Wildlife Protection – Zambezi and Hwange National Park

The main objective is to assist wildlife conservation in Zambezi and Hwange National Parks by collecting various types of animal population data.

The Park is a very large area to manage and there are never enough rangers available for all the work to be done. For this reason, Bhejane Trust and Planète Urgence volunteers are able to provide valuable support to many of the different units in the Park that will make up for the lack of funding to support Zambezi National Park.


Sub objectives:

• ZNP road transect: Produce a set of baseline data for large mammal populations which can be used in subsequent years to monitor population changes.

• 24 hours' count at Chamabondo Vlei.

• Road transects and 24 hours' counts at Sinamatella. “Outlying area patrol”:
- Detect the presence of rare or other interesting species: Wild Dogs, Black Rhinos, Cheetah, Lions, collared Elephants and Buffaloes, Ostriches and Brown Hyenas.
- Search for signs of illegal activity (especially snares) at water points in areas that are rarely patrolled. The aim of this activity is to support the anti-poaching unit and help it to point more efficiently the areas subjected to poaching pressure.
- List birds as per the protocols of the Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP 2). This project is now in its second part (the 1st one was in 1997) and its aim is to create a bird atlas.
- Locate and monitor nests of vultures and Black Eagles still for the SABAP 2 projects.
- Monitor water supplies for animals in areas away from tourist routes.

• Mandavu Dam bird count. Collect data on bird numbers at Mandavu Dam, which is the largest body of water in the Park and therefore holds a good representative sample of the water birds in residence at any given stage of the year.

• Assistance with game-water supplies. 3rd Objective: To help Parks staff maintain water supplies for animals during the dry season. Additional objective: Participate to development activities (One day per mission).
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For this project, volunteers must be physically fit but do not need to have special skills. The volunteers shall have a good English level to fully understand instructions.

The referents for supervising the volunteer and the missions will be Trevor Lane and Stephen Long. Both are trustees of Bhejane Trust.

Stephen Long will accompany the volunteer on the ground.

Apart from road transects, all activities will be carried out on foot, with the protection of armed rangers. -ZNP road transect: The counting is done from a vehicle, on roads.

-24 hour’s count at Chamabondo Vlei: Bhejane has taken the responsibility to extend a series of dry season game counts at Masuma Dam in the Sinamatella area, for which data goes back approximately 30 years. Volunteers are usually working in pairs, and they observe and record all mammals drinking at the dam throughout a 24 hour period. The dam can be watched from a viewing platform with no risk.

-Road transects and 24 hour‘s counts at Sinamatella: Road transects will be done from a vehicle, on roads that are opened to normal tourists. Sinamatella already has considerable baseline data on populations collected during the past years by volunteers. Hence, to continue monitoring will permit to detect any changes that may trigger management actions by the Parks Authority.

-Assistance with game-water supplies: A lot of the dry season water supplies for animals are artificial. Pumps are maintained by the Parks Authority. Bhejane Trust assists the Parks staff in keeping this game water infrastructure running. The objective is specially to maintain solar pumps, which have been donated by Bhejane Trust.

-Development activities (One day per mission): In Zambezi National Park, these could include work on water supplies, in Chamabondo Vlei, refurbishment of the viewing platforms or in Siansimba Camp, searching for snares along the river. At Sinamatella, our main development activities involve installation and maintenance of pumps for artificial water supplies for game. At each water point, volunteers will circle the area, checking the trees and bushes for snares and looking for tracks of Cheetah, Wild Dogs, Ostriches and Rhinos along the paths.

They may also set camera traps or collect cameras that were set by previous patrols. Moreover, at water points, volunteers will note the amount of water available (ie ‘full’, ‘half full’, ‘nearly empty’ etc). This sort of information can be valuable because much of the water supply for animals in Hwange is artificially pumped and knowledge of the amount and distribution of natural water can help when decisions are made about increasing or decreasing the artificial supply.
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Between 3 and 6 volunteers will be taken for these missions.

The Volunteers will spend approximately half of their time in each Park. Each volunteer's mission will be different because of the ever-changing circumstances in the Parks but a typical two-week programme would be as below:

PROGRAM
• Day 1 - Arrival at Victoria Falls. Transfer to Zambezi National Park. No formal activity in the afternoon. Overnight in camp. The transfer from the airport to the park will take approx 1 hour 30 mins. On arrival we will set up camp then spend the rest of the afternoon getting to know each other and discussing the programme for the week.

• Day 2 - Vulture nest survey at Chamabona vlei. We will drive the length of the Chamabonda vlei recording vulture breeding sites and getting to know some of the large mammal species present in the park.

• Days 3 and 4 - Road transect mammal counts. We will drive a pre-determined route in the western end of the river section, Zambezi Natinal Park, counting and recording all large mammal species that we see. Likely sightings are baboons, vervet monkeys, kudu, zebra, impala, giraffe, elephant and warthogs.

• Day 5 - Travel to Sinamatella, stopping in Victoria Falls town on the way to shop for supplies for the rest of the mission. Transport on the main road will be by mini-bus but in and out of the two Parks will be by open 4 x 4 vehicles.

• Day 6 - In the morning we will carry out a briefing on some of the activities for the rest of the mission. Around 11am we will depart for a road transect mammal count along the Kashawe loop and Lukosi River Drive. The route is approximately 70km and will take the rest of the day.

• Day 7 to 13, activities will include: Mandavu Dam water-bird count, where we try to count certain species of bird using the dam. We will also be able to get close views of the many other animals using the dam such as buffalo, elephant crocodiles and hippo. In pair with Painted Dog Research crew, spend a 12-hour or 24-hour mammal count at Masuma dam. Expect to see elephant, buffalo, kudu, impala, warthogs, waterbuck, zebra and hippos. Overnight accommodation on a 24-hour count is in tents at a public fenced camp site with good facilities (toilets, shower etc).

The count ends at 12.00 and the volunteers will then return to Sinamatella where the data can be entered on the database.

We will do vulture monitoring and travel to one of the known vulture colonies such as Bumboosie River or Guyu and record nesting activity. This will be done on foot, possibly with assistance from a drone. The distance walked is likely to be around 5km. We will be accompanied by an armed ranger.

Bhejane trust is heavily involved in supply of water to the animals in the Park and volunteers will assist Game Water supply plan.


• Day 14. Volunteers leave Sinamatella in the morning and travel by mini-bus to Victoria Falls where they can visit the Falls during the day.

Overnight accommodation is at a Lodge in Victoria Falls town.

On the next day, Harrison will collect the volunteers around 10.30 and transfer them to the airport.

CLIMATE
The climate is similar at ZNP and Sinamatella.
During the cool dry season (April to August) the weather is warm (up to 25 degrees) by day but can become very cold, sometimes even below freezing, at night.
Volunteers must bring suitable clothes for this range of temperatures. Camping at Zambezi can be especially cold in June and July.
Volunteers must make sure they have a sleeping bag able to keep them comfortable in temperatures that may drop as low as zero degrees during the early hours of the morning.
In the hot dry season (September to November) night-time temperatures are more comfortable and can be quite high (15 to 20 degrees or more). Day time temperatures are also much higher, often reaching well over 30 degrees.

As well as being suitable for the climate, the volunteer’s clothes should also be suitably coloured. Drab colours, especially green, brown and khaki are essential when camping.
WHAT TO BRING
• CLOTHING & PERSONAL KIT
- Victoria Falls: In Victoria Falls ‘T’ Shirts and shorts are fine most of the time but you may like to bring a set of light casual clothes for going to a restaurant at night.
- Fieldwork: We will be doing lots of outdoor activities including occasional walking. While volunteers will be walking, they will be accompanied by armed rangers. Bring a minimum of 3 sets of loose green/khaki-type shirts and trousers plus a hat/cap and comfortable socks and boots. If you want to wear shorts in the field, you might need a pair of short gaiters to stop your socks being filled with spiky grass seeds. Long trousers that tightly cover the top of your boots will work just as well. June and July nights and early mornings can be very cold so bring something warm to wear.
• DAY PACK:
-Have your own pack to stow your camera, water bottle, sunscreen and other personal stuff when we are working or walking, but the aim is to carry as little as possible.
-Personal Reusable Water bottle approx 500ml to 1L capacity.
-Head torch and flashlight are essential. Bring rechargeable batteries or a suitable supply of batteries as you won’t be able to buy any in the Parks.
- Camera and Video is highly recommended. Bring rechargeable batteries or a suitable supply of batteries plus an adequate supply of photo memory cards as you cannot purchase these things in the Parks.
-Binoculars, A good pair of binoculars is essential.
-Sunscreen (35+).
-Insect repellent
-Personal toiletries toothpaste, shampoo, soap, medicines like headache tablets and antiseptic cream.
-Personal towel.
-Sleeping bag for camping.
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Management of the Park is organized in a structured hierarchy with a number of specialized units that deal with the various different functions and activities in the Park.
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Congé Solidaire;Mission Solidaire
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Arrival at Victoria Falls volunteers are met by a driver (Harrison) from a specialist tourist-transfer company and driven to Victoria Falls by minibus, the journey will last 20minutes. From Victoria Falls, transport into the Zambezi National Park is by 4 x 4 open safari vehicle. Depending on the part of the Park the volunteers are going to, the journey takes between thirty minutes and one hour. The journey from Victoria Falls to Sinamatella takes around 3 hours and is by minibus, then the journey will continue by 4 x 4 vehicle at the Park arrival. Throughout the time spent in the park, transport is in 4x4 open-topped safari vehicles. Victoria Falls airport has a cell-phone network and it is easy for the driver to communicate with Stephen Long or Trevor Lane in case of difficulty.
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Victoria Falls
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• At Siansimba - Zambezi National Park: The accommodation is in tents, in a camp next to the river. Breakfast and evening meals will be served in camp and lunch will be taken ‘in the field’. 3 nights + 1 night at the counting platform, Chamabondo. • At Sinamatella - Hwange National Park: The accommodation is in two or four-bed National Parks Lodges Accommodation which are comfortable and adequately suit the life and activities of field researchers but are not luxurious. Breakfasts and evening meals are served at Lodge 15 where some of the volunteers will sleep and where we all meet for meals, briefings etc. (4 nights in the lodges + 1 nightcamping at Masuma Dam) • Camping out in the park: a sleeping bag might be necessary to bring along with you in your trip for this occasion. Sometimes this will be organized at picnic or camping sites with toilets and washing facilities but more often we simply stay somewhere close to the work we are doing and there are no such facilities. (3 nights) • Victoria falls Rest Camp (Vicfalls) (1 night)
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Bhejane provides: • Tents • Mattresses • Other necessary equipment • Freshwater. /!\ Volunteers should bring their own sleeping bags. At Zambezi National Park, accommodation is in tents on the site next to the Zambezi River. As at Sinamatella, Bhejane provides tents and mattresses.
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