It is not easy to protect these natural resources in times of economic hardship.
Several public-spirited organisations, supported by the tourism industry are working hard to combat the threat at a considerable cost. Their efforts deserve support. Tourism, after all, depends on continued healthly populations of fish and wildlife.
The Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT) is run by a dedicated group of residents in Kariba town in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority. The trust treats and helps Kariba’s wildlife, enabling a swift response to any animal welfare emergency in the area. A member of the community is qualified to dart injured animals and administer veterinary drugs, without the inevitable delays of having to call for veterinary assistance from Harare.
KAWFT plays an important role in educating the Kariba community and visitors about the need to respect wildlife in the area and has made considerable strides in encouraging residents to report any illegal activities, maltreatment of animals or animal injuries.
In addition to its animal welfare work, KAWFT teams undertake regular anti-poaching snare sweeps in and around Kariba town, the neighbouring lakeshore and islands and apprehend poachers and illegal hunters when caught. In recent years, with high lake levels reducing the amount of shoreline grass available for grazing, wildlife populations on islands in the lake have suffered high casualties from starvation. KAWFT established a successful feeding programme on nearby Antelope Island which has helped to maintain a small population of buffalo and other species which inhabit the island.
KAWFT’s reputation for efficiency and effectiveness has grown immensely in the past few years and it is now called upon to assist with wildlife emergencies across the lake in the Matusadona National Park and elsewhere in the Zambezi valley region.
Funds are always short and equipment always needed.
If you can help, please get in touch via this link: KAWFT
This small, dedicated team of community scouts lead by Chapungu Safaris operates out of Gache Gache Lodge in Kariba’s Eastern Basin. Their sterling efforts over the past few years have helped to keep the area clear of illegal netting and snaring and have resulted in the capture, arrest and sentencing of hundreds of poachers.
The river estuaries are important fish breeding grounds. As a result of this important work, fish populations in the Gache Gache River Estuary and in the wider Lake itself, have improved enormously. The area, always popular with sport fisherman, has now become one of the most sought-after destinations for participants in the annual Tiger Fishing competitions.
Wildlife is also becoming increasingly abundant and visitors to the lodge are now enjoying regular sightings of large mammals, predators and many different antelope species.
However, sustaining this Protection Unit is high-risk. The work is dangerous and the costs are high.
Says Pat Townsend of Chapungu Safaris: “Costs have risen monthly from $5,000 to an average of $7,000. If the project stops, OVERNIGHT the illegal netting will take over and within a week all our hard work, time, energy and money spent on this project will have bee in vain. WAY FORWARD is to pay the members of our team a monthly salary as a reward for what they are doing for us all and as a service to their Community and Country. They need to feel appreciated for tackling this unenviable task. We are looking at $250 each member (x6) plus a little extra for our own guys who help $75 (x3) per month. If you can SPONSOR A SCOUT please get in touch today!!
Chapungu Safaris are also fund-raising to construct a local Police base and offices for National Parks, local authorities and WEPU itself. Currently the Unit has to transport apprehended poachers long distances on bad roads before they can be officially handed over to the authorities. This wastes time and funds.
If you can help, please contact the Gache Gache WEPU via this link: Gache Gache Lodge
BHAPU – Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit
The team works closely with Nyami-Nyami Rural District Council Wildlife Section and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to protect and conserve all forms of fauna and flora in the Bumi Hills Wildlife Area and beyond.
“We will stop at nothing to ensure that our diminishing wild places are rehabilitated where necessary, protected against the destructive actions of the human race and preserved for the benefit of the environment and future generations of wildlife.”
BHAPU and its associates carry out excellent work in reducing fish poaching and wildlife snaring in and around their area and the neighbouring islands, including Starvation Island. The latter is well named, as when Kariba lake levels are high and the shoreline grass is inundated, animals on this (and other islands in the vicinity) often face starvation. BHAPU have carried out emergency wildlife feeding and rescue programmes on these islands in recent years, successfully reducing wildlife casualties.
If you can help, please contact BHAPU via this link: Bumi Hills Safari Lodge
In an effort to curb fish poaching activities in and around the Matusadona National Park, the Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) was formed in March 2013. MAPP is a joint initiative between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), The Tashinga Initiative Trust, and the resorts of Changa Safari Camp and Spurwing Island Resort.
The current area of operation encompasses the shoreline of the Matusadona National Park, including the Sanyati Gorge, areas outside of the National Park and a section of the Lake up to the Zambian border. Funds permitting, the aim is to replicate this model strategically in other locations along Lake Kariba.
Illegal fishing activities are posing a real threat to the continued existence of healthy and diverse fish populations on the Zimbabwean side of Lake Kariba. MAPP has discovered that as many as five boats of fish poachers per night cross over into Zimbabwe from Zambia in this particular area of the lake. In addition, several local fishing co-operatives, licensed to operate within defined waters in Lake Kariba (with their net construction clearly defined in law), are often ‘stretching’ these boundaries in terms of where they operate and what materials they use for nets. This network of fish poachers provides transport, food and intelligence to the more sinister land-based poaching operations.
MAPP patrols the area, detaining and confiscating boats, arresting poachers, sending them to the courts in Kariba (some have received 12-month jail sentences), and helping ZPWMA to regulate the activities of the kapenta rigs and fishing co-operatives. The project is looking for funding to sustain their operations and keep the poachers at bay.
From: Wild Zambezi
Date: 5 October 2013