by Charles Brightman
(Victoria Falls )

To start off, we would like to wish each and every one of our supporters the very best for 2015 and let’s hope that the New Year will bring many successes in fighting poaching in our region.

Many thanks, as always, go to our supporters who keep VFAPU in operation – we are very grateful for your commitment towards wildlife conservation.

Thanks go to National Parks and Wildlife Management and the Zimbabwe Republic Police for the opportunity to join forces and fight crime collectively, thus illustrating what can be achieved when we all work together.
The Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit, through private funding from our supporters, has proven to be an effective presence on the ground with anti poaching operations. There are currently seventeen scouts working with the unit and these men often face great adversity, as they actively patrol the bush surrounding Victoria Falls. Our operations expand further afield too, as we offer logistics, manpower and equipment to assist in joint operations with the appropriate authorities. We commend 2014 successes achieved by Rangers from NPWMA, ZRP Support Unit and Forestry Rangers in dealing with ivory poachers in the Zambezi National Park and surrounds.

We experienced our first case of cyanide poisoning, where poachers placed this poison in a mineral lick and sadly, five elephants lost their lives to this ghastly method of poaching for ivory. It was, however, good to see the positive reaction by all stakeholders concerned in dealing with this situation and collective investigations lead to some arrests being made.

To reflect on 2014 and our operations in brief, please refer to the statistics below:

SNARES RECOVERED: 158 (remember that when VFAPU was first established in 1999, just over 4000 snares were recovered at that time).
PERSONS APPREHENDED: 398 = 358 wood poachers, 11 fish poachers, 13 mammal poachers (including ivory poachers), 1 thief, 8 illegal miners, 2 bush meat dealers and 5 persons entering the parks estate illegally.
INJURED MAMMALS DARTED, TREATED AND RETURNED TO THE WILD: 4 – 2 warthogs, 1 kudu and 1 buffalo. Thank you to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust for the assistance in this field.
MAMMALS DISCOVERED POACHED: 19 = 1 kudu, 7 elephants, 6 warthogs, 5 buffalo.

We have to that note of some very distressing statistics emerging from the recent elephant population aerial survey funded through The Paul Allen Foundation. For example, the elephant population in the Sebungwe region has decreased by a staggering 75% and in the lower Zambezi Valley there has been a population decrease of 8000 elephants. There have, however, been population increases in Matabeleland North and in Gona-re-Zhou National Park.
As we reflect on these statistics, both positive and negative, the realisation of how we must all take a stand against all forms of poaching comes to the fore, and we must not let poaching take place unabated. We look forward to your support throughout 2015. Thank you.

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