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News - July 2008

As some of Zimbabwe’s most turbulent months draw to a close, we have finally found a few extra minutes to sit down and catch up enough to complete our second newsletter. We received a very positive response from our first newsletter, with offers of help in kind from all over the country and abroad.

This has led to the following developments:

  1. A working relationship has been established with the government Wildlife Veterinary Unit (WVU) run by Dr Chris Foggin. Amongst other things, this will facilitate the sharing of resources and equipment, whilst the AWARE Trust will aim to source and provide funding for rehabilitation of ownerless animals and various WVU generated research projects that are considered essential for the welfare of wildlife in Zimbabwe.
  2. The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) has been consulted and we are in the process of developing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for our working relationship with them.
  3. We have been offered the use of the 24 Hour Veterinary Hospital’s facilities for the treatment of rehabilitation cases.


Cleopatra, the cheetah
On the 21st May 2008, Dr Dutlow was called by Lion and Cheetah Park manager, Anton Newall, to look at a wild female cheetah that had been rescued in Beitbridge by Brian Cawood and brought up to the Park in Norton. The cheetah had been caught raiding a goat pen and had sustained extensive injuries from villagers’ dogs and, possibly, a spear. It was agreed immediately that the AWARE Trust would take over the veterinary treatment and rehabilitation of the animal, and that the cheetah would be released as soon as she had recovered from her ordeal.

Cleo, as we named her, was estimated to be about 2 years old. She was anaesthetised and underwent a first surgery to attend to deep tearing wounds on her left thigh and chest and a corneal ulcer on her left eye. Later, a second surgery was necessary to debride a fistulous tract (we suspect left by a spear) in between her front legs which was being pulled apart every time she slapped her legs down in a threat display.

We had hoped to release Cleo within 4 weeks of her arrival to minimise her habituation to humans, but the peri-election violence made it dangerous to travel into remote areas, and led to the postponement of her release until the end of July. By the time she was set free she had made a full recovery.

We decided that she needed to be released as far away from human settlement as possible lest she return to her stock-thieving ways, so we felt that Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe’s biggest) would be her best chance. On Sunday 27th July, she was anaesthetised for the last time and loaded into a crate for the long drive to Hwange. She spent the night in the crate at Main Camp and at first light on the 28th was driven to Shapi Pan, an idyllic setting with perfect cheetah habitat, 50km from Main Camp and close to the middle of the Park.

When we finally opened the doors, Cleo was slow to exit the crate, feeling secure and unseen behind the tarp. With a bit of persuasion she eventually came out, cautiously assessed her surroundings, and then slunk off into the grass to explore her new territory. We are under no illusions about the dangers she faces, particularly from lion and hyenas. We do, however, feel that thousands of years of evolution have prepared her to deal with the situation she now faces.

She has a second chance. She has her freedom. And she no longer has to compete with her most dangerous rival, man.

The AWARE Trust would like to thank Save Australia for contributing generously towards the costs of Cleo’s veterinary treatment and release. We would also like to thank Brian Cawood for rescuing her, and the Lion and Cheetah Park for providing Cleo’s food and accommodation for the duration of her recovery period.

Roxy, the duiker:
The AWARE Trust also subsidised the veterinary treatment of a duiker, rescued as a fawn by the Lion and Cheetah Park. The duiker had been mauled, possibly by a dog or a baboon, and had a nasty open fracture of the right femur. In addition her tail had been all but pulled off. After stabilising her on the night of the accident, AWARE vets Lisa and Keith anaesthetised Roxy at Chisipite Veterinary Surgery the following day where Xrays were taken and a fibre-glass cast placed on the broken limb. Her tail was amputated and the stump stitched up. Eight weeks later Roxy is still in her cast, and is using the leg. She will soon be re-Xrayed to assess if the cast is ready to come off.


The AWARE Trust strongly supports the concept of international trans-boundary conservation initiatives. These ‘Peace Parks’ have been theoretically designed to allow the free flow of wildlife between two or more countries, thus removing artificial impediments to their natural migration patterns and enhancing the potential for ecosystem integrity and management. A MOU for the development of the Limpopo Shashe Trans Frontier Conservation Area (LSTFCA) has been signed between the governments of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana. However, before such an initiative can take form, mutually beneficial veterinary policies between the three countries have to be agreed upon and implemented. This involves having baseline data on all the economically significant veterinary diseases that occur within the TFCA, particularly those diseases which can be transmitted between wildlife and livestock (see post script below for example on bovine tuberculosis).

Such data is limited from the Zimbabwean component of the TFCA. The AWARE Trust recently funded the majority of the field work of the testing of 15 buffalo within a closed, previously certified FMD free herd of about 120 animals that occur within the proposed TFCA. This involved darting the buffalo to immobilise them, and then taking blood samples. The animals were tested for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), BTB, theileriosis and brucellosis. The buffalo were found to be BTB and Brucella free; they are, however, carriers of Theileria. The FMD results are not yet available.

Where to from here...

AWARE is currently in negotiations with a potential donor to test 600 cattle within the communal area of the LSTFCA for the above diseases. We hope to combine this exercise with an animal health awareness campaign during which communal land dogs and cats will be vaccinated, neutered if appropriate, and sprayed with Frontline spray, which has once again been generously donated by Merial SA.


We would like to remind everyone that the Trust is still very much in its infancy. Everyone involved with AWARE at this stage has a full time, unrelated job, and is donating their time and/or skills for free. The manpower constraints have led to some inertia as far as sustainable fundraising methods are concerned. In particular, the development of a logo which can be reproduced on memorabilia has been a sticking point. We are appealing to any conservation minded graphic designers or artists out there to come up with a logo for AWARE. We’d like the symbol to represent an eye (being “awareness”), preferably an animal’s, but be simple and stylish enough to be reproducible on clothing and such like. The ideal symbol would have the ability to become a corporate brand, something akin to the Nike symbol...

If you would like to find out how else you could contribute, or become involved with the Trust, please call Keith on 0912-430014 or Lisa on 011-886650 or reply by email.


Many thanks to the following for their contributions and support:

SAVE Australia
Lion and Cheetah Park
The 24 Hr Veterinary Surgery
Merial SA
Chris Scott
Duncan Easterbrook
Zoe Bradshaw
Meryl Harrison
Michelle Fuller
and anyone else who made donations into our SA account (sorry we couldn’t check names…)

Post Script

An example of a significant wildlife-livestock disease is bovine tuberculosis (BTB), a cattle disease once alien to the African continent, which has become entrenched in the buffalo population of Kruger National Park (KNP). Whilst buffalo themselves generally do not show clinical signs of the disease, lions that consume buffalo carcasses can become infected with the alimentary form of BTB, and suffer a slow wasting death as they fail to absorb nutrients from what they eat. It is estimated that about a third of the lions in KNP are already infected with BTB. In addition the disease has been several other animal species.

BTB has been charted as progressing northwards towards the Zimbabwe border. Within Zimbabwe, the disease had been eradicated from cattle by 1979 with a test and eradication scheme. A Peace Parks Foundation/Wildlife Veterinary Unit survey conducted in the Sengwe Communal Lands (on the northern border of the Limpopo, adjacent to KNP) in 2004/5 in which 2000 cattle were tested by Drs Dutlow and Marabini confirmed the negative BTB status of the cattle. Constant veterinary surveillance is needed in this area to prevent BTB from entering the country and wreaking havoc with the Zimbabwe wildlife and livestock populations.

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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