Anti-poaching campaign gets oomph. . . Kariba Tiger tourney roars to life

THE Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU), established in 1999, is making great strides in fighting poaching.

Co-ordinated, hosted and sponsored by Zimbabwean hospitality group, Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), the annual VFAPU Golf Day has over the years mobilised substantial funds to help cover the unit’s operational costs.

VFAPU consists of 17 scouts who tackle all forms of poaching in Victoria Falls.

Anti-poaching initiatives are capital-intensive as they require scouts to use sophisticated tracking and communication machinery in their operations.

The annual fund-raising tournament, recently held at the Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club, managed to raise $30 000.

Sponsorship came from an anonymous donor, AAT, Fertiliser, Seed and Grain (FSG), Dendairy, African Sun, The Stable Winery, Safeguard and Flo2Go.

FSG’s funding also included a VFAPU scouts’ salary for a year.

Shades Ahead underwrote a scout’s salary for one month.

Poaching is rife in the Victoria Falls region, with more than 15 elephants having been lost to this criminal activity in the Hwange National Park last year. Over 700 poachers have been arrested by VFAPU’s scouts so far.

The unit, which is working closely with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, has removed more than 22 000 wire snares from its operational area and rescued 200 mammals injured by snares.

Professional guide, conservationist and VFAPU founder and head of operations Charles Brightman noted that such initiatives have the potential to eradicate poaching.

“Without the support, VFAPU would have been unable to prevent the potential poaching of dozens of elephants. Recently, the scouts discovered 39 cyanide-laced oranges in the Zambezi National Park, left to kill elephants for their ivory,” revealed Brightman.

“Funds raised will go a long way in covering the unit’s operational costs and help stop poaching in the region.”

AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy weighed in.

“We are proud to be a leading fund-raiser for VFAPU. The golf day showed what an amazing society and nation we live in. So many generous and caring companies support the initiative year in-and-out.

“We salute each and every golfer, sponsor and supporter and recognise the effort and commitment to the wonderful cause,” said Kennedy.

A field of 160 players playing a “Four Ball Better Ball Stableford format” took part in this year’s golf charitable cause.

The tournament was won by Ashleigh Pringle and Michelle Wilson, who finished with 52 points, while Angus Light and Richard Howes came second on 50 points, followed by Frank Zimani and Mike McMullen on 49 points.

Meanwhile, favourable economic policies introduced by the new political dispensation are expected to revive interest in the annual Kariba Invitational Tiger Fish Tournament (KITFT).

The 57th edition of Zimbabwe’s biggest fishing tournament takes place this week from Wednesday to Friday at the traditional venue, Charara Campsite in Kariba.

Of concern has been the dropping number of participating teams, with a total of 56 teams taking part in the last edition.

The figure is a far cry from the 250 teams that participated in 2012.

Organisers have cited high ZimParks fees, immigration delays and a high number of roadblocks that often resulted in police delaying motorists as the causes for the slump.

“There is no doubt that the cost has had a great deal to do with the declining numbers. If ZimParks were to reduce their fees substantially, I’m sure we will attract bigger numbers. There is also the issue of police harassing motorists’ at numerous roadblocks, which has also affected us,” said KITFT director Rod Bennet last year.

A better turn-out is expected this year as there is renewed interest from traditional source markets like Europe, United States, Japan and Germany.

And ZimParks is ready to play ball.

“ZimParks regards KITFT as a significant tournament, hence we are prepared to listen to the organisers’ concerns. Our partnerships are in the spirit of encouraging more participation,” ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo is on record saying.

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