Giving Back To Zimbabwe

Glistening and gleaming on the boulders, I knew the water trail wouldn’t be here for much longer. The last puddles and pools of rain water are now trickling away and disappearing underground, signalling the start of our long dry season. Flying low overhead was a stunning Auger Buzzard, white wings edged with black, a long stick hanging from its beak.
It’s nearly nesting time and the Buzzard had obviously found its spot on a cliff ledge nearby. In the valley below lay a breathtaking panorama of open woodland and bronze grassland; some of the aloes have started flowering providing a breathtaking portrait of the African bush.

But everything is not as peaceful as it seems because, alongside the beauty of this magnificent time of year, is the grim reality that now is the time Zimbabwe’s wildlife species are most at risk. The end of the rainy season; drying up of small water pools and bronzing of the tall green summer grass, forces animals out into the open and makes them easy targets for poachers.
Johnny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation task Force calls the coming months our “peak poaching season” and recently sent out the most horrific report on rhino poaching in Zimbabwe’s Save Valley Conservancy.
Game Scouts had reported seeing a severely wounded black rhino and when Rangers located the animal they found a gruesome, horrific sight. The rhino had been shot several times by poachers who had then hacked the horn off the animal’s face and left the poor creature for dead.

But it wasn’t dead and the rhino was found wandering around with an enormous open wound and obviously in extreme distress.In situations like this, immediate action is needed, sometimes to save the animal, other times to provide a merciful release. Vets, transport, fuel, drugs, tranquilizers – all are needed in a hurry.
After a decade of turmoil in which almost all government departments have been ravaged by economic collapse, paralyzed by the exodus of skilled and professional staff and suffocated by political interference, a few dedicated people and NGO’s have been left saving our wildlife.
Johnny Rodrigues and his wife Cheryl have been doing superb work in this regard. For the last decade they have been travelling to the remotest of places to see, record and intervene in the plight facing Zimbabwe’s wildlife. They mobilise resources and specialists to save as many animals as they can. This might be in the form of animal feed, veterinary supplies, tools, water pumps or just a few bags of milk powder to save an orphaned baby animal.

Johnny is passionate about conservation and not afraid to expose the big players behind the gruesome poaching syndicates which are decimating Zimbabwe’s big game species including lion, elephant and rhino.
Johnny and Cheryl sent me a list of supplies desperately needed to get them through the “peak poaching season.” Its not your average shopping list and reads as follows: “We need M99 as a priority but are also trying to raise funds for veterinary supplies for the guys in the field who are doing the snare removals.
These are: Antiseptic powder; Wash; Creams; Bandages; Wire cutters; Bolt cutters; Dart gun; hypodermic needles; Scalpels and anti inflammatories.”If you want an example of people working tirelessly behind the scenes and ‘giving back” to Zimbabwe, Johnny and Cheryl Rodrigues and their Conservation Task Force are it! If you would like to help them save animals this season or just be on their mailing list, drop them a line at

Copyright © Cathy Buckle 8 May 2011.
www.cathybuckle.comFor information on my new book “Imire”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact