By Ian Mackenzie-Ross
Board Member IAPF USA and Managing Director IAPF Australia
Okay! I know you always want to hear about raids and arrests…so let’s start there, shall we?
True to form, your awesome Akashinga rangers have executed raids in four different locations in just the last week or so.
The first was a set of raids in conjunction with police, which apprehended four bush-meat poachers across three villages. Altogether 22.71 pounds (10.30kg) of semi-dry bush meat was recovered. The poachers were taken into police custody and charged with unlawful entry, hunting without a permit, and removing any animal (or part) from a protected area.
Yes, we often speak of elephants, rhinos, and other individual species—but as a conservation organization, IAPF will protect ecosystems and all of nature from as many threats as possible.
Our other action was a series of seven raids over 72 hours in cooperation with Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) and Zimbabwe’s Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit (MFFU) of the Criminal Investigations Department. The list of confiscated items and illegal animal parts that follows is extensive, and helps you understand why we focus on ecosystem-level defense.
This list of seized items also gives you some perspective as to the size of the problem.
Over the three days the team seized 1 weapon and 34 rounds of ammunition; cat skins including leopard (“vulnerable” on IUCN red list), serval, and genet; a large impala skin; several large bags of bush meat, including duiker, buffalo, and warthog; a large number of dried feet, including 4 impala feet and 52 duiker feet; 3 tortoise shells; and 16 porcupine quills. It was obvious to our team that they were killing everything they found – but no longer.
This crackdown resulted in five arrests, and in addition to these charges, one of the suspects we tracked down is wanted for the poaching four elephants in the National Parks area and had fled after a shootout with their rangers.
A nine-month sentence has been passed down already, and the other cases are pending as we work with local authorities for further prosecution.
Have no fear: Our ranger patrols are ongoing even as you read this…(article continues below images)
We have no training classes scheduled for the last two weeks of the year as the team prepares for 2019, but that does not mean we’re not busy.
We’re making some fantastic improvements to camp. These include a water tower, an underground water storage tank, a building for our kitchen, solar panels and a small backup generator, and a fence to keep out curious wildlife.
There’re lots of projects going on, people to help, supplies to arrange, and plans to be made – but when the training sessions begin in 2019, we’ll be ready at a level we’ve only dreamed of up to now. The next leadership training program here will kick off in early January, with two Akashinga rangers travelling up from Zimbabwe to attend. As time goes by, we will increase cooperation and connection between these programs. Akashinga’s Zimbabwe base will soon be getting some of these upgrades too.
LEAD Ranger is a collaborative initiative of International Anti-Poaching Foundation, The Thin Green Line Foundation, and Ranger Campus Foundation.
As usual, we can’t say much about this, but our agents continue actively working to protect nature. So, when you need something to feel good about – just know that there are people risking their lives every day to help maintain safe habitat for some of the world’s rarest creatures by disrupting illegal wildlife syndicates. That always gives me a warm feeling.
True, this is much less exciting than everything else in the update, but it is crucial to our effectiveness and I want you to know. Through much of 2018 we worked hard to catch up and streamline some “back office” areas, but it’s almost all done. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that things are “ship shape” and we look forward to 2019 being a year of additional progress, achievement, and impact for animals. We also anticipate having some personnel announcements to share with you early in the year. Stay tuned!
Last, but by no means least, we’re proud to share with you the fact that our Founder and President, Damien Mander, recently won the Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal in recognition his and IAPF’s efforts to protect non-human animals. In receiving this award, Damien joins the ranks of such past recipients as Sir David Attenborough, Dr Jane Goodall DBE, and Captain Paul Watson. Damien also received $20,000 in prize money, which he has generously donated back to IAPF.
We’ll make a full announcement about this soon.
I can’t think of a better way to wrap up this update to you, so I’ll stop here with one last wish for your happy holidays – and many thanks from your IAPF team for your ongoing partnership in protecting African animals and their habitat.