Our Matetsi Victoria Falls Scouts, the “Amaganyane” (meaning “Wild Dogs”) routinely patrol the banks of the Zambezi River, generally as a two-man team. Over the course of their patrols, they cover the 15 km stretch from the most north-easterly corner to the north-west corner of Matetsi Private Game Reserve.
While on patrol, the scouts are checking for a variety of things, including freshly laid snares left by poachers, who access the riverbanks by “mokoro” (dug-out canoe) from across the river under the cover of darkness. The poachers lay these snares to catch unsuspecting animals for bush meat. When an animal is entrapped in a snare, they meet a grim, drawn-out end – it is a tragic way to catch an animal and it is one of the reasons that our scouts are ever vigilant to clear the riverine forest of snares.
On a recent riverbank patrol, our scouts came across a mammoth snare line with over twenty thick cable snares laid out. Poachers had been hard at work. Such a snare line is generally laid to catch buffalo from the big herds that come to drink from the river. Fortunately, the buffalo had not passed through, but two unlucky Kudu were caught instead. One had tragically already succumbed in the snare but the other was still alive and struggling to survive.
The scouts immediately radioed for back up whilst trying to keep the animal as calm as possible; with the arrival of more manpower they subdued the frightened kudu and slipped the snare off its neck. The snare had cut into its neck and caused a substantial wound, which was cleaned and sanitised. Then it took a few bottles of water and a gentle push to get the Kudu back on its feet and it was off to freedom.
Although bitter sweet with one Kudu succumbing to the snare, and the other Kudu being saved, incidents like this remind us of the vital importance of the continued and increased anti-poaching activities on Matetsi Private Game Reserve and across Africa.
Before the establishment of Matetsi Victoria Falls, Matetsi Private Game Reserve had been decimated by poaching and illegal hunting, though determined conservation efforts and a positive human presence, life has returned to this beautiful part of Zimbabwe. Kudu and a wide variety of other wildlife, including 4 of the Big 5, now thrive once again in this vast pristine wilderness. To read an account of the Matetsi Victoria Falls conservation journey, follow this link, and watch a more recent update on YouTube here.
Many thanks to our Conservation and Security Manager, Brian Gurney, for sharing this story with us, and a huge thanks to him and the Amaganyane team for all their hard work.