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News - April 2009

Our first quarter newsletter comes a bit late as we are re-vamping our public relations desk. Communications Director, Chris Scott, will now be taking over most of our public relations duties, including newsletters. Our website is finally under construction, and our domain name has been registered. Our logo has also been finalised, thanks to Shayne Rodrigues who designed it and Steve Reid who adapted it.


January saw AWARE vets teaming up with SPANA directors Jeremy Hulme and Simon Pope, and SPCA inspector Simon Chikadaya, to investigate some harrowing reports of donkey cruelty in the lower Gweru area. Sure enough, a dire need for welfare education and veterinary assistance was identified. The vets treated one sick donkey, and several with superficial wounds. They de-wormed a dozen others. Two cases of axe wounds were treated, and a third donkey that had been axed through his achilles tendon was euthanased.

The result of this is that SPANA has agreed to sponsor 6 free donkey clinics run by AWARE in the Gweru area over the next year. The first one will start on the 28th April 2009. This will give AWARE the opportunity to educate donkey owners and the general public on the ethical treatment of donkeys.

SPANA, in conjunction with AWARE, also intend to run a training course later in the year for vets and animal health inspectors, specifically to deal with pertinent issues in donkey medicine.


‘Owlie’, a beautiful spotted eagle owl that was hit by a car, came into our lives in February. He was in a severe state of shock and dehydration when he was brought in, wrapped in a blanket, on his back in a cat cage. An X-ray revealed no broken bones but his left eye was bruised and swollen shut, and he appeared to have severe neurological deficits with his left wing and right leg non-functional. He could not balance and had to be propped up by towels for the first week of his intensive care.

Initially he was too weak to feed, but once his hydration was corrected, he gratefully accepted being force fed, and after 10 days began to eat culled day-old chicks on his own. By 2 weeks, both eyes were open and responsive, and he could keep himself upright by using his left wing as a prop. At this stage his right leg was still not working and his talons were clenched.

After 6 weeks of intensive physiotherapy, Owlie can now fly short distances, and is also able to extend the talons on his right leg. We hope that with a bit more time, we will be able to ‘soft-release’ Owlie. Thanks to Fiona Saunders who baby-sat him while we were away recently, and Darren Lanca who provided the day-old chicks for him to eat.


In February, AWARE vets, with Chris Scott in tow as photographer, assisted the CIRAD team, and Drs Foggin and Hofmeyr in Gonarezhou National Park to confirm some preliminary results of testing buffalo for bovine tuberculosis (BTB). The results of this work will shortly be published by CIRAD and other co-authors involved.

Capacity building

Drs Marabini and Dutlow were sponsored by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based in America, to attend the inaugural ‘Practical Wildlife Disease Investigation’ course at the University of Pretoria. AWARE Trust in turn sponsored Dr Foggin to attend this course. The course was aimed at standardising veterinary diagnostic procedures within Trans Frontier Conservation Areas in Southern Africa, and was given by eminent South African wildlife vets.

Other news

Dr Marabini is currently assisting the Wildlife Veterinary Unit to examine the existing animal welfare legislation in the country with a view to gazetting some much needed welfare regulations, particularly with regard to the keeping of captive wild animals.

Meanwhile preparations for the Maramani dog sterilisation and vaccination campaign (130km west of Beitbridge, in the Limpopo-Shashe Trans Frontier Conservation Area) are underway. This is due to take place on May 4th 2009.


Our sincere thanks this quarter go out to:

Nadia Marabini
Sue Burr
Dave Bradshaw
Zoe Van Zyl
Meryl Harrison
Fiona Saunders
Darren Lanca

More about AWARE
AWARE is the only conservation veterinary trust in Zimbabwe run by veterinarians. We focus on the welfare of wildlife and conservation of wildlife habitats. Read more


Address: 16 Southam Road, Greystone Park, Harare, Zimbabwe

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