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Wildlife Action Group - Malawi
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NEWS 2011

Thuma Telegraph



December 2011

-> Click here to view the complete Thuma Telegraph December 2011(pdf)

Dear All

Christmas is only around the corner and I can only imagine the flurry of activity in Europe and other countries.

This time of year brings out many mixed feelings for many of us. For some they are sad as another year goes by. For others they are happy and looking forward to a New Year, a fresh start!

WAG Bravehearts

For us in WAG we are very excited about 2012. We have so much work to do, many exciting projects to start, so many volunteers coming to visit. Next year, we hope to extend our fence a further 12 kms to assist with the human-elephant conflict. We also hope to do a lot more work in the local communities to improve their livelihoods which in turn will we hope reduce them coming in to hunt inside the reserves. And of course have more scouts trained.

But for now December in Malawi brings not only the festive season but also alot more work with the poaching season at its peak. We are on high alert and out all day and night trying to protect our wildlife.

In this newsletter we talk about the scouts, their work, our achievements over the last year and the challenges we face.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.

Best regards, Lynn Clifford

-> Click here to read more

2011 Thuma Telegraph



November 2011

-> Click here to view the complete Thuma Telegraph November 2011(pdf)

Dear All

Working and living in the bush is a dream come through for me, however it has its down sides and is at best of times very challenging but when your sick ah... it is tough.

Having just recovered from two bouts of malaria within 3 weeks of each other it takes its toll and while sick

Elephant Bull

the bush just ain't quiet so cool anymore!

That is of course until you feel better!

Today I get up at 4.30am... Chaka and one of his friends have been around all night and I have been listening to their shakes and moves... I feel real good for the first time in 3 weeks! I am hungry!! :) No headache and the sun is rising and I am watching elephants from camp!

The world is all right again!

This is Africa!

A lot has happened since our last newsletter! Read on and enjoy.

Best regards, Lynn Clifford

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Thuma Telegraph



September 2011

-> Click here to view the complete Thuma Telegraph September 2011(pdf)

Dear All

Things here move so fast the days are rolling into one. Malawi is undergoing some challenges and we have had rioting on the streets in most major cities and the fuel shortage continues. We along with everyone who owns a car and those who don't (black market people) spend hours queuing for fuel. Tempers are raw and people push in front causing many fights, it is chaos! I have become very good at revving the car and nudging forward and even have "the glare" down to a tee, daring anyone to try push in front of me! :) The cost of most goods have increased somewhat and people are really struggling. What happens outside the reserves is reflected inside and poaching is high and we have our jobs cut out for us.

We have done many overnight patrols and always seem to be just one step behind our poachers. One morning we were hot on the trail on a man who had killed a bush pig. We followed him into the village only to see him pop on a bike and cycle away! But our day will come and we will catch him.

Sophie Brown

We arrested 3 charcoal poachers over the last few months. One arrest was made on an overnight ambush with the Salima police who have been a great support especially the new Station officer Mr Foster Mangani. Out of the 3 arrests only two made it to court. One has been released as it is his first offence and the other we are waiting to hear about. This is the second time we caught him inside the reserve burning charcoal so we hope for a good result which will also serve as a warning to others. Fingers crossed.

Best regards, Lynn Clifford

-> Click here to read more

Thuma Telegraph



July 2011

-> Click here to view the complete Thuma Telegraph July 2011(pdf)

Dear All

Sorry for the delay with news. Although we have had little contact, things here still move, sometimes slowly, sometimes too fast. As you are far away we always try to include lots of photos(->pdf) so you can really get a feel for this special place and what we do here day to day. We hope you enjoy the photos, it might even encourage some of you to decide to come visit us?!

My first rainy season in Malawi is over and we are now in the cold months! There is a very cool breeze that blows daily and early morning and at night it is surprisingly fresh. Long sleeves, coats, Sleeping bags, and blankets are used and it feels like Europe in autumn. Fires are lit every night.

The crops are in and most larders are full for now.

Dedza Fence

For just over one month there has been a fuel crisis, with most fuel stations throughout the country running dry of fuel and creating many problems for everyone.

I suppose for us the most important things that have happened are the human-elephant conflict issues that have been on going in and around Thuma and Dedza Salima. This is causing so much hardship and grief to our local population. Relations between us have been put to the test and our elephants are still wandering out of both Reserves at random making things very difficult for everyone.

Football

In this news letter you will see how important it is that we extend the fence for two reasons, first to protect the people who lives around the boundaries of the reserve and secondly to continue protecting the elephants of both Reserves.

I think it is important to note that just less than ten years ago the elephants population here was almost depleted and with allot of hard work and dedication from many people both here and abroad, the elephants have returned and the population has increased.

WAG is completely reliant on the help of donations from all of our friends abroad who assist and enable us to be here doing this important work. We trust you will continue to assist us and thank you for all your help over the years.

Best regards, Lynn Clifford

-> Click here to read more

LAGA Director Ofir Doiri About His THUMA Visit at October 2010

Looking out of the WAG base camp vintage point, never-ending savannah landscape rolled beneath in fascinating beauty. It was quite different from Central Africa's rainforest where I'm based as in the grasslands below there was still much wildlife left to be saved. Running into majestic elephants just outside the camp, I wandered how much of what we had learned during eight years of righting wildlife crime in Cameroon could help WAG keep these elephants from being wiped out by poaching. [...]

Please click here to view the complete visit report.

February 2011

Dear All,
hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year! It seems like it was long ago now! So much has happened here since our last newsletter, with our German visitors and so much law enforcement challenges. Durning this period there has been a lot of news about Ivory. In December 92kgs of raw ivory was discovered at Kenya Airport. The two men arrested had boarded a plane here in Malawi with the illegal ivory undetected. In January and Febuary carved ivory was seized on the streets of Lilongwe and at the airport. It was reported that the elephant population in Kusungu NP is far less than they thought (this is a park that several years ago had approx 2000 elephants, today they have less than 500!). So, Malawi is being hit hard by the eastern influence and is facing challenges of having to deal and cope with the huge demand of ivory. Since 1994, WAG has worked tirelessly to protect and encourage the return of the elephant populations within these Reserves. They have with your help, enabled the elephant herds to return and roam freely. But we now must be prepared to step up our work here and now more than ever our elephants need our protection. On the 26th December our scouts were treated to the very rare view of the meeting of almost 100 elephants in Thuma FR, up near the Saltlick. There have been several sightings of up to 45 together since then on different days. There are many babies within these groups. This suggests our elephant population is thriving and we must do everything to keep it this way. Saying that in the last two months WAG also have felt the pain of losing two of our magnificent elephants and one buffalo. In 2011 WAG is committed more than ever to protect the flora and fauna of our Reserves. Wildlife Law enforcement, Stakeholder sensitization, WAG scout training and being armed in both Reserves, human-elephant conflict are our priorities, however, community sensitization and education will also be included. Kick starting our "sponsor a scout" program and to find funds to have some of our scouts trained to be rangers and carry fire arms is vital as without our scout we are unable to function. There is also the need for funding to cover our basic functionality of things like fuel etc. In this issue we would also like to introduce you up close and personal to our WAG family and well as some other news.

Thank you for reading.
Best regards
Lynn Clifford

DEAD ELEPHANT FOUND IN THUMA FR
 On  the  11th   January  2011  while  on  patrol  up around the plateau area, WAG scouts were on their way back to camp when they got the scent
of rotting meat. With Mr Pollah up front they
went in search of the source. Some 15 minutes later   they  were  shocked  to  find  the  rotting carcass of one of our large female elephant. This beautiful animal was shot and her tusks removed. Her body was carelessly left to rot.
WAG scouts believe that the carcass was approx
1 month old, which would mean she was killed sometime in December.
Historically, December and January is the season for poaching of large mammals. As the grass is
so long the smaller game cannot be seen, plus the seasonal financial demands are at a high. This
 and the increase in guns being readily available in local villages
and the large influx of eastern influences leads to the death of our largest earth mammal.
Despite us doing several 3  and  4  night anti poaching patrols camping out to try catch poachers, having armed rangers present
we realize we need to do more. Back in December we started to enroll  informers outside the reserve from surrounding villages. By gaining information from outside the Reserve this will allow us to react and  plan more effective patrols inside the Reserves and also activate operations in co-operation with DNPW to the villages outside the reserve.
This kind of information gathering is very effective, however it is not  safe and informers and scouts alike could be putting their
lives in danger.
But this is our job and we have a lot of work to do.

THE FAMOUS FIVE!

 On  the  26th   December  despite  the  snow  in  Germany bringing  everything  to  a  halt  five  dedicated  WAG friends  managed   to   arrive  in  Malawi!  Their  bags however didn’t arrive along with 29 pairs of new scouts boots, a new lap top, digital camera, 4 new GPS, mobile phones, t-shirts, socks and so many other donations to WAG. Our famous five (Hubertus 1 & 2, Frank, Micha and  Torsten)  didn’t  let  this  dampen  their  spirits  nor enthusiasm   for  being  here.   We  were  delighted   to
welcome them here but little did we know about what they had in mind for us! 27 th December it was  operation “action stations”. These five incredible men had ideas for us! Still in the same clothes they travelled in the work began. Within 4 days the bags had arrived and Thumas now has a pump and generator that is able to move the water from the spring some 400 mtrs from camp to
the  large  2500  ltr  tank  at  Thuma  base  camp  (another  kind  donation  from  Germany).
The tank is filled within 2 hours and this supplies us with just over 1 week supply of water to everyone in camp! Amazing! This stops us having to fill over twenty 25ltr containers very second day and carrying them up to camp. Mean while our trusty steed (our fantastic car) was getting a

 

 complete health and beauty treatment along with maintenance training for our driver Chifundo. It was a  pleasure to  watch two people work together with neither of them speaking the same language  but  they  managed  with  much  gesturing  and  signs!  Grease  guns,  radiators,  lights, filters… you name it,  she got it. Our doctor Hubertus got his hands dirty and created a new shower  for  our  scout  village.  Until  then  the  scouts  had  bucket  showers..  now  they  have  a European type shower which they are delighted with.

Our Doctor also gave some very educational medical training on first aid and others topics. The scouts  were delighted They really enjoyed the role play and as seen above even pretended to phone for an ambulance!. Torsten our engineer and Hurbertus 1 managed to fix the pump system when no one in  Malawi could! And Frank oversaw all work and managed to create the most amazing dinners each and every night for us all! And even gave some cooking training to some of the scouts. He also managed to find every spider, scorpion and snake in Thuma!
We also made a small bit of time to do some hiking, fishing and saw some elephants just before they left!

 I have never known a group of men to be so knowledgeable about so many things. The group work ethic is outstanding and the easy
friendliness was incredible. Every day was filled with hard work and lots of laughter. We cannot thank you all enough for all the work  and  fun  we  had  while  you  were  here.  We  are  looking forward to your promised return at the end of the year! We need to inform Salima  bottle store you are coming so they can get extra provisions of Captain Morgans spiced and beer!
 thank   you   to   REA
and   everyone   who
donated    all      the wonderful  gifts.  We are once again able to upload            our               daily patrols with the GPS received.   The  new
shoes and socks make patrols a lot more comfortable. The pens and stuff were donated to the local school
who are very happy.
Thank you Thank you Thank you.!:) A special thank you to  Kristina who we know put so much work into organizing this all for us despite her own very busy schedule!
New Boots! Torsten & The Pump Frank New Shower


VOLUNTEERS AT WORK

Most NGO’s have facilities for volunteers and WAG has been very lucky with volunteers in the past. Volunteers play a very important role in any organization, they bring and leave many new skills and ideas. Since I have been here we have had four volunteers. Two from Germany (Paula
& Sebastian) and two from England (Ellie and Emma).
Sebastian was here only for a few days while I was here so I have no photos. Paula did amazing work in  the form of an information board, free hand drawing all the animals of Thuma (see
photo), and went on some exciting patrols, one where an arrest was made.  Ellie and Emma spent several  days in the local village with the school. They did some conservation education, made some fantastic  elephant masks which the children coloured and then wore and did a drawing competition. Both of them were very lucky to awake most mornings and able to view elephants from camp.
I have managed to contact some previous volunteers but we would love to make contact with any others please. Contact me on lynardc1@gmail.com.
Thank you all for your help in the past and we are hoping we will make contact soon.

Elephant masks                                             Ellie and Emma at local school



Paula

 

WILDLIFE LAW ENFORCEMENT Wildlife law enforcement is pretty complex with many stages and many stakeholders involved from the beginning to the end. In most African countries is not taken very seriously and very lenient sentences are passed for these law breakers.
Over the last few months WAG have made several very successful and important arrests,
however the outcome has not been what we expected.

  •    Sept 2010 - Our poacher with unlicensed gun and dead bush buck was released on bail for some made up skin infection, the files have gone missing and so has he.
  •    Sept 2010 - three men accused of attacking and looting the camp spent 3 months in the local police cell (that in itself is no joke) were released on 23rd December – suspended sentence.
  •    Nov 2010 – a night time operation in a village raid arrested people with elephant meat in their houses. All five were given a suspended sentence.
  •    Nov 2010 - 2 people were arrested in the Reserve with a man made gun, these also were released with a suspended sentence.
  •    January 2011 - while on patrol we met two armed poachers, one is a notorious poacher and known to both police and ourselves. We made a raid on his home in the village that
    same day and found 34 used cartridges. This was brought as evidence to the police. A
    warrant for his arrest given to us to deliver but he has not gone into hiding somewhere in
    Lilongwe.
    These kind of results are very disappointing however Wildlife law enforcers all over Africa have not only to deal with the poachers as the enemy but corruption also plays a very large role and
    lack of understanding of the issues.
    To deal with some of these issues WAG intend to hold a stake holder workshop with the aim to bring  together the relevant wildlife law enforcement partners and improve cooperation in the
    enforcement of wildlife protection laws. By doing this we will create awareness amongst our partners and discuss our current challenges and remove barriers.
    More to come on this over the next month or so.

     See below an overview of patrol activities.

     

    Daily
    Patrols

    Poacher foot prints
    seen

    Snares found

    Knives/ pangas/ axes/ saws
    confisgitated

    Poachers with gun escaped

    Gun Shots heard

    Arrests made

    Elephants killed

    Nov 10

    21*

    2

    4

    2

    0

    5

    7

    1

    Dec 10

    24**

    7

    1

    0

    0

    6

    2

    1

    Jan 11

    27

    6

    12

    2

    2

    4

     

    0

    * days used to maintain Fence/road/camp plus chasing elephants outside of reserve
    ** 7 days used to work around the camp with the German visitors

    GET TO KNOW THE WAG FAMILY!
    We have put together some photos of our WAG family so you can get to know us a bit
    better. Some of our family is with us a long time and we also have some very new scouts that have just joined us. Each of our dedicated scouts and workers give up a lot to protect both Reserves and its Flora  and Fauna plus they face danger each and every day in different facing elephants, buffalo,people with guns, bows & arrows plus maybe injuring themselves while out patrolling in the difficult terrain. We have two camps where we live together for 25 or 26 days every month, with we have 5 or 6 days off. Our camps are basic but functional, in very isolated areas and somewhat extreme conditions. Each one of us live away from our family and loved ones which can be difficult especially if there are troubles at home and you cannot be there. For the above reasons we are especially close and depend on each other completely. We are together 24 hrs per day. On patrol we rely heavily on someone to back you up if chasing a poacher.
    We  are  kick  starting  our  Sponsor  a  scout  Program  in  2011  and  are  looking  for sponsorship to cover salaries and other necessities for the year and enable us to recruit additional scouts.

     

    Sponsor a Scout Program
    Your chance to make a big difference!
    The Wildlife Action Group (WAG) is registered in Malawi as a non-government,
    non-profit organization under the Trustee Incorporation Rules since 1994.
    Its main objectives are to protect Malawi’s wildlife and environment, and to assist and support the Malawi government in the management of Protected Areas.
    The  WAG  family  currently  stands  at  11  scouts.  In  order  to  support  our
    conservation efforts in Thuma Forest Reserve and Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve we wish to initially increase the number of scouts to 16.
    WAG launched the Sponsor a Scout Program some years ago, which has been to date  very   successful.  We  are  currently  looking  for  people  to  renew  their

    sponsorship and hoping to find some new donors for 2011 to allow us to increase our field staff.
    We are sure that individuals, companies or other institutions and organizations are keen to sponsor a scout – either for the full amount of 750 Euro per year or for a smaller amount suitable for you – and to make that important and highly appreciated  contribution  to  the  preservation  of  the  rich  natural  resources  of Malawi.
    With your 750 Euro per year, WAG will be able to employ another scout and equip  him  or  her  with  uniforms,  boots,  sleeping  bag  and  other  necessary equipment. This strengthening of our field team will enable us to conduct more wildlife  protecting  patrols  which  will  have  a  direct  positive  impact  on  the reduction of illegal activities in both forest reserves. And,  besides your direct contribution to the conservation of wildlife in Malawi, you also give a Malawian (the scout) the opportunity to get trained in conservation and to earn a steady income. This will enable him to feed his family, and to send his children to school or to the doctor: a win-win-situation indeed!

     

    So what is in it for you?

  •     This is a unique way for you to contribute to conservation and poverty reduction in Malawi at the same time.
  •     Every Euro-Cent will be used directly for the purpose it is meant for, and that is: having a scout in the field protecting wildlife!
  •       To keep you updated about the work of “your” scout(s), you will receive the regular  WAG-Newsletter by email. And direct correspondence with “your” scout is also possible if you wish.

     

  •       If you want to visit Thuma F.R. in Malawi, “your” scout will be available
    full time during your stay for hikes and guidance in the reserve.

     

    Some more about us

    WAG is an NGO, who co-manage two governmental protected areas Thuma
    Forest Reserve and Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve which are located in the Central Region of Malawi between Lilongwe and Lake Malawi on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. Together the 2 forest reserves cover an area of app. 500 km². Generally, the topography is rugged. Slopes are steep although there is some flatter land at the foot of the escarpment. The upper levels of reserve are covered with Brachystegia (miombo) woodland whilst the lower levels are characterized by mixed low altitude woodland with patches of bamboo. Along the many streams within Thuma F.R., the habitat can be typified as riverine forest. Both reserves fulfil an important water catchment function for the area.
    Thuma FR and Dedza-Salima FR contain significant numbers of the remaining large mammals of Malawi, including several key populations identified by the

    Mr Pollah Senior Scout Joined WAG 1997

    Mr Richard Banda - Senior ScoutJoined WAG 2002
    Mr Sam Thom Joined WAG 2007 Mr Medson Gelard Joined WAG 2006
    Mr Bitson Mwale Joined WAG 2006 Mr Kennedy Asan Joined WAG 2007
    James Kazembe Joined WAG 2008 Edward Thom Joined WAG 2009
    Geoffery Umali Joined WAG 2006 Kafele Kwachera Joined WAG 2011
    Lucius Mwayiwatha Joined WAG 2007

    Lynn Clifford
    Field Manager

       

    SOME SEASONAL FLOWERS

    Wildlife Action Group – Malawi
    P.O. Box 282 Post Dot Net Lilongwe, Malawi info@wag-malawi.org
    Phone (Lynn Clifford): +265 991 224599
    The Wildlife Action Group (WAG) is registered in Malawi as a non-governmental, non-profit
    organization since 1994.
    Its main objectives are to protect Malawi’s wildlife and environment, and to assist and support
    the Malawi government in the protection of areas like the National Parks, game and forest reserves.

                                               

        SPONSOR A SCOUT OR
        DONATE WHAT YOU CAN

                                                                                       

    Our main goal is:
    To protect the reserves flora and fauna, and to restore its ecological balance in co-operation with the communities around Thuma F.R. and Dedza-Salima F.R. and enforce the Forestry Act of Malawi.