JULY 2019 NEWSLETTER

From the Volunteer Board Members of Bushlife Conservancy

 

This issue of the newsletter is compiled by Patsy Samuel, a volunteer with Bushlife Conservancy’s fundraising team.  Patsy and her husband, Ed Callen a Board Member for BC, visited Mana Pools and stayed with Nick Murray in May.

Our Bushlife Support Unit Trust partners in Mana Pools send their thanks for your support.  Your donations help us to fulfill our mission: to protect and save African Wildlife for future generations in the Mana Pools and Zambezi Valley areas of Zimbabwe.

 


 

Bushlife Conservancy Manager Update

(You may remember being introduced to Freedom (Nkululeko) in our June newsletter. Freedom supports our anti-poaching and conservation efforts in the lower Zambezi Valley.)

Poaching is big business in this part of the world. Nearly 94% of the world’s elephant and rhinoceros poaching occurs in Zimbabwe and South Africa according to a 2014 report published by the United Nations. The Thin Green Line Foundation, an Australian based organization that tracks ranger deaths and injuries across the world, reports that 107 rangers died between 2017 and 2018. Many of these rangers were killed in incidents directly related to their anti-poaching duties.

Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Zambezi Valley, is home to four of the Big Five animals which are targeted by poachers. Of the Big Five (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, and Rhino) the Black Rhino was heavily poached in the Zambezi Valley during the late 1980s to mid-90s. The remaining rhinos were relocated from Mana Pools to Intensive Protection Zones (IPZ) in Zimbabwe. These places are under heavy security to protect the remaining animals.  

Poaching of animals is driven by several factors; however, the most common are poverty and severe economic challenges. Villagers living on the periphery of wildlife conservancies like Mana Pools are enticed by money into poaching activities. In Mana Pools your donations help combat the poaching of elephants, pangolin, as well as support the protection of other species including painted wolves. This includes protecting Wendy and her son, whom you see pictured below on their island in the Zambezi River, Mana Pools.  We thank you for your support!

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A Tale from Mana - the amazing and elusive Painted Wolves by Dr. Ed Callen

After seeing documentaries on the painted wolf (African wild dog) I became fascinated by them. They had skillful hunting abilities and incredible social structures and behaviors. There was also such a small number remaining in the African bush. That made the painted wolf an alluring species to hope to see on safari.

For many years on safari, we would arrive at camps and our guides would ask what we’d like to see. I would respond with wild dog, and usually get a chuckle along with comments about how rare they are and that they are always on the move. We finally had our first sighting in the Selous National Park, Tanzania on the last day of a trip during the last 15 minutes of our game drive before we were scheduled to leave for the airstrip. Resting in a field were 13 wild dogs! Watching them during our short encounter was so emotional for us that tears flowed.  
 
Eventually we made our first visit to Mana Pools and met Nick Murray. Little did we know that beginning with our first trip with Nick there would be many exhilarating wild dog encounters at Mana Pools. We were eager to see them again this past May, especially after seeing the Dynasties episode on the Painted Wolf.  With Nick guiding the way we searched for those elusive painted wolves far and wide, while enjoying all the magnificent elements of Mana Pools. Finally, late in the afternoon of the fifth day of our trip we heard that the Nyakasanga pack of 14 dogs had been located. Nick got us to their location in time to see the pack as they were starting to rise from their rest, begin their socializing, and start to hunt. We also followed on foot for a short time while dusk was approaching. When we returned to the area the next morning the dogs had disappeared into the bush. Again, against the odds, we were able to experience those amazing and elusive painted wolves!

The painted wolves are one of the many reasons we find it our privilege and duty to support Bushlife Conservancy, Nick Murray the President of Bushlife Conservancy and the head of Bushlife Support Trust, as well as the conservation and anti-poaching efforts in Mana Pools.

Update on the Nyakasanga Painted Wolf Pack

 

On June 27, Nick Murray reported that the Nyakasanga pack of 14 has split, with three of Blacktip’s daughters – Tris, Anna and Justine forming a new dispersal unit. This unit has been seen around the Nyamepi area so perhaps a male will join them from this pack. In addition, the new alpha female from the Nyakasanga pack, Violet, is showing early signs of pregnancy with Jiani as the father. It was estimated that Violet will have her first litter in about 30 days. Jiani is showing signs of his age now, so this may be the last litter he fathers. 

Update on Future Initiatives

By way of background…Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Cherwore Safari Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an area of 676,600 hectares bordered by the Zambezi River to the north and a steep escarpment to the south. There are three additional conservation areas contiguous to the Site and across the river is Zambezi National Park in Zambia. There are no physical boundaries to the site so a diversity of animals including elephants, buffalo, zebra, many antelope species, lion, leopard, hyena, painted wolves and pangolins are among those who migrate throughout the Zambezi Valley with some animals crossing the river into Zambia. There are also considerable numbers of hippopotamus, Nile crocodile and over 450 species of birds in the area, both resident and migratory. There is no permanent human settlement on the site. 

 

Bushlife Conservancy (BC, the U.S. non-profit) funds projects implemented by Bushlife Support Trust Unit (BSUT, the Zimbabwe non-profit) in the lower Zambezi Valley which includes this UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a result of this successful partnership and our donor’s generosity, BSUT has a strong history of collaboration with Zimbabwe National Parks (Zimparks) in enforcing anti-poaching and promoting the conservation of natural resources.

Our many successes in anti-poaching, resourcing and recovery as well as development and maintenance of infrastructure have been recognized by Zimparks and the Zimbabwe Government. In May, Nick Murray, our Bushlife Conservancy Board President, met with the Director General of National Parks, Mr. Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya at his office in Harare. Their discussion included the following topics and potential opportunities for the future:

  • There is an interest from the Director General of National Parks that BC/BSUT under Nick’s leadership plan, develop and build the Pangolin/Endangered Animal Rehabilitation Center to be in Mana Pools National Park. A feasibility study with cost analysis is being completed. Challenges would include a capital campaign for funding the facility and ongoing funding to maintain operations. The economic challenges in Zimbabwe are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future so this would be a significant ongoing commitment that would need full donor and partner support if we move in this direction.
  • All current permits for elephant collars were approved by the Director General. This means that the veterinarian will be contacted to support collaring efforts beginning this summer.
  • Thermal vision training was approved for staff and the Park Rangers that we work with in Mana Pools.  
  • We received approval to install trail cameras. For this project we are working with Wildlife Protection Solutions and will be installing trail cameras with 4G LTE in Mana Pools.This will enable remote hidden cameras to be installed in the Park in hot-spot areas. The cameras will feed information in real time to the operations center. Any insurgents or poachers can be reported and reacted to immediately. We hope that using this technology will all but halt the poaching of wildlife in Mana Pools National Park.
Meet Mr Pias Mhlanga

It takes a team of dedicated, hard-working staff to accomplish our critical conservation work. I would like to introduce you to a critical member of the Bushlife Support Unit Trust team, Mr. Pias Mhlanga. 
 
I met Mr. Mhlanga in Camp this past May. He has an engaging smile and a friendly, kind demeanor. Yet, he is vigilant in conserving resources. Mr. Mhlanga has worked with Nick Murray since 1991 in Mana Pools National Park. Since 2015, he has been the Chief Storeman for Bushlife Support Unit Trust, actively supporting the anti-poaching units and ensuring they have the resources they need to locate at their remote bases in the field.
 
Mr. Mhlanga is responsible for ensuring that the anti-poaching units are supplied with staples such as dried fish, sugar, flour, cooking oil, tea leaves, milk, beans, and salt. The anti-poaching units, consisting of a BSUT Driver and 4 Park Rangers, travel to Mr. Mhlanga at Main Camp where he distributes to them the necessary provisions giving them an opportunity to visit an area of the park they are not typically patrolling thereby offering  “fresh eyes” on the scenery that others may be more accustomed to patrolling. 
 
When not working in Mana Pools, Mr. Mhlanga lives in Binga which is near the southeastern shore of Lake Kariba. When asked what he likes most about his job, he reports his love of the bush, animals, birds and protecting the animals. Mr. Mhlanga was a joy to spend time with and to share his passion. He is clearly a valued member of the team. 

Interested in Talking to a Volunteer for BC?

Lots of non-profits make phone calls to donors – if we know you, you might hear from one of us but that is not typically our style with limited resources. We are all volunteers at BC. However, we can periodically manage “in-reach” instead of “outreach”. If you would like to reach out and talk to one of our volunteers, we would be happy to chat with you. The lines will be open, as they say, the week of July 21 to 27. If you have an idea, a question, need information…we are happy to help. If we don’t know the answer, we will get it for you. To make sure we are coordinating our chats, please email Patsy at patcal4@aol.com and we will coordinate a time at your convenience. Looking forward to talking with you! 

How Can You Help?
TO OUR DONORS, THANK YOU!  We thank our new donors for joining our team.  Lisa, Tom, Jerry, Peggy, Holly, Donna, Juan, Carmen, Roger, Lynne…your gifts are priceless! 

To our current and committed donors – you are our backbone!  We can’t thank you enough. 
 
Special thanks this month to: Bruce and Lisa Lawler for supporting collars; Jeff Morgan for the support of thermal vision training and Wildlife Protection Solutions - https://wildlifeprotectionsolutions.org/  for the trail cameras and Bob and Mara Perkins for the Fire Tablets to share BC information with guests at Camp….you are extraordinary in your innovation and support. 
If you have supported BC previously, we thank you! As a member of the BC family, you already know our anti-poaching and conservation needs are ever increasing.
 
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the United States. Since our inception in 2016, we have supported the on-the-ground efforts of the Zimbabwe non-profit Bushlife Support Unit Trust.  Nick Murray is the President of the Board of Directors for BC and the head of BSUT.
 
Please log onto our website to make a secure (U.S. tax deductible) donation Bushlifeconservancy.org or send a check directly to:
 
Bushlife Conservancy
216 F Street #112
Davis, CA 95616
 
As we update our website, we are preparing for the kick-off of our Bushlife Conservancy Tusker Ranger Fund.  Our dream is to recruit 100 donors who will donate at $100 per month to the fund and cover the cost of our anti-poaching patrols for an entire year.  This covered cost would allow us to expand our conservation efforts in so many ways.  Watch for more information on this campaign in our August news!

May 2019 - Nick is telling our dear friend Tusker who is settling down for a nap - "No worries, we have you covered".

 

 

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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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