Meryl went off at the crack of dawn this morning to rescue 8 horses which had been abandoned on a farm in Marondera. They have got places for them at a horse sanctuary but a lot will depend on how tame they are. They lady who runs the sanctuary can only accommodate fairly tame animals. Any that cannot be loaded will have to be put down as they have started feeding on the settlers' maize crops and we cannot leave them to an uncertain fate.

She had an awful case yesterday morning in Chitungwiza (near Harare) - a 'political group' stoned a young female dog 'Fox' and left her for dead - only she wasn't. When they got to her they found that her back had been broken - she died shortly after they got her back to the kennels. Meryl said that she was still just a puppy. There seems to be no limit to the acts of cruelty being inflicted at this time.

Meryl made a more successful trip back to the farm in Beatrice where they were previously denied access. When they arrived there was a huge barricade on the road leading to the farmhouse which they managed to get around, only to find a boulder on the road with a sign saying "No Go Area". Undaunted they got in and returned with 'Major' the Rotty and 'Roxy' the Airedale - both very thin, as well as 7 geese. 'Beno' and 'Rotty' are still missing. They are around but obviously terrified and whenever they hear anyone approaching they run away through holes in the back of the fence. Meryl will try and get permission to return with the owner's wife - if the dogs hear her voice they should return. Sadly, the owners have had enough and are going to leave the country. Fortunately, Meryl has some super homes lined up for the dogs.

Meryl and the team also effected a successful rescue in the Norton area - they had been warned about going there but fortunately they effected the rescue without incident. This time it was 2 Irish Terriers 'Murphy' and 'Tinker' and a Collie X Ridgeback 'Bobby'. They were crawling with ticks and fleas and 'Tinker" had developed a cough but otherwise they were in a fairly good condition. The very brave gardener refused to leave and although he had no food for the dogs, he found some maize which he ground down and ed for the animals to keep them alive.

The other tragedy on this farm is that the owner's wife had started an orphanage (including a blind child) - however, she thinks she will be able to find somewhere else for them to go in Harare.

Meryl has confirmed that the herd of cattle at Masvingo have been released and are being permitted to graze for the time being.

She is very concerned about the pigs - apparently there are still piglets on the farm in Beatrice which have being dying at the rate of 20 - 30 a day. She arranged for a government animal health inspector to try and get through with the necessary food and medicines.



Meryl phoned to advise that, unfortunately, all of the horses - actually 9 of them - are very wild. They tried to round them up but they scattered onto a neighbouring farm. They finally managed to get them into a large paddock - so they are no longer in any danger. The owner's father has been contacted and is coming to attend to them.

Late on Friday, Meryl finally managed to get through to the farm in Beatrice on which the pigs had been left - accompanied by 6 armed Support Unit - the remaining pigs, numbering more than 800, are in a condition which Meryl had great difficulty in describing to me, clearly disturbed by the what she had found. At 5.00pm Meryl was waiting on two trucks to arrive in order to move the pigs to an empty piggery in Ruwa where they could be cared for and treated. They expect to lose some en route but they cannot attend to them where they are now. The settlers and farm workers are agitating and not happy that the pigs are being taken as they claim to be owed money by the farmer. The owner's wife was allowed to go into the house to pack a few personal belongings and they tried to take one of her cases from the back of her car. Meryl is certain that once they leave, everything that is left will be looted.

Unfortunately it is going to be impossible for them to keep mothers and their piglets together en transit as they will be all muddled up when they are loading and off-loading, but the stockman with them said that most mothers will accept other piglets.

Anyway, it is going to be another very late night for Meryl and the team.

The good news is that 'Rotty' has been found by a security guard on his farm. The guard is taking care of him, but 'Beno' is still missing



As it was dark before the trucks arrived, the rescue team returned at 6.30am this morning to start rescuing the pigs. Meryl has been witness to what has been one to the worst cases she has ever had to deal with. Meryl gave a graphic description of an absolute animal welfare nightmare. Dozens of pigs had died and the starving surviving animals were feeding on the rotting carcasses. Some bodies were so decomposed that they disintegrated when the team tried to pick them up. In the middle of the mayhem, a sow was trying to give birth next to dead animals. A large sow which Meryl thought was sleeping in a feeding trough had died where she lay. Many piglets were so weak that they just fell over when they tried to walk.

To compound matters, workers refused to help with the loading and released pigs to make life more difficult for the team. Meryl called for assistance from Harare SPCA who sent 6 kennel hands. The ZRP did their best to keep the settlers/farm workers at bay whilst assisting with capturing and loading. It was a painstaking process as the truck could not get near to the piggery. The pigs were loaded into the back of Meryl's van, then transported to the waiting truck.

The farm workers became disgruntled and pulled down the loading ramps. After intense and unfruitful negotiations, Meryl finally offered the workers Zim$5,000 to help load the pigs. This was agreed to and loading recommenced, but Meryl reported that the workers manhandled the ailing animals terribly, picking them up by their tails or a leg and flinging them into the truck. She bit her tongue as she knew that if she challenged anyone, they would not be able to rescue any more pigs. As it was, the workers then stopped and said that they would decide which animals would go and they were going to keep the healthy animals for themselves. Meryl had to agree in order to get all the sick and injured animals out. Then the workers said the rescue team could only take 100 animals. They announced that they had loaded 100 animals and demanded their money. Meryl paid it over but was informed by the truck driver that only 84 animals had been loaded - her objections were fruitless and they had to leave with the animals that they had.

She is making arrangements to return with about 15 armed policemen and more helpers and trucks to collect the remaining animals.