It may be a new year, but for scouts from the Victoria Falls and Bumi Hills Anti-poaching Units, the fight to tackle poaching still goes on.
As a visual reminder of the achievements of Bumi Hills Anti-poaching Unit (BHAPU) since its formation, a special Christmas tree was constructed to celebrate the end of another successful year. The tree, in the shape of a pyramid, illustrates how bad poaching was in 2009 when the unit began protecting the area. Operations were carried out on a daily basis and levels of poaching began to reduce year after year; indicated by the narrowing of the tree from the base to the top.
In 2009, BHAPU removed 139 wire snares in one day during a single snare sweep operation. In total that year, 2,105 snares were found, 4,000 metres of illegal fishing gear was recovered and 150 poachers were arrested. By 2013, the total of snares recovered had dropped to 120, only 800 metres of illegal fishing gear was recovered and arrests were down to seven poachers.
When the Unit was formed, the area had two lionesses, with four cubs. Now this pride has 18 lions in total. The buffalo population has also increased considerably, from around 45 animals to a herd of well over 120 at present.
But while celebrating this success story, we must remember that animals are still dying. At the beginning of last month, four armed poachers got into the park and claimed the life of a cow elephant and her six year-old calf.
Likewise, although scouts from the Victoria Falls Anti-poaching Unit (VFAPU) have significantly reduced levels of poaching since its formation in 1999, the recent death of a kudu bull along the Masuwe River reminds us of the constant need to protect these animals. The kudu was discovered still caught up in the snare; a needless waste of life. In all, the Unit apprehended 304 individuals on the National Park estate last year and recovered 223 snares.
The challenge is not over. It never will be. That is why ALERT asks you to sponsor an Anti-poaching Scout to enable the fight to continue. Please show your support today.