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Bumi hills anti-poaching unit.

A black painted boat slips silently across the lake, full moon glinting on the wake. A light flickers briefly on the darkly looming island. The men in the boat, hands tight on their weapons, peer intently into the gloom. Suddenly! A shout, a shot rings out, a boat speeds away from the shore...

Sounds like the beginning of a boys adventure story, doesn't it? It's not--its real, it's scary and it might be happening as you are reading this article.

The story of the battle against poachers raping our waters is a serious, non-fiction one. Here at Bumi we have our own anti poaching unit--BHAPU--headed by our Conservation Manager and staffed by four committed, hard working scouts, who constantly patrol our land for snares, and our waters for netting and illegal fishing. It is tempting to pity these poachers--but they are not just "trying to feed their families"--they are running businesses, netting huge quantities of fish regardless of size, type, or breeding status with lengthy, indestructible nylon nets. These nets are a death sentence not only for the fish, but for birds and animals that drink or live along the lake shores--becoming entwined in elephant's trucks, bird's beaks and feet, and twisted around antelope's slender legs.

It's not all doom and gloom however--we have had some successes recently, arresting five Zambian poachers, five kilometres of twine net and two banana boats--one with a suspiciously new motor on the back. These operations were mounted off the back of information received from local sources--our first success was on Partridge Island, where, after hours sculling about the adjacent islands, our team flushed out poachers from Zambia, who had a well organised camp, complete with drying and smoking racks and over 40kg of fresh fish, of all sizes and types. After chasing down and apprehending one of the poachers, our team destroyed their camp, and brought both poacher and equipment back to Bumi, where he was identified as being a kingpin of the Zambian operation.

Second success was a deployment at night, over on Starvation Island--under cover of darkness, and with the element of surprise on our side, our scouts startled a large party of poachers, whose MO is to come over from Zambia in motor powered banana boats, switching off the engines and paddling the last kilometre, speeding back in the early hours of the morning. Several fresh snares were located on the island itself, indicating they are not restricting their efforts to fish alone.

The depressing point that has to be made, however, is that without resources, relying on donations and the "kindness of strangers", these isolated successes are just that--isolated. As we are busting a camp on one island, a replacement is springing up on another--as one net and boat is confiscated, another three are probably being dispatched to replace them. Too often, after a great deal of effort has gone into capturing and delivering suspects to the ZRP for sentencing by the court, they are issued a small fine and sent packing off home--from where they no doubt launch themselves straight back into the game.

I note the photos of the smiling children in the pages of this magazine holding up their fish. In their lifetime, those photos will be yellowed and exclaimed over by their children, who may not know the joy of a diverse, healthy, protected population of fish in our waters.

The Bumi Hills Anti Poaching Unit, founded in July 2009, works tirelessly to prevent all forms of poaching against Flora and Fauna found in the Bumi Hills Wildlife area and beyond. Comprised of game scouts, the unit has cleared over 5000 snares and over 30 000 metres of illegal gill netting. With poachers becoming more daring and developing new methods of catching their quarry the need has arisen to expand and develop BHAPU.

Through this initiative individuals and corporates are encouraged to donate a fixed monthly sum which will enable us to train, employ, equip, uniform and transport our game scouts. In return we will place your branding on our website, BlogSpot, newsletter, monthly reporting collateral and scouts uniform to ensure you get maximum exposure. What better way is there to advertise your business and commitment to our environment ...

Please email us on conservation@bumihills.com or phone Catherine on +263 7782 0405 86 for more information on how you can get involved.
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Title Annotation:Update
Author:Norton, Catherine
Publication:African Fisherman
Date:Aug 1, 2014
Words:728
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