Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Temic poison used to wipe out at painted dogs at Notugre wild dog camp

Notugre is a conservation area near the Tuli Block in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. This is Andre Synman's personal account of the poison attacks: Recent illegal activities inside Notugre have resulted in the termination of the last remaining wild dogs. With the death of two wild dogs at Talana Farm still fresh in our minds (20th May 2012), the last remaining pack members, including the alpha female, have been poisoned to death by local Motswana men. During the end of June 2012 the alpha female of the pack started showing signs of pregnancy. The pack then settled in the northern section of Luenza property in what looked like a possible denning area. Around the 4th & 5th of July the female gave birth. Number and sex of pups were unknown. Tragically on the 6th of July two men from a nearby cattle post walked into the den site and laced carcasses with highly poisonous Temic in a deliberate attempt to kill these carnivores. After investigation of the site, two wild dogs, a large male leopard, African wild cat and an African Hawk Eagle was found dead within a 70m radius of the den. An impala - and a goat carcass was found laced with Temic. The goat carcass was found high up in a Leadwood tree, cached by a leopard. The spoor of the cat was quickly traced and the body of the leopard found not 30m away. The tracks of two men were easily traced back to a nearby cattle post and apprehended. Reports indicate that these men apparently lost two goats to predators on the 5th of July 2012, possibly by the wild dog pack, but it could also be from spotted hyaenas. The men then returned to their cattle post to fetch Temic-poison, which they apparently bought from someone at Talana Farm. The men then went back to the two goat carcasses and carried it closer to the den site, which they admitted knowing was there. They were also after a large male leopard, which they knew were walking along a specific drainage line, close to the den. They then laced both carcasses with Temic but then found the remains of an impala carcass close to the den, which they then also laced. What happened next is what we could figure out from tracks and spoor. The male leopard walked along the drainage line and found one of the goat carcasses. It then dragged it to the nearest tree and cached it up there. While the leopard was feeding on this poisoned carcass, the wild dogs then returned to their den, having been scared off by these poachers, and presumable fed on the last remaining poisoned scraps of the impala carcass. Needless to say, every animal that fed on these carcasses died within 30m of each. These include the African Hawk Eagle and African wild cat. These are only the animals we could find and it is believed that there could be more dead predators in the surrounding area. Regarding the pups, I personally crawled into the den with a torch to search for any pups, but I found none. The second poisoned goat carcass was apparently burned by these culprits, on hearing the commotion of vehicles from their crime scene. What will happen to these men? Will the penalties for these poachers be severe enough, or will they just get a slap-on-the-wrist from the authorities? They are both between the ages of 24 to 26 and live with their parents at this cattle post. It's located just north of the Lentswe Le Moriti four ways crossing. What makes matters ever worse is that in 2007, Rex Masupe from Mashatu Anti-poaching, found a dead cheetah at this cattle post. Killed by this same family. You have to wonder, how long have these people been poisoning and killing our carnivores? This right under our noses. In 2008 a single lioness was found dead along the main road past this cattle post. Cause of death was poisoning. Furthermore, in 2010, between 4 to 5 spotted hyaenas and one leopard carcass was found scattered along the main road past this same cattle post - all carcasses were poisoned. Coincidence, I think not... This senseless act of hatred towards carnivores is a major setback and waste of countless hours of research, financial support, political backup and commercial publicity and marketing. If people are going to live inside Notugre with livestock, our predators are in serious peril. They will not survive. If not for the use of GPS collars, we would have never known the fate of these animals. How many more do we not even know about? It was Armageddon for the wild dogs. What's next, our lions? Cheetah? Regards, Andrei Snyman Source: Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce

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