FOOTPRINTS ALONG THE BOUNDARY RIVER

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2012 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

Ranger Mafuka, E.R - Writer and Wildlife Ranger

By Mafuka E.R, Matusadona Nat Park

 The Matusadona atmosphere, simply, had been unpredictably handsome – crispy with blue skies and at easy. Good days in the intensive Protection Zone (I.P.Z) slowly pronounced themselves with long walks and blue fires from very old portable gas cookers and punctuated by funny evenings. And sometimes “other” nights that were vigilant hearts.who could ask were God was when all this prevailed in silence. Memories could sail me slowly into solitary thoughts.

 I am focused on a Zimbabwean National Park.

To my behaved kids:

DSC_4378Shanna Zanele and Paul Jabulani,

My kids, my darlings… I will not like it when you two just one day leave your mom and me alone. We will feel bad.

I had Shanna Zanele, my first baby girl then Jabulani – I was the best daddy than a lot of men I had known. You and your good mother, Chipo Namasau, saved me from that loneliness.we were a strong unit, the four of us who brought laughter (the best medicine) in that old parks cottage. We were comfortable there without lights and tap running water. You have had chances that I didn’t have from Manuel Giyayi, my father, – toys, nice local outfits and sweets. I have a common sense to realize.

As little as you are, I always talk about how much I love you….even when I am resting under a Msasa tree after a long patrol in Matusadona.

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When you do wrong, although making me cross, I would teach you, explain and forgive you. I married Chipo your only kind mother when she was 20 and I was 6 years older. We were not rich, but comfortable with the little that we gathered and secure in the knowledge that “this” Tashinga Initiatives, would make our life in the wilderness enjoyable.

As I write to you my darlings, I don’t want you to stand at my grave and weep when I die in one of the future days. Of course, this is not my final straw but if my “writings” are downloaded, copied, pasted and saved in your computers, you will read this and know the things I want you to know.

No one wants to die, I am not even ready. Am I done? I don’t want to leave you alone, I haven’t accomplished my part as a loving daddy.

Matusadona buffalo herdYou have grown in an area liked by everyone. With lots of friends stretching out their hands to help. An area of everything: tsetse flies, hot suns, beautiful Lake Kariba, elephants, Rhinoceros’s, buffalo, Naja massambicas, lions, clouds changing shapes and trees. You are amazing!

I will always love you.

I see life seeming to be impossible but I could have loved you better Jabu. You have been very close to me in so many ways. Zah, when you were born, you made me realize the magic of a loving mother and father for you our first-born. Slowly as you grew, I have thought you never to cross moral boundaries and made you accept the reality that God made us capable of obtaining from evil deeds.

My kids, God expects from us maximum responsibility on our waters, mountains, rivers, wild animals, our clean air and also to love one another for everlasting life in return. Zah and Jabu this advise must not be a missed opportunity. I have been the man your mom loved and I brought security, freedom and hope into the three of you.

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You have grown in National Parks. I have changed your life slowly with all this from the wages from National Parks. The animals must peacefully survive and when you are grown up you must do your part and save them from danger.

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Loving Daddy

Emmanuel.

The noise of the landing helicopter made      me realize that I had not written any letter to my kids Zanele and Jabulani. The situation never accommodated constant barrage questionings like Zanele does at the age of four. How how high was the answer when asked to jump.

DSC_6275I quote: “im not comfortable sitting and watching a species become extinct during our watch. We must be responsible – the world is changing but we’re changing it ”- Ian Craig in the TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE. (RHINO WATCH): An article I got to read from Lynne Taylor. Craig was born in Kenya but went to school in England. A professional hunter I went through the touching article reading it as if Craig seemed to say what was needed was “

DSC_5040Well paid, well – motivated, well – resourced, well led protection of wildlife.”

The helicopter set off the undisturbed soils of Kemurara due Ume, the boundary river where foot prints had been seen by Chief Nebiri Villagers who had alerted our new Area Manager, Mike Jonasi who was driving into the park from a Campfire meeting.

Four barefoot spoors of prospective gold panners. We are now equipped with the right tools. I thank Pete Clemence and Bryce grade A instructors, in the aggressive tracking techniques course I went through recently. The Tashinga Initiative was putting a balanced diet on the empty table. Even to the work of the author of this article. No time was wasted in tracking poachers to bring them to justice.

As I write to the world, Matusadona is tightly protected. The park rangers are happy with the income, well trained, well motivated with a well focused manager in respect to protection of wildlife, in these natural communities, BUT, needs to be well funded. Funds are needed.

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The school is eyed by wishes of the Tashinga Initiative. On 1 December 2012, my daughter Shanna Zanele, will be graduating from Zero grade. She has been attending a pre – school that overlooks Tashinga Springs.

Nearly brand new in the worldImpalas come and graze in the chools playgrounds. The animals are social and respect these young future Park Managers. Matusadona is gaining its state as a well-balanced ecosystem.

May the following friends in wildlife management be saluted.

Some passed away.

Mutare Bope (R.I.P), Givemore Masenda (R.I.P), Sgt Agripa Nhamo (R.I.P), Dr Moris Zororai Mtsambiwa, Edmund Kapyola (R.I.P), Warden Mafu (R.I.P) Mr Jakopo the pilot (R.I.P), Simuguga Wankie (R.I.P), Benard Zunza (R.I.P),

Rupert Fothergill (R.I.P), Biggie Naibe (R.I.P), Felix Chimeramombe and etcetera. They watered the hard soils of the Gwembe valley with their sweat tracking footprints to safeguard the Park estates.

DSC_6941Child Abuser

Hey you child abuser

Why do you abuse us?

Stop abusing us

We are the future leaders

Zanele Mafuka is my name.

 

Thank You

NB:  A poem to be recited on the 01 of December 2012 by Shanna Zanele Mafuka on
her graduation, at Tashinga Pre- School. A school also being assisted by the Tashinga initiative and Lynne Taylor.

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TTI: Radio Communications Project: Tundazi and Matusadona

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

A brand new radio repeater link was installed in a metal housing and protected with the electric fence on the summit of Tundazi Mountain in Chizarira. This was an extraordinary mission. The Area Manager and his Ranger team were highly impressive in their determination and fortitude.

The goods had to be transported from Chiz HQ to a certain point on the road to Tundazi Base, by lorry, deposited at this point, enabling the lorry to return to Chiz HQ. From this point, the goods had to be driven 1.5hrs on an even rougher, steeper track by Cruiser and my landrover. We undertook two ferry trips each to get everyone and all the goods to base camp. From base camp, the goods were ferried by foot, by the Rangers, the Fencing Team and the Radio Communications Team and they climbed the extremely steep 700m to the top of Tundazi. This “ferrying” started in the afternoon of the first day we reached base camp, and started again at 0500hrs the following day.

On the next day, some of the Rangers undertook this climb 4 times, also having to carry up water – and water had to be brought from Chiz HQ to the Base camp in the back of a pickup on a punishing track. It was an incredible effort by all concerned. The views are absolutely fantastic.


I extend my great appreciation to Area Manager Samson Chibaya for his outstanding support towards The Tashinga Initiative’s project. The Barrett Fencing Team put in the most incredible effort, without a break in searing heat – the project would not have been completed without this huge effort from them! Chris Packenham of Security Communications provided first-class implementation for Parks.

MATUSADONA NATIONAL PARK SOLAR REFURBISHMENT PROGRAM

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

A 2011 Solar Water and Energy Refurbishment Project in Matusadona National Park is now complete:

• Vulanduli: is enjoying water being pumped up from the Gorge 580m below using solar energy, and into the tank, providing running water to the Rangers stationed there. Also being provided with renewed vigour is a solar energy system for lights, radio communications, battery charging, and computers if available, cellphone charging.

• Tashinga: is enjoying an enhanced solar water system, with extra panels and enlarged security fence. The solar energy system has been upgraded, providing power for lights, radio communications, battery charging, computers, VSAT, cellphone charging. Matusadona Primary School has an extra handbasin for the pupils.

• Sanyati West: finally, after substantial challenges, both solar water and solar energy systems are in good order: the thatching of the roof of the dwelling housing the solar energy inverter is completed, and the energy system is protected from the rains for the forseeable future.

After having installed a new pump, with housing, tank and base, it has been finally ascertained that an elephant (possibly the one that is now denied playing with his electric fencing strand due to our new system there), pushed and buckled the water tank, causing the tankbase plate to crack and the tank to fall through the middle of the stand. This is now rebuilt, and re-established and water fills the tank each day, providing water in the taps at the dwellings.

• Changachirere: the float switch at the tank at this Field Station has been repaired, and the solar energy system upgraded, providing the Field Rangers there with lighting, radio communications, battery charging, and cell-phone charging facility.

THUNDERSTORM IN HOGWE: Observations of nature and culture from the pencil of a Ranger in Matusadona National Park: Mafuka, E.R.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

The nocturnal atmospheric rhythm of Matusadona Range was illuminating and would flow into a long threatening and exciting darkness. The sounds were invaded by music and dance from Chief Nebiri, a vital form of Traditional communication in rural Zimbabwe. Just or unjust, like any animals wish in long, lovable and hate or hurting songs, backed by traditional drums and “hashes”, expressing joy and sorrow, respect of complaints, and all aspects from localized walks of life, I could hear them sing and dance, bringing the spirits of the Tonga Kings and Ancestors into their song, of praise in great serenades.

Hyaenas whoop sharply in gratitude of a successful hunt and calcium rich dinner from carcasses of dead animals. Chief Nebiri’s village men, our neighbours, crying every morning of February to injust baboons destroying nearly ripe maize crops. There I see a battle for sustainable agriculture in progress but what about stream bank cultivation along part of Ume River in rural Nebiri area?

I had spent many days in the wilderness with Paul, the Ecologist, tracking the lone lion of the Gwembe Valley. At Hogwe, crossing the bridge was in bad shape, part of the main road to the Park, partly impassable. Large volumes of water had carried Harudziva River crossing away. The Area manager and his Senior Wildlife Officers were deeply worried; 4×4 visiting campers would experience difficulties in paying a visit to Matusadona National Park, part of the beautiful soul of Africa.

I had seen rain, I had seen sunshine, a happy little handsome soul of Africa and this time it was to be a Thunderstorm in Hogwe, promising without doubt.

Dark clouds gathered above Hogwe and upstream Masuka with a threat, flashes of lightning illuminated the sky and thunder was bolting and rolling in the south, due our location. Large drops like boulders of rain began falling. On my bare skin, I felt like being hit by grains of coarse salt, Cape Fig Tree started shaking, I felt it, I heart it, thunder lightning that exploded like hand-grenade leaving me perplexed, I heard a confused elephant scream, with appeal and baboons barked with my regret. Trees whistled and whistled again, then the sound grew into a large sound, like the taking-off of a helicopter, as the wind blew stronger and stronger. In a couple of minutes, Hogwe River had already flooded with waves, carrying logs, animal carcasses, sand, leaves and foam, flowing at a supersonic speed. Hogwe was rising steadily.

I fell in love with the smell of the rain carried by the strong wind, fear and excitement, that was the game.

I had worked with “vePara” Mbozi, a local ranger from a nearby community. He remained very calm, very calm and shamefaced whenever he sensed such danger….real danger, really. Looking back, over my shoulder our eyes glancing in each other, I saw Mbozi wearing a forced smile to bury the anger and fear in him as we walked to the camp where Paul was busy with the uprooted dome tents.

I recall a memorable day I was in the company of Lynne, Gabriel the electrician and always smiling Rhino Safari Camp’s Boat Captain, Funny Boy, at Sanyati West Camp. The polypipe of the sunk water pump had bites from a resident crocodile. No water was coming up to the camp. Solar power systems had gone down at Sanyati, Changas, and Tashinga after a heavy storm. The polypipe deserved a bite as it had not received permission to find a place in water for its purpose from Nyaminyami – the River God of the Tonga people. I was swallowed into deep thoughts of that moment, until suddenly the storm fine-tuned me back to remind me that I had someone near me. It was Mbozi.

The storm grew louder and louder. In Msambakaruma, Nebiri, Mola, Mayovhe and Negande, it had carried away the Tonga styled pole and dagga upstaired huts. In Kariba, some roofs were carried away. This could happen after an unjustifiable couple of years before or soon after a different New Year. That’s what they said.

I felt cold and left with no energy. The thunder crashed and vibrated in and about the escarpment. A yellow red lightning struck in the mopane trees and surprisingly, one burst, and engulfed in a large blue flame, then gradually put off by rain. I could smell rain, charcoal smoke and the smell of well-managed soils of the escarpment. Some shots of lightning struck and struck due north of Hogwe. In just a few gorges walking due west from Hogwe, was Ume River, impregnated with debris, waves of large volumes of water from small rivers, like Harudziva, Hogwe, Masuka and Kajokoto. These rivers became a greater force in Ume, that by event reached Lake Kariba in full force. It carried everything.

Grass, water, plants and animals remained, to continue with life as if nothing had happened. Fire could come in the dry season and invade some small patches of the Valley Floor – burning all diseases, viruses, pest, innocent creatures and small game.

Fork-tailed drongos fly above a dark cloud of smoke, catching grasshoppers. This soon initiated new grass shooting and grazers coming to enjoy the palatable leaves. There was life.

Have I ever written anything about Buffalo? But they have always been there, stalked by Lions of Matusadona. Breeding well….staring at you, mouthful portions of grass in mouth….

I appeal to those privileged to have a chance in writing out to the world their passion for wildlife, to write responsibly. I am on a journey with you and wish this journey to change your lives.

The battle for wildlife welfare continues with all forms of attacks – be it by the smell of a gun power, projects or education.

The next morning, there were sunshine, wet and cool soils. I could smell fresh African air of the escarpment marking the Valley. Hyaenas crunching up bones at vulture restaurant. In rural communities, vultures were not sighted at all, Hyaena being the missing link in these areas.

Seeds from grass and plants drop. Ants carry them. Plants and animals depend on other species for survival. Ground hornbill tiptoe with less grace than ballet dancer! Yellow billed oxpeckers feeding on ticks on Buffalo and Rhino, all scattered in Matusadona National Park. The vegetation is green and colourful. So amazing!

Had I known, time to go home will come after episodes of adventure. Waiting for our uplift vehicle, I remember Sekuru Chiomwera Siahumelu “Mr Zambezi” as most people know him. He was Tonga, working as a gardener at Staff Cottages. When bitten by a scorpion, Sekuru “Zambezi” could come and also bite on the bitten spot and you could not swell or feel the bitter pain. He was raised from the Gwembe Valley, in the times when they never knew neither salt nor sugar. They only knew the sweetness of honey and bee’s bites, the smoked “lubanje” (Cannabis sativa) and it made him strong. He was an old age friend of mine. He speaks sadly about the building of Lake Kariba in the 50’s, he was a small boy, when the Government of Rhodesia asked them to move out of the Valley floor. Animals died as the Lake level rose. The great job of a well spoken hero, Rupert Fothergill began. Serving all animals from drowning in the rising Lake to safer zones.

By 1999, Sekuru “Zambezi” had retired from National Parks. Still alive and strong, in Mola, five wives and thirty-something children, but just and just still gifted with a passionate conservation ethic on common. Sekuru ‘Zambezi” had seen love, grew up in war and other experiences. There were days of hunger, drought spells and heavy rains, in some cases. Thunderstorm and the unpredictable “Binga Wave” in Lake Kariba, but hid dedication to our sacred land of all races and tribes grew with age, each representing unnoticeable blessings in the wilderness.

Patrol Prose by Ranger Emmanuel Roy Mafuka _ Matusadona National Park

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

GOODBYE URBAN LIFE

The lights still shine
Twinkling in the African darkness
Spreading their wings
Like stars they are
Good morning urbanization

Dark the clouds are
With little like no fresh air
Only heavy scent penetrates our little world
Industrial gases spiraling up into blue skies
Good afternoon urban life

Cry my beloved acquatic life
For your home is invaded
By sewerage and waste
All the way from Town
Cry Tilapia Breams!

Cry my beloved house sparrow
Cry my beloved mousebird
For the bins are filled empty
The tenant’s food is cooked to the stomach
Nothing left to skirmish on

Rolling dust roads go
From one street to one avenue
With noise and disturbance
That breeds no peace in nature
The soul of a healthy community
Gone in pillage
Born out of a desire home
Exhausted the environment remains

At sunset night clubs illuminate
Pounding like hammer mills
Filled with plastic music
Little prostitutes fly in their high heels like paradise flycatchers
With diseases and viruses to spread
All roofs polluted and contaminated
With cigarette smoke and death
Goodbye ghetto life
Goodbye rising costs for declining resources

Happily I stroll
Along vegetation created before man
To my promised land
Our land of fund and adventure
Goodbye town life

To a quiet Matusadona I go
To stay with the pride of lions
A privileged garden of screaming hyaenas
That giggle and laugh at their restaurants
A land that keeps thy heart thumping
Leopard cat walking
Like beauty queens
Deodorizing the Gwembe Valley
With pungent “leo” scent
Never be affordable
Even on the Indian man’s retail shop

Hippo grunt in the pans
Sacred ibis hunting along the lakeshore
Baboon chant
Celebrating a new Tashinga

For each day unfolds with new initiatives
Initiatives of a well-managed habitat
Where our brothers and sisters play
Hide and seek with impalas
Goodbye expensive life

To the graveyard of Tonga
I go
Now turned into beautiful grazing grounds
Like small football pitch ground they seem
Where Zebras take opportunities
To play like donkeys in rugby jerseys
Only to beautify Africa’s soul
The little heart of the unknown land

Goodbye Ghetto life
A life that left me
With no memories of the buffaloes
That graze along Shenga river
Ground hornbills tip toeing
In less grace than ballet dancers
Wild dogs criss cross in hunt
The unimaginable Starvation Island
And island blessed with their meals
Safe from angry villagers
A life of sight catching events
Yellow billed oxpeckers feeding
On ticks stuck on buffalo rhino and hippos
Goodbye goodbye gold panners

For you I shall not cry
But wonder for my brothers and sisters
As I hide under Colophospermum Mopane
Gazing to a rising African sun
Admiring the Kariba sunset
That took my soul away yesterday
A thief of my heart
Kariba sunset
My darling
Goodbye electricity and water bills

A world of all races
Where lions roar lackadaisically
Baboons saluting a new day with a bark
Easterly fresh air blow
Catching up our souls
With excitement and fund
Goodbye for good deforestation

In crescendo I shall sing
A song with the lilac breasted rollers call
A song known to fish eagles
Serenades of great notes to the spirits
A song to keep crocodiles heads high
A voice that call Nyaminyami River God
To rise to protect
Adorable waters of Lake Kariba
And calm down the Binga Wave
As tourist pour like rain thunder
To rejoice in our land
The Land of the Tonga people
The Gova’s prosperity
Whose land was swallowed
By the whistling and rising Zambezi waters
That moulded my love
Goodbye noisy cars

Streams of rivers flow
From Matuzviadonha in songs
That grow louder into meandering rivers
Louder than Tonga drums I hear
Drums clear and communicating
To the grandchildren of the Gova
A birth of caring offspring
Born in tsetse territories
But bravely I raise my black palm
To wave goodbye
Goodbye to town life
Goodbye for good

FUNDRAISING FOR ZAMBEZI VALLEY WILDLIFE

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

The Tashinga Initiative’s crew recently travelled with a potential donor to Mkanga in the Chewore Safari Area, to Kariba and Marongora in Charara and Hurungwe Safari Areas and to the beautiful Chizarira National Park.

Given specific timeframes in respect of this funding disbursement, the site visits had to be undertaken during the rainy season. We were very pleased to be able to reach and return from Mkanga Field Station in the Chewore without any difficulties, except for a couple of slithery moments on the wet and muddy access road from Nyakisikana Gate. Crossing the tributary of the Sapi River, where that high-level bridge has been washed away completely, passed without any difficulty as barely one inch of water was in the riverbed, despite much rain in the area. Several of the high-level bridges that span smaller rivers flowing from the Zambezi Escarpment into the Zambezi River, had serious issues with eroded approaches. It seemed that just luck was holding these bridges in place! These need urgent attention to support the forthcoming photographic and hunting safari tourism.

The vegetation was deliciously lush, green and seemingly impenetrable.

The Ranger Community based at Mkanga gave the visitors a warm welcome and showed them around the station, especially the solar water installation provided by The Tashinga Initiative which now has to be moved to a new but nearby site , due to the existing poor quality borehole.

Visiting Kariba is always such a pleasure, as the extent of the blue-blue vistas of Lake Kariba unfold, when travelling down that old elephant path, now the main tar road to Kariba. Tourists have a revived interest in visiting Kariba, and houseboats especially are well booked, as are a few of the locally well-known safari lodges, such as Spurwing Island, Rhino Safari Camp, Musango and Gache Gache.

The availability of the clean and comfortable Parks Lodges at Kariba’s Nyanyana Camp should definitely not be overlooked! The Tashinga Initiative is looking to provide a solar water system there to ensure regular water for the Ranger community and tourists alike. The Visitors enjoyed meeting Rangers and their families from Nyanyana and Peter’s Point.

The Kariba community have engaged on a programme of conservation awareness and tourism promotion, including an effort from a young group of volunteers from Kariba’s Nyamhunga Town who are working towards a brighter future for Kariba.

The large majority of the Mana Pools Ranger community have had to move to safer heights at Marongora, away from the Zambezi River flooding, through the sporadic opening of two to four floodgates on Kariba Dam Wall. This has posed a great burden on the already strained housing, water and vehicle capacity at Marongora. We visited this Ranger community and had the privilege of chatting to them about their specific needs. The dignity held by all, despite their difficulties, impressed us.

Travelling to Chizarira National Park via Gokwe, the relatively short stretch on the Karoi-Binga road was in better condition than expected, except of course, the 4×4 track to Chizarira itself. This little 4×4 track winding its way up the side of the Chizarira escarpment, with Tundazi Mountain to the east, is a delight for 4×4’ers! Take note!. Chizarira National Park is extremely wild and beautiful, with great camping sites, with woodlands, vegetation and wildlife that is become a rare sight anywhere in Africa.

The Ranger community living there lead a very challenging existence and the lack of funding to maintain the access road, together with a lack of running water at the HQ station, one has to admire this hardy Ranger community for sticking to their post, welcoming visitors with a smile and still managing to patrol the Park. And it is most certainly an incredible wildlife area. It used to be the home of the Black Rhino, but this resident population has long since been poached.

As a result of lack of infrastructure, and therefore a lack of protection effort, how much longer can this incredible wildlife area remain relatively intact?

Now we wait patiently to hear of any positive results from our efforts! Donated funds (www.thetashingainitiative.org) go directly into the wildlife protection effort as well as towards the conservation of our most wonderful and precious natural gift of all, the trees.

Transfrontier Conservation Areas such as KAZA and ZiMoZa, encompassing the Zambezi River, and adjacent protected areas falling within Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mocambique are unique global assets.

The Tashinga Initiative is proud to be part of the effort to conserve and protect our invaluable wildlife, and as always, seeks your support!

Please also visit:
http://www.conservationzambezi.org
http://www.africanwildlifeconservationfund.org

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE & ENHANCED WILDLIFE PROTECTION

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2011 by The Tashinga Initiative Foundation 501(c)3

The Tashinga Initiative, a wildlife protection project in the Zambezi Valley, is pioneering a framework for supporting effective protected area management and if successful can be applied to other National and World Heritage properties. There is evidence to show that provision of adequate social infrastructure (water, electricity, accommodation and communications) and social amenities to Field Rangers and their families based in very remote locations has a significant enhancement for self-motivation In most cases, funding and efforts to improve protection and effective management are directed towards the strengthening of Ranger patrols, with little attention on the overall social welfare of these Rangers, often without access to any form of basic amenities or transport whatsoever. Consequently, efforts to improve budgets and manpower levels do not, in some cases, necessarily translate into effective conservation because of the failure to address these critical factors.

Your support in laying down the foundations for a reasonable day-to-day lifestyle for remotely based Rangers and families is urgently sought through an Adopt-a-Station strategy, and the pleasure of seeing these Ranger communities enhanced in their homes and workplace bringing lasting fulfilment to the Donor.

Write to lynne@thetashingainitiative.org – thank you!