Botswana has large numbers of semi-owned and free roaming domestic dogs and donkeys. The Maun area alone supports an estimated 25,000 donkeys and 40,000 domestic dogs. These animals represent a significant animal welfare issue in a country where animal cruelty laws have not been updated since 1966 and where more than a quarter of the human population still live below the poverty line. The large number of domestic dogs also represent a disease risk to both humans and wildlife, in particular with respect to rabies and canine distemper which have decimated wild dog populations in other parts of Africa in the past. 

BPCT works in partnership with  Maun Animal Welfare Society (MAWS) to provide free veterinary services from both a clinic in Maun and a mobile outreach unit that has travelled the length and breadth of Botswana, sterilising and vaccinating cats and dogs to reduce breeding and disease, fitting reflective ear tags to donkeys (in an attempt to reduce the night-time traffic accidents which commonly cause human and donkey deaths) and running an educational program that six days a week, year round, visits villagers and schools to talk to them about animal welfare. 



J. Weldon “Tico” McNutt, (PhD) is the Founder and Director of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust ( He began his pioneering conservation work on African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the Okavango Delta in 1989 as a graduate student at the University of California, Davis. In the past 26 years, working in Botswana with graduate students, local staff and trainees, Tico has charted the individual life histories of hundreds of wild dogs spanning eight generations. After years of research on this previously misunderstood and persecuted species – Africa’s most endangered large carnivore-, the African wild dog is now among those most sought after by African wildlife tourists. Tico now supervises a growing team of researchers and students from around the world to fulfill BPCT’s broader mission: the conservation of all African large carnivore species. In 1996 Tico and his wife Lesley wrote the award winning book published by Smithsonian Books:“Running Wild: Dispelling the myths of the African Wild Dog”. They continue to supervise a research program and the research camp they built in 1990, and where they lived continuously for eleven years raising their two sons in the Eastern Okavango Delta. They now run BPCT from offices in the village of Maun where they have developed a Conservation Education Centre for local primary school children, a children’s wildlife education program called Coaching Conservation, and the Laboratory for Wildlife Chemistry, which is dedicated to deciphering the chemical language of territoriality of African wild dogs and other threatened wildlife species. Tico has been honoured with several awards including: the Distinguished Alumni Award for International Service in 2011 from the University of California Davis, Cal Aggie Alumni Association; the 2011 Tusk Conservation Award at the American Express Conservation Lecture Series at the Royal Geographic Society, London, UK; the 2015 Barrows Conservation Award at the Cincinnati Zoo in Cincinnati, OH. USA; and the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award, at Lakeside School, Seattle, WA. USA.

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