Giving Back to the Community
The conception of the Bubye Valley Conservancy required an incredible amount of foresight and planning – and those wise enough to envision this eden were clearly also smart enough to realise that in wildlife and conservation there is no success unless you have the support of the surrounding communities.
The vast wilderness of the Bubye Valley Conservancy could be tempting as a source of bush-meat to the surrounding villages – and indeed it is; donating over 45 tonnes of meat to the local communities each year.
In addition to this, the Bubye Valley Conservancy supports schools, clinics, and community projects in the three surrounding districts (Mwenezi, Maranda and Jopempe). This community support costs the Bubye Valley Conservancy over US$ 100,000.00 per year – but investing in the future and well-being of ones neighbours can hardly be considered a burden.
Because of the incredible support provided to the local communities over the years, the General Manager of the Bubye Valley Conservancy, Blondie Leathem, has been invited as the Guest of Honour to the Zhophembe Primary School’s 1st Annual Speech and Prize Giving Day at the end of the 2015 school year.
The Bubye Valley Conservancy built the classrooms, drilled the boreholes, put up the fresh water storage tanks, and supports the school on a monthly basis with meat donations which they can sell to raise money for the school.
This courteous recognition by the school of the role that the Bubye Valley Conservancy plays in the future of so many young lives truly is an honour for Blondie, who is really looking forward to attending this special day.
The Bubye Valley Conservancy was privileged to host the Falcon College Natural History Society at Ngali Camp in 2015. Bubye Valley Conservancy PH Pete Fick and the school teachers led the group in activities such as guided walks, game viewing, and bird watching, including setting a carcass bait and camera-traps to attract and record vultures and mammalian predators. To a boy, this group was enthusiastic and interested in everything to do with the bush and wildlife.
On the first afternoon, after being subjected to a talk about conservation research by Dr Byron du Preez, we took the boys out to track two of the lion research project’s favourite lions, Winston and Geronimo. While Geronimo did his normal trick of moving into thicker bush as soon as he saw us, Winston as always was very relaxed and allowed us to sit with him and discuss the research and wildlife conservation in greater detail, as he posed for photos.
After leaving the lions in peace, the kids were given the opportunity to do some falconry, led by one of the school masters. Despite using young birds, they were already very adept hunters, and the one managed to grab a francolin after only a short sprint.
It was very rewarding taking such an enthusiastic and well mannered group of youngsters out into the bush, and on top of that, they even made a very generous donation to our conservation efforts which they did not need to do, but which was very gratefully received.
Aspects of both these incredibly complex topics have been covered in various other sections of bubyevalleyconservancy.com, however we think that it is important to make it clear that both of these species are national treasures – with the rhinos not even belonging to the shareholders of the Bubye Valley Conservancy, who nonetheless spend over US$ 300,000.00 per year and employ 80 armed scouts and 92 guards and fence guards specifically for their protection. Rhinos are a legacy that our children, the Zimbabwean children, deserve the right to grow up alongside and be able to pass on to their children.
Likewise, since 2009 the shareholders of the Bubye Valley Conservancy have allowed a conservation research team to be based in their accomodation, and draw on their diesel and stores and garages, so that together we can ensure that the pertinent research is achieved – enlightening both the scientific community and government policy-makers alike – and ultimately that the conservation status of lions remains positive in an age where emotions more than sense drive the decisions made.