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December 19, 2015

Wilderness Conservancy and its Project CARE have survived by doing what most Americans do - not spending more than comes in. It is a small foundation with a small budget. Your donations go 100% to our projects and are vital in sustaining them. Without your support Wilderness Conservancy could not succeed. Your donations are not wasted and do not go to salaries, administration or expense accounts. Wilderness Conservancy has no paid employees and all who help, donate their time, skill and expenses – including me.

Prelude - I am sad to report that my mentor, Dr. Ian C. Player, passed away at the age of 87 on November 30, 2014. In the 1950s Ian devised and headed up “Operation Rhinoceros” for the Natal Parks Board which saved the white rhino from extinction. Nearly all white rhino worldwide today are the product of that operation. He fought the battle against the wanton killing of rhinos all his life and I have been proud to be his friend since 1964.

Over the past several years the killing of rhino and elephant in Africa has grown substantially as a result of the demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory in, primarily, China. Rhino have been wiped out in Mozambique and elephants are being killed on a daily basis. Hundreds of rhino were killed in 2014 in South Africa alone. Wilderness Conservancy has mounted a campaign to help fund the foundation Dr. Player founded several years ago called the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation to provide fuel for the helicopters that fly daily antipoaching missions in the game reserves of KwaZulu/Natal. These are privately owned helicopters and fixed wing aircraft being donated in this major effort. Aviation fuel cost well over US$10.00 per gallon in South Africa and constitutes a major part of the antipoaching expense.

NOTE:  Some of the following is an update of material contained in my report to donors of 2013.
ELEPHANT FAMILY: Our donors can be very proud of their funding of the purchase of the family of nine elephants in 1996 from the National Parks Board of South Africa. They were due to be shot in order to reduce the then burgeoning elephant population in Kruger National Park. They now flourish in Shamwari Game Reserve and have multiplied to more than 24.  

NAMIBIA: The 1978 Scout aircraft is in Namibia and is operated by Carl Hilker in support of the Cheetah Conservation Fund of Laurie Marker – featured in the December 1999 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Project 1. Catapu near the Zambezi: As reported in the “REPORT TO DONORS - 2012”, “TCT Industrias Florestais, Lda - Mobilias Dalmann is a large timber company headquartered in Beira. It harvests various species of Mozambique timber and replaces each tree harvested with at least 12 young trees. TCT was created at the end of the Rhodesian war and it commenced its timber projects at Catapu near the Zambezi River in a very remote region. During the Rhodesian war the terrorists who were battling the Rhodesian security forces were mainly based in camps in Mozambique. They nearly wiped out indigenous wildlife. Early on TCT attempted to protect the remaining wildlife but it was nearly impossible given the political reality in Mozambique at the time. However, as the political and timber concession began to improve, efforts were made by TCT to expand its protection of wildlife. In the region nearly void of wildlife, which had been abundant in the 1960s, there were no wildlife conservation organizations willing to help restore the fauna. Dr. Cleaves had visited the area several times in the 1980s, 1990s and early in 2000s and was acquainted with the President of  TCT, James White. In early 2012 Mr. White made a proposal to Wilderness Conservancy: in years gone by herds of Cape Buffalo roamed the area but due to the lack of water they seasonally migrated into areas where they were heavily hunted. If Wilderness Conservancy would fund the drilling of two boreholes, water would be abundant year round and the Cape Buffalo might well remain in the Catapu area under the protection of TCT and its small group of game rangers.” Wilderness Conservancy agreed and the two bore holes were drilled and did, indeed, produce the water projected and more. In turn the Cape Buffalo have returned and have stayed in the protected area, as have many other species of wildlife. Wilderness Conservancy has also provided uniforms and other essentials for the game rangers and many poachers have been arrested and prosecuted.”

Since the above report Dr. Cleaves visited Catapu and found that the two boreholes had, indeed, produced far more water than expected, that two large pans had been filled with year around water, and that wildlife and vegetation had returned. In addition, Cape Hunting Dogs have also returned as well as leopard and numerous other species not having been seen for many years. Dr. Cleaves also delivered a Panorama 150 motion activated infra red camera to be mounted on various poacher incursion trails. That camera, on the first night of placement, photographed two poachers and registered the date, time and GPS location. James White presented the photo to the local village chief and he identified the two men and they were arrested and prosecuted.

The small contingent of 14 game guards employed by TCT were equipped with military type uniforms and bush kits supplied by funds donated by Wilderness Conservancy and with a state-of-the-art night vision head sets to allow them to see in the dark. This gear, along with the Panorama camera, have served to spread the word amongst the local villages that Mr. White is a “witch doctor” that can see in the dark and take photos which, in turn, has served to reduce the poaching dramatically.

Project 2. Niassa National Park: Niassa is the third largest game reserve in the world and is in the remote north of Mozambique. Rhinos have been wiped out in Niassa and elephants are being slaughtered by the hundreds. There are virtually no antipoaching operations there and Wilderness Conservancy is partnering with the Wildlife Foundation of South Africa to provide a Bantam B22J light aircraft along with pilot and ground teams to fight this slaughter. It was operational in 2014 and reports will be forthcoming.

Project 3. Gorongoza National Park: This park/game reserve was, before the Rhodesian bush war mentioned above, and the Mozambique civil war (now past), the premier reserve in Mozambique. The effort to bring back the wildlife of the Gorongoza began earlier in 2015 headed by two Americans, Mike Marchington and Greg Carr. Mike and Greg have liaised with the Mozambique government and have been training and equipping local men in large numbers as game management teams inclusive of antipoaching units. They have also brought in wildlife from other areas to reestablish viable populations of wildlife. The one asset they needed badly was an aircraft to patrol the mountainous terrain as well as the lowlands adjacent. Wilderness Conservancy funded a new BatHawk aircraft with state-of-the-art equipment. The BatHawk manufacture was completed in November 2015, and is now in the process of being imported into Mozambique from South Africa. It should be fully operational in early December and will be reported on in an upcoming Report to Donors.



(Veteran’s Administration) As reported in the October 1, 2012, report: “For more than 20 years, Tony Bravo, a barber, has donated his time to giving veterans free haircuts. The barber shop is located in a trailer which Mr. Bravo furnished on the West Los Angeles campus of the Veteran’s Administration. The trailer is well over 40 years old and is in very bad condition. The roof leaks badly when it rains and, given the lack of air-conditioning, is extremely hot in the summer months. Wilderness Conservancy’s Project CARE has undertaken to repair and upgrade the barber shop trailer with the approval of the VA.” It now has a new water proof roof and a shade awning so that wheelchair bound vets (who could not get into the trailer for a haircut because it did not have wheelchair access) can be given a haircut under the new awning just outside the trailer main door. This project has been completed and the barber shop now has a new waterproof roof, is secured to the ground, has a shade awning allowing wheelchair bound vets to be served easily, has air-conditioning for summer and heat for winter, a new paint job and many more improvements.






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