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SEPTEMBER 2022
NEWSLETTER
With the increased diesel costs, increased prices, increased requests for assistance from Parks, and the increased elephant and wildlife pressure at our waterpoints, the Trust is very financially stretched, and is appealing for support!
The Trust urgently needs your help, no donation is too small in this fight for our wildlife, please simply scan the QR Code or follow the PayNow link to donate. 
Any donation is much appreciated!
The advent of the September heat has obviously dried up the remaining natural inland waters, and we have suddenly been inundated with elephant, in numbers not seen before. This is putting immense pressure on our pumped water systems, and being solar and only operating during daylight, some are struggling to cope.
We are undertaking an in-depth analysis of all our waterpoints, measuring recovery rates from pumping, and matching to pumps, to see where we can possibly increase the water supply eg in Kazuma Corner Pan, where we pump out of an aquifer, we are in the process of upgrading the pump to hopefully give us at least 50% more water for the hippo in the pan!

In October, we have the annual Wildlife and Environmental Society (WEZ) game count which has been run for over 50 years, and should give us some valuable figures - I think this year will be a good count as we have hot , dry conditions and no early rain predicted.
ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
We held our second annual game count in the Chamabonda - thanks to Dan Jones for the organising. All he waterpoints were covered , with buffalo and elephant predominating. An interesting sighting was a brown hyena.  We will over the years build up a picture of the populations and trends of the wildlife in the ZNP.

Our waterpoints are all functioning, though we need to upgrade Timots . However, the large herds of buffalo and especially elephant are putting pressure on the water supplies, but we are coping
Enjoying a mud bath at Andre's Pan
The Zambezi National Park is under siege again - it appears the Zambians, having finished the rhino in Botswana, are again turning their attention to the ZNP, There has been a series of armed robberies in the Park, and a poachers base and two poached elephants were also found - the first in years. On a follow up from the base, the poachers crossed into Zambia just ahead of a Parks,VFAPU team, but they will be back. 
The Zambians police and local reaction group did arrest a group that had crossed back from Zimbabwe, and they are trying on their side , but are up against hardened veterans. It is hoped to mobilise a Rapid Reaction Unit, spearheaded by Parks, to counter this threat.
 
KAZUMA PAN NATIONAL PARK
The Trust held its second game count in Kazuma this month, with some interesting results. However, we are learning by experience as we saw herds of roan, tsessebe and zebra which we did not record drinking. Next year we will modify our count strategy to a combined water hole and visual road strip count. 
The game in Kazuma is outstanding though, both on the Depression and up the Katsechete River, though the wildlife along the Katsechete  is very skittish
Kazuma is gaining popularity as a tourist wild destination  ( the numbers this year already exceed the total of 17 tourists in 2019!!) The hide at Kazuma Corner Pan, though not yet finished, is proving to be a game changer and is already getting tremendous feedback. We hope to complete it next month
 
ROBINS
We undertook two programs in Robins in September, in between assisting Parks with deployments.
We have been renovating the old sign bollards, many of which have been damaged over the years. These are especially vital as we had two lost tourist groups in Robins during the month. They are now ready to be painted and for sign writing. This is an ongoing program
Repairing sign bollards
We have also extended our Borehole Recovery Rate research program from Sinamatella to Robins. This involves measuring the rate of the water recovering in the borehole when the pump is switched off - it allows us to assess whether we are over pumping the borehole, or whether our rate is ok, or whether we can up our rate if required. This program is giving us a better understanding of the underground water situation in the region.
Elephant at Njekwa              Our joint Parks Bhejane team, after an extended patrol, photographing the elephant - great to see the enthusiasm!.
It is not  a great photo, but is a significant one for us - it shows elephant bulls drinking at Njekwa Pan in the back area of Robins. As part of our "Water for Wildlife" program, we are putting water into the remote back areas of Robins with the intention of pulling elephant away from the more congetsed areas and Park boundaries, so as to minimise human/wildlife conflict
 
SINAMATELLA
Game water.
   When I wrote my contribution to the newsletter for August I tempted fate by saying how animal numbers were going up and demand for water had risen but our water points were ready. Fate, of course, doesn’t like being tempted and as a result we ended September exhausted and with a long list of game water breakdowns still to be sorted out.
    Top of my personal list of disappointments is Bumbusi South. In August the new borehole was producing a terrific flow of water and the pan was filling up, but early in September the borehole began to run dry until now it hardly pumps at all and the pan has dried up. The elephants showed their feelings by breaking the pipe into the trough from the old borehole, a problem we had yet to get round to by the end of September.
    Second on the list is Mafa’s where we had a problem that would have been solvable if only we had known about it when it happened. The pipe that carries water up from the pump to the surface split and no water reached the surface. The pan was under enormous pressure from elephants and within a few days they had drunk it almost dry without us knowing anything was wrong. Tshuma discovered the fault on a routine visit to check the pump and he cut out an eight mete section of split pipe before re-installing the pump. It doesn’t run as well as it should but there is water in the pan and when Sue and I checked on it a few days after the repair, elephants were bathing in the mud and drinking from the outflow. In October we will have to replace the missing eight meters of pipe and also repair the outflow again because it was exposed when the water level fell and (of course) the elephants broke it.
   I won’t bore you by continuing this list; it would range from the simple but annoying blockages in the Sinamatella windpump pipeline, to much harder to solve malfunctioning solar equipment.
“Simple but annoying”. No! The job, not the person doing it.
 I’ll just say that in spite of the problems, our game water situation is still good for the time of year and most of the pumps are running normally. We have the WEZ annual game census in early October and it will be interesting to see how many animals these pumps are supporting.
Wildlife.
  One place where we can answer the question as to how many animals we are supporting, is Masuma Dam, where we did our usual monthly 24 hour count at the September full moon. Over the 24 hours we counted 994 elephants which is the biggest ever September total for the data that is available to me, and 439 impala, which is about normal. Supporting actors included seventy three  kudu, twenty-three warthogs, just five zebra and one (or was it two?) leopard. The count was much improved for us by a group of Namibian visitors who helped count, helped keep us awake and shared a beer (no, that isn’t an explanation for the large number of elephants). Thanks; we enjoyed meeting you. 
    September is the month when the Combretum mossambicense flowers and we see groups of giraffe feeding on it. The Lukosi River drive is usually one of the best places to see that but this year some of the giraffe saved us the trouble of going out to look for them and they came to feed along the Sinamatella river where we could see them from Camp. That’s a little frustrating because they are usually just too far away to photograph clearly. On one occasion we could see a group of twenty or so and we decided to drive down and get the pictures. That would have been a better plan if the SD card for the camera was actually in the camera rather than in the office. By the time Sue had found a spare card, the giraffe had mostly turned their backs and wandered out of view with that supercilious look that giraffe are so good at.
Miscellaneous.
   The big story of September was fire. On the 20th there was a dry thunder storm – no rain but plenty of lightning which must’ve struck a tree somewhere in the Smith’s Mine Hills because one morning a couple of days later there was fire visible and quickly spreading with an east wind behind it. It took a while to mobilise a fire-fighting gang and when we eventually drove up the road that crosses the hills, we found that the fire had crossed the road from east to west no more than a few minutes before we got there and was already raging uphill through long grass with no other obvious potential firebreak in its path.
    Given our small numbers and the fierceness of the fire heading west, we decided that first priority was to stop any fire reaching Mashambo Pan and then burning towards Sinamatella. We managed to do that, went home for a rest and some food then went out again for a night of fire-fighting. That was the pattern for most of the rest of the week. We recalled the rhino monitoring unit to boost our manpower and give us an extra vehicle, but getting to grips with the fire in the hills turned out to be beyond us and we mainly just stopped it breaking out and burning uncontrollably through the flatlands. I’m sorry to report that after two nights and three days, I was exhausted and left the fire-fighting to other, younger people. There were many who worked harder than me, some rangers, some volunteers from rangers’ families, our rhino monitors and so on but I should especially mention ranger Stuart Ngwenya who was the senior Parks man in the field, day after smoke-filled day. He and his teams tried their best but in reality they had no chance of winning and bit by bit the fire burnt itself out when it reached areas with little or no grass.
   In the middle of the fire-fighting, a new problem arose when the electricity supply to Sinamatella went down for a couple of days. At first we were told it was a fault in Hwange but when that was fixed and we were still in the dark, it was obvious that something else was wrong. It actually wasn’t too difficult to find……
 
Fire is a controversial subject. Without doubt it is a natural phenomenon and it can even be beneficial by clearing moribund grass. In the Mopane, where there is very little grass anyway, it does little harm, but – and it’s a big but – in Sinamatella’s case, fire can be a huge problem. Most of Sinamatella is covered by Mopane scrub and Mopane woodland. It is not very productive and it doesn’t hold much wildlife but we have small areas of vleis and there are drainage lines and rivers where there is more grass, different bush and more wildlife (the Masuma area is a good example).When those few places burn there isn’t much left for the herbivores to eat even if there are hundreds of hectares of untouched Mopane scrub around them. We lost some of those places in the recent fire but we saved many others.
 
RHINO MONITORING & PROTECTION UNIT

Report By Nick Long
During the month the team did mostly anti-poaching patrols. This was in response to a request from National parks as they are having manpower shortages so we had to cover areas out of the rhino ranges. A total of 589.11 Km were patrolled this month, of which 22 patrols were for anti-poaching with a total of 539.46 Km covered..
       We recovered 19 snares and found 2 poachers bases which hadn’t been used for some time, also some clothes and other items were found which belonged to a lady who went missing along the boundary of the park about a month ago (she had already been found at the time).
       On another occasion late in the afternoon while resting after the day’s patrol the team heard dogs in pursuit of an animal, boots were quickly put back on and the team rushed to go and find out what was going on. They found six dogs killing a big male Baboon but no owner so they destroyed 2 of the dogs and the other 4 escaped, the Baboon wasn’t so fortunate as it died from its wounds a short while later
The dogs killing the Baboon
On another one of the patrols a whole load of Guinea fowl snares were located and most of them were still set, we left them in place in order to see if the owner was still checking on them although there was no water left in the pan they surrounded. Unfortunately we got recalled to camp to beef up the manpower for firefighting as there was a large fire burning through Sinamatella. Towards the end of the month, despite many hot and sweaty days the fire was still going and it eventually mostly just disappeared.  Fire-fighting is very tiring, as is shown by this unflattering picture of me which one of the rangers took as we fought the fire up in the hills. In the background, endless lines of fire can be seen looping across the hills.
The team has now gone back to the area with the Guinea Fowl snares to do a last sweep to see if the poacher is still checking them, if not the snares will be removed and the team will move on to some Rhino monitoring as we have fallen behind on these patrols.
POACHING
September update:
One person arrested with a live pangolin in the Figtree area received a nine year jail sentence in the Plumtree magistrates court.
One person was arrested in Bulawayo with a live pangolin was sentenced to nine years in the Bulawayo magistrate court
One person arrested with 4 tusks weighing 70kg. Sentenced to nine years
In a joint operation between Parks and Police, a raid was carried out in the Binga area, and a person was arrested with 2 tusks and a .303 rifle - he apparently was intending to go rhino poaching with this weapon. He is in custody. Three accomplices escaped but they are known and will be tracked down
The Minerals Unit of the ZRP received information of a weapon brought across the Zambezi from Zambia that was going to Bulawayo. They also received details of the vehicle carrying the weapon also A road block was mounted on the Bulawayo road and at one in the morning the vehicle was caught and the weapon recovered. It was an SKS and it is not known whether for armed robbery or poaching, but suspect the latter.
Following the discovery of a poached rhino in the Matopos and acting on information, a raid was conducted in Bulawayo and a three suspects arrested, and a 303 rifle and ammunition recovered. Another suspect escaped in a car, and it is believed this vehicle has another rifle in it. Follow up operations continue.
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):
Simon and Portia Rowlands for funding the refurbishment of Shumba attendants quarters and the Shumba Camp
Ryan and Alex Lane for donation of a thermal imager - a great asset for night time ops, and for their cash donation
The Mzuri Wildlife Foundation for their donation towards Manzinbomvu Borehole.
Patrick Jacquemin of Les Animaux for his generous donation
Mark Unwin and the Clarkson Family Trust,his generous donation.

AutoWorld Zimbabwe - Isuzu agents - for their support for the motorbike Enduro and thus for the Bhejane Trust
Hwange Conservation Society (UK) for their support and purchase of much needed equipment, through John Gillon and Anne Wilkinson
Ray Haakonse for his support
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
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, and purchase of a pump badly needed in the Chamabonda
Piet Weller, through Lionel and Annelise Finaughty for the offer to sponsor a wateroint in Kazuma in memory of Wessels Weller
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!!!
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, and for supporting our membership to GRAA.
Michel Buenerd of Le Pic Vert, and Le Pal Nature Foundation, for funding their THIRTEENTH  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.
Inke Kreling-Boysen for her generous donation
Mike Karasellos for grading and mowing roads in the Chamabonda
Craig Gobey and Zambezi Sands Drilling for their assistance
Brendan Malloch-Brown - for his support.
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
Jeff Weingarten - donation 
Richard Scripps - donation
Colin Baker for the donation of tyres
Jeremy Nichol for his donation.
Ian and Sue Thomson for their support 
Charlie Bracher for his support
The Albert van den Berg Charitable Trust for their donation
Winston, Lol and Sue Goatly for their uniform donation
Lynne Beard for her uniform donation
Mark Bucknill for his donation
John Hall of the USA for his donation
Brink Bosman for his donation
Mike Howard for his donation of paint

And a big thanks to Andrew Lane, Liz Lane and Brenda Finaughty for organising the Bhejane Ball. And to all the sponsors:
Victoria Falls Estate 
Ra Ikane
Bush Cuisine
Round Table 17
Vic Falls Pop Ups
Butchers Daughter
Probar
C & H Legal
Shearwater
Zambezi Crocodiles
Tyre Zim
Chiggy DJ
The Farm
Novascocia
Seven Eleven
Sedgemoor Dairy



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
The Regional Manager - Mr Samson Chibaya
Area Manager - Zambezi --Mr Marvellous Mbikbiyana
Area manager, Sinamatella - Mike Jonassi
Area Manager, - Robins and Kazuma - Mrs N Moyo
Kazuma Wildlife Officer - Aleck Makamure
 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, and for doing instagram!!

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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Bhejane Trust · 231 Sopers Crescent · Victoria Falls · Zimbabwe

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