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Friends of the Zambezi Society may remember the volunteer wildlife surveys that the Society successfully organised at in 2007 and 2008 (see pictures) in the Matusadona National Park in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority .
We are planning another such event over the Heroes Day weekend in August 2014, in order to survey for evidence of wildlife and the illicit removal of wildlife in the Matusadona National Park.
The dates are Friday 8th August to Wednesday 13 August 2013.
We are looking for 7 volunteer teams to assist in this exercise. Each team needs at least 2 to 3 people who are fit, can map read and use a GPS, are fully self contained to camp and walk in the bush for 4 days and have 4 wheel drive transport. Each team will be accompanied by an armed National Parks officer.
This is an important exercise, but also a chance to have a real wilderness experience while contributing some skills and support to the Matusadona National Park.
If you are interested, please can you communicate urgently with Frances Morris or Pete Musto as follows:-
The Zambezi Society considers poaching of fish and wildlife resources to be a MAJOR challenge in the Matusadona National Park, and we will continue to channel all possible support to the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority in addressing it.
We are also collaborating with the Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) and The Tashinga Initiative (TTI) to streamine the input of scarce resources towards this protection.
In March this year, the Parks and Wildlife Authority hosted a Matusadona Stakeholders Workshop which brought together MAPP, TTI, The Zambezi Society, Rhino Safari Camp (a local tour operation) and CAMPFIRE (Community natural resource management project). This set a focus for collaborative anti-poaching activities in the Matusadona National Park for the next year.
In April, with funds raised by Chisipite Junior School, The Balmain Trust, and other sources, the Society purchased this good-condition second-hand Landcruiser (pictured here) and has deployed it within the Park on loan to MAPP to assist with on-the-ground anti-poaching activities. Meanwhile, Society personnel, working with MAPP and the Parks Authority in the field, have deployed a number of camera traps at strategic points around the Park in order to capture evidence of wildlife and human movement (see below).
Over the past two months, the anti-poaching efforts in the Matusadona have born fruit, with the arrest of a number of Zambian fish poachers and land-based elephant poachers. We wish to congratulate MAPP, TTI, the Parks Authority and all concerned and thank them for their commitment to a task that is both dangerous and high-risk.
We would also like to thank the following for their continuing assistance:-
SAVE (Australia) – for providing camera traps (currently in use by MAPP), vehicles and financial support
REDAN Petroleum – for providing a continuous supply of fuel for our operations
KW Blasting – for providing the time and services of their mechanic, who recently spent a second week at Tashinga (Matusadona Parks HQ) repairing and servicing Parks and other stakeholder vehicles
Last year, seven important wetland sites in Zimbabwe were newly added to the RAMSAR Convention’s List of Wetlands of International Importance. The seven are :-
Accession to the RAMSAR List is recognised by conservation organisations and governments worldwide as an important step in helping to protect these vulnerable wetland areas into the future.
Another important step is education: To this end, a series of information factsheets for each of these important sites has been produced by a committee of public and private stakeholders, which includes The Zambezi Society.
The Factsheet about the Mana Pools RAMSAR site was prepared by the Zambezi Society, and we thank our Education Officer, Leslee Maasdorp, for her hard work in completing this.
PROTECTING THE RIVERS OF MANA POOLS – RAMSAR ASSISTANCE SOUGHT
In the meantime, the Zambezi Society, through the National Wetlands Committee, is preparing a proposal to the RAMSAR secretariat’s Small Grants Fund for assistance with gather information about the biodiversity of two important river systems in Mana Pools National Park - the Ruckomechi and Chitake rivers – and identifying threats (such as mining and wildlife poaching) faced by these important watersources.
The extraordinary natural spring on the Chitake River in the southern part of Mana Pools National Park, near the Zambezi escarpment mountains, is a life-giving source of water for hundreds of wild animals during the driest months of the year (see picture above left – courtesy of Sunpath Safaris).
The small “exclusive” National Parks campsites at Chitake are popular with tour operators and self-drive visitors. However, since this area is exremely confined and remote and one of the truly wild places of the Park, it is important for visitors to be educated so that their behaviour and presence does not put anyone in danger, annoy other visitors or (most importantly) impinge on the wildlife and wilderness qualities of this wonderful place.
Sadly, there are all too often reports of visitor abuse at Chitake.
In an effort to educate visitors about the National Parks regulations for this area, and to protect Chitake’s unique wilderness values, the group ”Friends of Chitake”, through The Zambezi Society has created a list of Guidelines for Visitors in the form of a small A5 leaflet (see left).
A copy of this leaflet can be found HERE (opens in a new window).
We encourage readers to share these Guidelines widely via e-mail and Social Media.
Anyone who is interested in visiting Chitake Spring (or any wilderness area, for that matter) should be made aware of these regulations, and should also read the Zambezi Society’s RESPECT THE WILD Code Of Conduct for Visitors to Wild Areas, which can be found on our website on our Publications Page or on Wild Zambezi.com
This year, six new rural primary schools in remote areas have received illustrated “Endangered Wildlife” information files and other educational
Resupplies of these informative, illustrated teaching aids have also been provided to several schools which had previously received them, but have requested more.
Leslee is also delighted to report that that Nyamakati Primary School which is a large school of around 1500 pupils and lies to the south of the Zambezi valley wildlife areas has recently joined the Society’s Wildlife Outreach Programme. The school has an enthusastic staff member who runs an active Environmental Club.
Meanwhile, primary school pupils at several National Parks stations in the Zambezi Valley continue to benefit once a year from a week’s sponsored attendance at the RIFA Wilderness Educational Camp in Chirundu, where Leslee Maasdorp provides them with wildlife awareness lessons and wonderful practical experiences in the field (pictured above right).
We reported in a previous Bulletin on a planned 2014 survey of elephants in thirteen African countries, co-ordinated by Botswana-based organisation Elephants Without Borders and funded by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft.
Known as the Great Elephant Census, this project aims to calculate how many African elephants actually remain, where they are found, what threats they face and whether their total population numbers are in fact increasing or decreasing.
The good news is that the work on surveying Zimbabwe’s elephant population has already begun in the Zambezi Valley, as a joint initiative with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
We hope to report more on this important Census in the future.
1. VIETNAM (NOT CHINA) IS DRIVING IT
2. IT’S A NEW FASHION, NOT AN OLD PRACTICE – AND SO IS EASIER TO STOP
Recent research conducted by TRAFFIC, (the international wildlife trade monitoring network) has been neatly summarised in a useful reference workbook for tour guides, teachers and the general public, produced in Australia by Dr Lynn Johnson for the Breaking the Brand project. This is aimed at getting to the bottom of the illegal trade in rhino horn and correcting some of the mis-perceptions that are clouding our decisions as to how to combat it. Here are some extracts from it:-
“Demand for rhino horn began to increase rapidly from 2008. Outlined in this workbook is the background to what is driving the current rhino poaching crisis. We hope that this gives you the information to help inform tourists and your community about where the majority of the demand is coming from. Only through knowing the real and full picture can we engage people to challenge the current users to stop buying rhino horn. As long as old myths persist, we will struggle to get the necessary behaviour change to secure the survival of rhinos in the wild.
So who are the current users of rhino horn and where do they come from?
Historically, China has been a key market for rhino horn. But research by organisations such as TRAFFIC show that the main customers for rhino horn, driving the current poaching crisis, live in Vietnam.
Both China and Vietnam have experienced strong economic growth in the last 2 decades and the number of wealthy people is continuously increasing.
Undoubtedly, some of the rhinos killed in Africa and Asia will go to the Chinese medicine trade and efforts need to continue to bring this to an end. However, this is likely to be a small percentage of the rhinos being poached. We need to consider that even though wealth in China started to grow steeply from 1993, there was no evidence that this affected the rhino poaching numbers, at least in South Africa, for 15 years.
So this indicates that the recent spike in demand for rhino horn is not strongly associated with use in traditional Chinese medicine. Often people feel that they can’t challenge something so old and entrenched as medicinal practices going back many hundreds of years. So it is useful to know that what is driving the current demand is a new fashion in a young population – 70% of people in Vietnam are under the age of 35 years. From a brand breaking and demand reduction perspective it is much better that the spike in rhino horn demand is a new trend/fad – this makes it easier to stop. This is the case for users in Vietnam.
Current measures to save the rhino are underway throughout the protection – supply – demand chain. We would recommend additional focus on changing the purchasing behaviour of the primary users of rhino horn to reduce demand and save rhinos from extinction in the wild.
Given this, it is important to know the primary users driving the current poaching levels:
The users have no or very little empathy with the animal. Campaigns in the form of an appeal to ‘protect a species’ will, in the main, be ignored by the users of rhino horn.
Importantly, there is no pressure on the users in Vietnam to stop buying rhino horn if China is constantly put forward as the driver of rhino poaching. This allows the Vietnamese users of rhino horn to ‘fly under the radar’. As a result they receive minimal pressure to change their buying habits.
For more information, see http://breakingthebrand.org
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