News & Updates
Zimbabwe, January 28th, 2008
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
By doing so they acknowledge both the need for anti poaching but also their trust in our
Looking forward to meet you here next month, Martin Stiemer.