via Anti-poaching unit in major Vic-Falls victory January 20, 2014 NewsDay by Charles Laiton
THE Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (Vapu) in conjunction with the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials have scored a major victory recovering and removing over 22 000 snares laid by poachers since 1999.
The same anti-poaching unit has apprehended more than 600 poachers since the start of the operations in Victoria Falls National Park over a 10-year period.
Professional safari guide and tour operator Charles Brightman, who heads the private anti-poaching unit, said there were various types of poaching throughout the Victoria Falls National Park, but of major concern was the increase in wildlife poaching.
He further said of late, there had been an increase in bush-meat poaching believed to be for either local consumption or export. Brightman said since the
inception of his anti-poaching unit in 1999, his team of 16 scouts that patrols the Victoria Falls National Park every day of the week, with the help of officials from the National Parks, have had to contend with heavily armed poachers and they have called on the government to beef-up security in the parks.
“After realising the increase of poaching activities in our parks I came up with an idea to assist the National Parks and I approached the authorities and sold my idea of introducing a private anti-poaching unit which they accepted,” Brighton said.
“So far, we have removed about 22 000 snares from the parks and arrested over 600 poachers which means we increased the safety of our animals and prevented deaths and injuries that would have occurred.
“Our major challenge now is funding and shortage of manpower since we rely mainly on sponsorship. We are grateful to Africa Albida Tourism, the owners of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, who have been our major sponsors since we started.”
Brightman further said the preservation of wildlife was of paramount importance since it provided downstream benefits such as employment to the youths in various sectors of the tourism industry.
“Poachers do destroy our tourism sector and by preventing their activities, we create employment for our youths and increase the number of tourists visiting our parks to see different types of animals and at the same time this increases revenue for the government. In essence, more wildlife means more tourists and more jobs,” Brightman said.
The safari operator said he was appealing to the corporate world to assist in sponsoring his operations which run on a budget of $5 500 per month and called for donations in the form of uniforms, boots, binoculars and hats.
Victoria Falls National Parks and Wildlife Management regional manager Arthur Musakwa confirmed his organisation’s cordial working relations with Vapu.
“We are working closely with them, but as of now I am unable to confirm the figures off-hand. I need to verify with the officers who know the area that is patrolled by the scouts,” Musakwa said.
The country recently lost over 115 elephants at Hwange National Park through cyanide poisoning.
Keep up the good work Charles. You deserve a medal.
Way to go Charlie.
Charlie YOU GUYS ROCK
It does very little good to have an anti-poaching unit when poaching is done by the ZANU-Thugs and the National Parks officials in charge, especially when they threaten the Game Scouts in National Parks with their job if they interfere.
sweet dreams comrades, sweet dreams
The sooner you implement a “zero tolerance” policy, which means get tough and shoot on sight any poacher,whether laying snares to outright slaughter- the better. Bad news travels fast when poachers fail to return home. Let the hyenas,vultures finnish the remains.
@die groot.U must be a racist.
So what if he is? So are you!
Why not employ former veterans and soldiers to do the job. I am sure they would like a job.
If the government is concerned about our wildlife and the benefits it has to our country teach our young ones the importance of this wildlife and encourage our young ones and schools to go on tours to places that inspire appreciation. I am sure the government can do this given the waste thats going on now.
@Murini-please grow up,not all comments are based on racial grounds.You are sick you need treatment.Well done guys keep the good work going.
Part of the reason for so many snares is that people are starving. If my kids are hungry I do the same, in order to feed them. Go and talk to the locals and prove me wrong!
Well done Charles – a true patriot who obviously has the country & peoples best interests at heart. Good to hear some good news for a change!
Victoria Falls is a lucrative natural resource for Mthwakazi!!
Sounds good but people looking for sponsorship usually do anything to get the funds. Some of the snares are put by the so called scouts as rangers pass some sports and find no snare but the scouts will go running to the parks offices claiming that they have picked up snares from the same sport. Its true though that big poaching is done by the politically powerful since they are the ones who fly to Dubai and Europe to make deals on ivory. The front runners like those who killed dozens of elephants in Tsholotsho are temporarily arrested and then get released as evidence is deliberately flawed. The veterans are the worst to give such a task. We have seen that they are generally irresponsible and holding the nation at ransom for their role in “fighting” Ian Smith. Former soldiers are potential poachers as many of them including some still serving have been caught poaching themselves. Communities and and individuals must all fight poaching as in most cases it is just greed. Tough laws must be implemented BUT like many of our problems there must be the correct political will.
Criminality is a business; and poachers are doing their “job”. Lots of research shows that non-professional thieves get caught or killed in the process of attempting to do something they barely understand. Those who lay snares, poach wildlife, and produce bushmeat (usually dried biltong) are not hungry villagers trying to feed their starving children. They are professionals. They know exactly what they are doing and how to avoid detection. It takes a dedicated, trained professional to catch a career criminal. So, good work gentlemen!