1. Credit & Debit card June 2009 NEWSLETTER
DONATIONS can be
made by visiting Click any item to be taken directly to that
www.cafonline.org and section.
entering “African Lion”
under the charity
• ALERT Chief Operating Officer David
Alternatively, simply click
on the CAF image below. • Development of the Dambwa Forest has
• Elephant research in the Mosi‐oa‐Tunya
• ALERT (UK) patron reaches Everest
• On their third Night Encounter Echo &
Etosha brought down and killed...
• Farewell to Nduna and Teddy as they
move to their new homes…
• Satellite news...
• Kwali gets her chance…
• Urgent appeal – project Wild Dog…
• Ground hornbill study…
• ALERT welcomes…
• Biological monitoring in Victoria Falls…
• Human wildlife conflict – a community
• The last roar: Take part in an ALERT
• Late breaking news…
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 1
2. ALERT Chief Operating Officer David Youldon…
I am writing this month from the Parque Nacional da Gorongosa in Mozambique on
my first visit to the country. Over the last three days I have been astonished by the
natural beauty of this little known and infrequently visited park. Within a few
kilometres you can drive from thick forests where palm fringed water pans and open
vleis are revealed like secrets; through fever tree forests and acacia woodlands of
staggering beauty to vast open savannahs, thousands of hectares in size on the
shores of a glistening lake overlooked by misty mountains. In short, the Gorongosa
National Park is a treasure amongst Africa’s parks, but one that has been plundered
in the recent past. Where once 14,000 buffalo fed on the lush grasses shadowed by
lion prides 18 strong there are now just long, near‐empty vistas.
In 1992 and for two years following the end of the civil war in Mozambique the great
herds of Gorongosa were decimated. Gone are the innumerable wildebeest and
zebra herds, gone are most of the secretive bushbuck, nyala and oribi, and gone are
many of the hippo in the lake formed by the Sungue River.
But the fortune of this most enthralling of Parks is turning around with thanks to the
Carr Foundation and a dedicated conservation management team. They aim to
reintroduce all manner of species to the Park – to restore it to its former glory. Much
work has already been done.
However, Gorongosa National Park is surrounded by an ever‐growing community some 200,000 strong and is thus becoming
increasingly isolated to natural genetic flow and subject to increasing poaching pressure and conflict between the wildlife and
adjacent communities – despite its size Gorongosa is always going to need an interventionist management approach.
I often muse over the issue of what it is going to take to create a scenario whereby people and wildlife can live together in that most
clichéd of states – perfect harmony. Recently, during a recent conversation on the issue my acquaintance enthused how the
proposed trans‐frontier parks were going to be such a huge benefit to wildlife.
Playing devil’s advocate I suggested that the concept of these so called peace parks was flawed. How is re‐classifying the land
between existing reserves and parks, and upon which many people have lived for generations, and simply calling it a wildlife
corridor going to help the wildlife if we do not deal with the reason why there is no wildlife in these areas already?
The answer I was given did nothing short of chill me … in order to create corridors between the current protected areas the people
living there now would be moved so the animals could pass. But they would be heavily incentivised in order to have them agree to
the move. What! I cried. Surely forced, however incentivised, movement of people is a solution that has failed – in some cases with
horrific results – for millennia!
So, let me get this straight, I asked, unless the people agree to move they will be left on land which will now have more wildlife on it
and therefore increase the already widespread human wildlife conflict? Why do we think that they will not slaughter the animals on
their land in exactly the same way they have been doing for years? I would assume that the answer I would be given is “because it’s
against the law” – like the law has made any difference previously.
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I have heard of proposals for increased anti‐poaching measures – which if the huge trans‐frontier parks are to come to fruition
presumably means we are going to need half of the African population to be employed for given the greater extent to which humans
and wildlife are likely to interact. And let us not forget that many of the anti‐poaching units are the very same people doing the
poaching or at least protecting the poachers – after all – it pays far better than their patrolling salary ever could.
I doubt my scepticism about the glory of the peace parks would be a popular position (we’ll ignore the threats to half of them ever
getting off the ground at all due to widespread animal diseases that we do not wish to see spread further) but something just does
not sit right with me. There doesn’t seem to be enough about how to actually face the issues as to why we need peace parks in the
first place; the people of Africa do not want the wildlife. They want to eat the herbivores and kill anything that will eat their crops or
kill their livestock.
Unless we deal with that we are just selling a lie to the tourists in the glossy brochures ‐ they are not going to visit the areas of
“new” wildlife land now included in these parks for the same reasons they haven’t been going there before meaning the proposed
benefits to those communities will not materialise. It all sounds good on the billboard but what benefit to African’s to give them
reason to conserve wildlife? Little!
Maybe the best possible answer is alas also likely to be the most impossible to achieve. You can read more about this issue on page
twelve of this newsletter – warning – some community attitudes may disturb!
But back to Gorongosa – lion population: 40 – maybe 60. There is plenty of lion food available in the Park already – warthog are
considered at almost plague proportions and there are other species too on which the lions could thrive; impala and reedbuck
amongst them. At its height the Park sustained some 500 lion yet the lions here are not reproducing well despite the availability of
prey. Recruitment is low and the reasons are unknown.
With little or no influx possible of wild lions from other areas and a dwindling population the lions need help. ALERT has offered
assistance to the conservation management team to establish a multi‐collaborative effort to help understand what is going on;
looking at disease, genetic structure, human conflict issues as well as assist in research to better understand the usage of the Park
by the current lions. Our offer is under consideration and we will keep you up to date as this hopefully develops.
So much else has been going on with so many exciting developments we make no apology that this newsletter is so long; we wanted
to make sure that all those people and organizations who have given of their time and their money know just how hard we have all
been working to push forward on all of our goals.
It would seem that confidence is also growing in the fortunes of Zimbabwe with the numbers of volunteers attending our programs
at Antelope Park and Victoria Falls increasing month by month bringing much needed funding to the project after many months of
So, we hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to an even more exciting month ahead.
ALERT Chief Operating Officer
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Development of the Dambwa Forest Release area has begun…
On the 28th of May 2009 the first peg was driven into the ground by founder Andrew Conolly to mark the
location of the fence to be constructed within Zambia’s Dambwa Forest as part of the long awaited development of the stage two
and three release areas for the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program.
It has taken five years from when the initial idea to revitalize this part of Zambia’s natural heritage was proposed to the Zambian
authorities to get to the point when on 11th May we were finally given the green light to commence the project.
We immediately set up meetings with the district offices of Forestry, ZAWA and the Joint Forest Management Committee to advise
them of our intention to start work with subsequent meetings with the three chiefs representing the communities that live around
the Forest. We have now begun a series of public meetings within these communities to provide an update on our plans and
information on how the building will be phased over the next few years. So far our plans have been met with overwhelming support
by the authorities and communities alike.
We are looking to complete the first stage two area (south western section – see map on following page) by the end of October
2009 to coincide with Kela, Kwandi and Loma being ready to start their Night Encounter campaign. Zulu, Leya, Rundi & Rusha will
gradually join them until they are all together by the end of January 2010 – this group of seven will form the first release pride in
The pride will continue Night Encounters for a period of one year during which time we hope to complete the second stage two area
into which they will be released around February 2011 at the age of 2½ years old. This will free up the first area for the next release
pride to start being formed and begin their Night Encounter training.
The release pride will remain in stage two for around one year until they are 3½ years during which time the final phase of
construction will take place – stage three.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us during this long but necessary process – we are all extremely pleased to be finally
getting on with it and will of course keep you updated as things move along.
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5. The Dambwa Forest Release Areas…
‐‐‐‐‐ Boundary of the Mosi‐oa‐Tunya NP
‐‐‐‐‐ Border with Zimbabwe
‐‐‐‐‐ Outline of the Dambwa Forest
‐‐‐‐‐ The release areas: 2 x stage two and 1 x
Sinde River on the western edge of the
release area ↓
The interior of the Forest offers a mix of
open grassland and woodland areas ↓
View the spray of Victoria Falls
from the south of the Forest ↓
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6. Elephant research in Mosi‐oa‐Tunya National Park…
At the end of March CCWA began an elephant study in Zambia’s Mosi‐oa‐Tunya National Park and
surroundings to better understand the use of the area by the species. In time, we also hope to improve management plans for
the elephants that use the Park at certain times of year, as well as monitor and enhance mitigation measures for the
surrounding communities, who have been subject to severe crop raiding and property damage over successive years by the
The first two months of the study proved just how seasonal elephants are to the area and only yielded one sighting. But with
the drying out of the land after the rains, the elephants are returning to the area in abundance to utilise the Zambezi River
and the job of identifying these individuals and herds has begun in earnest.
So far five herds have been identified, two bachelor and three breeding herds. The fine specimen below is Cointreau from
herd ‘C’, a large adult female. Cointreau’s herd was first spotted by CCWA researchers and program volunteers on the banks
of the Zambezi on the 29th May – a hot Sunday afternoon, the herd was seen taking advantage of the shade offered by the
thick riverine foliage that consumes the banks of the river.
Questionnaires are also starting to circulate to the communities to establish what damage and raiding activities occur and in
which villages as more herds return to the area. From this, we intend to work with the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), the
Africa Centre for Holistic Management and the communities themselves to formulate much‐needed plans to reduce conflict
between people and elephants.
ALERT (UK) Patron, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, reaches Everest summit
ALERT is exceptionally proud of our UK patron, Sir Ranulph Fiennes,
who has successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest on his third attempt. He is
an inspiration to all of us on the program to continue to strive towards our goals.
At 65, Sir Ran is the oldest Briton to climb the 8,850 metres (29,035ft) to the world’s
highest peak, and afterwards said that while he was pleased he “felt dreadful”.
After a failed attempt last year where he had to abandon the venture due to
exhaustion, and suffering a heart attack on his first effort in 2005, Fiennes completed
his third assault on the mountain in three weeks.
Over the years, Sir Ranulph has led over 30 expeditions and is best‐known for a three‐
year trans‐global expedition which he completed in 1982, as well as running seven
marathons in seven days on seven continents just four months after undergoing
a triple heart bypass in 2003.
Which is more daunting; Echo or
Everyone at ALERT extends their congratulations to Ran. Everest? Sir Ran tackles his other
nemesis last year at AP
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 6
the girls closed to 20
metres of the
On their third Night Nduna, a 32‐month old male,
zebra, they launched into a chase.
Encounter Echo and Etosha Continuing to narrow the gap it was Loma was transferred to Ballyvaughan
brought down and killed a young who jumped first on the stallion’s back. Animal Sanctuary at the end of May after
zebra. After a relatively quiet outing, the She was quickly dislodged, but was they approached the Park last year for a
excitement came towards the end of the immediately replaced by Kwandi, while companion for one of their female lions.
night. As the vehicle approached Kela ankle tapped the zebra. Once Nduna is inbred, and therefore we cannot
a herd of impala, the 25‐month old Kwandi was thrown clear, Kela decided to release him or breed with him.
brothers took a different route and give it a go. With this being their first
flanked a lone juvenile. encounter with the species and at such Along with his sister, Nandi – who is
a young age, none of the cubs had the bonding with her release pride and will
Both Echo and Etosha brought the young experience or the power to make their be spayed prior to release ‐ Nduna was
zebra down, but as seen in previous kills efforts count, but without a doubt given sanctuary as a young cub when his
it was Etosha who delivered the killing they’re going to be a group to watch in owner was no longer able to care for him.
bite – his second zebra to date. Just the coming months. The siblings were grouped with Amanzi,
a week later the Es were back out in the an older, more confident male at our
Park, and this time Etosha had an adult The 3L brothers, Lozi, Luangwa and Victoria Falls stage one, before moving to
duiker set in his sights, and effortlessly Lungile, were on their most recent Night the Park and became part of the CNNs
made his sixth kill. This puts Etosha firmly Encounter on 28th May and put on an along with Chaka. A second male, Teddy,
in the top 10 of our most successful impressive display of teamwork. has also moved to Imire Game Park after
hunters of all time, and with another five their prime breeding male died recently.
months still to run of Night Encounters, Finding a warthog burrow, the 28‐month Teddy is nine‐years old and has sired
he’s more than capable of threatening olds began digging and managed to 27 of our lions in the program.
our current leaders; Phoenix & Nala. widen the entrance enough so that Lozi
actually managed to crawl inside.
Reappearing some 20 minutes later, he
But the 2Es don’t have exclusive rights on
zebra chases. At our stage one in was promptly followed by two tusks.
Zambia’s Mosi‐oa‐Tunya National Park On behalf of Zimbabwe’s
Kela, Kwandi and Loma, three females All three grabbed at the warthog’s head Department of Parks & Wildlife, CCWA
aged 12 months, have been showing off and began dragging it from the burrow, recently purchased satellite images
their skills. On an afternoon walk the KLs while a second warthog fled. But the Ls’ covering the Victoria Falls area. The
encountered a herd of eight zebra. True attention stayed firmly fixed on their prey images will be used for our Sable Habitat
to form, Kela, who has initiated many of and with one final effort they pulled it Selection study and will help correlate
the group’s encounters with prey, was clear. Lozi and Luangwa began eating sable sightings to vegetation composition
the first to spot and approach the zebra, immediately, but it was Lungile who kept estimated by Normalized Difference
with her sister and Loma in hot pursuit. hold and made sure it was dead! Vegetation Indices.
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 7
8. Release pride update…
As featured in our last newsletter, one of the
stage two prides awaiting release at Antelope Park has undergone
some major revisions following the discovery that several
members of the proposed pride, as well as some of the future
breeding lions, tested positive for FIV.
These 11 lions will now be released as a pride into
a stage two area adjacent to the Park at a later date. Their
success when compared to an FIV negative release group will
provide important insights as to the effect of the virus. However,
there are two members of the original pride who tested negative
for the FIV virus; Kwali and Paka.
Kwali will now join the pride formerly known as the Dollar Block
Six who will be released in a separate stage two site also next to
the Park. The pride is currently bonding with a pride male, Milo,
while the site is constructed. Kwali’s sister, Kenge, is a member of
the pride; Kwali also spent much of her stage one walking career
with Athena and was housed with Phyre and Ashanti before their
release, so while the reintroduction process will be gradual, we
anticipate no problems with bonding. As a young cub, Kwali
suffered from Horner’s Syndrome. With similar symptoms to a
stroke, it caused a slight deformation of her face, but it is a non‐
hereditary condition. Nonetheless, Kwali was spayed last year.
While the Dollar Block Six proved during last year’s release that
they certainly need no help with hunting, Kwali’s impressive Night
Encounter stats will be a useful addition to any pride: overall she
currently ranks joint ninth for the most kills made, and was
a member of the first and second most successful Night
Encounter groupings, which achieved a 73% and 67% hunting
success rate respectively.
As for Paka she will now be kept back for future breeding,
a decision that was made due to two factors. Firstly, there are no
other prides of similar age which she can now be bonded to.
Secondly, after the death of her mother, PK, last year she now
represents the only viable continuation of that matriarchal line in
the program; with PK’s only other female off‐spring being Emma
– one of the FIV positive pride – and Phyre who is already part of
the our first release pride.
Paka and Kwali have been grouped together for some time now
due to the intention of releasing them together. As such, while
Kwali moves to the holding enclosures opposite the release site,
Paka will now be grouped with Lola and Lee‐Lee, two sisters of
similar age who came to the program last year.
Given that these sisters have only ever been grouped with each
other, the process of introducing Paka to them will probably take
a little longer than Kwali’s move, with her being grouped with
first one L before the sisters are swapped over. After this initial
phase is complete and staff are happy that she has bonded well
with each sister on their own, all three will be housed together.
PK was a beautiful lioness whose soft features are also borne by
her female offspring. Paka is coming of breeding age now, as is a
very striking male, Mufasa, who she will most likely be introduced
to first. They are likely to produce some very strong and good
looking – if naughty ‐ cubs.
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 8
9. Urgent appeal …
A pack of wild dogs have moved into our proposed release area in the Dambwa Forest in Livingstone.
The first sightings of the dogs surfaced earlier this year in January, and two or three individuals were regularly sighted. Now, that
number has grown to at least eight dogs which have possibly denned down and have pups. These animals are amongst some of
the rarest in Africa and are subject to severe persecution by communities due to their unrivalled hunting abilities – two dogs have
already been killed in recent months in Livingstone.
We have been asked by the Zambian authorities to assist them in firstly setting up a research program on the pack as well
funding a special patrol and guard force to protect the dogs.
ALERT is urgently requesting financial assistance to help fund this incredibly important program. If you can help in anyway, please
make a donation through our CAF online system, the link to which you can find on the cover page of this newsletter.
Ground hornbill study…
The ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri), a bird indigenous in southern Africa to Botswana, Zambia,
Mozambique, KwaZulu‐Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo Province and is scattered around northern Namibia, is an unmistakable
looking‐bird with a conspicuous red face and throat patches and a large black de‐curved bill (Ian Sinclair, 1993). There are many
myths surrounding ground hornbills, such as the belief that it is “muti” (medicine) for bringing rains. In some areas they are
considered sacred, while in others it is thought that in large numbers they signal drought.
Regarded as vulnerable in South Africa, a population estimate of 1,500 to 2,000 has been put forth, and Zimbabwe’s population
is believed to be on the decline as well. Habitat fragmentation has resulted in fewer suitable areas for the hornbills to occupy,
but they have also been killed through feeding on poisoned meat, left for problem carnivores predating on farmer’s livestock as
well as being killed for meat in their own right.
A new CCWA study in and around the Zambezi National Park aims to determine ground hornbill population numbers within the
Hwange District, as well as data on habitat and prey preference. Additional information collected from the communities
surrounding our project base in Victoria Falls and the study site will aid understanding people’s attitudes towards the bird and
assist in developing management strategies aimed at conserving the ground hornbill.
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 9
10. ALERT welcomes...
Zibusiso Ncube, 24, from Bulawayo, has joined our Victoria Falls project in the Zambezi National Park as ALERT’s
research technician for the program.
With a BSc from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, Zie also
spent a year’s industrial attachment with the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe and was involved in Environmental Impact
Assessments on logged areas, forest fire protection and inventory as well as problem animal control. Whilst at Ngamo Safaris, he not
only escorted clients on safari hunts, but undertook research on the ecology of ungulate species. As research technician, Zibusiso’s
role includes the implementation of our stage one research studies at Masuwe, leading our work in the Zambezi National Park, as well
as working with local community leaders and the African Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM) to seek solutions to the wildlife‐
human conflicts facing the communities in the Victoria Falls area.
Zie joins our expanding research team, which in the last 12 months has grown significantly. All three stage one projects now have
research technicians in place to carry out and oversee field work at the individual locations.
Sibo Ncube, originally Antelope Park’s research technician, transferred to Victoria Falls in December. With the addition of Zie, we are
pleased to announce that Sibo has now been promoted to Research Supervisor. In this new capacity, Sibo is now responsible for:
• Providing leadership to the research programs operating at all ALERT project locations and to take responsibility for their
management and administration within the strategic and accountability frameworks established by ALERT;
• Ensuring all research technicians conduct field studies in accordance with the values, standards and practices of ALERT;
• Reviewing the research aims and methodologies at all projects on a regular basis and providing proposals to ensure all
studies are carried out in the most effective and efficient manner;
• Training to research technicians to ensure that all field work is conducted to the highest scientific standards.
In addition, Sibo is also responsible for project development, and will be heading up the development of new research proposals to
advance the goals of ALERT as well as maintaining relationships with key partners to ensure that joint projects are managed
effectively. She will also be a point of contact for Facilitated Research Students prior to arrival at our projects.
Sibo is supported by our Scientific Officer, Professor Peter Mundy, overseeing the quality of all
research being conducted at the various projects. Professor Mundy joined the program at the
end of 2008 and has since been an invaluable source of guidance to our research technicians.
We continue to work alongside our expert consultants, Dr Pieter Kat and Dr Don Heath, who
have both provided invaluable advice and assistance to the program for several years now.
Dr Kat is a consultant ecologist to the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild
Program and has been involved in a diversity of scientific fields for 25 years.
Dr Don Heath is a consultant ecologist to the Conservation Centre for Wild Africa (CCWA)
having previously worked as senior ecologist for Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority, Zimbabwe’s Professional Hunter’s & Guide’s Association and the
Wildlife Research Institute – where he wrote the current Departmental Quota Setting and
Above: Zie and Sibo attend the Guidelines for Sustainable Utilization.
human‐wildlife conflict meeting with
community leaders in Victoria Falls
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11. Biological monitoring in Victoria Falls National Park
The Victoria Falls rainforest is one of the world’s most visited tourist sites and is home to over 800 plant species.
The spread of invading alien plants is contributing towards the depletion of indigenous plant species in the area. In turn, this will
lead to a loss of plant biodiversity if action is not taken.
Environment Africa in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s department of National Parks and Wildlife started an eradication exercise
which involves removing these alien species by mechanical methods. They mapped out areas infested by alien plant invader
species and within the study area, established four vegetation plots in the rainforest and one control plot outside of the rainforest.
CCWA has since partnered with Environment Africa and National Parks so that our program volunteers and staff can assist the
project in maintaining plant biodiversity. As such, volunteers at our Victoria Falls program and project managers took part in the
• Record measurements of tree height, diameter and damage;
• Tagging, for future identification;
• Collected information on ground cover, litter cover, bare ground herbaceous cover, grass and basal cover;
• Calculated percentage of abundance of individual species in the quadrants.
To create further awareness of this vital work within the Victoria Falls National Park,
we launched the Friends of Victoria Falls program earlier this year, the funds from
which are intended to help:
• Employ people from the local community to undertake the eradication work;
• Purchase equipment, such as mattocks and hoes, to mechanically remove the
IAPS and approved chemicals to deter regeneration of underground root
• Purchase specialist equipment and people to attempt to deal with IAPS that
have now infiltrated the less accessible Batoka Gorge;
• Acquire satellite imagery to enhance biological monitoring;
• Improve facilities at the Park’s education centre to enhance visitor awareness.
The Living Rainforest, in Berkshire, is the Trust for Sustainable Living’s flagship visitor
centre and allows members of the public to explore the links between rainforests,
people and nature through education, conservation and sustainable living. We have
also formed a partnership with the Living Rainforest (www.livingrainforest.org) so
that the challenges facing such a unique ecosystem can be better understood.
To sponsor the Victoria Falls National Park please send an email to
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 11
12. Community meetings to tackle human wildlife conflict…
The value put on wildlife by those not living with it every day is very different to that perceived by most
communities in Africa. This fact was brought into sharp focus when, during a public meeting held at Monde Primary School in a
rural village outside Victoria Falls to discuss the human wildlife conflict issues faced by these communities, the solution suggested by
the people to the daily challenge of protecting crops and livestock was simple – kill the wildlife – all of it. Elephants were seen as
the overriding problem with predators such as leopard, hyena and lion coming in a close second. Baboon and buffalo came under
fire – not even the lowly spring hare was spared the wrath of villagers and were also deemed to be targets for a mass slaughter.
When most people talk about habitat protection they talk in terms of legal protection – laws forbidding communities access to areas
where wildlife lives and from utilising the resources of the land on which their ancestors have subsisted for centuries.
Wildlife is perceived by local communities as having negative economic value, either through loss of life, livestock and crops or
through the loss of income‐generating opportunities restricted by protection of the habitat that wildlife needs to survive. Legal
protection may have questionable value when it concerns a species that comes into conflict with people, often in remote areas with
poor infrastructure. Under such circumstances, according to the IUCN, legal protection may serve only to alienate people from
conservation activities. So what hope?
ALERT believes that any solution that fails to tackle the root problems of human wildlife conflict will, in the long run, be ineffective.
Only through cultural change in a greatly expanding human population that is putting unprecedented pressure on land can a new
perception of the value of wildlife be forthcoming – one that accepts that not only does the presence of wildlife in an area ensure
that the natural resources on which the community relies will remain available to them and their children, that socio‐economic
benefits can be derived from the wildlife but also through implementing conflict mitigation measures. Acceptance by communities
that they must learn how to live with wildlife is the only long term solution, but this notion is the polar opposite of the view
currently held by communities.
Other cultural barriers to success also exist. Individuals who have taken up the challenge and have seen the proposed systems
working; reaping for them economic benefits and reduced conflict with wildlife have kept hidden their success lest their neighbours
discover the secret. And communities that have become reliant on hand‐outs from NGOs for no work on their own part are
suggesting workable solutions to their problems but choosing not to implement them as it means they will have to do the work.
We are under no illusion that to succeed in creating real grass roots developed protection of wildlife is an enormous challenge.
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 12
On 28th May ALERT and the Africa Centre for Holistic Management facilitated a community meeting to which some 200 people
attended representing affected communities and their headmen and village chief, the Rural and City Councils, Campfire, the local
Member of Parliament, the Hwange Lion Research Project and tourist operators Shearwater and Lion Encounter.
The meeting aimed to hear communities’ views about the problems of wildlife conflict and to build support for a participatory
approach to finding solutions.
It was clear from the start that there was great animosity towards all organizations involved in wildlife management and
conservation for putting the needs of the animals before the needs of people and for not passing on any of the benefits of wildlife to
In open discussions the following were suggested by villagers as being some of the root causes of the conflict;
• Community areas were easy sources of food for wildlife;
• There are more animals than their used to be;
• Population growth pushing into wildlife areas to produce sufficient food and gathering of other resources;
• Authorities too slow to respond to reports of problem animals; and
• People do not know how to defend themselves, their homes, livestock and crops.
ACHMs founder Allan Savory spoke saying that to kill all the wildlife would destroy Zimbabwe’s largest industry with obvious
repercussions both nationally and locally. He said that the majority of people within Zimbabwe, a democratic country, would vote
to support wildlife and therefore the tourist industry based upon it; as such the culling solution proposed by the vast majority of
people in these communities would never get approved, but equally would not solve the broader problems facing them.
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 13
14. African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 14
Allan (pictured on previous page) asked people to consider the question “what would you do in order to increase human wildlife
‐ Use large fields with low yield crops;
‐ Leave those fields unprotected;
‐ Allow livestock to roam freely whilst grazing;
‐ Have livestock cared for by inexperienced people;
‐ Keep animals in many small kraals;
‐ Burn the grass in the wildlife areas removing much of the food wildlife needs;
‐ Allow the land to deteriorate through poor land management practices draining rivers of water and forcing communities to spread
their fields and grazing practices into wildlife areas to maintain the same low yields.
In fact everything that we are currently doing now!
Allan admitted that he used to believe that culling the animals and burning the grass was the best management tool and in one year
whilst working on an area in Zambia in 1955 he shot 200 elephants whilst protecting crops. When he opened them up he made a
discovery – their stomachs were full of grass. So, in 1956 he told the landowner that he would protect his crops by shooting
problem elephants but that the protection would cease if any fires were burned in the grasslands surrounding the farm. That year
only two elephants had to be shot.
In the previous three days before the meeting fires had been lit all around the land surrounding the villages. He asked – now that
the food had gone where are the animals going to go for food?
He suggested that the underlying problem is the deterioration of land and water sources through the land management practices of
both the authorities and local communities. What we need are more animals, both wild and domestic – and less burning.
At ACHM’s own ranch in the heart of the conflict zone they have dramatically increased the amount of livestock but managed the
land in a new way. As a result the river runs when it used to dry up, the crops produce a greater yield from smaller more
manageable fields and no livestock have been taken by predators.
Allan concluded by saying that we need to all work together to produce constructive solutions for ourselves – to work out what
methods are the most effective and to find ways of making the methods that ACHM has already put in place more cost efficient and
therefore viable for communities to practice themselves.
It was difficult to tell how much the community accepted that there is another way to deal with the conflict that they are facing
other than killing all the animals, but they were certainly listening intently and ALERT and ACHM were thanked by all present for
starting the process of dealing with the problems.
ALERT and ACHM will now produce a joint report from the meeting in order to highlight several steps on how this project could
proceed from here. This will be presented to all stakeholders in order to agree priorities and strategies to affect a long term
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 15
The Last Roar…
John Murphy is a student who is undertaking a study as part of his MSc in
Environment & International Development at the University of East
The study seeks to look at the role of volunteering in conservation
initiatives in Africa and is being implemented through ALERT's Facilitated
Research Program. For more information on how to study with us, please
As part of the study, John hopes to understand the motivations of
volunteers in choosing to join a project and has produced a short survey
for anyone who has volunteered, not just with us but with any
Many of our former volunteers have already completed John’s survey, and
we thank you for taking the time to help him.
We would be very grateful if anyone who has volunteered on any
conservation program could take a few moments to complete the survey
which you can find at:
The survey is completely anonymous
And if all that news isn’t enough, some late breaking news…
Following the recent offer to identify suitable land for lions by the
Zimbabwean Ministry of Environment and Tourism we have been offered
an area in Chamabonda within the Zambezi National Park by the Parks &
Wildlife Management Authority. Within Zimbabwe the Zambezi National
Park is contiguous with the Kazuma Pan – Matetsi ‐ Hwange complex,
forming a total contiguous conservation area of over 1,846,700 hectares
excluding forest reserves.
This particular area has been suggested as the fencing would help protect
the Chamabonda community which are currently subject to significant
We will now consider the offer to assess the suitability of the site for such
a release area.
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust 16