As promised here are some photos which will give you an idea of what I have been up to in the Mnkhanya Community recently.
Phew…that last week was so hard on so many levels. Firstly emotionally, living, sleeping & eating with people who live way below the poverty line is emotionally crippling to say the least.
I’m not joking but I’ve cried everyday since being in the community just because of how desperate people are here. People walking miles everyday for water in 40 + degrees heat wearing no shoes because they don’t own any.
Secondly the heat is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, the Luangwa valley in Oct (the Hottest month I am told) is unbearable and you simply cannot escape it. Everything you touch is Hot even the water out of the drinking well was Hot.
It’s a Beautiful place but only in the National Park, the poor community villages are a completely different ball game.
Isaac Banda is the MCRB’s (Mnkhanya Community Resource Board) Executive Officer. He is a great guy and has been my right hand man showing me around and introducing me to everyone across the Mnkhanya Chiefdom. Isaac is also the ‘Boss Man’ for all the village scouts who are the guys who carry out the anti-snaring patrols. He is also an advisor to Chief Mnkhanya.
The anti poaching – de snaring patrols down the rivers were exhausting in the heat but also uplifting as we found snares on every patrol (nasty snares but fortunately empty).
One thing I have come to realise of late, is that animal conservation and human preservation go hand in hand. Human / animal conflict needs to be addressed as does education in conservation. Thank goodness there are people and organisations who support the likes of The Mnkhanya Community which is supported by the High Five club set up by the amazing Dr Cheryl Mvula. Their work involves supporting schools, woman’s groups, school feeding programmes and water projects (water wells and bore holes) within the Mnkhanya community, Cheryl and her husband Manny are both advisors to Chief Mnkhanya.
Cheryl is also the founder of ZPP (Zambian Primate Project) mentioned earlier in my blog which is an OAT supported project.
If you feel you would like to help the Mnkhanya community, then please click on the website link below and join the High Five club for just £5 a month which I can assure you goes a long way in Africa!!
SLCS (South Luangwa Conservation Society):
Back to Civilisation now (almost…) and based at Croc Valley Camp for a few days while I spend time checking out the work of South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS).
This is another NGO run by CEO Rachel McRobb and they are involved in anti-poaching, human-wildlife conflict resolution, de-snaring wildlife and they also have a wildlife emergency rapid response unit.
Anti Poaching Sniffer Dogs:
Rachel introduced me to loads of her team including the 3 sniffer dogs who I was cuddling and playing with. The dogs are treated like royalty and have the BEST of everything including top of the range food and their own swimming pool.
They get walked twice a day when they are not working and also have there own large room (not a kennel) with a fan each. They are all so lovely and friendly, well two of them anyway. The unfriendly one is totally blind but is actually the best and most successful one when it comes to sniffing out ivory and bushmeat and weapons. It was amazing and touching to see how well they are all looked after.
Going out with the sniffer dogs tomorrow on a ‘job’…… road blocks are being set up based on information received.
Today Rachel received a call from someone saying a male buffalo had been spotted limping due to a snare around its leg. She mobilised the rescue team and we all went out and found it. It took 30 mins to get close enough to dart it. Once darted, he went down after 8 mins which is when we got close enough to cover his face with a cloth and then we went to work removing a horrible snare which was down to the bone … Very Nasty !
Once done, the reverse agent was given and he got up pretty quickly and ran away… A great feeling seeing him free and on the road to recovery. So So impressed with what I’ve seen of SLCS so far… They are so well structured and very well organised by a very focussed and determined CEO.