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APRIL 2021

NEWSLETTER
The Zambezi Off-Road Club held their 9th Annual Enduro during the first weekend of May, in the communal area bordering Victoria Falls.. They had 102 bike riders participating, (a record number) from all over Zimbabwe, from Zambia and from Botswana, and including 2 riders who have ridden the Dakar. There were also 35 local cyclists (on a different track!!). It was a fantastic weekend, well organised and supported. Bhejane Trust (one of the beneficiaries of this event) was allocated "Boulder Gardens" to marshal at, and it was quite something to see how the top riders rode up through the jumbled rocks at speed, and how the rest struggled!!
The event had good support from the local community, and I think it was an eye-opener for them to see all these crazy people in high speed action! The Victoria Falls locals also turned out in force, and it was a great atmosphere and occasion all round. Well done to Ian Gloss and his team for pulling off an awesome event.
Marshalling at "Boulder Gardens" . Enduro action!!

ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK

We have completed our program of double reinforcing security on all our panels and pumps in the Chamabonda - at great effort and extra expense!!
A big thanks to Mike Karasellos of JM Motors for grading the road up to Thomsons Pan, and who also mowed the roads in the vlei.
We are refurbishing Timots Hide at the request of Parks, and thanks to Rich Low for assisting on the woodwork!
In conjunction with Parks and Charles Brightman's Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, we have been conducting surveillance and ambushes on the Zambezi River to try and intercept the Zambian thieves/poachers crossing over on the full moon. In one incident, two Zambian poachers entered an inlet and put down nets - the Parks ambush team tried to close in but lost them when a cloud moved over, so they fired a few warning shots in the general direction. The Zambians abandoned their mekoro - they leapt into the water and vanished at great speed on the land! I am not sure how they got back to Zambia, but we recovered the mekoro and all their nets. A good result!!
 
KAZUMA PAN NATIONAL PARK
We managed to access Kazuma, as it has dried up a lot - the roads however are badly pitted with elephant footprints! There is still a lot of surface water around, but all the pumps are working. We will be installing a new solar unit on Kazuma Corner Pan in May or early June.
ROBINS
Onias has completed his work program on cleaning up around the signposts. He is now operating on a care and maintenance basis, but has been helping Parks burning fireguards - with the grass cover this year there is a high threat level of big fires!
Cleaned up around signpost bollard 
 
We are still waiting to get into Bumbumutsa Pan to drill a second borehole, for a new solar unit donated by Le Pal Nature Nature and Le Pic Vert, but the access road is still not dry enough to get the drilling rig in.
SINAMATELLA
Report by Stephen Long
Rainfall.
   Yes, rainfall, we actually had some – but it waited until late afternoon on the very last day of the month – just one millimeter had fallen up to then and we had counted the rainy season as being over. However that late rain was surprisingly heavy. Thirty-six millimetres fell in a short  time, it filled the pans, made even more gullies in the roads and (I hope) stimulated the grass and trees to stay green for just a little longer. It took the April rainfall to above average and the season total to an amazing 800mm. That’s more than a hundred and fifty millimetres more than the annual average over the last eleven years…….
 Throughout April we continued getting our game water infrastructure ready for the season ahead. By the end of the month all but three of our twenty-two  pumps were running normally and we are simply awaiting transport of materials from Victoria Falls to be able to get two of those three working. The third is a mystery for now – it is Grassy Pan 2 where we are unsure of the problem  but at month end we were too short of fuel to get out there and check it. The pan though is completely full and the number 1 borehole is running so we don’t need to panic. Sue and I stopped for lunch at the pan in mid-month as we travelled the long pump-checking route around Tshontanda, Inyantue and Shumba. It is a beautiful pan, but quite a way off the tourist route and not at all well-known……
Wildlife.
  When Trevor was bitten by a snake last year it reminded us all of the dangers of walking outside at night without a torch and we were very careful for a while. Of course, we all became careless again and one night in mid-April I went out to get something from one of the cars and on my way back to the house I was brought to a sudden stop by that nasty warning hiss that’s so typical of a puff adder. Less than a meter in front of me, just visible in the moonlight was this snake …….
   I thanked it sincerely for warning me rather than waiting a second or so more and striking. Of course we’ve learned our lesson again and always take a torch if we go outside at night – temporarily at least!
    In the March letter I wrote about the annual infestation of stinkbugs. At the time we were amazed at the vast numbers of them swarming all over us and the house but as it turns out, that was just a training run or perhaps a reconnaissance mission for the real swarm that was to follow in April. The night of the 24th was just about ‘peak stinkbug’. It was preceded by thousands of them flying around outside through the afternoon…..
   When night fell there was no keeping them out of the house and outside we found many of our plants, such as this aloe, literally covered…..
    We gave up and retreated under the mosquito net and left the house to the bugs. They obviously had a busy night smashing themselves against the walls and there were an impressive number of casualties to be swept out next morning …..
   The rain at month end seemed to dampen their enthusiasm and we had a night with only tens, perhaps hundreds to contend with. I really hope that’s the end of them for now and when the residual stink has worn off we can forget about them for another year.
    Whilst I have grown to hate the stinkbugs, they do have their fans – squirrels, Meves’ starlings and   hornbills eat them readily. Our tame Red-billed hornbills ‘Dumb and Dumber’ no doubt saw the bug swarm as a useful ready meal because their babies for this year (the Dumbettes) finally left the nest box in April and sat around noisily demanding food from their parents. They are at least as dumb as their parents – standing virtually knee deep in bugs but still squawking to be fed. Dumb largely ignores them and just feeds herself but Dumber does his best to keep them happy …..
Miscellaneous
   At the full moon on the 27th, we did our first Masuma Dam 24-hour count for the year. This was before the unexpected rain and we had wondered if elephant numbers might be higher than normal but in fact we saw slightly fewer than on the equivalent date last year. As usual, Sue and I did the 2.00a.m to breakfast-time shift and saw very little. Around 3.00a.m an ambitious hyena chased a mother and calf waterbuck right around the dam but gave up when they took a short cut across the arm of shallow water at the eastern end. That was the extent of the excitement for the night but these regular dry season counts have now been done for almost thirty-five years so we are very happy to keep that data-stream going, even if the overnight counting shifts are a bit cold and dull.
   Next,  this not-very-pleasant picture …….
  That’s the back of a Land Rover carrying just part of the haul of litter collected on the 6th April from around Mandavu Dam by myself and a group of rangers. The people who visit the dam for fishing at the weekends are largely responsible for the mess and they have apparently been warned that anyone caught dumping litter in future will be fined or perhaps banned from the dam for a while. We hope the warning will be taken seriously and we’ll do another sweep around Mandavu in May to see how it looks.
    And finally, after all the rain back in November, December and January, the Sinamatella area has far more grass than normal and after the dry spell in March and April, it’s already dry – a bushfire waiting to happen! Parks are well aware of the potential problem and have started early with preparing fire-guards by strip burning along the railway boundary. Bhejane Trust provided transport and manpower for the exercise. Colbro also helped with the anti-fire preparations by kindly loaning their tractor and driver so that the Parks tow-grader could be used to clear grass between Tshakabika and Inyantue then between Inyantue and Shumba . We are very grateful for that, especially as those are not just fire-guards but also roads which we drive on regularly. It’s so much easier to drink tea and drive at the same time when the road is fairly smooth.
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RHINO MONITORING & PROTECTION UNIT

Report By Nick Long
During the month of April the team did a total number of 21 patrols (359.30Km) with 16 of these being Rhino monitoring patrols and 5 being Anti-poaching patrols.
As can be seen from the figures above, we focused mainly on the rhino this month. We found quite a bit of activity and spoor but there is still plenty of grass cover making any tracking almost impossible. We also set camera traps in an effort to try and get pictures of the rhino in areas where we found activity. Unfortunately we don’t have very many of them and we are also still struggling to find a way to stop the elephants pulling them down.
We are currently using fresh elephant dung and chili as a deterrent
Towards the end of the month we were on our way to Victoria Falls for our second Coronavirus vaccinations, while driving along a back road close to Number 2 village we spotted two men carrying packs on their backs which we knew from our previous encounters with similar poachers, would contain dried fish. When we stopped the vehicle to investigate, the two started to run away and we gave chase upon which we recovered both of their packs which they had dropped to avoid capture. After inspection we found dried fish, dried Francolins and cooking equipment. From information collected at previous arrests we are sure they were from the Deka river in the Park and had probably been there for several nights.  All the fish and their equipment was recovered and taken to Sinamatella. Even though the two got away without arrest they certainly lost a lot of income and effort.
The fish poachers use nets to catch fish out of river pools. These fish are the breeding stock for next year when the rains come and the river flows.  We hear from people living further down along the river, out of the Park, that fish stocks are now so low that they don’t even bother to try to catch them any more. Animals suffer from the unsustainable fishing as well - all that fish would have supplied many meals for this Fish Eagle that we met along the Nkwizizi River!
POACHING
Yet again, The Parks Investigations team based out of Hwange have had a successful month, with arrests and prosecutions ranging from illegal ivory to poaching of dassies (rock rabbits)!
On top of all this activity, Amos has been utilising his TUSK grant for training courses for investigations personnel - a very valuable program where he can pass on his extensive knowledge and experience. There is a very real requirement for trained investigative persons, the effective of such persons is well proven by the results of the Hwange Investigations unit! 
Parks Investigations arrested a man with 7 illegal tusks (weighing 66kg) in his vehicle. He is in custody as further accomplices are sought, and pending prosecution. 

Now the bush is drying out, we have noticed a big increase in poaching, especially snaring, and expect a pretty hectic few months ahead!
GRATEFUL THANKS

We have had an amazing period of support from all our friends, new and old, out there, and we really appreciate all this support. Our heartfelt thanks to (in no particular order):
Patrick Jacquemin for his donation to help our operational costs, and to put in a new borehole and pump, which will go in early this year
Mark Unwin and the Clarkson Family Trust, for yet another generous donation.
Lion Recovery Fund and Rhino Recovery Fund  - a big thanks to Peter Lindsay and Markus Hofmeyr for the great support they have just offered the trust
Morne and Michelle Muller of Surgical and Opthalmic Supplies for their pledge of support for this year
Piet Weller, through Lionel and Annelise Finaughty for the offer to sponsor a wateroint in Kazuma in memory of Wessels Weller
Larry Norton for his offer of a percentage of sales of certain prints to go to the trust.
Frank Zindell of the Educasa Foundation and a longtime supporter has made a very generous donation, which is very much appreciated.Thanks to Stuart Danks of Simply Africa for facilitation
Dr Mark Bristow and Hunters and Guides for the financing of our Rhino Monitoring and Protection Unit. Mark came out and pledged assistance for a further three years!!! 
Elka Lenherr-Toedtii for her generous donation towards a complete borehole/pump setup
Simon and Portia Rowlands for a very generous donation towards s complete borehole/pump unit
SATIB and the Southern Africa Conservation Trust for their support on insurances - thanks to Brian Courtney
Ian Gloss of Victoria Falls Liquorama for his continued assistance
Pieter and Anthea Erasmus for their continued support, and for the use of their vehicle 
Michel Buenerd of Le Pic Vert, and Le Pal Nature Foundation, for funding their eleventh borehole and pump in Sinamatella/Robins area!
Antoinette van Wijk of Holland for her sterling fund raising effort
Nicholas Duncan and the SAVE The African Rhino Foundation of Australia – a staunch supporter.
RAM Petroleum
Jim Goddard of JRG for monthly diesel donation
Ricky Forster and Forster Irrigation of Bulawayo 
John Karasellos of Hisspan Motors for his continuing assistance and support.
Hwange Conservation Society (UK) - John Gillon - for their generous support
Inke Kreling-Boysen for her generous donation
Mike Karasellos for grading and mowing roads in the Chamabonda
Rich Low for the woodwork on Timots Hide
Graham Andrews for his donation

Thanks to our Board of Trustees for all the hard work they are putting in - Ian Gloss, Dave Carson, Dan Jones, Stephen Long and Trevor Lane
 
A big thanks to Ministry and Parks Staff :
 Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, the Hon. Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu
The Director General - Mr Fulton Mangwanya
The Chief Conservator - Mt Arthur Musakwa
The Cluster Manager (Mat North) - Matabeleland - Mr Samson Chibaya,
Area Manager - Zambezi --Mr Marvellous Mbikbiyana
Area Manager, - Robins and Kazuma - Mrs N Moyo
Area Manager - Sinamatella - Mr Mutandwa
 and all their guys on the ground for all their support and assistance.

To my wife Liz for her continual support in all my comings and goings!!

Apologies if we have inadvertently left anyone out!! Your help is much appreciated 

DONATIONS

Bhejane Trust relies on donations to continue it’s operations, which includes our daily operating costs, as well as specific projects. 

PLEASE HELP!! 

Donate to help us save our wildlife heritage - any donations would be gratefully accepted . Donations can be through our “PayNow” button (below) or direct to our bank account:

Bank details :

Bhejane Trust,
FBC Bank,
Sawanga Mall
Victoria Falls
Zimbabwe
Branch Code : 8512
Swift Code : FBCPZWHAX
Account No : 2245093780275

Bhejane Trust office address:
231 Sopers Crescent,
P.O.Box 210
Victoria Falls,
Zimbabwe

Note - we do not have postal codes in Zimbabwe (00)

CONTACT DETAILS

Trevor Lane : trevor@bhejanetrust.org         +263 777 057 024
Stephen Long : stephen@bhejanetrust.org 

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trevor@bhejanetrust.org

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Bhejane Trust · 231 Sopers Crescent · Victoria Falls · Zimbabwe

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