AWARE logo
News - April 2014

We're busy catching you up to our new newsletter system - if you have already read a version similar to this, apologies!

Micky gets new companions

For many months the Victoria Falls Crocodile Farm wanted a lioness as a companion for their captive lion Micky, who lost his former 'wife' to illness. Chipangali in Bulawayo fortunately had two gorgeous lionesses, Lyla and Shadow, whom they were willing to give away, due to space constraints. Lioness in crate
AWARE facilitated the relocation of these lionesses to the Crocodile Farm and after months of waiting for the correct paperwork, the lionesses were finally moved. The mileage was covered by the Vic Falls Croc Farm, while AWARE personnel gave their time and equipment for free. Anton and Lisa with lionAfter a very stressful journey in which the lionesses rubbed raw patches on themselves despite heavy sedation, we faced a challenge releasing them into their new enclosure. Micky was locked up in the management pen, so that could not be used, and the main gate to the enclosure was too big to just pull the transport crates up to and open the doors. We ended up having to anaesthetise Lyla and Shadow for the second time in a day in order to release them in their new enclosure.

Monitoring MickyMicky, being a good natured lion, fell in love instantly, and the three have bonded well. Aware vets implanted the lionesses with contraceptive devices at the time of release, but knowing these will only last for a year we took the opportunity of an unrelated work trip to Vic Falls in February to give Micky the snip. He had one retained testicle which had to be fully

Vasectomising Micky

removed and the second testicle was vasectomised so that he can keep his testosterone (and therefore his impressive mane). The operation - which is part of AWARE's goals to reduce captive lion breeding - was performed under far from ideal working conditions by AWARE Vets. The operation included the application of some much needed Frontline for ticks.

Their new enclosure is large and one of the nicest pens for captive lions in the country - it has a stream flowing through it; monkeys and baboons chatter to the lions from the tree tops and buck often walk past the fence in the evenings. All three are much happier now.

Lyla and Shadow loving each otherIn their new enclosureFrontlining Micky's ticks

Rhino 'Kapfupi' treated for torn ear 

In February, AWARE Trust responded to a request from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority at Kyle. The astute Park's Rangers had noticed that Kapfupi, an old male white rhino who was dehorned by AWARE last year, appeared to have a large amount of blood around the neck and ear region and were worried he might have a serious injury. At short notice, AWARE vets mobilised a helicopter to attend to this rhino with all possible speed. Kapfupi knew that something was up and chose to hide in thick bush while the Rangers kept continuous and watchful eyes on him from a discrete distance. Working conditions were far from ideal as the heavy rains had made the dirt roads impassable, making access for the National Parks and AWARE ground teams very difficult, coupled with the extremely thick and thorny bush. In such conditions there is a real danger that, after darting, Kapfupi could “go to sleep” in a shallow stream, and drowning was a concern. Thanks to the skills of helicopter pilot, NJ, Kapfupi was kept on higher ground, albeit in thick bush, until the dart took effect.

Torn rhino earattending to rhino's earKapfupi's right ear was completely torn through and infested with maggots. Fortunately the ear wound was the sole source of the blood the Rangers had originally noticed, and there were no other serious wounds on his neck. The ear was cleaned up and Kapfupi was given antibiotics, fly and tick topical remedies and a general health check before he was woken up by reversing the effects of the dart. Parks' Staff and Rangers reported Kapfupi's injury, tracked and stayed with him while the AWARE vets mobilised the team and greatly assisted in this exercise. The Rangers were very helpful and speedily and enthusiastically assisted the AWARE team in carrying heavy oxygen bottles and other equipment through thick bush and in muddy conditions. The whole exercise was very well carried out by all involved and Kapfupi will heal and will continue to enjoy his life, protected and cared for by his Rangers, who remain with their rhino 24/7 - you probably won't see them, but they are always there! They are dedicated and committed to protecting Zimbabwe's precious rhinos.

Rhino strategy meeting

AWARE was invited to attend the Rhino Policy and Management Framework KPI Workshop and Rhino Strategy Meeting on 11 and 12 March. Bringing together Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Zimbabwe's rhino custodians, interested parties and supported by Save African Rhino Foundation Australia, the dedication of all parties was clear as was the huge amount of work being done by everyone to save Zimbabwe's rhinos. There is an overwhelming amount of work to be done in 2014 which can only be really be achieved with the generosity of donors and funds which are desperately needed as well as public support against poaching. We are pleading to Zimbabweans and the world at large to help us fight to save this incredible but diminishing species.

Crop raiding zebra rescue

At Parks and Wild Life Management Authority’s request, the AWARE Trust went to rescue two male zebras who were in conflict with rural farmers and were at risk for eating their crops. Naturally, on arriving at the farm, the zebras were nowhere to be seen; they knew we were coming! After much time searching the surrounding area and much patient waiting by the team, as we prepared to call it a day, the two zebras turned up happily grazing amongst a herd of cattle and goats, probably thinking they were sufficiently disguised from us! Anton and one AWARE vet cleverly used that same herd of cattle in order to get close enough to successfully dart the zebras. With many willing hands ready to help, the heaviest zebra was lifted into the transport cage whilst the smaller, lighter one was transported in the back of an open truck.

Younger zebra being caughtZebra on truckInjecting zebra in crateMonitoring zebra on the journey

Both animals were continually monitored during the journey and, despite a breakdown of one of the transport trucks, both zebra's were successfully transported and safely released at Chivero Game Park. Another great team effort and our thanks to the gentleman who stopped to offer assistance when  the truck broke down.

Heron rescue

Heron with fishing twine around beakVeronica Chapman from Environment Africa called to see if AWARE Vets  could help rescue a goliath heron which she had noticed had fishing tackle wrapped around its beak for several weeks. It could apparently eat but it was unknown if the tackle had been partially swallowed and whether the beak could open fully. Anton lives near Lake Chivero and was only too happy to go and try to rescue this large beautiful bird. After an initial recce with Veronica and Parks and Wildlife Management Rangers, it was decided that ordinary bird netting would not suffice, so Anton called on NJ and Ron from African Wildlife Management and Conservation to bring their net gun in order to rescue the bird.

With the added assistance of Josh from Kuimba Shiri, after locating the heron from a speed boat and a few hours of attempting to get close enough to the bird to fire the net gun, they managed to catch it without injury. The twine was in two separate pieces around the top and bottom beak. It was removed and the bird was taken to the bird park to be released in an open enclosure from which he could fly after he had sufficiently rested.

It is great to know that people will go to such lengths and put in so much time and effort to rescue creatures such as this. Well done to all.

Boost for donkey clinics

donkey and ownerWith the wonderful news that SPANA has agreed to continue to support Zimbabwe's donkey clinics for the next 5 years, channelling this support through the AWARE Trust, the vets have had a busy March holding clinics in the Beitbridge Area and Mashonaland Central. At Shashe and Lutumba heavy rains, flooded bridges and reports of vehicles stuck fast in thick mud, delayed the AWARE vet. After being forced to spend a night in Beitbridge town, a longer route to Shashe had to be taken extending the slow, slippery drive by 50 km's, with Erick arriving in the evening in a heavy downpour. Thankfully the bridge near Shashe shops had not flooded but 30 minutes after Erick had crossed the bridge reports came in that two men with their donkeys pulling a cart had been swept away trying to cross this same bridge. The torrent swept both men approx 300 metres along the river with one brave man jumping in to attempt to rescue the men and donkeys. Sadly one of the donkeys was swept away but the two men and the remaining donkey were successfully rescued.

Erick deworming donkeyAs heavy rains continued, access to the clinics proved difficult. Numbers of owners bringing their donkeys to Shashe were reduced with many failing to cross the swollen river to the Animal Health Management Centre. The conditions also made it difficult for the vet to drive around to access the donkeys. The Machuchuta community was inaccessible. However a total of 65 donkeys were attended to at Shashe, with 50 of these receiving rabies vaccinations and all donkeys were dipped due to high tick infestation and any wounds were treated. At Lutumba 88 donkeys were treated, all vaccinated for rabies, dipped and had general health checks. Eye problems (linked to habronemiasis, a parasitic disease) were treated with tetracycline eye ointment. Some facial wounds were noted and were treated by applying petroleum jelly mixed with ivermectin to deal with habronema. A few wounds caused by poor harnessing were noted at both centres and the wounds were cleaned and zinc oxide paste applied. In total 153 donkeys were attended to, being a low turnout for such clinics, but understandable considering the weather conditions. In the Centenary District of Mashonaland Central, the communities visited were Machaya (63 donkeys), Hoya (104 donkeys) Leg wound bandagedand Mzarabani (170 donkeys) totalling 337 donkeys attended to. Again, conditions here were difficult with heavy rains making many areas inaccessible and owners failing to cross flooded rivers. Health checks were carried out on each donkey, 300 donkeys received rabies vaccinations and 208 were dewormed. Being the primary farming season, the donkeys are worked extremely hard, with many having varying degrees of wounds on their necks and hind quarters. These wounds were treated with Venton wound oil after shaving and thorough cleaning with betadine solution. Antibiotics were administered where wounds were infected. Other cases noted were ocular pathologies, diarrhoea, respiratory conditions, and lameness.This was the first time the SPANA/AWARE mobile clinic has visited this area and it was noted that yokes were being used on many of the donkeys. However, the majority of owners agreed that yokes were not ideal but had no knowledge about proper harnesses nor access to them. The vets explained the advantages of harnesses over yokes and the benefits to the donkeys and therefore the owners themselves.

Andy treating donkey woundsOwners were keen to adopt harnesses if they were available and requested to be provided with samples to allow them to make harnesses using materials available to them. Also noted was that some communities had a tendency of tying the donkeys' front limbs together at fetlock level to restrict the donkeys' movements and reduce their chances of wandering into neighbours' fields. This causes abrasive wounds around the fetlock and owners were instead advised to stable their donkeys at night. As well as being appreciated by the Department of Veterinary Services, the community and owners very much welcomed these clinics and all advice given.

Appreciation as always, SPANA and the AWARE Trust thank and are grateful to the various Veterinary Departments and Veterinary Extension Assistants for their committed assistance and for campaigning to make these clinics possible. Thanks too for the provision of safe camping sites and offers to open their homes, to those who helped to record information and take photos. Without such assistance these clinics would not be possible.

Not least of all, AWARE thanks SPANA for its continual and much appreciated support to Zimbabwe's donkey populations and their owners. Appreciation should also go to the vets for their determination to continue with the clinics despite the dire conditions.

 AWARE thanks all its loyal donors who have supported us in so many ways; we do not  have the room here to thank you all. Our special thanks to Anton from Lion & Cheetah Park, NJ and Ron from AWMC and to Zimbrellas & Homes, Redan, Wild Imaginings and Cheeseman for their continual and unstinting support.

If you would like to assist AWARE we are continually seeking funding for our many projects. We also need to assist the National Park's Rangers with water bottles, tents, sleeping bags, cameras, rain coats, two way radios, solar lights, lithium Energiser AA batteries or absolutely anything that you may have stashed away which will help for their comfort and safety whilst carrying out their difficult tasks.