FEBRUARY 2019 NEWSLETTER

From the Volunteer Board Members of Bushlife Conservancy

 

IRI PANO! IT'S HERE!

 

Dynasties BBC - Painted Wolves

Saturday February 09

We hope you have now had a chance to watch the first few episodes of the spectacular new BBC series we have been talking about: Dynasties. As many of you are aware, Nick Murray, our President, guided and hosted a team from the BBC at Vundu Camp from January 2015 through November 2016 as they were filming the painted dogs episode for this landmark documentary series. There is Nick, in the opening scene of the first episode, driving Sir David Attenborough in Mana Pools. 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, Bushlife Conservancy has increased its focus on this beautiful and very endangered species. 

The episode on the Painted Wolves (Wild Dogs) airs in the US on various channels including BBC America on Saturday, February 9th (and AMC Monday February 11). It tells the story of TAIT (named after Nick and Desiree’s daughter Tait) who is a legendary Alpha Female among her breed. She has been extremely successful in creating and leading her dynasty. We are all anticipating this exciting opportunity to learn more of her story and see Nick and beautiful Mana Pools National Park.

We encourage you all to invite your friends over for a viewing of this episode. We want to raise awareness of the challenges facing this beautiful species and hopefully grow the circle of friends of Bushlife Conservancy.

Check out our Painted Wolf Conservancy Facebook campaign around the wild dogs, described by BBC as Painted Wolves. Also take a look at Bushlife Conservancy’s new updated Facebook page.

SECURING THE PARK

We are happy to report that our President, Nick Murray, has hired a new multi-talented Manager to coordinate and administer daily anti-poaching activities In addition to the patrols and managing the daily vehicle repairs, this new man power provides more security oversight for our road and river vehicles and for precious fuel and food supplies.

Due to your donations, we were able to succeed in our $25,000.00 matching funds campaign generously provided by Bushlife Conservancy Friends, The Lawler Family Trust. We have thereby been able to purchase another vehicle which will be used by the manager in carrying out his many duties.

It is now the rainy season in Zimbabwe and Mana Pools is receiving some life sustaining rains. A lot of the big game animals move away from the river and into the escarpment in search of fresh food sources. This ”migration” gives the riverine habitat a chance to recover after the overgrazing and browsing during the dry season. Unfortunately, so far, the rains are not as good as the past few years and parts of the country, especially the Southeast - Malilangwe- are experiencing a drought.

Many of the roads which are rugged and chew up tires even in the dry season.  Despite the difficulties, we are currently running three vehicles and are covering three base camps in the more remote area of the Park. River patrols would start up should more rains arrive.

Your contributions have enabled us to purchase necessary camping gear, tents and other equipment, for Observation Posts. Rifle mounts for the night scopes have also been received. Training the Rangers that have been identified by Parks in the use of this new equipment has begun in Harare and a date will then be set to train inside the Park itself. With all this new equipment and technology the Observation Posts will further secure the Park. The 15 trail cameras are ready for pick up and Nick is waiting for some dry weather before attempting to get them up and running. These will be invaluable in securing the park and alerting the rangers of incursions in real time.

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INVESTIGATIONS AND ARRESTS

Nick reported that we have been fortunate and it has been quiet with respect to incursions and poaching. There is an ongoing investigation to track down official rifles that were stolen and that investigation is now centered in Kariba. Bushlife has developed a very good working relationship with two investigation officers on the investigation team and they rely on us in many ways. BC is purchasing an extra vehicle to provide these officers with transportation as they follow up with intelligence reports and pursuit of illegal activities in the Park. Bushlife continues to provide funding for intelligence and this intelligence network continues to grow and become a greater force in preventing poaching. It also provides much needed income to those providing the intelligence thus contributing to more cooperation in valuing the wildlife.

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COMMUNITY OUTREACH

As you are probably aware there is an ongoing dramatic economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe. The Rangers rarely receive their salaries and live together in the Park with their extended families trying to eke out a living. Bushlife has provided community outreach in many ways. We have provided a school bus, and provided funding for a medical clinic and community center. We are prohibited by US Tax Laws in providing salaries to Park Employees but our sister organization is able to use separate funds they receive to augment the Rangers meager salaries. Bushlife does provide meat rations to the Rangers and their families. We are hoping Rangers will have a sustainable source of meat that does not impact the wildlife of the Park. This is a dream that has not yet been realized for us but we are hoping to bring it to reality in the future.

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COLLARING OF ELEPHANTS

Nick reported that the five elephant collars we purchased last spring are soon to be put to work. There was a shortage of drugs essential to the procedure which have now been obtained. The collaring permit is currently being processed by Park authorities. The Veterinarians are awaiting drier weather as it is dangerous to dart in the rains. Two animals were lost through slipping and injuring themselves this rainy season during darting operations.

Now that we have nine collared bull elephants, Parks is interested in gathering information on general movements of the elephant population in the valley. To that end, Parks are now suggesting that elephant matriarchs and young bulls in Mana be collared in order to know where the herds are traveling throughout the Park. The data from the collared mature bulls show that the bulls do not leave the Park. They venture into the concessions of Rukomechi and Chikwneya, but do not go past the boundaries of these concessions. Despite the fact, that for two years now there has been no hunting in Sapi (the area bordering Chikwenya concession) the bulls do not yet venture out into Sapi. Elephants are SMART!!

FUNDRAISING GROUP


As previously reported, Bushlife Conservancy now has an established core Volunteer Fundraising Group. The group has already submitted a grant for additional funding for the African Painted Wolf focus and is working on submitting additional grants now. We will report on results of these grant requests as we go forward. The fundraising group also helps with marketing our brand, initiating and realizing fundraising efforts for the organization. If you have a great idea for fundraising or would like to host an event please contact us. Our Valentine initiative is to recruit 10 generous sponsors to donate $100 @ month to cover the cost of patrols - the TUSKERS RANGER fund!!.
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Thank you again for your generous support without which we would not exist. The Wildlife of Majestic Mana Pools are so grateful to you too!

Nick Murray, President Beth Brock, Treasurer Ed Callen, Secretary

Board Members: Alison Nolting, Mara Perkins
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