News & Updates
Zimbabwe, Newsletter December 2009 - Jan & Feb 2010
The first report of 2010.
I try by all means to keep you updated per month, but sometimes there is
either not much to mention or, as it was lately, the technique plays a part as
well. Lightening struck several times this month and we are (still) without
internet connection for more than a month now.
December and January are historically the least productive in terms of snare
recovery and because of this a lot of the days off are being taken in this,
warm and wet period. February was very wet for Hwange. Clouds gather
every day and also release their precious cargo almost on a daily basis. The
bush is dense and not easy to patrol.
I mentioned the snare effectiveness in the previous (Nov.) report. The only
way to make an accurate assumption in my opinion is to accompany a
poacher on his ‘patrols’ through the bush and to see how many snares he
sets and thereafter how many snares have caught something. Do this with a
number of poachers and we have variable nr. 1. The next one is to find out
how many poachers are active in different villages and we would be a lot
more knowledgeable about what really is going on in the bush. However, as
we are a repressive force, we , ourselves, are not able to do such a thing.
Next best to estimate how effective snares actually are is just to ask different
individuals. We ask them the result of capture if they put 10 snares in an
area where they know there are a lot of animals. Most people have set some
snare in their lives so the answer can in general be taken seriously. Answers
vary between 3 up to ten animals caught within 3 days. This makes between
30%-100% effectiveness. If we look at our last annual report were we
recovered 1652 snares and we consider 30% of these snares effective this
would mean 495 animals saved that year. We can roughly state that males
and females are equally represented in these snares which means that
almost 250 females would have been saved, of which approximately 2/3
would have been able to reproduce (The rest is either too old or to young).
Harder to predict is how many snares would be set in a scenario where there
was no ALL4AP or sister organization that did something to control the
poaching. We can only assume, but if looked at the history when we first
started (PDC) where only one anti poaching team was able to recover
>3.400 snares we can only guess. That our absence would have had a large
negative effect on the wildlife is obvious.
Enough about numbers and assumptions; In the mean time the team spend
time in the bush, whilst I was hammering my brain with questions about
drugs. Not ordinary drugs, but drugs used for the immobilization of wild
animals. It was about time that I went to the only course in the world, which
is held in Zimbabwe (for vets and non vets), for the ‘Dangerous drugs
course’. If one passes the exam, you can apply for a permit that permits you
to immobilize animals. In my case mainly to remove snares from unfortunate
wildlife. After a week of sweating (literally, it was over 40C!) , numerous
lectures and immobilizations, I managed to pass the test on the last day.
Hopefully we will be able to use these skills to save some of the beautiful
wildlife in the future.
Looking forward to seeing you here next month,
Martin & Team
Buffalo’s at Dete Vlei