Tag Archives: conservation

Educating, Empowering, Conserving!

It is all too often said that education is fundamental to mobilise change. In our case, it is the building blocks for long-term support of wildlife conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources by local communities.

Local Teachers, Local Heroes

With 89 schools to support around Savé Valley Conservancy, Victor typically only reaches each school once per term, or three times per year. Thus, we ultimately rely on our local teachers to implement our conservation resources and education materials on a day-to-day basis. As such, we recently had a Teachers Feedback Workshop where we evaluated our existing resources with a gathering of local teachers, and discussed what type of resources they would find most useful in the future.

This was a wonderful day where educators came together and shared ideas on how to implement resources into their classes and motivate the children’s interest in wildlife. Ultimately, we want our resources to be user-friendly, compatible with the existing syllabus, helpful and USED by the teachers!


Teachers enjoying themselves at the workshop.


Attachment student, Golden Mukaro, discusses our carnivore posters with the teachers.


Rosemary Groom chairs a collective feedback session at the end of the workshop.


Thank you to the Chiredzi District Education Officer for attending the workshop!


Dressed for Success

Have a look at our revamped vehicle for our Gonarezhou Predator Project education team. Taking wildlife to the people! Not only is the vehicle fun and exciting for the children, but it depicts much of the local wildlife from Gonarezhou National Park, including the iconic Chilojo Cliffs. Ezekia and Anesu, our community education officers for the project, are definitely going to draw the crowds in as they move through the communities, and as such, have plenty of opportunity to educate, empower, and encourage the local people to help conserve!


Ezekia and Anesu, our proud and excited community education officers.

unnamed (1)

pangolin, school children, zebra and more…

unnamed (4)

An African Fish Eagle soars across the bonnet.

unnamed (5)

Of course there are some African wild dogs camped out on the door!


 A Picture says a Thousand Words

It is currently school holidays so Victor has spent the last two weeks busy with our Mobile Education Library in the communities. This is an opportunity for all, young and old, to learn about wild dogs, watch wildlife documentaries and read books and magazines that cover a spectrum of environmental and conservation issues.


Victor addresses a local community about African wild dog conservation.


Why are wild dogs decreasing?


These gatherings are a great opportunity for local people to discuss problems they may be having living alongside wildlife, or local farming problems, and to be provided with sound and practical solutions.


A young man eyes one of our carnivore posters.


Learning about water conservation.


A group of gentlemen discuss the material they have come across.


Three young girls thoroughly enjoying their morning at the AWCF Mobile Education Library!


The DVD’s are a very popular activity and the people will cram themselves into the smallest places to get a brief glimpse of the documentary.


Three older men gather under the shade of a tree to learn more about wildlife conservation.


There is still plenty more to come this year, including another Happy Readers Workshop to provide literacy books to another 10 schools, our leadership and conservation training field trip for our secondary scholars, and cluster competitions between the schools where they will battle it out to show who has the most extensive knowledge of African wild dogs and predator conservation!

Campaigns, Fundraising Crusades and Lazy Dog Days!

2015 has bulldozed its way into action, and what a year it is shaping up to be. For those of you who have been following our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AfricanWildlifeConservationFund) you will know what we are talking about, for those of you who haven’t (PLEASE do, and LIKE our Facebook page too!) here is a little summary…

It really has been a ‘dog’s life’ for our wild dog packs in Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC) and Gonarezhou National Park (GNP). Between the incredible heat, and the scattered pans of water that are just lingering on past the last rains, the few sightings we have had have gone a little something like this…

Crocodile_Humani (11)

Crocodile pack enjoying the shade


Mapura pack relaxing at the waters edge


Inquisitive yearling

Mbungo_Humani (29)

Mbungo pack cooling down


Following the 2014 denning season, we are proud to report healthy numbers in both SVC and GNP and, with this year’s denning season just around the corner (can you believe it!), we are hoping to be reporting strong numbers heading into 2016 too.

However, to safeguard this endangered species we need to not only mitigate the threats inside protected areas, but address potentially fatal edge effects too. We recently helped support and organise a very successful rabies campaign which took place two weeks ago in a community neighbouring GNP. This was in response to reported cases of rabid dogs, and a little girl suspected to have died of rabies at the end of 2014. The campaign took place over three days and 1,042 domestic dogs were vaccinated and treated for worms!


Community members with their dogs


Part of the team in action!


BUT this battle is not over! We are hoping to be able to carry out at least a further three campaigns in key areas surrounding SVC and GNP this year. This is vital to prevent a potentially devastating outbreak of rabies in the local wildlife, to help the domestic dogs and to address a significant human welfare issue. If you would like to contribute, please contact Rosemary Groom ([email protected]) or Jess Watermeyer ([email protected]) and we can send you a little more information on how you can support this very important conservation cause!

Looking ahead at March, and beyond, there are some significant milestones to look forward to. Including a teacher feedback session (to follow up with the teachers in our schools and gather feedback on the resources we are supplying them with, provide additional training etc.), and the launch of our strengthened education program around GNP, as well as the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon (OMTOM) fundraising event in early April (more on this and how you can support those RUNNING AND RAISING for wild dogs soon).

Cheers for now!


AWCF Community Liaison Officer, Victor Chibaya, hard at work in the communities


The AWCF team and support crew thick into their training for the OMTOM fundraising event


African wild dogs show off their wonderful playful nature

Hi folks,

I just wanted to share with you a few photos I took recently whilst watching the Batanai Pack in the Save Valley Conservancy.  The Batanai Pack is still 30 dogs, having had 12 pups last year and 100% pup survival to date!


The 12 pups are now about 9 months old and are wonderfully charismatic little fellows; bold and beautiful.  And full of energy!!!

They found me very interesting:



And then once they had tired of checking me out, they did what wild dog pups do…. played!!


IMG_9332 - Copy (2)





Just a wonderful, wonderful sight to watch.  I was smiling for the rest of the day!  It’s always great to get a chance to get out of the office and spend time with the dogs. and sightings like this remind us just why we are working so hard to conserve this magnificent species.

How can anyone seriously still consider these vermin?


Hitting the ground running

Hi folks,

Well I’m back in the bush and it’s certainly back to “reality” with a bump.  I arrived back yesterday evening after a 12 hour drive and 3 hours at the border the day before.  I was just starting to unpack when I was interrupted by a crashing in the garden which turned out to be the old bull elephant sneaking in where I had left the gate open, to break my Erthyrna tree.  So rude!

Back inside, I gave up on packing and settled down to catch up on the backlog of emails.  But the elephant must have disturbed a hive of bees because very shortly, the light dimmed as a massive swarm of bees converged on the bare lightbulb in my lounge!  Crazy.  I switched off the light, which just ended up making the bees migrate to the light from my computer screen, so I had to very rapidly evacuate to my bedroom and close the door quickly.  So much for catching up on emails!

This morning brought its own dramas with snared dogs, broken vehicles, political shananigans and attemped rhino poaching!

Anyway, the team has been working hard in my absence and the majority of dog packs are doing well. One adult male, from the Crocodile Pack, has picked up a snare around his head and neck, but when the pack was found today they were up a hill, completely inacessible for darting, and could not be coerced off.  We’ll keep trying and I’ll post news on him and everything else over the next few days

Back soon,


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


Update on the two injured wild dogs

Dear all,

A brief, photo-less post i am afraid to say.  I am currently in Harare doing town chores and admin but I recently got a couple of emails about the two injured wild dogs that I wrote about in a recent post, and I wanted to give you an update.  My scout Rueben saw the pack a few days ago and confirmed that the dog that had the snare around his neck, which we removed a couple of weeks ago, is doing well.  The injury has yet to heal completely, but he is still alive and the wound looks clean, so everything is pointing towards him making it.  Thank goodness.

One of my colleagues saw the dog with three legs recently as well.  He reported that he was keeping up with the pack and appeared to be well fed, and in reasonable condition.  Given that we know the injury occurred at least 4 weeks ago and probably 5, the fact that he is still doing okay is encouraging.  If infection was going to set in, it would probably have happened by now, and if the injury was too bad to prevent reasonable movement, we would probably be seeing a serious decline in body condition by now as well.  So once again, the signs are good that he will make it.  We will keep fingers crossed.  They are remarkably resilient and caring animals, so he has a good chance.

Back soon,




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,


School carnivore projects

Hi folks,

Towards the end of last term, we provided a couple of schools with some materials with which to do big carnivore projects.  This was on request from the teachers after they attended a teacher training workshop organized and hosted  by Chishakwe Ranch, last August.

Today I went to visit the schools to see how the projects had come along.  Whilst still incomplete, I was very pleased by the progress and the obvious effort the students and teachers had put in.  Here are some of the Grade 6 kids with their yet-to-be-completed projects.



Both schools undertook the project with enthusiasm and the quality of their work was very good, largely thanks to the long-term efforts by Chishakwe with these particular two schools, Muvava and Uteki.

Back soon,


Best wishes for 2012

Dear supporters,

The Zimbabwe Wild Dog Project team would like to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.  As a team, we are optimistic about 2012 and are looking forward to seeing many of our conservation objectives met.

Thank you all for your support over the last year and we hope you enjoy our news updates in 2012.

Best wishes and a very happy New Year to you all.


A newly emerged wild dog pup

A Celebration of Painted Wolves: Magnificent spot prizes for lucky ticket holders

Hi folks,

I wrote a post a while ago about the big event we are having in Harare on the 19th November.  A Celebration of Painted Wolves will be just that – a fantastic evening of fun, gorgeous wines by Painted Wolf Wines, live entertainment, art exhibitions, a delicious three course meal, a short presentation by the wild dog projects and an auction; all to celebrate the incredible species, the African Wild Dog (Painted Wolf is a direct translation of their scientific name), and the conservation efforts taking place to save it.

Wild dogs and Pups - Photo- Paul Funston

I posted a link to the fantastic auction catalogue in the last post about this, but please also have a look at this link to the spot prizes that have been generously donated by people here in Zim.  Can you believe it – all these fantastic items will be given away at the event to lucky ticket holders!!

So please encourage friends, family and colleagues who may be in Zimbabwe (or nearby!) to come along to the event, and please join me in thanking our wonderful sponsors and donors for their generous support which will help to make this event  THE Conservation Event of the year!!