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ALERT Update for September 2019
September was an eventful month for the ALERT team, with expeditions to find elusive elephants in the name of research, to community work stretching from Gweru to the hills of Chizarira.
The Victoria Falls team has spent the past 5 weeks doing fieldwork and sampling in Zambezi National Park to assess levels of elephant impact on vegetation surrounding the waterholes in the southern section of the Park.
Angela Ferguson, ALERT Conservation Research Manager, has reported:
“We have been doing a lot of walking, with parks rangers accompanying us for safety as we measure lots and lots of shrubs and trees. It’s been very interesting to see parts of the park most people don’t have access to, and we’re already beginning to see some patterns of damage emerging.
We have about another 2 weeks of sampling to go and are very grateful to have Luke (a Masters student), Esnath and Natsani (local undergraduate students), Zacheus (former parks official and tree guru), and several Zimbabwe National Parks ranger and Volunteer Encounter volunteers (Jayde and Liam) on the team to assist.”
An Update from Chizarira
ALERT scientific staff darted and collared an adult female elephant which was in a herd of about 30 others early this morning in Chizarira National Park. This epic operation starts the elephant research program which ALERT, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management, will be carrying out to get a handle on the population structure and movements of elephants in this, the third largest park in Zimbabwe (1,910ms2).
Dr Norman Monks (PhD), ALERT CEO reported:
“The darting went well. A herd of elephant was located at about 0700hrs and the team comprising of Dr Monks and Anele Matshisela, Isaac Mudimba from ALERT, and the Park team consisting of the Park Ecologist Mr Chinoitezvi, Senior Ranger Mr Madlala and others crept through thick bush to get the animals visual, and on agreement a large female was selected and darted. The female lay down 6 minutes after darting and the team collared her, carried out morphological measurements and then Dr Monks reversed the effects of the opioid drug used. The elephant was back on her feet in three minutes and joined the rest of the herd.
To obtain population characteristics and dynamics of wildlife such as elephants, which move vast distances, techniques such as telemetry has to be employed. Park and Protected Area managers need to know the movements and composition of wildlife populations in order to effectively manage and protect them. As an added aid in anti-poaching in large areas, knowing where the elephants are made effective ranger deployment easier. This research will answer many scientific questions as well as assist the Park Management to effectively deploy rangers in the areas where elephant are moving and may be vulnerable to illegal activities.”
ALERT is looking to expand on this project significantly and we would love your help and for you to become apart of our team as we look to raise funds for another 5 elephant collars. If you want to help and are interested to find out more please see the link to our GlobalGiving page for more information Click Here (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/elephant-research-in-chizarira-zimbabwe/)
Conservation Education in Chizarira
During the last week of the school term, the team in Chizarira frequented the school as they had been requested to have a debate challenge.
With the aid of the teachers, the students were divided into 2 groups and were told to debate on the topic “ critique deforestation.” Some very insightful points were shared by the students and it was a very interesting and eye-opening exercise. The participants performed well and the school seemed keen to start an Environment Club which by the start of the new term will be in full effect. I have since downloaded a number of Wildlife & Environment Zimbabwe Matabeleland branch’s “Bush Beat” magazines which will be printed and given to the students.
School supplies from recent donations have been purchased and will be distributed to 16 children that attend rural schools in the surrounding areas of Victoria Falls.
The supplies include:
- 1 backpack.
- 1 pair of school shoes.
- 6 pairs of socks.
- 3 uniforms.
- 12 notebooks.
- 6 pens.
- 2 pencils.
- 1 eraser.
- 1 ruler.
- A number of exercise books.
- School fees paid for the year.
These donations were made possible by Nadya Koleva and her friends who donated the money for the supplies and Emelie Medrala who donated the stationery supplies. A massive thank you from everyone here at ALERT goes out to everyone involved in helping these children.
This project is helping achieve Social Development Goal 4- Quality Education, of the United Nations Development Programme in Zimbabwe.
If you would like to get involved and make a difference with this project please visit our GlobalGiving page.
If you are interested in seeing more of our projects please visit our GlobalGiving project page.