The support of people near and far inspires our meaningful conservation accomplishments every day. Brighter days are ahead for people and wildlife here in Zimbabwe – and I'm eager to share some of our most recent conservation highlights with you.
RESCUE AND REHABILITATION
Snare removal is at the forefront of the conservation work that we do. Thankfully, our snare removal program is extremely successful, in large part because of support from people all over the world. Just in the last month, the Trust has responded to multiple cases of snared animals, including several warthogs, bushbuck, buffalo and a young giraffe no more than 1-year-old. It was extremely rewarding to watch that little giraffe clamber to its feet and run freed from a snare towards its family, happy for a second chance at life.
We’re gearing up for the dry season when the number of snared animals is expected to rise as crops become more difficult to grow and rural people look to other sources of food. This year our capacity to react has been significantly increased due to the generosity of the Ludwick Family Foundation who donated a brand-new Land Cruiser which will allow us to respond to more snaring incidents and allow us to go farther into the bush.
We’ve also had very gratifying wins with three endangered pangolins that were confiscated from illegal wildlife trafficking operations from around the country. Pangolins are the most heavily trafficked mammal, accounting for 20% of the world’s illegal wildlife trade. With the help of Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust’s team and the Tikki Hywood Foundation, these prehistoric-looking, scaly ant-eaters were successfully rescued and released.
INTRODUCING OUR NEW
HIGH-CARE WILDLIFE REHABILITATION FACILITY
To accommodate the growing number of animals that have been injured through poaching, vehicle collisions or other human-wildlife conflict, we recently opened our brand-new High Care Rehabilitation Centre. This facility will increase our capacity to treat and rehabilitate wildlife rescue cases that need short-term care before being released back into the wild.
WILDLIFE FORENSICS TRAINING
Commercial poachers have started using cyanide to lace water sources and soil that’s consumed by wildlife for its high salt and mineral content. This method is used mainly to target elephants for their ivory and vultures that act as sentinels for poached carcasses. Tragically, all wildlife that encounters the poison source or a poisoned carcass is also affected, rendering poisoning a heart-breaking tool for mass destruction.
The Trust is training wildlife rangers across five countries in the Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area to recognize and rapidly respond to wildlife crime scenes. This initiative will allow authorities to better prosecute poachers by ensuring rapid responses, and by providing more consistent crime scene investigation training throughout the region.
HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT
With rapidly expanding human populations in Africa, mitigating human-wildlife conflict is essential if wildlife and communities are to coexist in harmony. Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust has been collaborating with researchers and elephant experts from Connected Conservation, The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and Zoo Wuppertal to fit five GPS tracking collars onto elephant bulls that call Victoria Falls home (above photo). These devices will enable us to understand elephant movements through urban and community areas and, with the help of our Community Guardians, identify hot spots of conflict with humans.
Our goal for this research is to improve the livelihoods of the people living alongside wildlife, prevent crop and livestock raiding by wildlife, and provide the best science when dealing with expanding human populations, development and habitat fragmentation. We’ve had huge success using mobile bomas: we've not seen any wildlife predation on livestock in the bomas during the first year of the project! By moving these bomas throughout different crop fields, the soil fertility also improves, increasing both yield and health of the crops.
CONSERVATION EDUCATION PROGRAMME
The Trust has begun working to establish Eco Clubs in the rural school system. These clubs will provide productive, fun conservation curriculums and will support teachers with information, supplies and activities. So far in 2018, we’ve had 256 school children from rural schools attend our Conservation Education and School’s Program, with plans to triple this by year end!
This amazing program is actively helping to cultivate an appreciation of wildlife and natural sciences and steward a culture of coexistence with wildlife in the rural areas around Victoria Falls.
We're extremely proud of all of the meaningful work we're able to do because of your support, the good will of our partners and community, and the dedication of our staff. We're hopeful for a bright future here in Zimbabwe, for people and for wildlife. Thank you for being a critical part of that.
We hope you'll support our important work and if you're ever in Zimbabwe, please come out and see us. We would love to showcase for you the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and have you meet our wonderful staff that make it all happen.
For Wild Africa,