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THE ZAMBEZI SOCIETY is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation.  We rely on donations from individuals and organisations in support of our work. Please help us to protect the Zambezi River's valuable wildlife and wildernesses.  You can help by donating via our secure online PAYNOW facility or via a bank transfer -  see SUPPORT THE ZAMBEZI SOCIETY.  Follow us on FACEBOOK


Fundraising by The Zambezi Society and the Zambezi Elephant Fund in the USA

Elephant numbers in the Zambezi Valley declined by 40% between 2001 and 2014, according to the findings of the Great Elephant Census.   The same research revealed a 76% decline in the species in the Sebungwe Region (the area south of Lake Kariba).

In the two years since these surveys took place, ivory poaching in these areas has continued (escalated in some cases) fuelled by poverty and economic instability.  

These horrific statistics can no longer be ignored.  The Zambezi Society is urgently working hand in hand with other organisations and concerned individuals to try to do something about this.  Some our endeavours are highlighted below in this Bulletin.

However, without funding, nothing can happen.   

The Zambezi Society's Strategic Director, Richard Maasdorp (pictured left) is currently in the USA during the month of August, to meet with conservation organisations and potential funders who may be able to help.  His aim is to spread greater awareness of the poaching crisis and the challenges faced by those fighting it.  He is talking to influential conservation leaders and individuals interested in the work being undertaken by The Society and other organisations to protect Africa's elephants and the wilderness areas that they depend on.    

Later in September, renowned Safari Guide and Operator, John Stevens (pictured right) who started the Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF) to help save the elephants of the Zambezi Valley, will be giving a series of awareness and fund-raising talks and presentations about the Zambezi Valley elephants.  
Venues so far include the following:-
Jackson, Wyoming: Sunday 11th September 2016
Chicago, Illinois: Sunday 18 September 2016
Austin, Texas: Tuesday 20 September 2016
New York: Wednesday 28 September 2016

The Zambezi  Elephant Fund is supported by friends of John Stevens Safaris Africa, government organisations, fellow conservation groups locally and abroad (including The Zambezi Society), The Zimbabwe Parks Authority, Mana Pools tourism operators, photographers and valley visitors.

Please spread the word, and be in touch if you (or someone you know) can help.

The question is - are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book. (David Attenborough).

During the past few months, The Zambezi Society has been working closely with ZimParks, anti-poaching and conservation organisations, tourism operators and stakeholders in the Mana Pools area and elsewhere in the Zambezi Valley to develop strategies and define priorities in the war against poaching.  

At a recent collaborative workshop focused on the Kariba, Marongora, Rifa/Chirundu, Mana Pools, Chewore/Sapi area, intelligence-gathering information was shared and an overall picture of ingress and egress points for both Zambian and Zimbabwean poachers has begun to develop. Seasonal shifts in poaching hotspots are also being mapped.

The collaborative efforts are already beginning to pay off.  Several contacts with poachers have taken place during the past six months, resulting in arrests.  As recently as 25th June, a hot-pursuit follow-up operation by rangers from the RIFA area near Chirundu, resulted in the death of a notorious Zambian poacher.  Unfortunately his accomplice, who was wounded, managed to escape.

Funding Priorities
The battle continues, but the list of requirements needed to fight this continual poaching threat is exhaustive.  At the workshop described above, a priority list was drawn up as follows:-  
1.   Basic weapon training - a 3 day weapon handling refresher course for 10 rangers (Cost estimate $1600) 
2.   Ranger patrol food rations (Cost estimate $30 per patrol for 7-days) 
3.   Fuel for three anti-poaching vehicles deployed by Zambezi Society and Bushlife Safaris   (Cost estimate $400 per vehicle per month 3,000 km).



The "Flying for Wildlife" Trust programme which began operations last year, is undertaking valuable aerial surveillance work in the Zambezi Valley in support of the above anti-poaching activities.  

Trustee and volunteer pilot, Richard Tennant reports that he and his colleague Hannes Scholtz, accompanied by officers of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZPWMA) have clocked up about approximately 44 hours in the air in May, June & July 2016, flying over the Bumi Hills, Matusadona, Kariba and Mana/Sapi/Chewore/Lower Zambezi wildlife areas.

He says: "Thank you for your support and encouragement as we seek to assist the tremendous conservation efforts being undertaken by so many organisations in an effort to preserve the incredible heritage we have been entrusted with.  We believe that the aerial perspective provided by our flying is of enormous value to field operations.  The flights open up the monitoring of remote areas which are otherwise often left unpatrolled.  Flying for Wildlife flights provide time-critical conservation intelligence which promotes informed decision-making, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our conservation partners' work.  Our flights enable conservation and research officers to quickly cover large tracts of wilderness, accomplishing in a two-hour flight what would take two weeks on the ground."

The Trust’s activities are non-commercial and non-profit and its operations are reliant on donations and the goodwill of the pilots, aircraft owners and the larger community.  Supporters of the Zambezi Society provided generous start-up funds for this project last year.  Please continue to support this very worthwhile project. 
The Zambezi Society would like to make special mention of various organisations, safari and tour operators involved in the above-mentioned collaborative war against poaching in the Zambezi Valley as follows:-
  • Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management  Authority (ZimParks/ZPWMA)
  • Tikki Hywood Trust 
  • Flying for Wildlife
  • Zambezi Elephant Fund
  • The Tashinga Initiative
  • Bushlife Safaris
  • Members of the Lower Zambezi Tour Operators Association (Mana Pools)
  • The Big 5 Safari Company
  • Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP)
  • The Black Mambas
  • The Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT)
  • The RIFA Anti-Poaching Unit


The Zambezi Society, with assistance from donated funds, has purchased a Toyota Land-Cruiser specifically for dedicated anti-poaching use in Mana Pools, with the approval of the Zimbabwe National Parks Authority. The above picture shows the new Cruiser with Mr Samson Chibaya, Area Manager, Mana Pools National Park, on delivery for its first duties in mid-July.  

This will be of enormous assistance to the ZimParks station in Mana Pools, which has, for years, struggled to patrol and react efficiently to poaching reports due to very limited vehicle capacity.  

The vehicle has a designated driver employed by a local company as their donation to the Zambezi Society Anti-Poaching programme.  It is available 24/7 for the deployment and uplift of rangers on patrol in various parts of the Park and for quick reaction and deployment in the event of any poaching incursions or emergencies.  Zambezi Society volunteers, under the leadership of Gary Layard will be available as back-up for the driver and to stand in for him when he is off duty. 

The Zambezi Society Anti-Poaching vehicle is dedicated in memory of "friends in conservation"- the late Ian Gibson and Claudio & Max Chiarelli, as well as to Ilana, Skye & Lauren Taylor in the USA.  We are most sincerely grateful to the following who made generous donations towards its purchase:- Mike Roberts, Peter Taylor, Ken Butchart, Jim Schneeburger, Darrell Goodwin, Carolyn Weber, Spiro Yianakis, Bob Lange, Larry ( William ) Shores, Mike Lashbrook, Beck Edwards, Rob Borsak and Ant Gibbs.


After the hand-over of the new Zambezi Society anti-poaching Land-Cruiser to Mana Pools station (described above), our Strategic Director, Richard Maasdorp signed up for a week's volunteering with the Zambezi Society Anti-Poaching programme.  

He sent us these images and his thoughts after a few days deploying National Parks rangers, driving and walking along the Campfire/ community boundary south of Nyakasanga Safari Area and Mana Pools National Park.

"This southern boundary is rugged remote and beautiful. We came across evidence of a recent poachers camp (picture extreme right), and visited the beautiful spring where seven elephant (including at least three tuskless animals) were poisoned last year.  There are definitely future tourism opportunities here, including the potential for amazing community-led guided walking safaris.  But poaching needs to be brought under control, wildlife re-introduced, and the nearby communities engaged to collaborate and assist.  Carefully-controlled trophy hunting plus sustainable off-take of bushmeat for the local community by trained and approved members of the community could provide a way forward." 

Poaching is a threat, but tobacco growing is worse
"But what shocked me most was the massive devastation of pristine woodland habitat in the Campfire (community wildlife) area by small-scale (poor quality and unsustainable) tobacco growing. This is NOT a sustainable poverty-alleviation pursuit. Once the communities run out of wood (two to three years is my guess) their income (if it were ever profitable in the first place) is over and the bush is gone.  There are already huge losses of wildlife and birdlife in the area. Elephant and other wildlife populations are already being diminished and they are being pushed out of the area as a result.   Yet, these Campfire areas form an essential part of the globally-important UNESCO Middle-Zambezi Man and Biosphere Reserve declared in 2014!   

Are the multi-national tobacco companies not accountable?   They need to be.  I would go so far as to say that habitat loss from tobacco farming is causing more elephant losses than poaching!
In my view tobacco is the highest threat!"


The new National Parks ranger anti-poaching base near Nyakasikana Visitor Gate in Mana Pools is nearing completion.  
Donors locally and from around the World have responded to fundraising efforts by the Zambezi Elephant Fund and The Tashinga Initiative Trust towards the establishment of the base which is central to the protection of elephants and other wildlife resources throughout the Lower Zambezi Valley.  

Once the base is complete, it will be occupied by on-call anti-poaching rangers whose current conditions are woefully inadequate (they are currently camped out in small pup-tents, ready to respond at any time to incursions by ivory poachers). 

The new base is able to accommodate up to 20 rangers, and comprises 2 ablution facilities, 2 barracks, 2 kitchenettes, 1 operations room, 1 container-storeroom, and 1 ranger community hall.  Powered by solar energy, it is fully fenced, with lighting and power points throughout.  Accessing an appropriate and plentiful water source has been the greatest challenge to the project, but this has finally been resolved.  

A final phase of implementation is due to commence as soon as funds have been raised. Still to be done at the base is the consolidation of the water well, some building works, fittings, VHF radio communications, VSAT installation, and equipping the Operations Room. A full-out effort is underway to ensure completion and hand-over to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) as soon as possible, likely to be end September 2016. 

With a Ranger Force operating out of a professionally erected and fully operational anti-poaching base, and being able to timeously and appropriately respond to poaching incursions throughout the Lower Zambezi Valley, this newly established anti-poaching base will be a big boost to operational capacity within the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. It will also provide rangers with self respect and pride and the knowledge that they add value to the global conservation effort.  This will provide a major incentive to improving efficacy and counteracting ivory and other poaching. 


The Zambezi Society reminds all visitors to Mana Pools National Park, to honour the Codes of Conduct for Visitor Behaviour that were developed in collaboration with various user-groups and stakeholders last year.

You can download a printable PDF version of the Mana Pools Code of Conduct HERE.

We urge you to please remember that the current priorities of ZimParks (ZPWMA) are directed first and foremost at anti-poaching activities.   In the past few months, they have shown much improved leadership, efficiency and improvements in this regard.  But these activities take up their limited resources, so please do not take advantage of the space this might afford you to disregard the ethics of the National Park.

We are in this together. Please take pictures of any illegal, insensitive or irresponsible activities and report people who brazenly breach the Code of Conduct, to the Parks Office.

You can also copy these to us by e-mail at The Zambezi Society.


If you are interested in reading the results of the WILDCRU-funded Survey of the Predators of Mana Pools National Park that took place last year, including a list of everything seen and some amazing images captured by camera trap, you can read the report on the Publications Page of the Zambezi Society's website at this link: Mana Pools Predator Survey Report.  A similar research project is currently being undertaken in the Matusadona National Park (see below).


The 2016 Grade 6 classes of Chisipite Junior School have reached a quite extraordinary milestone!  It is a full 30 years since their school first started raising money in support of conservation in the Matusadona National Park through The Zambezi Society!    

This HAS to be a world record!  As we have noted before - a whole generation of Chisipite schoolgirls has grown up not only aware of the increasing threats to endangered species like rhinos and elephants, but has actively contributed to helping save these animals!   This is indeed something to be very proud of!  Well done Chisipite Junior!  You are AWESOME!

At a special school assembly held at the end of July (pictured), this year's Grade 6 pupils highlighted their conservation efforts and presented the Zambezi Society's Strategic Director, Richard Maasdorp, with US$5300 that they have raised so far this year!

These funds will go towards The Zambezi Society's on-going efforts to support anti-poaching work in the Matusadona National Park (see below), in collaboration with other organisations, including the Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) and the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA).

We would like to pay tribute to the Heads of Chisipite Junior, the Grade 6 girls and their teachers, for 30 years of extraordinary dedication to this cause. 


CHALLENGE TO OTHER SCHOOLS WORLDWIDE:  You won't beat Chisipite Junior's 30-year-record, but can you match their annual fund-raising for conservation? We'd like to hear from you if you think you can!

Following on from the successful research undertaken for the Predator Survey in Mana Pools National Park in 2015, (see above) another such survey is taking place this winter in the Matusadona National Park, funded by WILDCRU (Oxford University).   

A total of 114 camera "traps" have been placed in pairs at 57 sites throughout the Park, covering the flat Zambezi valley floor and a sample area of the escarpment mountains.  The cameras are being monitored by researchers Rae Kokes and Justin Seymour-Smith from WILDCRU.

Already the camera traps have revealed some interesting, seldom-seen  species (not just predators) within the Park. The above images show (from left to right):  bushpig;, serval; roan antelope and sable antelope.

The most exciting camera trap image to date is that of a Black -Backed Jackal (left), photographed in early August.

As far as the researchers are aware, this is the first recording of this species (as opposed to the more common Side-striped Jackal) within the Matusadona National Park.  If anyone with knowledge of the area has records of this particular jackal species being previously seen in this Park, WILDCRU and The Zambezi Society would be pleased to hear from you, with details of the sighting.  

In Zimbabwe, these jackals are usually confined to the drier areas of the west and south-west.  However, a camera trap used during the 2015 Mana Pools Predator Survey also photographed a Black-Backed Jackal in that area.  It is interesting that this species may be extending its range into the northern and eastern areas of the country (possibly an indication that the effects of climate change may be beginning to dry out these areas and make them more suitable for this species).  

A spoor survey also forms part of the WILDCRU Matusadona Predator research, and Pete Musto, from The Zambezi Society, will be conducting this towards the end of August.


The Zambezi Society continues its long-standing funding and material support of anti-poaching efforts within the Matusadona National Park. We acknowledge the excellent and loyal support received from the SAVE African Rhino Foundation and Chisipite Junior School (see above), who have always supported our work.  But a recent rise in poaching incidents and arrests indicates that we cannot afford to drop our guard.  We need more help, and we need it urgently!

Over the past year or so, poaching statistics declined considerably thanks to the tireless and continued efforts of the Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP)  in collaboration with the ZimParks Authority, law-enforcement agencies, border control and the local communities to the south of the National Park.  We commend them for the following achievements:  In the past year, 160 years of jail sentence were handed down, three poachers involved in the illegal ivory trade were killed and 28 weapons were recovered.

However, there are worrying signs of a new upsurge in ivory poaching, with new gangs of poachers having recently been detected.  Renewed effort is needed and of course this inevitably requires renewed funding. 

The Zambezi Society has the following current projects within the Matusadona National Park, in support of anti-poaching activities:-

  • Ranger Rations:    The Zambezi Society is providing monthly food ration assistance for Parks rangers while out on anti-poaching deployment.  This costs approximately US$350 a month.  However, in order to ensure that we can continue to provide such supplies, a long-term, sustainable, Ranger Ration Fund is required.  We appeal for help in creating and maintaining this into the future.  
  • Vehicle costs for anti-poaching deployment:  The Zambezi Society, working with MAPP, has a dedicated anti-poaching 4x4 vehicle based at Parks HQ at Tashinga with a driver who is responsible for ranger deployments into the Park.  The costs of maintaining this vehicle and paying the driver are considerable.  Please help us to continue this valuable (and much-needed) assistance.   
  • TLB Road grader:   In 2015, the condition of many of the Matusadona National Park's anti-poaching access roads was improved with the use of a brand new TLB road grader purchased by The Zambezi Society with funding from the Africa-wide Elephant Crisis Fund (underpinned by The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network).  But funds are still needed to cover ongoing work this year.  As soon as the roads in Matusadona have been graded this year, The Zambezi Society plans to move the TLB into the escapement area of Mana Pools to open up strategic access roads.  Please assist if you can.  
We appeal to friends and supporters of The Zambezi society to assist us with the anti-poaching activities and various supporting projects that we are currently undertaking in the Matusadona in support of MAPP and ZPWMA.



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