This is the first appeal I’ve ever put out on Wildlife Direct, but the time has come to ask for some help. As you all know, the desperate situation in Zimbabwe is resulting in, amongst other things, a huge amount of wildlife poaching. Much of this is for commercial purposes by persistent poachers and the level at which it is occurring is currently unsustainable.
As you’ll have seen if you are a regular reader of this blog, wild dogs are severely threatened by snaring, not only in the Save Valley Conservancy, but throughout the country. But it is not only wild dogs that suffer. Snaring is an indiscriminate killer – between August 2001 and October 2008, 5,981 animals of 30 different species were killed in snares. These included endangered African wild dogs, lions, leopards, cheetah, sable buffalo, wildebeest, nyala, impala, kudu, zebra, giraffe and even elephants. On one occasion, one snare line killed 18 individual animals.
74,390 snares were recovered between August 2001 and October 2008
Almost the biggest problem with this method of poaching is the wastage. Of the 1,421 animals killed in snares during August 2005-November 2008, 58.8% were found rotten or scavenged, 27.3% were recovered by the ranch or taken to the police as evidence and only 13.9% were extracted by illegal hunters. This is a truly shocking waste of the wildlife resource.
However, the deaths in snares are only one part of the story. Many animals manage to break the snare wire and free themselves, but continue to carry the snare around their neck or leg or trunk. Many of these die and go unrecorded, and many end up being shot because of their injuries. Others continue to suffer from these horrific injuries until they die.
This is where we come in and where we can do something to help. Although I manage the Lowveld Wild Dog Project, the umbrella organisation for our project is a non-profit making organisation called the African Wildlife Conservation Fund (AWCF). Given my position in the field in Zimbabwe, and my qualifications and licence to immobilise wild animals, I am in a position to help AWCF with their general conservation efforts, a large part of which is tackling this poaching crisis. If we can be on standby for anyone to call us to help to free snared animals or treat injured ones, we could do a huge amount to help the wildlife here.
So at this point I am appealing for help. The drugs used to immobilise wildlife are not cheap. They are less expensive for carnivores: for enough drugs to immobilise 10 wild dogs (including the knock-down drug, the sedative and the reversal) would cost US$500, i.e. $50 per dog. For herbivores however, the drugs are extortionately expensive. One vial of the main knock-down drug (5ml) and its reversal costs US$600. Depending on the species, this would immobilise between 5 to 10 animals, assuming no darts miss. However, in addition to this drug, you need a sedative drug which costs US$106 per vial, and at least 2 vials of the human antidote (because this drugs is life-threatening to humans) which cost US$200 per vial. So in order to be ready to help treat wounded wildlife, we need to buy at least US$1500 worth of drugs (and that’s only a start…).
A buffalo caught in a snare that had to be shot because no-one had the drugs to immobile and treat it
If anyone feels they could contribute something towards this, we would be enormously grateful and you can be assured your donation will go directly towards helping wildlife in the most direct and hands-on way. Any extra money that is raised above what we need to buy the drugs will be put towards the anti poaching units in the conservancy, to help buy radios, uniforms and ammunition.
I’ll sign off here, because this post is long enough now, but if anyone would like more information, please don’t hesitate to ask. And please consider helping us: I know it’s a bad time economically, but if we don’t act soon, it’s going to be too late for Zimbabwe’s wildlife.
Thanks in advance,