News & Updates
Team and volunteers with snared kudu
Early morning Kalambeza 3Cº
Team after a successful clean up
operation in ‘Chimwara’ Farm
Zimbabwe, Newsletter October 2008
As I am writing this article the sweat pours out of our bodies. Temperatures
above 35Cº in the shade and tiny Mopani bees trying to get the last fluids
(and wax..) from your eyes (and ears) Flies do the same. Patrolling under
these circumstances is a challenge!
Mosquito’s keep us ‘company’ from when the sun sets until the next morning
in our secluded camp, right on the banks of the now seasonally dry Gwaayi
River. It’s amazing to see how many types of insects seem to have no
problem at all with these dry and hot conditions.
Our 2nd bush camp is based in Chimwara. Several patrols in this area
provide evidence that this is the area most affected by poaching. We suspect
this is because it has many natural water springs. The area comprises a lot
of private farms, which makes it an ideal location to patrol from as is allows
us to monitor these independently managed areas easily, with the added
bonus of having plenty of good drinking water. This is a key factor in these
dry conditions. After 2 hours of patrolling, between 6am to 8am I had
already consumed one liter of water!
Our expectations have been met this month with the most serious poaching
activity for the year.
While in our first Camp on the Gwai River, Sifelani called me on the radio
requesting assistance with the Land Rover. His patrol had seen tracks of a
donkey drawn ‘Scotch cart’ They had found a poachers base and the skins of
9 impala’s, 2 kudu’s, 1 wildebeest and one water buck. The animals were all
snared around the same big water hole, which is actually an Oxbow Lake left
by the river when a new channel isolated it from the main flow. When the
poachers were finished with skinning and drying, they set the whole are on
fire to burn the skins and to provide a distraction covering their escape from
At this very moment one of the anti poaching members and I were at the
base, near another waterhole were we saw 2 poachers following a herd of
buffalo with domestic dogs. It was ‘Rush hour in poaching alley’!
We managed to track down the ‘scotch cart’. One of the suspects and the
vehicle full of dried animals were brought to the police. The other two
suspects were later to be arrested by the police as well. We showed the
police the scene and when we made a sweep around the water hole the
suspect showed us another 72 snares!
Almost all these snares were made from the copper and steel wire of the
telephone cables, increasing the penalty for the crime since the theft of
cables is severely punishable under Zimbabwean law.
This month we managed to remove a record braking 379 wire snares from
the bush! More than double to the previous month (161). This is half the
amount we collected during the rest of the year. Despite this we encounter
fewer and fewer tracks and signs of poachers on the ground, telling us
people are aware of the fact that we are in the area, and taking greater
precautions to remain undetected. The removal of old telephone wire (see
next paragraph) will help us positively in the future.
TELEPHONE WIRE OPERATION
In addition to our regular patrolling reported above, we have removed
obsolete telephone cables from many kilometers of old and disused
overhead pylons. We accomplished this with the assistance of 12 local men
and several of the private landowners in the Gwaai.
We would like to thank these men and the contributing stakeholders. It
makes a huge positive difference for wild life.
See you next month,
Martin & Team