Anti-poach­ing cam­paign gets oomph

. . . Kariba Tiger tour­ney roars to life

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FEATURE - Prince Mushaw­e­vato

THE Vic­to­ria Falls Anti-Poach­ing Unit (VFAPU), es­tab­lished in 1999, is mak­ing great strides in fight­ing poach­ing.

Co-or­di­nated, hosted and spon­sored by Zim­bab­wean hos­pi­tal­ity group, Africa Al­bida Tourism (AAT), the an­nual VFAPU Golf Day has over the years mo­bilised sub­stan­tial funds to help cover the unit’s oper­a­tional costs.

VFAPU con­sists of 17 scouts who tackle all forms of poach­ing in Vic­to­ria Falls.

Anti-poach­ing ini­tia­tives are cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive as they re­quire scouts to use so­phis­ti­cated track­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion ma­chin­ery in their op­er­a­tions.

The an­nual fund-rais­ing tour­na­ment, re­cently held at the Bor­row­dale Brooke Golf Club, man­aged to raise $30 000.

Spon­sor­ship came from an anony­mous donor, AAT, Fer­tiliser, Seed and Grain (FSG), Dendairy, African Sun, The Sta­ble Win­ery, Safe­guard and Flo2Go.

FSG’s fund­ing also in­cluded a VFAPU scouts’ salary for a year.

Shades Ahead un­der­wrote a scout’s salary for one month.

Poach­ing is rife in the Vic­to­ria Falls re­gion, with more than 15 ele­phants hav­ing been lost to this crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in the Hwange Na­tional Park last year. Over 700 poach­ers have been ar­rested by VFAPU’s scouts so far.

The unit, which is work­ing closely with the Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (ZimParks) and the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice, has re­moved more than 22 000 wire snares from its oper­a­tional area and res­cued 200 mam­mals in­jured by snares.

Pro­fes­sional guide, con­ser­va­tion­ist and VFAPU founder and head of op­er­a­tions Charles Bright­man noted that such ini­tia­tives have the po­ten­tial to erad­i­cate poach­ing.

“With­out the sup­port, VFAPU would have been un­able to pre­vent the po­ten­tial poach­ing of dozens of ele­phants. Re­cently, the scouts dis­cov­ered 39 cyanide-laced or­anges in the Zam­bezi Na­tional Park, left to kill ele­phants for their ivory,” re­vealed Bright­man.

“Funds raised will go a long way in cov­er­ing the unit’s oper­a­tional costs and help stop poach­ing in the re­gion.”

AAT chief ex­ec­u­tive Ross Kennedy weighed in.

“We are proud to be a lead­ing fundraiser for VFAPU. The golf day showed what an amaz­ing so­ci­ety and na­tion we live in. So many gen­er­ous and car­ing com­pa­nies sup­port the ini­tia­tive year in-and-out.

“We salute each and ev­ery golfer, spon­sor and sup­porter and recog­nise the ef­fort and com­mit­ment to the won­der­ful cause,” said Kennedy.

A field of 160 play­ers play­ing a “Four Ball Bet­ter Ball Stable­ford for­mat” took part in this year’s golf char­i­ta­ble cause.

The tour­na­ment was won by Ash­leigh Pringle and Michelle Wil­son, who fin­ished with 52 points, while An­gus Light and Richard Howes came sec­ond on 50 points, fol­lowed by Frank Zi­mani and Mike McMullen on 49 points.

Mean­while, favourable eco­nomic poli­cies in­tro­duced by the new po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion are ex­pected to re­vive in­ter­est in the an­nual Kariba In­vi­ta­tional Tiger Fish Tour­na­ment (KITFT).

The 57th edi­tion of Zim­babwe’s big­gest fish­ing tour­na­ment takes place this week from Wed­nes­day to Fri­day at the tra­di­tional venue, Charara Camp­site in Kariba.

Of con­cern has been the drop­ping num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing teams, with a to­tal of 56 teams tak­ing part in the last edi­tion.

The fig­ure is a far cry from the 250 teams that par­tic­i­pated in 2012.

Or­gan­is­ers have cited high ZimParks fees, im­mi­gra­tion de­lays and a high num­ber of road­blocks that of­ten re­sulted in po­lice de­lay­ing mo­torists as the causes for the slump.

“There is no doubt that the cost has had a great deal to do with the de­clin­ing num­bers. If ZimParks were to re­duce their fees sub­stan­tially, I’m sure we will at­tract big­ger num­bers. There is also the is­sue of po­lice ha­rass­ing mo­torists’ at nu­mer­ous road­blocks, which has also af­fected us,” said KITFT direc­tor Rod Ben­net last year.

A bet­ter turn-out is ex­pected this year as there is re­newed in­ter­est from tra­di­tional source mar­kets like Europe, United States, Ja­pan and Ger­many. And ZimParks is ready to play ball. “ZimParks re­gards KITFT as a sig­nif­i­cant tour­na­ment, hence we are pre­pared to lis­ten to the or­gan­is­ers’ con­cerns. Our part­ner­ships are in the spirit of en­cour­ag­ing more par­tic­i­pa­tion,” ZimParks spokesper­son Ti­nashe Farawo is on record say­ing.

VFAPU Golf Day win­ners Michelle Wil­son and Ash­leigh Pringle with Africa Al­bida Tourism staff Tyla Crabbe, Nommy Vuma and Keara O’Toole

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