Cecil Charity Safari January 2016 Report
Eleven of us hauled 800lbs of donations in the form of clothing and medical supplies up to the villages on the boarder of Hwange National Park. For the ten Long Shields, we filled new backpacks with essential supplies needed for their fieldwork to keep the lions inside the park. These included medical kits, binoculars, bush knives, Leatherman utility tools, flashlights, and lanterns etc.
Ella Cisek very generously donated enough funds to build a new protective Boma enclosure for cattle. Brent developed this new Boma system to house cattle at night. Lions cannot see over the 6ft fabric walls and therefore will not jump into the enclosure to attack the cattle. No cattle have been lost where the Bomas are used around Hwange. Monetary funds were also distributed to three schools to pay for school fees for 100 students who were unable to fund their own school year.
A huge thanks to Brent and Lovemore of the Lion Guardians who donated so much of their time to us during our week in Hwange National Park. We now know exactly how the researchers operate and the great effectiveness of the Long Shields in protecting our wild lions. Reports from Brent show optimistic times ahead for our lions since Palmer killed Cecil. Due to the huge social media outcry, lions are now listed on CITES thus making it very difficult for those who kill lions for fun to bring their trophy home. To get an import permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, hunters now have to prove that the money they are paying to kill a lion will benefit lion conservation. This is a very difficult task because lion hunting permit funds simply do not do anything helpful for conservation. It does not filter down. In most cases, the money does not even make it to Africa. There has only been one lion killed by a US killer since Cecil for fear of social media. So thank you to Cecil! And even thank you to Palmer who we hope will still be prosecuted in some way, as the case is still open. Although we did not see them, Brent and Lovemore assured us that Jericho and Cecil’s seven cubs are doing well. Note: we never refer to lion killing as hunting.
In addition to spending time in Hwange, we spent two interesting days on the Limpopo River, which is the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. We went on exciting game drives, examined dinosaur fossils, and learned how the farmers work in this harsh area. We covered many miles together all the way from Johannesburg and through Zimbabwe, ending in Victoria Falls. The whole group braved and survived the class 5 rapids down the great Zambezi. Though the toughest part was the climb out of the gorge afterwards. I was told that I was the oldest Madala to ever hit the rapids.
After Victoria Falls our main safari was over and three of our group flew home. The rest refused to leave Africa and stayed with us on our drive back through Botswana’s Chobe River and South to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Rhinos are being moved from South Africa to Botswana for safe keeping until we can stop the ten poaching rings in Mozambique. Currently, three rhinos are killed a day in South Africa’s Kruger National Park which is home to 80% of the worlds rhinos. We did a safari all the way through Kruger and saw first-hand how the rhinos are being killed so close to the Mozambique border.
It was altogether and amazing and successful trip. We will be doing it again in July and August and everyone is welcome to join us on another exciting adventure.
Long Shields Lion Guardians