We assist ZimParks with anti-poaching activities
The Elephant Crisis
The Great Elephant Census carried out in 2014 produced horrifying statistics showing significant losses of elephant populations in the Middle and Lower Zambezi Valley areas (Sebungwe, Matusadona, Mana Pools, Sapi & Chewore) since 2001. As a result of this an emergency Elephant Management Plan was developed in 2015 in collaboration with the private sector (the Zambezi Society helped to co-ordinate this) and efforts to step up anti-elephant poaching activities in these areas have been prioritised at the highest level.
The results of collaborative efforts between conservation organisations and tour operators working with ZimParks have already resulted in a huge reduction in elephant poaching in the Zambezi Valley areas. However, it is vitally important that vigilance is constantly maintained, and that funding is made available to sustain this collaborative effort.
intelligence gathering and illegal wildlife crime follow-ups
This involves sensitive under-cover work with informers living and working in the areas surrounding Zambezi Valley National Parks most vulnerable to elephant and other wildlife poaching. The Zambezi Society, working with partners in the public and private sector is helping to co-ordinate and assist covert operations to apprehend poachers and bring them before the courts for appropriate sentencing. The Zambezi Society provides vehicle and equipment assistance for such activities, and raises funds for rewards paid to individuals for successful anti-poaching outcomes. It also assists with providing specialised training for under-cover operations, and collates and stores information and intelligence gathered about illegal wildlife crime via a centralised and constantly updated database. There is no doubt that this Illegal Wildlife Crime project is playing a major role in reducing poaching in the Zambezi Valley areas and elsewhere in Zimbabwe.
Firearms Training Courses
The Zambezi Society is running a series of multi-day weapons refresher training courses for National Parks rangers based at Zambezi Valley stations in an attempt to improve the success rates of patrol “contacts” with armed gangs of poachers. Since the courses began in 2016, there has been a significant improvement in the outcome of engagements with poachers and a number of successful arrests and fatalities have resulted. The courses boost the morale and confidence of National Parks rangers who are poorly funded and whose significant contribution to protecting wildlife in remote areas under harsh conditions is often overlooked.
Boat Patrol Support
The Zambezi Society also assists Mana Pools National Park with ranger boat patrols and rapid reaction "call-outs" along Zambezi River out of Nyamepi HQ in a special flat-bottomed aluminium boat purchased for the purpose, and driven by a coxswain employed by the Society.
RANGER ANTI POACHING RATIONS
The Zambezi Society sources basic food supplies and delivers them to National Park stations for distribution to anti-poaching rangers on patrol. The ultimate goal is to provide alternative meat supplies for entire stations in order to reduce the level of “ration hunting” i.e. shooting wildlife for meat supplies which is currently prevalent at National Parks stations in remote areas.
Vehicle Driver Support
The Zambezi Society has vehicles with dedicated, privately-funded, drivers based within the Zambezi’s National Park areas. These provide swift reaction to any poaching incidents, and assist with anti-poaching ranger deployments, and intelligence-gathering activities.
Infrastructure support – remote fly-camps, camera traps, radio batteries, equipment etc
The Zambezi Society assists ZimParks with selected infrastructural support. We assist with funding the construction and supply of temporary anti-poaching “fly-camps”in remote parts of the National Parks during the rainy season months, when poaching incursions are at their highest. The Society also supplies basic equipment essential in anti-poaching work e.g. radio batteries, GPS systems and camera traps (which can be useful in detecting poacher incursions along remote wilderness paths).
ROAD OPENING AND CLEARANCE
With funding assistance from the Elephant Crisis Fund in 2015, The Zambezi Society purchased an earth-moving TLB machine which is helping to clear and open up remote roads in the Zambezi Valley National Park areas. This work is vital for allowing anti-poaching ranger deployments into the more remote areas of the Parks. It is also useful for opening new areas for tourism access.