News & Updates
Zimbabwe, Newsletter June-July 2010
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
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
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
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