Teeing up to conserve wildlife, environment

VFAPU scouts working as part of a team treating a snared buffalo and releasing it back in the forest

Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit head of operations Charles Brightman is urging supporters to come out and enjoy a great day of golf knowing that they are playing a vital role in wildlife conservation in one of the world’s most spectacular wilderness areas.

The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching (VFAPU) Golf Day fundraiser will be held at Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club in Harare on Friday September 15, offering golf enthusiasts the opportunity to help conserve Zimbabwe’s wildlife through participating.

There is also the opportunity for businesses or individuals to support VFAPU by sponsoring a hole or putting up gin tents in the event organised by hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) in which 32 teams will tee off for charity.

Supporters may also sponsor a scout or donate funds and/or equipment to VFAPU. The VFAPU Golf Day will also include lunch, drinks, evening snacks and an auction, as well as some incredible prizes up for grabs.

Brightman said the funds raised through this annual event are vital in ensuring that VFAPU’s work conserving the wildlife and natural resources within a 50km radius of Victoria Falls could continue.

A record US$44 000 was raised through the VFAPU golf day last year, which was used towards the costs of running the unit, such as the scouts’ salaries, repairs and maintenance of equipment, as well as fuel and field equipment, Brightman said.

“Africa Albida Tourism’s VFAPU Golf Day has made a great difference in easing the pressure and challenges faced when trying to keep the unit in operation. This event, over the years, has been such a great boost for the whole team at VFAPU,” he said.

Equipment donations of items such as bicycles, Land Rover tyres, boots, LED flashlights, and cell phones with 4G capabilities would also be welcomed, he said.

AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy said the task of looking after wildlife and conserving the natural environment in Zimbabwe and in the region needed to be taken on with clarity and energy, ensuring that VFAPU’s fantastic work over the last 24 years was maintained.

“We are very proud to be part of this process and the incredible work VFAPU does, and your support remains terribly important to those who do the work in the field and who commit a large chunk of their professional lives, energy and knowledge to it,” Kennedy said.

“VFAPU is working with other stakeholders in Victoria Falls and the region to combine their efforts to maximise the benefits to conservation and the wildlife and therefore to us in general as citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We urge everybody, loyal and faithful supporters as well as new ones to support this day in which every single dollar raised goes straight to the VFAPU Trust,” he said.

AAT handles all the administrative costs of the fundraiser.

Last year alone, the VFAPU scouts arrested 91 poachers, removed 590 snares, and rescued and rehabilitated 24 mammals injured in snares, but sadly also found the poached remains of 34 animals.

Since VFAPU was established in 1999, the unit has arrested nearly 1 000 hardened poachers, removed almost 31 000 wire snares from their area of patrol and rescued 430 mammals injured in snares, treating them and releasing them back into the wild.

VFAPU, which works closely with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Victoria Falls City Council, has 16 scouts patrolling seven days a week.

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