PVO 38/69


SPCA Member Centres:
Bulawayo - Chegutu - Chinhoyi - Chiredzi - Gweru - Harare - Hwange - Kadoma - Kwekwe - Marondera - Mashava - Masvingo - Mutare - Zvishavane



This year has been incredibly hectic without any sign of letting up. Despite reports to the contrary, farm occupations and designations continue. Whilst in the area, Meryl established that 44 more Karoi and Tengwe farmers are being evicted, just at the point when their crops are reaching maturity. One family were forced off without their belongings and despite assurances by authorities that they could return to collect their possessions, were refused entrance by the invaders who said that they would set fire to their home if they returned.

The team rescued ' Bart' the Boerboel from Beatrice, for the second time. They had rescued him previously and the family had later returned to their farm but have once again been evicted. He had lost weight, not having had food or water for 3 days, but was otherwise unharmed. All cattle have been uplifted but the new occupants would not permit the removal of the Simmental bull which is injured and his condition is reported to be deteriorating. Meryl will negotiate for his release on Monday.

In Harare South area a family was physically forced off their farm despite the fact that the time period on their Section 8 notice had not expired. The farm owner's elderly wife was still in her pajamas - she was refused permission to dress and had to leave the farm as she was. Of their 4 dogs, 3 have been PTS by request. Their horses were walked off the farm without incident.

As reported earlier this year, there is an increased level of militancy accompanying the occupations. Meryl reports the presence of 'green bombers' in all areas. For the most part they have not interfered with the work of the rescue team. Meryl advises that many of them are very young (+-16) and all sporting new uniforms, which comprise of a bottle green uniform with the Zim flag on the pocket, peak cap, red epaulettes and black boots.

We are saddened to have to report that 38 head of Sable mentioned in earlier reports were sent to Saudi Arabia without our knowledge, despite assurances that this would not occur. It is believed that they will be used for game hunts. We have also received information that the Zimbabwe Wildlife Advisory Council are planning to send a further 60 of the Sable to South Africa. We have been unable to establish the destination. The Zimbabwe Wildlife Advisory Council, despite this misleading title, is a private company owned by Ed Kadzombe who has very lofty connections which places Parks and Wildlife officials in an invidious position. They have refused permission for this translocation but all indications are that it will go ahead.

Our wildlife concerns remain very high. The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force reports that a further white rhino was found shot and dehorned in Matusadona on 11 February.

In the Chiredzi Conservancy 3 tame elephants have been shot by a National Parks employee on instructions from the DA, despite the fact that there had been no reports of problem animals. These animals are from a herd of 25, including 7 babies. All had been darted, captured, kept in boma's and released, forming a herd in the Conservancy. Initially 2 animals were shot, tragically with body shots, so that both animals fled. The remains of one animal has been found - with ivory and meat stripped. The second animal has not been found and despite strenuous objections, a third animal has been shot. The Parks officer claims that it was the wounded animal but this is yet to be confirmed as witnesses have given conflicting information. There is great concern as there is a newborn calf in the herd and it has not yet been established whether any of the animals shot were its mother.

We have also finally received feed-back on the consignment of animals which were sent to Abuja in September 2001 - of the pair of giraffes sent, the male died within a few weeks of arrival - the young buffalo are reported to have run out of their crates and straight into the surrounding fence, killing themselves. The most tragic report related to the wild caught female Leopard. She is reported to have still been in her travel crate in April 2002 because there were no suitable enclosures for carnivores. She was being kept at 'Aso Rock', the President's compound as there was no place at the zoo. It was reportedly said that "people are afraid to feed it because it is too wild". She is believed to have died of thirst and starvation. Her suffering and torment must have been unimaginable.

Despite being assured otherwise, we have been advised that a further consignment is being collected and Meryl has received information that a second Leopard was to be sent to Abuja - this time a captive bred male - but we have been informed by National Parks that he died before being sent - cause of death as yet unknown. According to the records Meryl managed to obtain sight of, under the entry for the Leopard, the death has been recorded along with 'to be replaced'.

In a separate incident, Meryl was asked to arrange for the removal of 20 Zebra by a war vet on Dambury Park Farm (formerly owned by the Baileys - mentioned in last year's reports), but when she arrived it was to find that the Zebra had been sold to Ed Kadzombe for export - destination unknown.

Another tragic situation which has been uncovered was the smuggling of donkeys from Zimbabwe to Zambia. The ZRP from Kezi are to be commended for uncovering the racket. This occurred when a civilian reported to the police that he had just seen some of his missing donkeys on a truck leaving town. The Police managed to catch up with the truck which was carrying approximately 50 animals. Due to the manner in which they had been loaded and were being carried, several animals and gone down and been trampled Six were already dead. It is believed that the animals were intended to for use as live bait. This was a smuggling operation as it is illegal to export donkeys from Zimbabwe. The case involves a government vet who compounded the matter by having all the animals 'branded' after they had been impounded in an attempt to cover up the origins of the animals.

On a rescue in the Concession area at probably the biggest dairy farm in the country, Meryl had been asked to recover 2 dogs and 2 cats. When Meryl and Jimmy arrived at the property, the war vet, 'Ngwenya', who occupied the farmhouse came to the gate and warmly greeted Meryl and Jimmy and the policeman who accompanied them and then putting his face inches away from Meryl said 'get out'. Meryl stood her ground and advised that they were there to uplift the pets and check on the condition of the cattle. Ngwenya became abusive and ranted at Jimmy "why did you bring 'the white'? I told you not to bring 'the white' ". He then took a stick from a worker and threatened Meryl 'I'll show you how rough I can be - you're going to get beaten just now". Meryl said he proceeded on a barrage of racial abuse and said the only worthwhile 'whites' were Lenin and Marx. He ended by stating that they could not take the dogs. In a complete turnabout he then invited Meryl to a nearby store for a cooldrink. She agreed hoping to persuade him to release the pets. He told her that his earlier conduct was just 'intimidatory tactics'. He agreed that the pets could go and the cattle could be checked. When Meryl advised that she would return with the government vet and animal health inspector, Ngwenya again lost his temper and said that Meryl was an 'MDC spy and was white scum working for the farmer'.

Meryl gained approval from Dispol for the area and returned with a police sergeant and constable. Again Meryl was denied entry but Mark and Jimmy gained access. However, the situation rapidly deteriorated without Meryl to stand up to his threats and they again left without the pets but were able to establish that some of the heifers were ill from suspected Lantana poisoning (a noxious weed), a calf was suffering from Tetanus and the sheep were suffering from footrot. No silage was seen. Meryl will persevere, hopefully with the co-operation of other war vets, to secure the release of the pets. It is gratifying to report that many of the war vets and settlers who were previously hostile towards the team are now co-operating and in some instances assisting them. Meryl has also received requests to return and carry out educational activities and to treat domestic animals.

Following our reports of the added safety risk Meryl and team have been facing this year, IFAW are most generously providing high frequency radio equipment in order that the team's movements can be monitored and they can keep in touch with each other at all times. We greatly appreciate this support for the vital work of the ZNSPCA.

We are also indebted to the NSPCA - SA (Zimhelp Fund) for procuring the human rabies vaccine with which to vaccinate SPCA Inspectors and the National team following an upsurge of rabies in Zimbabwe - 3 Inspectors have been exposed to animals confirmed to have rabies.

And finally we must thank the Zimbabwe Pet Rescue Project for the 6 tons of dry dog and cat foot, as well as euthanaise and vaccines which have arrived and is being distributed to all of our centres who are struggling to get supplies. We will be appealing to them for assistance with the procurement of animal rabies vaccine as government vets report that their supplies are now at critically low levels.