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Hoe U kunt helpen
News & Updates
Zimbabwe, January 28th, 2008

Dear readers,

As I am writing we are doing a joint patrol with PDC and ALL4AP. We are with about 24 people camping in the bush in an area which is called 'Chimwara' which is one of the large farms connected to the Gwayi River. It is one of the so called A1 farms which means that these farms have been allocated by the government, not to one person, but to a rather large number of people living in separate villages. They use a part of the concession for farming and the rest for hunting purposes.

Again I start with the weather. Since 4 days is has been raining non stop. Zimbabwe has already had a lot of rain and people now fear for their crops to go rotten. Unfortunately we do not have the right equipment yet, in terms of proper tents and other equipment to keep us dry at night, but we do with what we have. With old tents, plastic and metal sheeting, we try to fight the rains, but often in vein. One who has been in Africa and has experienced the weather in this time of the year, knows what it means when we say severe rain! Everybody that ever camped in his life knows there is nothing worse than to have a wet bed and wet sleeping bag to sleep in.
We fortunately do have proper rainsuits and they come in use very well.
The Anti Poaching Unit (APU) members however are used to sacrifice and despite the hardship, spirits are high. Already on the first day of or 'bush camp' we managed to arrest a poacher in this area. The man was carrying a knife with fresh blood on it and presence of impala hairs on it, together with a bag of salt. Salt is commonly used by poachers to preserve skins and meat that they catch.
The man said to us he was one of the anti-poaching members from Chimwara and that he came across a poacher's camp. When asked he brought us to an old camp that had been used but only long ago. Nothing showed us any trails of freshly killed or skinned animals. We investigated further and found out that the man indeed was one of the APU members of Chimwara, but that he had no authorization to go on patrol by himself. The Chairman of the hunting committee advised us to bring the man to the police and further investigate the case.

Cases like these are unfortunately common in this area. Problem is that despite our presentations to the farmers about the financial loss of game they still seem reluctant to pay their APU a decent salary. Even worse in this case is that the same chairman allowed these APU members to take the meat that was found in a snare or half the carcass if it had been killed by a predator. A fatal mistake.
Since here the Chairman is a small farmer without any means of transport, there is no control over what these APU members are doing as their base is too far away from him. His APU members will now set snares themselves or leave the once that are out there, because it benefits them directly if something is caught. They either eat or sell the meat themselves. This proved to be true since his APU manager had fled, instead of testifying to the Police and we found leftovers from so called 'biltong' meat that has been dried, in one of their houses.
The chairman accepted our advice to have a meeting with the other members of the hunting committee and ourselves to make a management plan how to employ the APU members to prevent repetition of what had expired. He admitted there was no proper plan and they should do better.
On the positive side, many farmers already signed the letter we wrote for the landowners to allow our anti Poaching teams to enter their land without prior notice for patrols.
By doing so they acknowledge both the need for anti poaching but also their trust in our teams.

Looking forward to meet you here 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...