As I have mentioned before, the Zambeze Delta Safaris operators are extremely interested in the reintroduction and preservation of the wildlife that was lost during the fifteen-year Mozambique Civil War.
They quickly realized that, unless the villagers were properly fed, they would continue to kill the animals so that their children would not be hungry. As parents themselves, they understood this desire, so the first step was to find a way to provide meat and other food to the villagers. As I mentioned in THIS POST, they have solved that problem by providing meat throughout the year.
The second problem were professional poachers….those who killed the animals and sold the meat and hides at local markets or even those who were part of a broader poaching syndicate.
To battle this, ZDS hired some of the village poachers and employed them to set up an “Anti-Poaching” team. In their duties, this team of “rangers” use every resource available to them, including electric motorbikes, helicopters and satellite technology.
Their goal is to provide a “fast-response” to any poacher sighting with the goal being the arrest of such individuals.
Michael and I were invited to go on a training run with the APS (Anti-Poaching Squad) and it was an interesting experience.
They started by using their GPS systems to locate the general area where the poacher had been sighted….
They started walking slowly down the road….
watching for these footprints in the sand……
The squad was interesting to watch as they used almost imperceptible signals to relay what they were seeing. When one signaled for them to duck, they all went down…..
Funnily, Michael and I did as well. I guess that we have been well trained!!
They finally reverted to crawling the last few yards….
…before bursting into the “poacher’s” camp…..
The poacher ran away but the APS captured him and returned him to his camp in handcuffs.
After taking photos of him and the killing tools that he possessed, he was told to show them all of the traps that he had set.
Do you see a trap in this photo?
This is the hiding place for a gin trap……
And, this is what happens when an animal steps into the trap…..
Then the “poacher” went on to point out several snares that had been set. These were pieces of entwined wire that circled the path. When the animals get stuck in them, the wire noose closes on the animal and it is held there until the poacher can kill it with a spear or knife.
Honestly, the setting of these snares is an art form as the poacher uses vines and branches to hold the snare in place and to camouflage it, but the art side of it fades when you realize how much pain it an inflict on the unsuspecting animal!!!
Once the traps were cleared….
…..the training exercise was over and it was time for a curtain call…..
This team provided us a front-row seat into the world of poaching and the efforts to stop it.
Now it was time to release the “prisoner”. But where was the key???
They searched everywhere but couldn’t find it and even tried to pick the lock with a stick!! I felt bad for the man who was supposed to be holding the key!!
They finally found it on the ride back to camp and the prisoner (ie….APS member with the least seniority) was set free.
We appreciated these guys allowing us to experience their work…..
As we were driving back to camp, I snapped a selfie with everyone in back of the truck….
They didn’t smile in the photo but laughed after it was taken!!
It was great to see yet another example of the great work that Zambeze Delta Safaris is doing!!