NOVEMBER 2018 NEWSLETTER

Mhoro Shamwari Dzangu
Greetings Friends and Happy Thanksgiving

From the Volunteer Board Members of Bushlife Conservancy

As we approach this season of gratitude we have much to be thankful for at Bushlife Conservancy (BC). Thanks to YOU, our fledgling grassroots organization continues to grow stronger while successfully meeting many challenges. We are all so grateful for your generous support which enables BC to confront the poaching epidemic in the beautiful Mana Pools National Park. We have made a huge difference in a relatively short time, not only for the iconic elephants of the park but for all the vulnerable and varied wildlife that call Mana Pools home. Following are some of the highlights and heartbreaks of the past few months.

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SECURING THE PARK

In the Spring, through the generous support of Global Conservation, Bushlife Support Unit (BSU) received a Thuraya Satellite Network with Galaxy S8 phones for 6 ranger teams which now facilitates ranger communication. Nick Murray, our President and Anti-Poaching Director, has worked to train the rangers in the use of this technology. Global Conservation has also donated and just delivered crucial night vision equipment. Nick will use these scopes at the observation posts he will be establishing in the mountains to monitor the valley. Nick has scheduled training sessions with the rangers in the field to use this night vision equipment. He had a successful meeting with the head anti-poaching officer of Zim Parks and they agreed on which rangers to train, as it is sophisticated gear to be used in extreme situations and will therefore need the top rangers involved.
Soon, through the generous support and help of Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS), Nick will be able to set up 15 trail cameras. Africa Wildlife Foundation has offered to pay the annual subscriptions for the Domain Awareness System software used in the camera operations which is $16,500 per annum , so a huge thanks for that – great collaboration. The communications base will be in the south-central area of the park where a lot of the incursions occur. The cameras will use WhatsApp messaging to deliver video to the manager at the communications base who can radio the reaction unit.
Land and river patrols have been limited during the safari season because of vehicle breakdowns due in large part to extremely rough terrain and even sabotage by “potential” poachers. Nick reports we now have one functional motorboat and he is working on getting vehicles up and running to return to full strength daily patrolling during the upcoming rainy season. We currently have two operational vehicles but the severe economic crisis in Zim seriously limits availability of fuel, food and general supplies. BC hopes to purchase another vehicle that costs around $25,000.
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INVESTIGATIONS AND ARRESTS

Nick reported that it has been reasonably quiet with respect to incursions, although there was a recent incursion in the southern part of the Park. Vehicles owned by BSU and Zambezi Society were used for Ranger transport and the satellite phones were instrumental in the successful ambush of the poachers.
There have been a couple of recent arrests, one involving a pangolin that was recovered and another involving an informer who was successful in his sting operation. In addition, four people were arrested in Harare in August in connection with ivory trafficking and one pair of tusks was recovered. The Parks investigator who is funded by BSU was assigned to investigate and intelligence is ongoing. The Minister of Environment has nominated our investigator for a medal, citing 179 arrests and 1400 years sentencing as a result of his work.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

BC funded a minibus for the Park Community school children who previously had a very difficult time reaching the school. This outreach is important to build the trust with the community so we can enjoy their cooperation in our efforts to save the wildlife. Branding on the bus will bring us additional goodwill and heightened awareness of our presence and achievements.
Lara England, from BSU donated a freezer to store meat that is being purchased for the sustenance of the Rangers who patrol the Park. Nick entered into an oral agreement (written agreement to follow) with Parks management to provide meat rations to feed the 55 rangers and their families. In exchange, the Rangers would refrain from shooting wildlife, including elephants, for food. Nick reports that meat ration deliveries have been going well utilizing the new freezer and the Rangers are appreciative.
BC also donated $2500 for construction of the Community Center, which is also the location of the Medical Clinic which BC was instrumental in creating. BC is currently preparing a grant to donate medical and surgical equipment to the clinic.

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COLLARING OF ELEPHANTS

Nick reported that the five elephant collars we purchased last spring have not yet been placed on any elephants while we wait for Parks to provide the permits. Nick is hopeful the collaring will happen before the end of the year.

NEW FUNDRAISING GROUP ESTABLISHED


Bushlife Conservancy now has an established core Volunteer Fundraising Group comprising six exceptionally talented and enthusiastic individuals, several of whom have broad and long-time professional experience in fundraising for various organizations. We expect great success with new “marketing” and outreach efforts to expand our donor base and to raise the profile of the critical work of protecting the wildlife in Mana Pools. The group has already submitted a grant for additional funding for the African Painted Wolf focus and will be submitting additional grants in the coming year.

ADDITIONAL FOCUS ON THE PAINTED WOLVES
(WILD DOGS) OF MANA POOLS

As many of you are aware, Nick Murray, the President of Bushlife Conservancy, guided and hosted a team from the BBC at Vundu Camp from January 2015 through November 2016. They were there filming the painted dogs for a landmark documentary series called Dynasties. Nick attended the premiere in South Africa in November, and it is scheduled for release in the US in January 2019. The documentary is narrated by Sir David Attenborough, who Nick and Des were honored to host at Vundu Camp for a week in April this year. In order to follow up with the increased interest that the public will no doubt have as a result of viewing this series, especially the episode filmed at Vundu with Nick and the wild dogs, BC will be increasing its focus on this beautiful and very endangered species. We will be launching a Painted Wolves Facebook campaign around the wild dogs, described by BBC as Painted Wolves, after Thanksgiving. We are not in any way, lessening our focus on the elephants but hope to reach an additional audience who may be especially interested in supporting conservation for the dogs. BC and BSU will continue to include protection of the Painted Wolves as part of the overall anti-poaching program, through a new initiative called Painted Wolf Conservancy.

Here is the sneak peak for the new David Attenborough Series by BBC Earth:

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Thank you again for your generous support without which we would not exist. May this Thanksgiving be a peaceful and loving time for ALL.

Nick Murray, President Beth Brock, Treasurer

Board Members: Alison Nolting, Ed Callen, Mara Perkins
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