Category Archives: Random

Song of the Carnivores – Amazing, amazing event!

Hi folks,

A while ago I posted about this fantastic musical event being held in Bulawayo to celebrate the five large carnivores.  The project has been two years in the making, involving 10 local schools and over 500 children, and the first performance of the song was just spectacular!

The event was officially opened by the Mayor of Bulawayo and the British and Australian Ambassadors to Zimbabwe also attended.

All agreed it was a perfect way to raise awareness of the animals, as well enhancing the music ability of the children, and the capacity of their music teachers.

Sadly, the project is almost over in Zimbabwe, with a final all encompassing afternoon event planned for the Intwasa Festival where the poetry and art submitted by children over the last 18months will be displayed and performed, a choral version of the music performed and visiting experts will give talks to the public about the five species.

But, fortunately, it wont end there!  There is now a performance of the music planned for October in the UK, being organized by the Range Wide Programme for cheetah and wild dog conservation.  We are hoping all this will help to raise the profile of these two unique species – something they very much need and deserve.

Full credit for all of this goes to Dr Netty Purchase, Southern African coordinator of the Range Wide Program, an incredibly energetic and resourceful person.

Have a look at this link on YouTube for a short video of the Song of the Carnivores…


“Underdogs” – Fantastic photo book on the African Wild Dog by Neil Aldridge

Hi folks,

I wanted to tell you about this fantastic new book that has recently come out….

Underdogs is the new book by award-winning wildlife photographer and author Neil Aldridge (find Neil on facebook and twitter). Neil is very kindly offering a donation of £10 from each sale of the book through this promotion to our wild dog conservation project through the African Wildlife Conservation Fund (AWCF). Order your copy today at and know that your money will go towards helping AWCF to secure a future for the African wild dog in Zimbabwe and beyond.

With over 140 beautiful and candid wildlife photographs, Underdogs celebrates what is special about the endangered African wild dog. BBC Wildlife magazine reviewed Underdogs as: “This is a book with heart. Photojournalist Neil Aldridge’s love of wild dogs shines through his beautiful images and passionate prose. Majoring on the species’ fight to survive – as poignantly illustrated by alpha female Stellar and her pack – this timely book highlights current conservation efforts, and offers a glimmer of hope for the future.”

Click here for an online preview of some of the books pages

Acute senses, a lightweight body, unrivaled stamina and power in numbers may make the wild dog one of Africa’s most efficient hunters but these remarkable characteristics saw the species fare badly with the arrival of big game hunters in Africa in the late 1800s. This charismatic carnivore has been an underdog in its fight to find its place in a developing continent ever since. Over three years, author Neil Aldridge worked closely with trackers and researchers to follow, photograph and understand the African wild dog. We contributed information and experience to help Neil paint a more complete picture of the Southern African wild dog population. The result is a book that explores the ecology of a remarkable species and looks at what makes it one of Africa’s most efficient carnivores.

Underdogs also explores the reasons behind the decline of the wild dog and champions the efforts being made to secure a future for the species. Many of the book’s photographs have achieved acclaim in major international competitions and exhibitions but Underdogs is the first time all of these award-winning photographs can be seen in one place and brought into context by the author’s considered writing. Underdogs is supported by a foreword by renowned animal behaviorist and long-term supporter of African wild dog conservation Professor Peter Neville.

Click here for the Underdogs Photo Gallery on the BBC Wildlife website and here to see Neil’s wild dog image in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Order your copy of Underdogs today and help to

Think of this when you are scratching your head for father’s day gifts (17th June), birthdays, special anniversaries or if you just want to spoil yourself or a loved one.  Thank you for your support,


All photos in this post are copyright Neil Aldridge


Song of the Carnivores – Spectacular performance at the Bulawayo Music Festival

Hi folks,

Sorry I’ve been quiet for a while. I’ve been at a wild dog symposium in Namibia and only just back.  On the way back I stayed the night in Bulawayo and had the great privilege to attend a rehearsal of a fantastic performance being put on at the Bulawayo Music Festival on Thursday.  This is an initiative called Song of the Carnivores – and is the culmination of months of hard work by a fantastic team of people.

The Rangewide Program for cheetah and wild dog in southern Africa, the Bulawayo Academy of Music and the British Council have teamed up to help produce an amazing musical extravanganza.  Involving 500 children from Bulawayo, the Song of the Carnivores is a half an hour piece of music, composed and organised by composer Richard Sisson and sung by local school kids, which captures the characters of all the five large carnivore species in Zimbabwe.

At the rehearsal I went to, seeing the song, with it’s beautiful lyrics, sung by hundreds of students actually brought tears to my eyes.  The lyrics and composition are spectacular and the whole program has had incredible education benefits to all students involved.

So if anyone is in Bulawayo on Thursday, you absolutely must go and see this performance.  And even if you aren’t in Bulawayo – make a plan to get there! It will be the highlight of your year!  It’s at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo at 5:00pm on Thursday 24th and costs only $2.  It’s a must-see and all part of the Zimbabwean carnivore conservation effort.

More on it after the event.



Fantastic gifts for Mother’s day

Hi folks,

Mothers Day (13th May in the US) will be here before you know it and what better way to let your mum know how special she is, than with a piece of stunning and truly unique artwork?  Renowned wildlife artist Lin Barrie has kindly offered us 50% of the proceeds of some of her incredible artwork, so not only would you be getting a truly original and beautiful gift, you would also be supporting wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe.

Here is a sample of some of the beautiful art for sale.  For the full display of art available, and details of how to purchase something please click here

Whether you love wild dogs, elephants, rhinos, leopards or buffalo there is something there for you.  Even if you already have a mother’s day gift, these make lovely presents for any special occasion, and are extra thoughtful gifts because of the benefit to conservation from your purchase.

Thank you for your support


Rabies vaccination campaigns – reducing the risk of rabies spreading into wildlife from domestic dogs

We work with the District Veterinary Authorities to help to try to keep the incidence of rabies in the domestic dog population down, in order to try to minimize the threat of the disease spreading in to the wild dog and other wildlife populations.  Fortunately, the Chiredzi District vet with whom we work closely is a very good man and his staff team are excellent and dedicated to their job.  But nonetheless, shortages of various things often result in the job being done less effectively than it could be, and this is where we step in to help.  We assist the district veterinary department with fuel, rations and vaccines as required, to make sure that as many dogs as possible are vaccinated during each campaign (which are combined with the foot and mouth vaccination days for cattle).

Such a campaign was carried out over the past couple of weeks with the last two days being focussed on the domestic dogs living within the Save Valley Conservancy (owned by the farmers who invaded the conservancy in 2000).  Obviously these dogs provide the greatest threat to wild dogs because of their close proximity to the wildlife, and indeed cases of rabies in this population were reported only last week.

Rueben helped with awareness raising prior to the vaccination days and we provided 1000 dog vaccines, 20 vaccines for humans (for the veterinary technicians), fuel (200 liters of petrol) and rations for the field staff.

The turn out (of people bringing their dogs to the dip tanks) was much better than usual and once I have the official figures from the vet department I will let you know how many dogs were vaccinated.

Here are some scenes from the day – taken by Rueben who went along to help…

Back soon,




Wild dog lecture in Bulawayo

Hi folks,

I just got back from a few days in Bulawayo where I had a hectic schedule talking to schools and giving a lecture.  Netty Purchase, the range-wide coordinator for cheetah and wild dog in southern Africa, together with the Alliance Francaise have organized an amazing collection of events about carnivores, under the umbrella of ‘The Song of the Carnivores’.  Last week it was wild dog week, and I was invited to give the wild dog lecture as part of a series on “dispelling the myths” of large carnivores.

My topic was “Dispelling the myths that wild dogs are cruel hunters that decimate prey populations”.  It was an evening lecture with a great turnout and very positive feedback, and I hope it’s done a little bit to help people see through traditional prejudices and realize what incredible animals wild dogs are.  Even people who were known not to be too keen on wild dogs were heard muttering “it almost makes you love them”!!

Excitingly, this initiative has gained so much support and enthusiasm, it may be adopted in several other countries in southern Africa, which is just great.  The whole project includes music, poetry, art and these lecture series, involving hundreds of schools and individuals in Zimbabwe.

Here I am just after the lecture with Netty (far right) and Phumizile Sibanda (sec0nd from right) who will be giving the leopard talk next month.  Such a great initiative and it is a privilge to be part of it.

Back soon,


Never a dull moment….

Hi Folks,

Rosemary is currently away at a wildlife conference in South Africa so I have taken over the reigns so to speak. You will have to forgive me because I am new to this whole blogging thing, so we’ll have to be patient and take baby steps.

I thought for my first blog I would give you a little insight into the life of a field conservationist….. As you know I live in the African bush and with it comes the many delights or ‘not such’ delights bush life can bring. Yesterday was one of those ‘not such’ delightful days whereby a few animals took it upon themselves to show their displeasure at me living in their territory.

I woke up yesterday morning and went outside with my cup of coffee to water the lawn. I was still half asleep and sauntered over to the tap and turned it on only to find water gushing out of the hose pipe about half way down. On closer inspection I found that our resident porcupine had decided my hose pipe was a tasty treat and helped himself to a few mouthfuls. He obviously decided the first mouthful was not so tasty so spat it out and decided to try a few more, all to his dislike. So after nonchalantly puncturing several large holes in my hose pipe he decided to head off to the compost heap (his usual hunting ground) for a dig around.

Hungry Porcupine

Luckily the rest of the day proved to be fairly uneventful, unfortunately no sign of wild dogs but great sightings of some other species, including a huge herd of buffalo…

Buffalo Herd

an elephant bull…


and even some white rhino with a young calf.


BUT….. After a nice day out the field I returned home to find the local troop of baboons had paid a visit and managed to sink their teeth into my workshop products. They had bitten open both the wood glue and wood oil bottles, so they were now both firmly stuck to my work bench and as if to add insult to injury, they then jumped on my girlfriend’s car and buckled the windscreen wipers, rendering them useless.

Anyway, all things considered these are rather trivial events that do add a bit of extra excitement to life, so we take them with a pinch of salt and a bunch of humour and continue on with the real job at hand.

I hope you had a slight chuckle at my minor misfortunes and enjoyed a little insight into my daily life. I thought I would change the tone slightly with this blog but will follow up with a real update in the coming days. For those who haven’t yet, please go check out our Facebook page (I have just upgraded it to the fancy timeline page), please ‘like’ it and ‘share’ it. Thank you all for following and as always, we really appreciate your support.

Cheers for now,


Happy Readers Literacy Projects into Lowveld Schools

Hi folks,

I want to tell you about an exciting new project we are working on as part of our education and outreach project.

Happy Readers is a fantastic series of books that teach children to read in the English Language in Grades One and Two.  They are specifically designed for the child in Africa and use wild animals as characters, with settings, stories and words that will be familiar to rural and urban children. As they progress, they bring in conservation messages, and engage the children to think of animals as more than a food supply, but rather as friends and characters!


Developed in Zimbabwe and approved by the Ministry of Education, these books, which form a recognized and effective literacy scheme, have been adopted in over 400 schools in Zimbabwe.  Unfortunately, very few of those schools are in the lowveld and none are in the schools surrounding the Save Valley Conservancy and Gonarezhou National Park where we are implementing our environmental education and outreach projects.  These schools seem largely forgotton…

Hopefully however, and with your support, that could all change.  The developers of the scheme kindly donated us a set of books for one school and we have purchased books for one more.  Given that we are working in 118 primary schools, this may seem insignificant, but we have to start somewhere!

Here is Max Adams from the Happy Readers scheme handing over the books to a small rural school in Gonarezhou.


This is the Grade 1 class of the other school that was given the books


We have also been doing a few literacy tests in primary schools in order to get an idea of the reading ability of the rural children and I must admit it’s been a little depressing.

Doing the literacy tests…




The reading standard of the vast majority of kids is at least several years behind what they should be, and many kids, even in Grades 4 and 5 cannot read at all.  Can you imagine your life without being able to read??  We simply have to get this scheme running in the schools to give these children opportunities in life.

They are not stupid, and they are hard working, well behaved children, but they simply do not have the resources to learn to read.  Would you be prepared to make a donation to help us get these books into the schools?  The average cost of a full set of books for a Grade 1 class is US$800.  It’s less for smaller schools and more for bigger schools because the books must be at a ratio of no more than 4 children per book.

Please take just a minute to make a donation to help these children who have so little.  You can donate by clicking on the DONATE button on the right of this page, or by following this link and clicking donate.  Whatever you can afford will help.  Every single cent will be put into buying and distributing these books and no matter how much you give you will be giving children the biggest gift you can – the ability to read.

Please help us to give these children a chance in life – give them the gift of education.


Thank you,


Fantastic wildlife art for sale – proceeds to wild dog conservation!

Hi folks,

Just a reminder that if you check our main African Wildlife Conservation Fund website ( there is some fantastic wildlife art for sale.  The paintings and drawings are all by renowned Zimbabwean artist Lin Barrie, who has an incredible talent and an in-depth understanding of and love for the animals she draws.

concern 1

Lin has kindly offered to donate 50% of the proceeds of the sale of the art to our wild dog conservation project, so this is a fantastic opportunity to buy a piece of unique art and support a worthy cause.  Whether for a birthday gift, a thank you gift, as a ‘sorry’ or just as a treat for yourself or someone special, there is something here for everyone.

Here’s just a few examples of what is on offer – have a look at the AWCF website for more, as well as for details of how to purchase.  Alternatively you can leave a comment on this blog and I will get back to you.  None of the pieces are framed so they can be shipped to anywhere in the world!

mother and son

Siesta time 2


the herd 2

Thanks for your support,


Startled giraffes

I just came across this photo while sorting through Rueben’s photos from the last couple of weeks.  Clearly he gave these giraffes a bit of a fright, but I’m told they gave him just as much of a fright when they suddenly loomed out of the bushes in front of his motorbike!