Newsletter Winter pub (PDF)

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 Winter 2006 /
 Spring 2007

PCT UPDATE                                      WHY FUND RADIO COLLARS AND TRACKING
                                                OF WILDLIFE?
In the last few weeks the Trustees of
Predator Conservation Trust have made           One of the key tools used by researchers studying
another grant to the Brown Hyena Re-            large carnivores and other animals and birds is the
search Project in Namibia. We expect to         use of radio telemetry.
make a grant to another organisation in the     This allows researchers to build up a better under-
near future - sadly it was not possible to do   standing of animal movements and behaviour, and
this before this newsletter had to be fin-      can then apply this knowledge to help conserve
ished and sent out.                             the wildlife.
                                                Radio collars and GPS collars allow researchers to
In October the Painted Dog project re-          track an animal from a distance to avoid affecting
leased sixteen wild dogs that had been res-     its natural behaviour (whereas following the animal
cued from South Africa. The dogs had            closely to observe it by sight alone risks affecting
spent five months in the projects rehabilita-   its natural behaviour).
tion facility but are now free to roam the
entire Hwange national park.                    As a case study, the Brown Hyena Research Pro-
The Painted Dog Conservation team have          ject works closely with Namdeb (the diamond min-
been tracking the dogs since their release      ing company which operates in the Luderitz area)
to ensure that they cope well with their        to assess the impact of proposed work on the
new-found freedom.                              brown hyena population. By looking at the loca-
                                                tions of Brown Hyena dens and using radio or GPS
The Painted Dog children’s bush camp con-       tracking data they are able to identify the likely im-
tinued its wonderful work, hosting another      pact on the Brown Hyenas of Namdeb’s plans and
three local schools on their Free of Charge     can suggest alternatives - for instance if Namdeb
programme.                                      is planning to create a new road between two of its
                                                sites, Ingrid can look and see if it goes close to a
                                                Hyena den or crosses an area of high Brown
                                                Hyena activity (such as a route between the Hyena
                                                den and the nearest Seal colony), and if it does
                                                then this is likely to lead to disturbance to the Hye-
                                                nas or deaths on the road. By suggesting that
                                                Namdeb avoid certain areas, Namdeb are able to
                                                change their plans (e.g. by re-routing a proposed
                                                access road) to minimise any impact on the Brown
                                                Hyenas. It is the research at the start of the proc-
                                                ess that is key to avoiding problems for the Brown

The Brown Hyena project currently has radio collars fitted to five Brown Hyena (three of these collars
were funded by the Predator Conservation Trust), and three with GPS collars but plans to fit another
seven radio collars and two GPS collars this year. The Brown Hyena Project also has plans for two
GPS collars to be fitted on spotted hyenas. One radio collared male brown hyena was hit and killed
on the tar road near Luderitz and a male GPS collared brown hyena died of old age last year.

Darting trips are organised as follows: A Namibian registered vet is booked to supervise the darting
procedure. The darting team travel with three vehicles, two enclosed vehicles for darting and the
transport of valuable equipment and one open vehicle for transporting bait and recovery cages. The
darting team usually consists of six people, and the darting trips typically last for three nights. Darting
success in three nights is low, and the team usually capture one brown hyena per darting trip.

                                                The Brown Hyena Project has already managed to en-
                                                gage a veterinarian for a period of one month in March,
                                                which will reduce frequent travelling expenses for a vet-
                                                erinarian (vets are usually flown in from Walvis Bay or
                                                Windhoek as required for darting trips due to the ab-
                                                sence of a local veterinarian). However, the team would
                                                like to reduce the costs even further by only using two
                                                vehicles. There is not enough room to transport equip-
                                                ment, recovery cages and bait in the two enclosed vehi-
                                                cles and the plan therefore is to purchase a roof rack for
                                                the Toyota Double Cab to transport bait and cages.

One of the vehicles loaded with equipment and

The African Outback Roof Rack for a Toyota Hilux including
reinforcement of the vehicle roof and fitting will cost N$ 5000.
The total darting expenses for March are estimated to be N$
20 000 provided that only two vehicles are used. Funding has
already been arranged for some of the veterinary expenses.

The Predator Conservation Trust are therefore happy to pro-
vide a grant of £1000 (around N$14000) fund the required
work on the vehicle Brown Hyena and the darting trip ex-
penses not already funded, and we wish Ingrid success for
her planned darting trips.                                         The vet loads the dart gun inside the vehi-
                                                                   cle on a darting trip


The Trustees would like to congratulate Ingrid Wiesel of the Brown Hyena Research Project on her
successfully achieving her Doctorate in late October 2006. Ingrid has somehow managed to fit in her
studies as well as working extremely hard on the day-to-day activities of the Brown Hyena Research


At the end of January 2007, the Environmental Information Centre run by the Brown Hyena Research
Project is moving from its old location on the Luderitz waterfront to the Kolmanskop ghost town
where it is likely to receive more visitors.

Arguably the most significant event to take place, in the struggle against the relentless tide of poach-
ing, since we set up the first professional anti poaching unit in 2001, occurred this month. It was
named “Operation Bush Buck”.

A significant aspect of our committed anti poaching effort is the development of relationships with the
local authorities such as Police, National Parks and Forestry Commission. Martin Stiemer has been
at the forefront of this, with his professional background proving invaluable once again. He has
worked closely with our APU Supervisor, Sikhosana Sibanda, stressing the importance of building
and maintaining such relationships. Sikhosana has listened well. He has liaised with these authorities
over the years, on many occasions talking about the frustration of arresting the same poachers time
and again. Operation Bush Buck was born out of these numerous discussions.

On January 11th I received a letter from the Officer in Charge of Dete Police Station, outlining the
operation and seeking our support. I instructed Sikhosana to attend the briefing, which was con-
ducted on January 17th. The Officer in Charge placed a very strong emphasis on the need for se-

On January 18th, Sikhosana accompanied the Officer in Charge, the Warden from Main Camp and
the Supervisor from the Forestry Commission station in Dete. Their aim was to survey the targeted
villages of Magoli, Mambanje, Chezhou, Chentali, Marist and Nyagara. These villages border
Hwange National Park on one side and Forestry Commission land on the other. Over the years, we
have arrested more poachers from these villages than any others. It was certainly time to “up the

At 2am on January 19th, a combination of Police, National Parks Scouts, Forestry Commission and
our APU met at the Dete Police Station and were divided into two teams of 26, before they headed
for the targeted villages. Like a scene from a Hollywood movie the teams struck at first light, catching
the poachers by surprise. With little, if any struggle, an impressive haul was recovered. A total of 54
people were arrested. Of these, 38 people were charged with poaching related offences. They re-
ceived penalties ranging from 35 hours community service to 2 years in prison.

As stated, such an action is a considerable step towards dealing with the menace of poaching. The
Officer in Charge, Dete, has pledged that he will carry out similar raids in other regions in the same
manner, with utter secrecy and the necessary manpower to make the exercise a success. This action
is greatly appreciated and comes at a time when we are under so much pressure as we remain as
the only professionally run anti poaching unit in the region, with other initiatives, though well mean-
ing, having come and gone. With appropriate committed support we would increase our APU effort,
recognising that it is the only solution to talking the immediate threat carried by poaching to the re-
gions wildlife recourse. Education and development programmes are essential for long term change,
                                                              however they need time to work and with-
                                                              out a concerted, professional anti poach-
                                                              ing effort, we will run out of time.

                                                                Our thanks and sincerest appreciation
                                                                goes out to the Officer in Charge, Dete,
                                                                The Warden at Hwange Main Camp and
                                                                the Supervisor at Forestry Commission in
                                                                Dete for their help. Above all, we would
                                                                like to express our gratitude to the organi-
                                                                sations and individuals alike, who continue
                                                                with their committed support of our anti
                                                                poaching efforts.

                                                                Peter Blinston
A small percentage of the snares recovered by the anti poach-
ing team over the past few years

On 12th August 2006, PCT manned a fundraising stall at the Chester Cat Show, held at the North-
gate Arena in Chester. The day was a success with a number of visitors expressing interest in learn-
ing more about PCT and the projects we support, and over £200 raised for PCT's work.


Over the past few months the website has been considerably expanded. We have added information
on more carnivore species (around a dozen new ones added) as well as a new educational section
which gives an introduction to some of the techniques used in conservation such as darting, use of
radio telemetry, and carrying out animal population counts.
In addition to the new information pages, the photo gallery section has been significantly increased in
size with over a hundred new photos added.
The site also includes all the updates from the Brown Hyena Research Project, and the Painted Dog
Conservation project.
The expansion of the site has also helped bring more visitors, with the site now regularly receiving
around 14,000 visitors each month.

Supporters can help raise funds for PCT by using our search page. We have teamed up with
ClickNow to offer a search page. Every time someone uses this page they are helping PCT finan-
cially. ClickNow advise that the average user would if they use ClickNow for all their web searches,
generate £4 (around US $6) per month for PCT. If all our supporters were to use this search page
then that would generate a significant amount of money and would enable us to fund even more de-
serving conservation work. The ClickNow page includes a link to add it to your favourites to make it
easier for you to use it to help support PCT.

To use our search page, you can visit our website - and click on the
ClickNow button on any of the pages.

The ClickNow button you will see on our website


Lise is currently in the process of applying for a research permit for a planned
field project.

As with Government departments everywhere there are procedures to be ad-
hered to and this can take time.

We hope to be able to bring you more news in future newsletters.

PCT (UK), 29 Pensby Avenue, Chester, CH2 2DD, Tel 01244-381429

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