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. Indian Newspaper
"the Hitvada"
reports about Martin's visit in October, 2006

. "The Times of India" online reports about anti-poaching in TATR (Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve) and Mr Dhanwatey collaboration with Martin...

Zimbabwe, Newsletter June-July 2010

Dear readers,
Still no news from Immigrations about my workpermit , but life goes on and so do our patrols.
With the team back on the ground we do, as always, what is in our capabilities, to prevent too much harm done to the animals and the forests they live in.
June and July were relatively quiet months due to some indirect problems that affected our whereabouts. We could not go to all the places we would like to. Two of our members are (still) attending an Anti Poaching course (to get extra knowledge and an inspirational boost) in Victoria Falls. At the same time the rest of the team has done several bush camps. As we speak they are in the bush around a village which always creates possibilities for poaching.
And yes, of course even our team was supporting Holland in the Final against the Spaniards, but unfortunately we could not have a party to celebrate… Then again, sending Brazil home in a world cup is not nothing!
We were not able this time to make arrangements with Forestry Commission due to a fatal car accident. We wish them all the strength they need. Because the 4x4 vehicle was a write off limiting them in their operations, we will, as always, assist as and where we can.
In the meantime we did a short patrol in a farm where we had not been for some time and managed to extract 43 snares. Most of them old, but some still capable to do their destructive work.
That said, we also got a phone call from a lodge manager that a male buffalo was seen at their estate which had a bad snare on the front hoof. I remembered that from some 6 weeks before. Forestry had already tried to shoot the animal, since it could be dangerous for the women that get into the bush on Thursdays to get firewood, but they missed.
This time I went out with Esther from the Dog project to see if we could relieve the poor animal by taking the snare off. On arrival the herd was still at the same place and fortunately not too concerned about our presence. Esther maneuvered the Landrover in an ideal position to take the shot. The snared buffalo which was visibly thinner than the other males and in such a bad condition, that he was the last one to get up and walk away. The shot was perfect.
The bull walked a bit but within minutes the drugs started having their effect and he was showing signs of being unstable. Actually he went down so quickly that we realized how emaciated and worn off he was. Since the other buffalo’s started to harass the animal a bit (this often happens when the other animals see that there is something wrong with one of them ) we moved in quickly and moved the herd slowly away from the victim. We worked quickly and silently. The breathing from the animal was shallow and therefore speed was needed. When blindfolded we put on our rubber gloves. I removed the snare, whilst Esther was busy keeping an eye on the others (the herd was on distance and calm the whole incident) and gave him antibiotics. The wound was deeper as we could imagine and it was a miracle that the animal did not has losen the hoof yet. It was only held by the tendons and was invested with maggots. We removed all the dead tissue and cleaned the wound quickly. The animal was still breathing but too shallow. We both decided not to wait and quickly reverse the bull. At the same time the antidote was administered, the animal stopped breathing. We checked the hart and it had stopped. I tried to get the hart going again by massage, but it was in vain. The buffalo did not have the strength to pull himself out of the anesthesia.
It was a bitter pill to swallow. The first animal I tried to free from this maiming device, died right under our eyes.
If an animal dies of a natural cause, I have no problem at all with death. This animal however was victimized by poachers and had battled an unfair match. It was a miracle that it had not been attacked by lions or hyena’s already. Even if we would have been able to set it free there was, in this case, a very limited chance of recovery, but it would be the only thing we could do.
So maybe better this way, but still, you understand the feeling.
But there is always another day and I keep in mind that we have PREVENTED these things from happening hundreds of times in the past and present by the removal of thousands of snares in the bush!
Until next time,
Martin & team

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ALL4AP patrol 2010