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News - December 2008

Tempus fugit…it is already time to reflect on the last 5 months as AWARE’s first active year draws to a close. In line with our key objectives, AWARE has lately been involved in the following activities.

Capacity building

Despite all the challenges Zimbabweans face, it is comforting to know there are still some dedicated (die-hard!) conservation minded people out there who we have had the pleasure of working with. AWARE vets Keith and Lisa benefited from a capacity building exercise by accompanying Dr Chris Foggin of the Wildlife Veterinary Unit on several rhino ops. These involve darting rhino from a helicopter to dehorn them, or to implant them with a horn transmitter so that their location can be consistently monitored.

The vets also escorted 3 white rhino in crates from one National Park to another considered to be a safer place for them. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone involved in rhino conservation, rhino poaching has escalated with an estimated 2 rhino being lost every week. We can only pray that the political situation is resolved and that the culprits are brought to book before rhino become a thing of the past in Zimbabwe.

A big ‘thank-you’ to CCWA for their contribution towards the vets’ accommodation for these ops.


Following on from our intentions in the previous newsletter, AWARE secured funding from the SADC FMD Program for a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) survey in 5% of the cattle in the proposed Limpopo-Shashe Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (LS-TFCA).

The project was performed on behalf of the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services and in conjunction with vet department field staff in the area. For those of you that need reminding, TFCAs or ‘peace parks’ are large tracts of land designated for conservation that span international borders.

Zimbabwe is due to be involved in six such conservation initiatives. The LS-TFCA is in the South-West corner of Zimbabwe where borders are shared with both South Africa and Botswana. The Maramani communal land is directly adjacent to the junction of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers, where all 3 countries meet, and is therefore destined to become part of the TFCA. It is thus important to know the disease status of cattle within this area because it has major implications for the future direction of the LS-TFCA. Preliminary results show that this population has not been exposed to FMD recently.

AWARE vets, using money donated by SPANA, also tested these cattle for Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) and Theileriosis. The population was negative for BTB and the Theileriosis results are still pending.


Wildlife rehabilitation stories don’t always have a happy ending. In the last few months AWARE vets have again been involved in trying to relocate a herd of 5 zebra from the ‘A2-acquired’ farm opposite Bally Vaughan Animal Sanctuary. These zebra were eating the new farmers’ vegetables and were under threat of being shot. They were extremely skittish, and the vets could not get close enough to them from a vehicle to place an accurate dart.

It was felt a boma capture would be more successful and AWMC was called in for the capture. Whilst two of the zebra were successfully captured and translocated, three of the zebra (including a foal) unfortunately escaped out the side of the boma sheeting. Over the next few weeks Sarah Carter from Bally Vaughan tried to habituate the zebra to people by feeding them in the hope that the vets might get close enough to dart the animals.This proved fruitless as, not only did they not eat the food offered, but a further attempt by the vets to get near the animals failed.

In the last two weeks the zebra seem to have vanished. A herd of 15 sable also exists on this farm, and on each subsequent visit, their habitat is being visibly destroyed. We hope that Sarah will visualise these animals in the near future, and that a plan can be made to move both sable and zebra out of the area.

Thanks to the ZCTF who supplied the M99 for this exercise.

Updates on past cases

  1. Roxy, the duiker with the broken leg, made a full recovery and has ventured, of her own accord, into the Lion and Cheetah Park game farm to live.
  2. Cleo, the cheetah, has not been sighted since her release into Hwange National Park. On the positive side, no cheetah remains have been discovered either.
  3. Frodo, the serval, is still in a Tikki-Hywood boma pending release into the Save Valley Conservancy. Although he is now hunting game birds and rodents for himself, circumstances such as heavy poaching in the area and lack of rain have prevented him from being released before now. We fervently hope that he will gain his freedom in the first week of January 2009.


We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Gavin Best’s recent tragic passing. Although we did not know Gavin personally, we had been in email communications about the opportunity of our two Trusts working synergistically. Our thoughts are with his friends and relatives.


  1. From what we saw in Maramani communal land, dogs are not well cared for and tend to have to fend for themselves. Their average age was around 2 years. We suspect they do not have a long life span due to (largely preventable) fatal diseases. These diseases pose a risk of spilling over into the wild carnivore population in the wildlife areas of the TFCA.

    Many of the dogs suffer from Transmissable Venereal Tumour (TVT) – a sexually transmitted form of cancer of the genitals. We feel that controlling their population is the first step towards improving the dogs’ welfare, as well as a measure to reduce the chance of canine diseases spreading into the wildlife.

    We would therefore like to appeal for contributions towards our pilot sterilisation campaign of dogs (and cats) in Maramani. We estimate that an average-sized dog could be spayed for US$15, excluding mileage and accommodation costs.

    If you would like to be responsible for sterilising one or more pooches, please donate to the following account:

    Account name: AWARE
    HSBC Bank
    Pall Mall Branch, London
    Account number: 01632523
    Sort code: 40-05-20
    IBAN: GB62MIDL40052001632523

    Although the dogs will be primarily maintained under intra-venous anaesthesia, we would like to have a gas anaesthetic machine for emergencies or difficult cases. We still have not raised enough money to purchase this machine from Instavet (South Africa), so if you would like to donate to this cause, please use the bank account details (below) set up specifically by Instavet for this machine.

    Account name: AWARE
    ABSA Bank
    Northgate Branch
    Branch code: 632005
    Account number: 92-0144-6472

    NB.Please note that we do not manage these accounts directly so it is very difficult for us to check who has donated money, therefore we apologise if we leave you off the ‘thank-you’ list. If you would like to notify us of your donation, or if you would like to specify exactly which issue you would like your money spent on, please send us an email with your specifications.

    Blood samples will also be drawn from the dogs to study which diseases are present in the area. In addition we would like to vaccinate the dogs with a 5 in 1 as well as rabies vaccine, de-worm them and apply flea and tick treatments again. This will be accompanied by an educational session with the owners in which we intend to hand out pamphlets on animal welfare translated into the local language.

  2. We are also looking to source funding for AWARE and other vets to attend a week long Wildlife Diagnostics Training Course at Onderstepoort at the end of March 2009.

    The course, which is the first of its kind, has 6 places on offer to Zimbabwean vets and will be taught by wildlife vets considered to be experts in their fields. It is aimed particularly at TFCA vets so as to standardise veterinary diagnostic procedures throughout the Southern African region. Including travel and accommodation the course is likely to cost SAR 10,000 per person.


Once again we are delighted with the show of support from all corners of the country as well as from abroad. In particular we’d like to thank Debbie Davies and Debby Hart for allowing us to take the proceeds from the door of Debby Hart’s fantastic annual art exhibition. Not only did we raise approximately US$1200 via generous contributions from the public at the door, but the two Debbie’s personally matched that amount on top. This meant we could buy a much needed pulse oximeter (a machine for measuring blood oxygen saturation in anaesthetised animals) as well as leave some funds in the kitty for our next rehabilitation case. A special shout out to Ashleigh Erlank and Chris Scott for manning the door when Keith and Lisa were unable to attend.

AWARE would also like to thank the SADC-FMD Program, SPANA, Merial SA, Medi-Vet, ZCTF and CCWA for their generous support as outlined in the text above.

Shane Rodrigues also needs a special mention for designing our logo after the appeal in the last AWARE newsletter. We have yet to agree on the final draft, and we thank Shane for his patience as well as his design skill. Hopefully we will unveil the logo in the next newsletter.

Also thank you to our staunch supporters Zoe Bradshaw, Duncan Easterbrook and Meryl Harrison, and to Donna Deukett in Aussie for the medical consumables. If there’s anyone else we’ve forgotten please forgive us, but know that we, and the animals you help, appreciate your contribution.

Happy Christmas to all of our readers, and may 2009 bring about some much needed positive change!

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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