News from the African Wildlife Conservation Fund
Jeremy got the following news from the African Wildlife Conservation Fund:
A successful denning season
What a wonderful denning season we had down in the Zimbabwean Lowveld in 2017. Our scouts were kept on their toes monitoring the 21 (out of 27) resident pack that denned last season.
Impressively, more than 170 wild dog puppies were born in 2017! Although these are strong birth numbers, we typically (and sadly) experience a loss of 70% of our pups within the first year of their lives. We are hoping for a good survival rate moving into 2018!
Interestingly, this season five of the 21 denning packs had two breeding females. The birth of second litters, but more so the survival of these second litters, is not common in the wild dog world. Could something unique be happening in the Zimbabwean Lowveld?
Things will be busy for the next few months, as our scouts continue to monitor the movement and survival of all the puppies, and until the next denning season is upon us.
New additions to the SVC population
In July 2017 two spectacularly patterned, yet unknown, females were seen for the first time in the Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC).
We are delighted to report that, after some investigating, we confirmed that the two females came from a different wildlife area in the Zimbabwean Lowveld (The Malilangwe Trust). This is great evidence of linkage/connectivity within the area! AWCF engages tirelessly with communities to improve tolerance and create safe passage for dispersing wildlife.
These two females have since joined up with five unrelated males, and we can’t wait to see how they progress as a pack!
Removing snares and saving lives
In August one of our wild dogs, called Mountain, was reported with a terrible, fresh snare around his leg. After removing the wire, it was evident that Mountain’s condition was not improving. He had sustained a bad break in his leg and further action needed to be taken. In order to give him the best chance of survival, a local vet was called upon to amputate Mountain’s leg. Five months on we are pleased to report that Mountain is back to full health; although he has an interesting gait!
In December, a yearling called Jupiter was reported with a life-threatening neck snare. When we located Jupiter, he was in such poor condition that he would not have survived more than another few days had we not intervened. The snare was removed, and within two days Jupiter was fatter and healing well, and moving with the pack again. A tremendous success story!
Monitoring, snare removals, and amputations etc. are all incredibly costly. As such, we would like to say a HUGE thank you to all our donors and sponsors. Saving Mountain and Jupiter – and all the others – would not have been possible without your support.
Satellite collars for long-term monitoring and protection – Gonarezhou
We recently collared two more African wild dog packs with satellite collars in Gonarezhou National Park (GNP), focussing on packs in the south of the Park and along the Mozambican border. The collars allow us to monitor the dogs in ‘real time’ and are a huge asset in terms of the conservation of the species. Satellite collars provide us with information far beyond what is possible with field monitoring alone, and help us to check the packs more regularly for snares and whether or not they move across the border into Mozambique where they can often become victims of snares and gin-traps.
Fighting against the rabies virus
In 2017 we continued our efforts to mitigate the risk of a rabies outbreak amongst domestic dog populations, which can have devastating consequences for local communities, and wildlife populations – particularly wild dogs. In August we held our annual vaccination campaign in the Bikita District (north-west of SVC) where the domestic dog population estimate is more than 4000 domestic dogs. As always, we would like to say a huge thank you to Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe, and the local district veterinarians, for partnering with us on this very important activity.
Annual large carnivore spoor surveys
In October we completed the 10 th and 9 th annual large carnivore spoor surveys in SVC and GNP respectively. Although some early rains complicated and delayed things somewhat, we nonetheless persevered, contributing another year of data to our long-term large carnivore monitoring program.
Victor becomes a Disney Conservation Hero!
We are so pleased to announce that Victor Chibaya, AWCF’s Chief Education Officer, was honoured with a Conservation Hero Award from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) in 2017!
The award recognizes local citizens for their commitment to save wildlife protect habitats and inspire their communities to take part in conservation efforts (Disney.com/Conservation).
Victor is at the heart of our community education work. We are so proud and pleased for Victor that his incredible dedication to his job, and contribution to conservation, has been recognised far wider than the boundaries of AWCF.
AWCF welcomes a new team member
A warm welcome to our new attachment student, Nksoilathi Ngwenya, who joined the team in August 2017! Nkosi will spend his attachment year with us, as he completes his Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management at the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe.
Nkosi is passionate about wildlife and aspires to one day actively contribute in a positive way to conservation. We are looking forward to introducing him to the world of wildlife and conservation over the next year!
Libraries in ALL of the schools we support!
Through a long standing relationship with Zambezi School Book Project we have finally managed to establish fully stocked and functioning libraries in ALL of the schools we support – 123 in total! We distributed books to the last remaining nine primary schools in September/October 2017. What a fantastic achievement for our education and outreach program!
Remaining books from this container load were also distributed amongst already established school libraries as we seek to ensure children are always being challenged with new, interesting material to read!
Moving forward we will be working with our schools to develop their libraries for use by the wider community, and start establishing libraries in some of our key secondary schools.
Solar panels inspire new heights for AWCF education and outreach
With the help of our generous supporters, AWCF is constantly seeking to improve the quality of learning for rural school children around the SVC and GNP. This year we reached for greater heights and in a first for AWCF, were able to supply three primary schools with solar panels! The solar panels were installed in rooms utilised as study rooms, so students have the opportunity to study after dark, thanks to electric lighting. We are so pleased to be able to continue to improve the lives of rural communities, as well as continue to expand our education and outreach program. Thanks to the Bourke Family Foundation for this initiative!
Competing for conservation
Twelve primary schools competed in our annual cluster competitions in November 2017, and what fantastic, entertaining and enthusiastic days they were.
Groups of students competed against each other on a number of tasks. Including; using their creativity to make life-like wild dog models, their knowledge of large carnivores to create and present large carnivore posters, their passion to write and recite conservation poems, and their understanding of AWCF delivered conservation lessons to complete a final quiz.
The competitions not only created an entertaining and competitive ground for pupils to test their knowledge, it also created an educational ground for the wider attending community to learn about large carnivore conservation.
All pupils did extremely well on the day, and more than impressed their peers and community. A huge well done to those schools and big thanks to our sponsors who make rewarding events, like these competitions, possible.
Annual scholarship fieldtrip
Our secondary school Predator Scholarship students came to visit SVC again on their annual conservation and leadership field course, and what a fun week we had! The children learnt about bush survival and tracking skills, the monitoring and conservation research of wildlife, and the key to successful leadership and team building. The scholars were also treated to game drives and were lucky enough to see our Nova Pack with their 10 puppies!
We have just taken on five more scholarship students, who have begun their first year of secondary school this year. We can’t wait to monitor their progress over the coming year, and engage with all of our 27 students at the next annual conservation and leadership field trip. None of these new students have sponsors yet, so let us know if you can help.
Education outside of the classroom
What a way to be educated… outside of the classroom and inside Gonarezhou National Park!
In 2017 we organised and facilitated 11 day trips and three field trips into the park; accommodating 190 students, 20 teachers and 30 schools heads/district education staff.
It is always rewarding to be able to provide this experience for our students and teachers, who live so close to GNP, yet very rarely, enjoy such a luxury. Most importantly, we love how these trips instil an appreciation of wildlife and conservation far beyond what is possible in the classroom!
New carnivore posters distributed to the schools
Our education team works tirelessly to visit all 123 schools numerous times throughout the working year. To boost enthusiasm and extend carnivore conservation education, in October 2017 we produced, printed and supplied every school in our program with new posters focussing on cheetah conservation.
Students can now read and learn about the importance of cheetah and other endangered African species in the absence of our education team. We hope that these posters stimulate the enthusiasm we see at every visit, all year round! They also do a great job at brightening up the otherwise bare-walled classrooms.
Support wild dog conservation and stand a chance to win an amazing African safari
We are currently selling raffle tickets for a five-night safari for two people in the Serengeti. This prize was kindly donated by Chalo Africa and Asilia Africa to raise money for wild dog conservation.
Importantly, 100% of ticket prices are being donated directly to AWCF, so PLEASE SUPPORT! You have until 01 March 2018 to buy your tickets and be entered into the draw to win a once in a life time safari getaway!
These beautiful charcoal sketches could be yours
Peter Matthews, a South African artist, has very generously agreed to donate 50% of sales (generated through us) of limited edition prints of beautiful charcoal drawings for his ‘The End’ collection.
Inspired by the fact that 58% of the wildlife on our planet has been destroyed in the last 45 years, Peter wanted to raise awareness of this situation through a series of hyper-realistic charcoal drawings of the 10 most endangered species. The 11 th is the cause. The drawings are 150cm X 150cm on canvas, and in the top left corner there is the number of the depicted species remaining in the wild.
The originals are also for sale, and given their size, would be perfect in a corporate environment with a conservation conscious ethos. The 11 original pieces will be sold together for US$71,500 and 25% (US$17,875) would be given to us for a sale generated through us.
Our Sincere Thanks for Your Support!
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and sincere gratitude to the organisations and private individuals who are so generously supporting our work.
Thanks to Columbus Zoo; Taronga Zoo; National Geographic Big Cats Initiative and Conservation Trust; Painted Dog Conservation Inc, Australia; Frank Zindel and The Turtle Foundation; Frederick S. Upton Foundation; SAVE African Rhino Foundation, Australia; African Wildlife Foundation; Cincinnati Zoo; Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.
We are very grateful to the Research Council of Zimbabwe for permission to conduct this research and to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority for their support of our work, and their permission to conduct the research in the Gonarezhou National Park. We thank the managers of the Savé Valley Conservancy for access to their properties to monitor the wild dogs, and the Ministry of Education and local District Schools Inspectors for their support of our education work.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to support any aspect of our work! Details of our Zimbabwean, South African, USA or UK accounts are available on request, or make use of our safe and secure PayPal link
Monthly guaranteed funds are incredibly beneficial to our operations and research. Why not consider setting up a standing order for a small donation every month?