Please see our main activities below as well as some information on the tools we use in our day-to-day work.
Million Ha / yr being deforested in Africa
Species on the Endangered List in Zimbabwe
Million acres of Hwange National Park
Earth for Us to Protect
What do we do? Why does it matter?
CWF is currently focused on protecting Zimbabwe’s wildlife and habitats in the Hwange region.
This matters because Africa’s wildlife is in a crisis and a holistic approach is required to meaningfully protect this irreplaceable heritage.
To achieve this, our work starts with creating wide-spread connections between Government, local authorities, tour operators, donors and conservationists in order to overcome the challenges in conservation together.
Every day of the year at least one CWF Anti-Poaching Unit is out walking the area – in 2020 the foot patrols covered a total of 6,040 km.
Thanks to the CWF scouts many snares have been collected and injured animals helped. A network of intelligence on wildlife crime has been established and as a result cyanide and other poisonings have been reacted to and poachers have been arrested, charged, and sentenced.
CWF, with staff from ZPWMA, responds to reports of dead animals whose deaths look at all suspicious. These reports must be reacted to as quickly as possible in case poisoning is the cause, so as to prevent more animals dying as a result of either ingesting the same poison or eating the poisoned carcass. The carcasses are visited to ascertain the cause of death and, where necessary, samples are taken to send for testing – it is important to know and record the causes of mortality to help ZPWMA plan their management.
CWF Field Coordinator Steve Alexander is the only person based inside HNP with the equipment and technical expertise to test for cyanide poisoning. CWF works closely with Dr Chris Foggin who runs a dedicated wildlife veterinary laboratory for Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust.
Snared & Injured Animals
Snares are well-hidden and it often takes trained people to detect them. Many types of wildlife are caught in snares – sometimes rare animals like African wild dogs and cheetah get caught and die – posing a very real threat to the survival of these endangered species. The CWF team responds to snared and injured animals and, where possible, will call in someone qualified to dart the animal and then they will remove the snare.
489 snares were brought in by CWF scouts in 2020. Most of these were made of stolen telephone wire which will catch small to medium size prey, but occasionally stronger cable snares are found which would catch even the largest game.
The “Grab a Bag” bin bag initiative, started by CWF in partnership with ZimParks, has been very successful at reducing the litter in the Park. People are responding well to the request that they “grab a bag” from the Hwange Main Camp tourist office on their way into the Park and bring their own litter from their picnics or camping sojourns out of the Park as they leave. This help is crucial to mitigate the problem caused by litter being left in the bins at the camp sites where baboons and other animals have become adept at raiding and spreading litter far and wide – both an eyesore and a danger to wildlife.
Grateful thanks to Imperial Plastics, Harare, for donating the bin liners.
This map shows the three CWF APU bases (red dots), three ZPWMA APU bases (black dots), a PDC APU (orange dot) and a Wilderness Safaris APU (blue dot). We plan to build another APU base in the North at Inyantue, a hotspot of illegal access and activity.
When an elephant gets too accustomed to humans and becomes a problem – raiding crops or coming dangerously close to humans to get at food – sometimes the only option seems to be to shoot and kill the animal.
A non-lethal, low-cost alternative that has proved very successful in places with human/elephant conflict is the Chill Gun. Elephants have an acute sense of smell and chilli irritates their olfactory receptors so much that it will make them run away – and not return to the area for at least for a few days. If they do come back, a couple of repeat “treatments” is usually enough to convince them not to return again.
The gun shoots ping pong balls which have been filled with concentrated chilli oil and which explode on impact with the elephant, leaving chilli on the hide. This does not harm the elephant – it just sends a clear message to not come back to the area. The loud bang made by the chilli gun discharging adds to the deterrent effect.
The elephant will wash the smell off with the next mud bath, but the message usually lingers. Other elephants in the herd will smell the chilli oil and also learn to avoid the area.
CWF scouts are experienced in using SMART software while out on patrol.
On handheld devices they record matters of interest (e.g. snares, carcasses, firearms discovered) which are saved with a GPS stamp.
Once back at camp, this information is then downloaded onto a computer to add to a database. SMART also tracks the routes taken by the APUs.
The data is then evaluated and used by the Field Co-ordinator to help in planning patrols and possible reactions.
Regular training to keep the scouts up to date with SMART is kindly facilitated by Panthera, who also supplied the initial training and equipment.
Thanks to Ralph Stead of SAWPOWER and donations from our supporters as far away as Australia, last year we were able to purchase a CHAINSAW and TWO BLOWERS plus consumables and spares.
These will be so useful when it comes to fighting the fires that will inevitably come.