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Zimbabwe, November the 28th, 2007

Dear readers,
A month has past again and what a change in color of vegetation! Last month I told you the environment here was very dry; now the rains start to release their precious cargo and after just two or three days the world here starts to get green. Grass shoots come up and a much easier life for most animals is arriving.
Last month I spoke to you rather optimistic about my confidence of the approval of the Authorities to give us the go ahead to do our Anti Poaching activities in Hwange National Park. Unfortunately time went on and we heard little from the Authorities which left me rather frustrated I must admit. Not being able to materialize the plans we have is not what we are here for.
After deliberation with partner Andrew Loveridge in Oxford we decided to start our initiative initially on the peripheries of the Park in an area called Gwayi Conservancy (Gwayi is a river). It seemed better to start and do something than to sit and wait. Wildlife needs us more than ever and we do not want to disappoint our supporters.
Here in the Gwayi there are farmers that have large pieces of forest which connects openly with the Park. Most likely we will get the needed permission to enter Hwange National Park in a later stadium. This is actually what happened with the teams from our sister organization Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) so we are still confident that this will materialize. In these neighboring ‘farms’ (that look the same as the Park itself) proper anti poaching is still in its ‘infancy’ as a good local friend of me said and he is very right.
This decision was an important step whilst I could make plans to get things going. Permission from the land owners, announcements in a large area, recruitment, training location and permission of the Tribal leader the Chief, all have to be in order. Fortunately we have great allies and we cannot do without. Especially since for now we were not able to make use of Wilderness Safari’s accommodation. But we were very welcome in the “Bush Camp” from PDC. The testing of recruits could be done at one of their anti poaching camps. It was beneficial for both since both organizations needed new recruits.
The “Bush Camp” is normally used to educate local children from the age of 10 and their parents for free. Fortunately for us it was closed until the last week of January so we will be able to make good use of the facility.
The plan is to start the interviews and tests on the 1st of December 2007.
But in the meantime I did not do completely nothing…and I was not the only one. At this moment I am still staying at the ‘Doghouse’ from PDC and are still busy with their a.p. teams. Last month we had some changes after the previous a.p. manager left. His replacement is an old ally and colleague (ex Police Officer in Dete a small town here). He is really very enthusiastic and driven. After these few weeks I can already see a big improvement in the teams. I am sure our working relationship and his valuable contacts will benefit both organizations (and wildlife) a lot.
I often wonder when I am in Holland, why things always take time here. The only way to understand I think is just to come here and see for yourself…
Till next month, Martin Stiemer


. 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...