Not everyone is familiar with the term “collaboration” in conservation, but the Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF) is beginning to understand the full extent of its potential and impact. In its efforts to protect elephants from poaching in the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe, ZEF is going from strength to strength on a basis of networking, partnerships and teaming up. Notable “partners” include not only the remarkable people we have met (and are now privileged to work with) from truly inspiring conservation organisations or the brilliant on-the-ground action-takers, but ZEF is also thriving on the energy and drive of our behind-the-scenes overseers, on the kind donations from our generous supporters and on the warmth and encouragement of local and international communities.
The extent of much of this is not measurable. But a lot is and this update serves to keep you informed and to thank you, so much, for your kindness. Together, we can make positive, meaningful differences.
You actions make a difference!
Zambezi Elephant Fund works closely with the Zambezi Society, The Tashinga Initiative, Bushlife Support Unit, Flying for Wildlife, Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) and the Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT) to name a few. Each of the following implementing organisations has received funding grants from the Zambezi Elephant Fund for their vital work in anti-poaching.
The Tashinga Initiative completed the construction of a major anti-poaching ranger base at Mana Pools, 50% funded through the Zambezi Elephant Fund. Not only has the new ZAVARU ranger station provided a functional base from which to operate and a real morale-booster for those who use it, but it has also played a role in bringing together the many “pockets of passion” into an even stronger collaborative unit, standing shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in the Zimbabwe National Parks Authority against poaching.
As many of you will know, a Toyota Land Cruiser pickup was purchased last year. Over the past twelve months, this sturdy anti-poaching vehicle has done an average of 3,000km per month in the Mana Pools and adjacent Nyakasanga Safari areas, deploying rangers and uplifting them back to the base, as well as providing a supportive presence and eyes on the ground.
Bushlife Support Unit, backed by its parent tourism company (Bushlife Safaris), was extremely successful in carrying out on-the-ground anti-poaching activities, especially during the 2016-2017 rainy season. With funding assistance, it was able to establish a network of wet-season fly camps in remote (and previously under-patrolled) areas of the Park, from which rangers were deployed.
Volunteers working for Flying for Wildlife have been deploying rangers on aerial patrols throughout the Zambezi Valley, continuing to provide a much-needed eye-in-the-sky surveillance operation.
The Matusadona Anti-Poaching Unit (MAPP) achieves excellent work with anti-poaching and undercover surveillance/intelligence in the Matusadona National Park and its surrounding settled lands as well as on Lake Kariba.
The Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT) carries out essential animal welfare and conservation work in and around Kariba town and on Lake Kariba.
There have been significant poacher arrests, plus numerous contacts and several successful arrests for the poaching of ivory or illegal possession of live wildlife or wildlife products.
Our work isn’t done yet
In spite of the heaviest rainy season in decades, (providing potential “cover” for poachers) elephant poaching in Mana was at an all time low due to all collaborative efforts. Sadly, however, and only in the last couple of weeks, we have lost an elephant in the park and two others just beyond the Mana boundary. A recent drop-off in funding has impacted on certain initiatives such as the demobilisation of picket camps at known remote poaching hot spots.
A special place in all our hearts
Mana Pools takes bright and shining centre stage in a 230km contiguous stretch of wilderness along the Zambezi. It is a global wilderness treasure and up to all of us to protect it. We need to know we have done everything we can – at this time most especially for the elephant matriarchs, their families and their attendant wayward bulls, but, in the long run, for all of the region’s incredible wildlife and ecosystems.
What's the plan and what is needed right now?
We now plan to strengthen the protection on both the northern (Zambia) and southern (rural communities) boundaries and we are seeking support to establish more fly camps and a support vehicle on the southern boundary. Interested in helping out on this project?
We require assistance with maintenance and running costs for a customised patrol boat (the purchase of the boat was possible thanks to the generosity of the Burgess family and Sir Richard Branson’s challenge to match his own pledge) for the Zambezi River as well as ongoing running costs of existing deployment vehicles.
Further funding is required for the long-term supply of consumables for anti-poaching patrols facing combat situations in the field. Interested in helping out on this project?
Donate now and we’ll let you know exactly how your support is helping ZEF in our wildlife conservation efforts in this unique and wonderfully wild part of the world! We are deeply grateful to you for your ongoing encouragement and support and thank you most sincerely on behalf of the elephants and their wildlife friends, our implementing partners, the volunteers and rangers, for helping sustain the dream of keeping the Zambezi Valley safe and beautiful for all and for the future.