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OCTOBER 2021
NEWSLETTER
In a terrible tragic incident, Clever Kapandura of the Victoria Fals Anti-Poaching Unit was killed by an elephant on the outskirts of town. Clever was following up on a possible poaching lead when the elephant, totally unprovoked and from a distance of over 100 yards, charged. The team with him split and unfortunately the elephant  caught and killed Clever. The elephant was later tracked down and shot, and had no apparent injuries or ailments. Clever had devoted his life to wildlife conservation, and he joins the esteemed ranks of dedicated rangers fallen in the line of duty. It was our honour to have worked with him, and he will be sorely missed by all in Victoria Falls. We salute you!
Bhejane Trust extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Clever, and to Charles Brightman ( with whom he had been associated with for 31 years) and all his team mates in VFAPU.
 
The saga of rhino poaching in Botswana draws to a close as the last rhino are eliminated in the Okavango Delta. This has been a massive tragedy to which the Botswana turned a blind eye, as `Zambian poachers, with local connivance, poached out the rhino almost unimpeded. There are probably less then 20 rhino left. which means over 200 have been slaughtered over the past couple of years. The Botswana Game department appears to have collapsed completely ( a recent visitor to Chobe commented on the poor state of the Park roads and facilities) and the Botswana Defence Force who were put in charge of the anti-poaching, proved to be totally incompetent at this type of operation.
It appears now that the rhino are finished, the Zambians have turned their attention back to elephant, along the Botswana side of the Zimbabwean border, and probably within Zimbabwe. A vet on a call out in a local forest area encountered a group of Zambian poachers, at least 9 in number, which were obviously heading across the border. Another tell tale sign is that the elephant in the border region are generally very nervous and run in panic if they detect any unusual activity such as a vehicle. The Zambians know they can operate safely in Botswana and this does not bode well for the elephant!
Botswana can no longer be considered a safe haven for wildlife - a reputation it upheld up till the last couple of years!

This poignant message for HE Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama ( former President) sums it up (his address on World Rhino Day):
"Today is set aside as a day to celebrate world rhino day usually observed on the 22 September each year . 
For us in Botswana there is nothing to celebrate because in recent times we have seen how poachers roam our wilderness as if free to do so , and have gone about with little hindrance slaughtering this wildlife icon. The poachers have managed to reverse many years of hard work, time and resources that once made this country , until recently,  a safe haven for rhinos and all wildlife. We were a destination of choice for tourists to come and admire our pristine environment and wonderful biodiversity and contribute significantly to our economy and job creation opportunities.
And the slaughter still continues , albeit at a slower pace nowadays as there are hardly any more rhinos left in the wild to poach , with no end in sight in stopping the momentum towards local extinction . The rag tag groups of poachers have cleaned us out effectively and effortlessly.
So treasure whatever pictures you may have of them. 
They may be the only evidence of there having once been rhinos roaming in the wild in this country."

 

ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK

The Trust held its first 24hour waterhole count at all the Pans along the Chamabonda, with varying results. The weather was not great, being cloudy and very windy. One team was lucky enough to witness a hyena trying (unsuccessfully) to kill a porcupine, and then a lioness kill an impala.
Of interest  was the low number of elephant recorded ( only 485), whereas buffalo were recorded at 648. Of major concern is that sable - only 4 recorded. The sable used to be the most prolific animal on the vlei some 40 years ago, but countrywide sable have been in major decline and now have to be one of the most threatened species in Zimbabwe.
KAZUMA PAN NATIONAL PARK
We had a busy month in Kazuma, successfully drilling a new borehole at Roan Pan, which we equipped and is now fully functional - the pan is filling quickly from being nearly dry. 
We also drilled a new borehole at Tsessebe Pan, at the top end of the Depression, to replace an old CDC borehole - this was also equipped this month
Our water management program for Kazuma is thus complete, and for 2022 we can concentrate more on roads and infrastructure.
Mike Jonasssi and the Parks team were also very active, grading the new tracks on the Depression ( after we serviced his tractor and fixed his grader) and we now have a road network established, which will greatly facilitate tourism and management, especially fire fighting, in the future. 
We held a 24 hour game count in Kazuma, concentrating on the Depression area as the game in the Katsechete River area is too wild. Unfortunately the weather was against us, with very strong winds and high cloud at night which obscured the moon. We however, did get some results, and learnt some lessons for future counts. We also conducted a quick road count. Results of both counts:
Buffalo       571
Roan            58
Zebra         641
Tsessebe    241
Reedbuck     28
Oribi               4
Cheetah        7
Wildebeest   92
Giraffe           355
Elephant       228
Hippo               4
Impala           10
Honey badger  2
Not bad for a small area!!

  
Parks grading roads in the Depression.               Water found at Tsessebe Pan!
ROBINS
Robins was hit by a fierce wildfire this month, which came in from the Matetsi side and was fanned by very strong winds. Onias and the Parks team were out nightly for several nights till very late trying to extinguish the fire, but it was basically a "mission impossible" and the fire eventually burnt itself out, leaving an exhaus
However, with the first rain showers already arrived, the area will green up quickly, and no real damage done!
We erected a new demarcation wall around Big Toms, to clearly fence off the parking area. Come the new season we can put thatch or brush along it to provide the necessary visual protection.
SINAMATELLA
Report by Stephen Long
Rainfall and game water.
   Yes indeed – rainfall. There wasn’t all that much of it but we had rain on four separate days in October, giving a total of 21mm. That’s the second wettest October at Sinamatella since we started measuring it thirteen years ago, and the wettest (by just a couple of millimetres) was last year, which then went on to become an exceptionally good rainy season. Let’s hope for the same from now on.
    While we wait for the real rains to begin we are experiencing, as we do every year of course, day after day of heat, more heat and small clouds to give a hint of what is to come. If this contribution to the newsletter is lacking in sparkling wit and fascinating anecdotes, it may have something to do with the temperature (thirty eight degrees) in the office as I write it!
    We can start with good news on game water.  Many of the elephants seem to have gone away (if they even came here at all this year) and our game water pumps are coping easily - which is certainly not a sentence I would be able to write in October most years. Masuma Dam holds more water than I can remember for the end of the dry season, Shumba hasn’t become the ugly mud-puddle we’ve seen in recent years and many of the smaller pans are 80% full or more.  It’s a very happy situation all round, largely thanks to last year’s rains but I’d like to think also partly due to our hard-working game water maintaining (and Land Rover fixing, ranger deploying, road repairing etc etc) team, Tshuks, Musa and Gift.
    We have been wanting to deepen Baobab Pan for some time and also needed to reinforce the dam wall at Inyantue. Both jobs were a bit big for us to do by hand but thanks to Bob Brown, of Colbro,, who loaned their front-end loader to do the work, both were done in just two days in October.  At Baobab we went a step further than simply scooping and we have divided the pan in two with a very low earth bar so that it will be one small but reasonably deep pan in the dry season but fill up as a single larger and deeper pan in the rains. Material taken out to deepen it was used to reinforce the dam wall……
     Of course there were pump problems to solve during the month. The rising main at Mafa’s Pan split and had to be repaired, the foot valve at Tshompani wind pump was damaged in high winds and replaced, Tshompani solar stopped pumping due to a burnt out motor and Bumboosie South continues to baffle us with its very slow pump rate. Amazingly, not one of these problems was caused by elephants and we’ve only had one incidence of elephant damage at our pumps through the whole of this dry season……. I shouldn’t have tempted fate by saying that should I?!
Wildlife.
   Elephants may not have been as common as they usually are at this time of year but we had plenty of good sightings of other species in October. We rarely see cheetah so we were delighted to have our attention  drawn to these two by a gang of guinea fowl that were swearing vigorously at them close to Camp as we were on our way out one morning……..
We saw lions on a few occasions, usually relaxing in the shade, which is what  lions do best  - and given the usual high October temperatures, who can blame them?……..
     One very hot afternoon though, while Sue was photographing giraffe, she was surprised to see a lioness make a half-hearted frontal attack which the giraffe easily avoided by simply turning and running away. Three other lionesses watched but didn’t join in and I could imagine them shaking their heads and saying something along the lines of ‘what was the point of that?’
    We were disappointed not to be able to do an October 24-hour count at Masuma as the campsite was fully booked for the full-moon period. Instead we did a daytime count and saw an unexpectedly large number of elephants (over a hundred arrived together in the middle of the afternoon) and plenty of impala, kudu, warthogs etc. We enjoyed this young male impala whose tiny, sprouting horns seem to have given him big ideas so that he has joined a group of magnificent male kudu……
   I have often said that two important signs of civilisation are tea and cricket. Our French volunteers rarely agree, suggesting  wine instead of tea and almost anything else but cricket as the vital signs, so the tame barbet that comes to join us at mealtimes at Sinamatella might therefore be civilised, but might not, depending on your point of view (as far as I know she has absolutely no interest in cricket)…..
   With international travel becoming easier, we have been delighted to be able to welcome three volunteers this year – Amelia Errington who was with us in July and Christine Warren and Rob Conlon who joined us for a while in October. All three of them were a pleasure to host and we really enjoyed their company as well as their help. Rob and Christine found themselves doing  things ranging from bird counts to hauling on ropes to help lift the Tshompani wind pump out of the borehole……..
We hope the Parks Authority will agree to our full volunteer project resuming next year.
   Finally, many thanks to Portia Rowlands from the UK who has donated money for rebuilding the attendants’ accommodation at Shumba. Parks staff will do the actual rebuilding and Bhejane Trust will do the water supply. Progress has been slow so far but we finally got a lot of the initial plumbing work done and built a tank stand at the end of October. I hope that will kick-start the project and I’ll have more to report in November.
RHINO MONITORING & PROTECTION UNIT

Report By Nick Long
This month we have had some really hot and humid conditions which didn’t make our lives any easier, hopefully it will rain soon and the temperature should come down a bit. As we are nearly at the end of the dry season here is a roundup of our patrols.
Since June this year we did a total of 410 person field days, 1723 person field hours and a total of 2476 KM patrolled. The team has had an exciting dry season with a lot of ups and downs but one big boost we had was  a donation of white flash camera traps which have allowed us to get much better quality pictures of the rhino which makes identification easier.
On one of the many pictures we got, was of a rhino which was recorded early in 2018 and had not been seen again until it showed up on camera this month, which was great The camera traps have also given us a much better idea of the current population and shown some amazing movements of some of the known rhino. 251 who is one of our bulls was seen a few days apart but in two different places which are 35 KM apart in a straight line, 179 one of our females also seemed to follow the same pattern.
Here are a few camera trap pictures I liked ( we obviously cannot show the rhino pictures)
We also made life easier for ourselves by opening some tracks into our less accessible areas - these aren’t what most people would call a road but they work for what we want them for!!.
While out on patrol. we do have some interesting moments!!  Elephants charged seriously twice and the guys got charged by a lioness with cubs recently. Of the two elephant charges I was there on one of the occasion and I can safely say it was the worst experience of my life, it was probably the closest near death experience I have ever had. When we are out on patrol we are not armed and we rely on ZIMPARKS rangers for our protection against animals on the few occasions we need it,  but they are not all confident and in some cases we end up chasing after the ranger where as it should be the other way round!! (Editors note : we have offered a training program and refresher course for the rangers which we will enact in the near future)
Until we get substantial rains the team will carry on with rhino monitoring, and we are still trying to find an elusive rhino we have only known by sign and his historical range. Also we got a report of some tourists seeing a rhino at a pan in a rather unlikely area,  but we will follow up on this all same as you never know with these animals. Once the rains come the rhino will spread out, the bush will be thicker and there will be much more cover on the ground, which makes tracking almost impossible so we will then do a lot more anti-poaching.
A couple of weeks ago we had a small bush fire which could be seen from the front of camp, it was put out in the afternoon without much effort but I was convinced it was still burning at the end of the day. We got out a monocular night vision device which we haven’t used much and tried to see if the fire still existed as you couldn’t see anything with the eyes only. There was definitely a very distinct glow on the horizon and we were convinced the fire was still burning, it turns out it was just logs burning. This gave us an idea to try and use it in the rainy season to search for poachers fires from some high points around the known poaching hot spots. This still won’t replace hard work and boots on the ground though.
Lastly I would like to thank our supporters as all of this work would not have been possible without them, THANK YOU.
POACHING
Parks Investigations have had yet another busy month!
Early in the month they arrested two well known ivory poachers in Bulawayo, who were caught red handed with 8 pieces of ivory they wished to sell. These two have been on the radar for a while, and justice has finally caught up with them.
Three persons were arrested in Bulawayo with a rhino horn in a strange case - they had been told by their employer to burn the horns, as it seems they came from a deceased estate and he wanted them destroyed to prevent any future hassles. The employer  watched them burn one horn, but they took the other when he was not looking -- a mistake they now regret!
 In a very unusual case, a person bought a car from a Zimra auction sale in Victoria Falls of impounded vehicles.. When the new owner opened the boot of the car he discovered two tusks hidden in the wheel well. He immediately reported this and a further search found another tusk under a seat. The previous owner of the car ( who had had it impounded for smuggling clothes from Botswana) was arrested and charged! He had apparently collected the ivory from 2 carcasses he found in the bush in Botswana.
One person arrested in the Binga area for unlawful possession of 4 tusks in September received the mandatory nine year sentence from the Binga magistrate

 
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):
Adrian Clayton and NorthStar for their support
Frank Zindel of the Bright Light 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
Friends of Hwange and Dave Dell for sponsoring the borehole and new battery system at Masuma
Patrick Jacquemin for his donation to help our operational costs.
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 
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.
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!!! 
Simon and Portia Rowlands  - donation to refurbish attendants accommodation at Shumba
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 donated equipment.
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
Ricky Forster and Forster Irrigation of Bulawayo for donated pumps and continued assistance
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
Mark and Shelley Burden for their donation of borehole casing.
Craig Gobey and Zambezi Sands Drilling for theit assistance
Brendan Malloch-Brown - gravel and transport for the roads in Chamabonda
Michelle Sindall for her donation ( which finally reached us a month late!!)
Sandy Elsworthy for his donation
Machaba Safaris for their hospitality and assistance
Patrick Williamson for helping on updating maps
Gus le Breton for his flying time with Flying for Wildlife survey
Bob Brown for his help in repairing dam walls at Baobab Pan and Inyantue Dam

Thanks to our Board of Trustees for all the hard work they are putting in - Ian Gloss, Dave Carson, Dan Jones, Stephen Long, Jerry Gotora 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
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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