Dog Conservation, and a Fellow of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL). [1]

Personal Details

Grew up at Umtchibi Camp, in Hwange National Park.

No other information could be found on his age, place of birth, or family.

School / Education

2004 to 2010 - Bachelor of Technology Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology.

Service / Career

2006 to 2014 - Estate Manager, Glenburn lodge, (Kromdraai wildlife conservancy), South Africa.
2015 to Present (2020) - Operations Manager, Painted Dog Conservation, Hwange.
2019 – Present – Fellow, Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL), Jacksonville, Florida, USA. [2]


A visitor to Hwange National Park in 2016 claims the highlight of the holiday was an afternoon where she accompanied Painted Dog Conservation’s operations manager David Kuvawoga and veterinarian Ishmael Makamba to free a wild dog from a snare. She was upset to see how little equipment and medication the veterinarian had at his disposal, yet he remained so passionate about his job. Under normal circumstances he would put the animal down, but had to try and save this one because it’s an endangered species.

This story had a happy ending. The dog that was caught in the snare, subsequently named Spooner, made a good recovery and could hunt again. The Painted Dog Conservation anti-poaching unit removed some of the snares and they’re anxiously awaiting the birth of new pups – the pack’s alpha female is pregnant. [3]

In October 2018, David Kuvawoga spoke at the launch of “Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog’s Life” at the WCN Fall Expo in San Francisco, USA. It can be watched through this link. [2] [4]

An article in March 2019 talks about poaching in the Hwange region, it’s impact on nearby communities, and spirited and coordinated efforts by the government and its partners to curb the crime. Although official government figures show a decline in poaching in the country overall, a visit to the region has revealed that poaching activities continue to harm surrounding communities. Zimbabwe has almost 84 000 elephants, exceeding the carrying capacity of 50 000. Almost half of the elephants are in the Hwange region. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZimParks), working with partners, say they have managed to control the rampant poaching activities and last year only approximately 20 elephants were lost as compared to 300 in 2013.

Hwange National Park has many luxury safari lodges for foreign tourists, but despite their expensive price tags, many neighbouring communities are still impoverished. Chief Nelukoba Dingane of the Mabale area, a community in the wildlife corridor adjacent to the park, said some people in his community were trying hard to fight poaching while others are not motivated to do so. as they feel they were not meaningfully or financially benefiting from the local resource. “Just two days ago a problem elephant, one which strays into people’s homesteads and sometimes destroys fields among other destructions, was killed but the bulk of the meat was taken away.” He said he started seeing an increase in poaching about five years ago, but that in recent months and years the crime had significantly decreased.

Many of the poachers are linked to foreign-driven syndicates who hire members of the community to help them track the animals. Most of the poachers come through Zambia and some are even arrested although others are evasive in their operations. They work with our people who are just given money for beer, but the poachers from Zambia get a lot of money. They get US dollars.

Other members of the same community run a voluntary anti-poaching unit and collaborate with a non-profit organisation, Painted Dog Conservation. Community members patrol the area to check if there are snares planted, waylaying the suspected poachers to apprehend them by using patrol dogs. They use social media apps like WhatsApp groups to spread information. Painted Dog Conservation operations manager David Kuvawoga says the partnership with villagers in fighting poaching is paying off. Since 2001, almost 30 000 snares (wire traps) had been removed. They also use data logging technology which includes the use of GPS for monitoring poaching activities. “Poachers seem to graduate from subsistence…if he sees that it is working, he moves up until they deal in ivory and others, so we need to tame them before they graduate.”

Safari Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) leader Emmanuel Fundira says poaching in the country is being driven by demand from outside, mainly the Asian continent. Poaching rings come from as far away as the Middle East and Asia. Foreigners bribe their way in the system to take out the ivory from the country, moving it first from Hwange into major centres like Bulawayo or Harare. The country’s former first lady Grace Mugabe was in 2018 accused of abusing her position and colliding with others in poaching. The mandatory sentence for poaching is nine years in jail, but Kuvawoga said the judiciary was handing down leaner sentences and letting them down in the fight against poaching. [5]

Further Reading

[Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders] (EWCL) http://wildlifeleaders.org/

  1. Painted Dog/Meet The Team, Painted Dog, Published: 22 April 2020, Retrieved: 24 April; 2020
  2. Linked In, Linked In, Retrieved: 24 April 2020
  3. There’s hope in Hwange, Press Reader, Published: 1 October 2016, Retrieved: 24 March 2020
  4. Launch of Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog’s Life at WCN Fall Expo, Painted Wolf Foundation, Published: 14 October 2018, Retrieved: 24 April 2020
  5. Foreign poaching syndicates wreak havoc in Hwange, The Standard, Published: 18 March 2019, Retrieved: 24 April 2020