Tag Archives: Anti-poaching

Ranger profle – Chelepele Phiri

Ranger Chelepele Phiri

“In God we trust, in wildlife we save.” Chelepele Phiri, one of the top rangers in Victoria Falls tells his story and what it means for him

to be an IAPF ranger.

“Seven years ago I started to work as a ranger. In 2009, a huge man, Damien Mander poured his excellence into my mind, which is [like] a guidance to wildlife.”

Chelepele continues, “Animals like rhino and elephant must not get extinct, for future generations. The more wildlife, the more jobs to our children, nephews and cousins.”

Proudly, he states: “On the ground as one of the IAPF rangers, we will save the animals, but anyone, wherever you are can save the wildlife by working with us.”

Chelepele has seen the impact and change in attitudes from rangers through the involvement and dedication of our Green Army participants from overseas, as well as the useful equipment that has been donated towards our cause. The Green Army programs reminds rangers that they are not doing a thankless task, but something that is of concern to everyone.

Chelepele in action

Often, it is left up to struggling African countries to protect their wilderness areas for the rest of the world to enjoy. These wilderness

areas are of global significance and it should be a global responsibility.

With a characteristic grin, Chelepele finishes off by saying, “My favourite animal is the Zebra. Zebras cannot be affected by the weather. They are like rangers, anytime ready to go!”

Thanks Chelepele. The world needs more rangers like you!


Life, Death and Culture

Life and death can be a strange thing. Here at the IAPF we recently had the opportunity to see how the death of an animal can have an emotional, educational and cultural effect on people from very different backgrounds.

A call came out across the radio that the rangers had picked up the spoor of a wounded spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) that appeared to be moving towards a large dam. A few nights previously, we had heard the distinct sounds of fighting between hyenas but had since seen or heard nothing else. After some expert tracking by rangers John, Chelepele, Senzani and Paul, the animal was finally located.

It had sustained major injuries to its flanks, rear legs and neck. Paying little attention to us, it chose to wash its wounds in the dam and then lay in the shade. After about 45 minutes, it slowly regained some strength and began to limp off.

At this time we where unable to either treat or euthanize the hyena so all we could do was follow it and keep a close eye on its condition. It’s surprising how often an animal, which appears to be on the brink of death, can make a recovery when given a bit of time and space. However, this time it was not meant to be. The hyena lay down in a small stream (presumably to keep the flies out of its wounds and shelter it from further attack) and died just after nightfall.

The next morning we recovered the body and transported it to the Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust www.wildhorizonstrust.org , where visiting vet Dr. Foggin, began work on the autopsy. During this time, the IAPF’s Green Army had a family of five from the UK/Australia visiting and they had been with us through the whole experience. We watched as the staff and volunteers of the Trust dissected and took samples from what was now determined to be a young male hyena of around 2 years old. The wounds seem to have been sustained during a fight with other hyena, most likely from another clan. There is often little space for competition, especially in a hierarchy like that of hyenas where the males sit at the bottom of the food chain. Necrosis had already settled in on the neck wounds and even had we tried to sedate it, it’s unlike that he would have survived.

A huge thanks has to go to Dr. Foggin, Roger and Jessica from the Wildlife Trust, their volunteers Becky and Anna and of course the Wright Family, whose 13-year old daughter’s interest in the whole thing was inspiring. She even managed to convince the vet to measure the hyena’s intestine, which turned out to be roughly an incredible 15 metres in length! We will now preserve the skull so it can be used here on the reserve as an educational tool and hopefully this (natural) loss of life will not be in vain.

In the end, this hyena showed everyone involved something about the world we live in. The educational aspect of showing people how hyenas are built, their incredible muscles, crushing jaws and even the stomach contents which held complete pieces of bone, including a piece of vertebrae!

The emotional aspect, as some people find the “gory” scene of an autopsy a bit much to take, especially when they saw the animal living and breathing less than 24 hours previously. Also, there is a cultural aspect, which is often lost on us. For most “Westerners”, this animal is a necessary part of the African bush and environment, one we strain our necks to observe from the back of a safari vehicle. We tend to forget that they may be held in a completely different regard for the people who were born and raised here.

In many African cultures the hyena is seen as an “evil” creature, often the messenger of the Sangoma (witchdoctor) and parts of its body hold very magical properties, especially the tail. I had to confirm with our ever-brave chef Hope and some of the rangers that the tail was indeed still attached when we collected it and that yes, after the autopsy the body would be burned. Most of the guys here did not even want to see the body and seemed visibly relieved when it was gone. These are educated and intelligent rangers, who spend everyday in the bush. I wouldn’t say they feared the hyena but once dead, they where glad to see it gone before it could “fall into the wrong hands”. In this light, is it really that much different between the way we see the use of rhino horn compared to the way it’s viewed in Asian countries such as Vietnam? Definitely food for thought.

However, whether it is indeed a witch’s steed or simply an unfortunate individual who moved into and area where he was not welcome, and paid the price, this hyena certainly had an affect on the property and all of it’s inhabitants during its short time with us.

Go well hyena, and please don’t curse our chef on the way.

James


Damned if you do & damned if you don’t – Legalising the Rhino Horn Trade: Episode 2


The IAPF in Vietnam


The IAPF recently embarked on a journey to Vietnam. We travelled there to gain a better understanding and perspective on the use of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine (TVM).

Our main focus of the trip was not only the use of rhino horn but the culture and beliefs in all Traditional Vietnamese Medicine.

Stay tuned in the coming week for a series of video blogs about the trip as we try to uncover some of the truth and myths about TVM. Tune into to our youtube channel or alternatively watch this blog space.


Encounters of the ‘LARGE’ kind

The “Big Five”. So called because they were apparently the most difficult and dangerous African mammals to hunt. Nowadays, things have changed slightly but they still remain some of the most difficult to conserve.

Here on the Stanley and Livingstone Game Reserve (SALGR) we’ve had our fair share of “Big Five” encounters lately. Lions roaring almost every night and recent sightings of brand new cubs, the buffalo herd exploding in numbers after the rains, a very cheeky elephant nicknamed “kloppers” by the rangers, an old tom leopard who occasionally allows you a glimpse as he slinks back into the bush and of course, our resident rhinos.

It’s these experiences, exciting and often heart stopping at the same time, which keeps us doing what we do. It’s not just the famous species that need protecting though. In order to save one, you have to work from the ground up. Literally. That’s why this is a very important time for us out here. Once the rains stop and the temperature begins to drop, we enter a new season and a have to tackle a new threat… wild fires. Grading the roads, controlling erosion and making sure that our fire guards are well maintained is a big part of the work that needs to be done in the coming months. Uncontrolled fires can have a huge detrimental effect on a property such as this one. They spread quickly through the dry grass, removing food sources for the game and exposing the soil to the harsh sun and winds. This can lower the quality and quantity of next year’s growth and it may be years before we’re able to restore things to the natural balance needed. No soil equals no plants, which equals no animals. It’s as simple as that.

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We’ve progressed well with our vegetation study, and now it’s time to put some of that work into action. We couldn’t have done this of course without help from all of our volunteers to whom we owe huge thanks. Their hard work and dedication has allowed us to thrive and continue on with our goals. So from the IAPF, the SALGR staff and all the animals here in the bush, thank you.

You can keep up to date on everything happening at the IAPF through this blog. For those of you who would like more information on the Green Army program or want to make a commitment, please head over to our website or email steve@iapf.org or james.slade@iapf.org. Come and join us, and see what all the excitement is about for yourself.

James Slade

Game Ranger & Green Army co-ordinator

The IAPF are proudly supported in Zimbabwe by:


IAPF Fundraisers

The IAPF has a number of fundraising events taking place in the month of April.  If you’re in the area, then we urge you to come along and show your support.

Firstly, on the 19thof April at the Yacht Club de Monaco,  we will host ‘Rocking for Rhinos,’ a fundraiser for much needed funds for ‘Conservation Guardians’ a conservation initiative between IAPF, and Men of Trees.

Rocking for Rhinos

The event will feature auctions of various rhino artwork and memorabilia, in particular a Larry Norton original painting named,  ‘2016’.

The painting is a picture of a pair of black rhinos on top of the Chizarira escarpment, part of Chizarira National Park. This is significant as Black rhino have been locally extinct in that area for nearly 20 years.

“Chizarira 2016, Mother and Child”

The plan is to turn the painting into a reality with IAPF, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, set to resurrect the aging park and restore it to its former glory.  This includes the re-introduction of black rhino into the park over the coming years.

For more information on the fundraiser head to the Conservation Guardians blog.

On Friday the 19th of April, the IAPF is holding it’s first ever fundraising event in Zimbabwe. The black tie event will be held at the Mystique Function Centre in Bulawayo.

The focus of the fundraising dinner is Chizarira National Park. We have acquired two Land rovers,  4×4’s that are in a state of disrepair. The funds raised will go into re-conditioning one, if not both vehicles, so they can be used in anti-poaching operations in the area

Bulawayo fundraiser

Local Zimbabwean favourites ‘The Chikenbus Band’ will be entertaining the crowd and there will also be the auctioning of various pieces for the cause.

Tickets are $65. For more information or bookings contact Kirsty from Gardens and Events events@qualityservice.com

From all of us at the IAPF have a Happy Easter and hopefully we will see you at one of the events!


IAPF in the media

As the poaching epidemic that has gripped the planet increases at an alarming rate, more awareness needs to be raised about how critical the situation is on the ground.

However, in a day and age when news and information can be transmitted so quickly, across so many different formats, there is potential for stories to become distorted or misreported. It is therefore the aim of the IAPF to get the correct facts to the right people, which allow them to report accurately on the situation.

The key to winning this war is awareness. The media is one of the best tools that the conservation community has in it arsenal.

Here are some of the latest articles about the IAPF’s activities. I urge you to share these with you friends so we can involve more people in the struggle.

Damien Mander on Channel Ten’s ‘The Project’

If you manage to miss it, or for our overseas supporters, Click here to see the interview in full.

IAPF feature in “Rhino Wars” National Geographic article

“The rifle shot boomed through the darkening forest just as Damien Mander arrived at his campfire after a long day training game ranger recruits in western Zimbabwe’s Nakavango game reserve” 

The IAPF is featured in the March 2012 issue of National Geographic, in an article entitled Rhino Wars.

Voice of America radio interview with Damien Mander

Special Forces operative teaches military tactics to wildlife rangers Jan 30, 2012 Online article and Radio Interview with Damien Mander on Voice of America – heard daily by 123 million people in 44 countries, VoA is one of the worlds biggest radio networks. Click here to listen to the interview

Green Army – The IAPF on Aljazeera – November 12, 2011

One of the world biggest and most respected news network Al Jazeera travelled to Zimbabweto film a feature story about the IAPF’s fight to save the black rhino and their Green Army of Rangers


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