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JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

DR MICHAEL D. KOCK


THROUGH MY EYES JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN DR MICHAEL D. KOCK


Copyright © 2019 Dr Michael D. Kock All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission from the copyright owner. Published by: IWVS (Africa) PO Box 106 Greyton 7233 South Africa Cover design: Paula Wood Designer: Paula Wood Editor: Kathleen Sutton Project manager and print production: Les Martens, SA Media Services, Cape Town Illustrations and photographs: © Michael D. Kock unless stated otherwise WCS is acknowledged for providing the enabling environment for the shooting of many of the photographs displayed in this book. Peace Parks Foundation kindly supplied the country maps.

ISBN 978-0-620-82883-3

Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. — ANON —


DEDICATION

To my late father, Stephan, my mother, Joan, and brothers, Egmont and Richard. It has been a full life, a turbulent life, but I am happy to do it all over again.


Bull elephant herd, Sudd swamp, South Sudan, 2011. A magnificent group of elephants with good ivory. It is likely that by the time of writing many of these elephants will have been poached. South Sudan has been wracked by civil war and conservation programmes stalled. The fate of these animals and others is unknown. With a tenuous peace process in 2019, their future is still uncertain.


Inselbergs and EC130 helicopter: the Niassa National Reserve in Northern Mozambique is characterised by big river systems, miombo woodland and pockets of giant inselbergs – rocky outcrops – many with their own mini-ecosystems on top and many only accessible by helicopter. Pilot Phil Mathews and Mozambique veterinarian Dr Carlos Lopez Pereira.


CONTENTS

Zimbabwe

9 FOREWORD

11 INTRODUCTION 13 CHAPTER 1

UK, USA and Qatar

39

CHAPTER 2 Zimbabwe

111

CHAPTER 3 Botswana

129

CHAPTER 4 Namibia

145

CHAPTER 5

Mozambique

217

CHAPTER 6

South Africa

265

CHAPTER 7

Cameroon – The Savanna

301

CHAPTER 8

Tropical Forest

385

CHAPTER 9

South Sudan

431

CHAPTER 10

Ethiopia

465

CHAPTER 11

Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania

527

CHAPTER 12

A Fishy Story – Around the World in 46 Days

569

CHAPTER 13

Land Rovers

585

CHAPTER 14

Reflections

Ethiopia

India

Tanzania

Mozambique


FOREWORD It is a very special pleasure and a privilege to write the Foreword for a remarkable autobiography by veterinarian Michael Kock who is not only an exceptionally talented photographer but also has that rare discernment to look beyond the often platitudinous justifications for conservation of the animals and their habitats he has encountered. The romantic view of wildlife roaming free in nature and independent of humans is a fantasy.

I don’t trust words. I trust pictures. — GILLES PEREZ —

I admire anyone who challenges orthodoxy. Through My Eyes has addressed with refreshing courage and an acute awareness that the people who live close to the animals hold the key to their sustainable future. If conservation of these species is to succeed, we must address immediate issues of poverty, high rates of human population growth, accelerating land transformation, the pervasive problems linked to corruption, and, above all, the need to educate and mentor the leaders of the future. Michael Kock’s involvement in the innovative AHEAD (Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development) programme since its inception encapsulates his genuine commitment to working with people, as do the many superb photographs of the extraordinary heterogeneity of the communities and individuals he encountered. In addition to these serious topics, Through My Eyes has a much lighter and most entertaining number of insouciant anecdotes of a fascinating and totally fulfilling life. All of these will surely stimulate any intrepid young person who wants a career full of exciting challenges and opportunities not only to become a wildlife vet, but also to embrace the vision to appreciate such opportunities as the valuable contribution that an inspirational group of actors from Theatre for Africa can make to inspire a message of hope for the future. Michael Kock is clearly at peace with the world and himself when he is in untransformed wilderness areas, particularly in wild and remote parts of Africa, becoming poetic in his prose, and even penning a poem on his encounter with a leopard! But it is the photographic presentations that make this such a remarkable production, not only the moody and evocative landscapes often populated with an extraordinary celebration of biological diversity, but also the many great images he has captured of the human beings who are such an integral part of the world he has experienced and come to understand. I hope this book will encourage others to strive to leave the world a better place than we found it. JOHN HANKS Former CEO of WWF-SA and Peace Parks Foundation

Gas Flare, Gamba Complex, Gabon In 2004, this gas flare could be seen from space. It has now been extinguished as Shell endeavours to reduce pollution in response to climate change. The flare burned 24/7, come rain or shine. Birds, such as these woolly-neck storks (Ciconia episcopus) and a single egret (Bubulcus ibis), catch insects attracted to the light. Forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis), forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) and other creatures are attracted to the warmth. Tracks of a variety of forest creatures can be found around these flares. The Gamba Complex is one of the main oil-producing regions in Gabon. The author worked in the Complex, which lies close to the Atlantic Ocean, tracking and immobilising forest elephant (see Chapter 8: Tropical Forest).

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The author, with Baka trackers, working on an immobilised forest elephant deep in the tropical forest wilderness near to LangouÊ Bai, Ivindo National Park, Gabon. It was early morning – a dark forest necessitates the use of a head lamp, making the tracking skills of the Baka even more remarkable.

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INTRODUCTION Over the years, I have often been told by family, friends and acquaintances, ‘You have a story to tell, write a book!’ Storytelling is a fundamental part of human nature and many cultures. Some books are non-fiction, based on real events and memories; others are fiction. Fictional stories are woven around imagination, but sometimes guided by real experiences and perceptions. I have reflected over the years about sharing over 43 years of veterinary work, 39 of these as a wildlife veterinarian, through storytelling. I can spin a good yarn, even better when it is based on real events in some remote location in Africa. This journey of mine deals with some deadly serious issues, blood and gore, but equally is laced with plenty of humour. For example, some of my favourite stories revolve around encounters with honey badgers, irascible creatures often referred to as ‘pocket battleships’. One of these stories is buried within this book and involves a wildlife veterinarian (me), a frozen chicken and a honey badger – a good story awaits you. This will not be the first autobiographical book written by a veterinarian, and indeed it will not be the last. The most famous author who spun some delightful animal and people yarns was ’James Herriot’, who wrote about country vet practice in Yorkshire, England. Interestingly, he started writing in his 50s. He was far too busy wrestling pigs and chasing uncooperative and often irate bulls in the Yorkshire Dales prior to that. Indeed, his early years were the years of collecting stories and experiences that allowed him to spin a good yarn later on. If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet (1972) were his earlier books. Later, there were compilations specifically for the USA market, notably All Creatures Great and Small (1972), All Things Bright and Beautiful (1974) and All Things Wise and Wonderful (1977). James Herriot was a pseudonym, his real name was James Alfred ‘Alf’ Wight, OBE, FRCVS, and he was the guest speaker at my Vet Graduation dinner in April 1976 in London. Forty-three years later, I am at my desk at the age of 65, scanning photographs and tapping away at the keyboard. To be honest, writing a book consisting purely of text is not something that I feel comfortable with. You have to get it right. You probably should have been studious over the years, keeping a diary and remembering who was who, names, places, events. I just do not want to get names wrong, or include incorrect spelling or ‘fake’ news. I have always struggled to keep a daily diary of my experiences, mainly because the work I did in the field was hard, in a tough, often uncompromising environment, and by the end of the day the last thing on my mind was to sit down and write – after quaffing a beer and eating some food, to bed I went.

© Carlton Ward Jr

Preparing an elephant dart, Gamba Complex, Gabon

So my approach was and is different, making this a unique autobiographical book. I have always been a keen photographer and over 40 years as a veterinarian I have always had my camera with me. In the very early days, it was a Russian camera (Zenit E) shooting print and slide film; later in the digital age I worked with professional Nikon cameras (D3 and D810). I took pictures of my work: field operations, animals, people, vehicles, landscapes, equipment, poached animals, snares, rivers, aircraft, helicopters, so on and so forth. I managed to combine hard work with picture taking, one complementing the other. My mantra, therefore, is ‘a picture is really worth a thousand words’ and my library of photographs is the record of my professional life, it is my ‘diary’. So whilst I have pondered on suggestions that I write a book, I realised that what I do and have done has a strong visual component, dynamic and tactile, and I have a record spanning four decades. With my photographs, slides have been scanned at high resolution and with the advent of digital photography, pictures have been shot in RAW and processed into JPEG files, then stored and backed up. Fortunately, I have been diligent about filing my photographs, in contrast to my lack of rigour in keeping a diary. So once I located the first batch of photographs from the 1980s and worked my way through to the 1990s and on into the years 2000–2019, I had a pictorial journey and story to tell. My photographs are tremendously varied and unique, but all tell a story: they are unusual both regarding location and events, epic and bloody (yes, in many instances what I see and do is not for the squeamish). Some are – I think – beautiful, all are informative and provide a learning experience. In fact, over the years of picture taking with my work as a wildlife veterinarian, the accumulation of details, animals, techniques, equipment and so on, resulted in the

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www.wildlifecaptureafrica.com

publication of a training and field manual entitled Chemical and Physical Restraint of Wild Animals: A Training and Field Manual for African Species (ISBN 978-062052162-8). The cover of the Second Edition (2012) of this book is pictured above. The book has helped many wildlife veterinarians and wildlife field managers increase their skills and knowledge, and maintain a high degree of professionalism. The photographs in the book are almost all mine and the value of this can be read in the comment of a longstanding professional colleague and friend, Dr David Jessup: ‘Chemical and Physical

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Restraint of Wild Animals is a treasure trove of wildlife capture information, hard won experience, drug dosages and techniques that work in the field, and a very useful training tool indeed. It is excellently photographed and illustrated, and so visual it is almost tactile. It contains a uniquely African perspective and focus not to be found in any other book on the subject – a “must” for all wildlife and zoo vets, and wildlife professionals who work on African species.’ So visual and tactile, welcome to my professional world. Enjoy the journey.


CHAPTER FIVE Mozambique


MOZAMBIQUE: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

A kaleidoscope of colour and diversity, ocean currents and trade, woodland and inselbergs Arab, Persian and Somali traders in the 11th century influenced the development of the country, with Swahili one of the main coastal languages. Vasco da Gama’s voyage in 1498 marked the arrival of the Portuguese and the beginning of colonisation. Portuguese was soon adopted as the official language. Mozambique gained its independence in 1975, with the collapse of the right-wing government in Portugal, when a leftist military coup in Lisbon replaced Portugal’s Estado Novo regime with a military junta – the Carnation Revolution of April 1974. Most colonial Portuguese left Mozambique soon after 1975 and returned to Portugal, many penniless. Before 1975, the Mozambique War of Independence was fought by the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) who initiated a guerrilla campaign against Portuguese rule (1964–1974). Unfortunately, after only two years of independence, the country descended into an intense and protracted civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992 with the main protagonists being FRELIMO versus RENAMO, with neighbouring countries including Rhodesia and South Africa providing a destabilising influence. In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and has since remained a relatively stable presidential republic, although it still faces a low-intensity insurgency between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Afonso Dhlakama, leader of RENAMO, died in May 2018 in Gorongosa, which paved the way towards conflict resolution, bringing with it some stability. There are major issues with governance and corruption, and a recent report regarding a $2 billion secret debt, investigated through an international forensic audit (the Kroll Report), has highlighted the issue of corruption. Major donors such as the IMF have suspended all aid until issues surrounding the Kroll Report are dealt with; the Government seems reluctant to do this. The current President Nyusi, unlike his predecessor, appears to be trying to deal with the issue of poor governance and corruption. A large gas find off the Mozambique coast in the north promises positive economic change. However, in 2018/2019, a coastal insurgency in Cabo Delgado, associated with the local militant Islamic group ‘Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Hamo’, has been gathering momentum. An attack occurred on Anardarko Petroleum Corp employees near to Palma on 21 February 2019, with a death and beheading, and several injuries. Another attack occurred on 23 February with six people killed and several injured. This is a major concern to many, including potential negative impacts on tourism on the coast and in Niassa NR.

Vamizi Island close to Cabo Delgado Province, an idyllic tropical paradise

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Mozambique is 801,590 km2 (309,500 sq mi) in area with a coastline that stretches for 2,470 km from South Africa in the south to Tanzania and the Rovuma River in the north (see map page 148). Mozambique is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital and largest city is Maputo. The country is divided into two topographical regions by the Zambezi River. To the north of the Zambezi River, the narrow coastal strip gives way to inland hills and low plateaus. Rugged highlands are further west. They include the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau, covered with miombo woodlands. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebombo mountains located in the deep south. The country’s natural beauty, wildlife and historic heritage provide opportunities for beach, cultural activities and ecotourism.


ADVENTURES IN MOZAMBIQUE

Conservation and communities, healthy people and ecosystems, transfrontier conservation, elephant in trouble My first exposure to this country, as a wildlife veterinarian, was in 2003, when I visited the north of the country to celebrate my 50th birthday. Subsequent to that, I have spent the last 15 years working in Mozambique on a variety of projects, the majority with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for whom I worked full time from 2003 to 2012. These projects, in partnership with the Mozambique Government, have varied from surveying communities who live in conservation areas from the perspective of their health, welfare and livelihoods, to lion and elephant work in Niassa National Reserve (NNR). Mozambique can engender euphoria one moment, then a crash the next – a delightfully chaotic country. Before I elaborate on specific work done as a wildlife veterinarian in Mozambique, the following pages illustrate the beauty of this country from south to north. My first photographic story is my 50th birthday spent on a remote tropical island and the rest follows.

Picture left: Inselbergs, typical of the northern part of Mozambique, towering over the road to Niassa National Reserve (NNR). NNR would be a place I would get to know well. Picture below: The tropical heat can be tough and an afternoon siesta in Cabo Delgado is the answer.

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Fisherwoman on the beach in Pemba, Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique

Going about one’s daily life, Macia, Gaza province

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A glimpse of the beauty of Mozambique

Coastal Mozambique: River and mangroves, coastline of Cabo Delgado looking north, Cabo Delgado province

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Inland Mozambique: Lake Chuali at sunset, Great white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) flying in for the night, Gaza province

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Inland Mozambique: Classic Niassa scene, aloes and grasses on top of an inselberg, sun setting over a wild and remote terrain

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Coastal Mozambique: Fishing for small silvery fish in the shallow waters off Pemba, a daily routine for these fisherwomen, Cabo Delgado province

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Inland Mozambique: Herding cattle through the mopane (Colophospermum mopane), livestock are a critical part of rural livelihoods, Limpopo National Park, Gaza province


Left: Mangrove flats on Ibo Island, sailing dhow resting on sand at low tide Top left: Vamizi Island Top right: Chris Cox and Julie Garnier, innovative and passionate conservationists working in paradise!

Cabo Delgado adventures In 2002, I was back in the USA at UC Davis working at the Wildlife Health Center (WHC), School of Veterinary Medicine, under Dr Jonna Mazet and Dr Walter Boyce. I was tasked with running a resource assessment programme, a joint programme with the CDFG and WHC. Jonna had contacted me offering me the position and I accepted, flying from South Africa to California. Whilst at Davis, I turned 50 on 18 March 2003. Prior to this date, I had decided that I would celebrate my 50th in the most remote place I could find. I planned the trip with close friends, John and Marsha Anderson, who were particularly interested in fishing, and bone fishing at that. I had friends who were running an innovative project in northern Mozambique on an island called Vamizi in Cabo Delgado Province, not far from the Tanzanian border. The programme involved combining the upgrading of the island with a tourist lodge and developing conservation projects in partnership with communities on the mainland, who had a history of occupation and fishing around Vamizi (see details next page). In March 2003, a week before my 50th, John, Marsha and I flew from San Francisco to Dar es Salaam, and then to Pemba, northern Mozambique. We spent two weeks on Vamizi with Dr Julie Garnier and Chris Cox. We explored the island, swam and snorkelled in pristine waters, fished, and ate a couple of lobsters on my birthday, washed down with two bottles of champagne. To the south of Vamizi is the Quirimbas Archipelago, with the Quirimbas National Park encompassing ocean and land to the west. The Cabo Delgado coastline harbours so many historical gems, including Ile de Mozambique (Mozambique Island), which the Portuguese gained control of in the early 16th century. The island is a treasure trove of Mozambique’s past, famous for silversmiths, slave pits, an old fort and chapel, cannons and a causeway connecting it to the mainland.

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Maluane/Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project In the late 1990s, Julie and Chris discovered one of the most pristine and biodiverse, but unchartered, places left in Africa, Cabo Delgado and Vamizi Island – Maluane/ Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project was born. For 10 years from 1998, Julie and Chris developed conservation and community programmes for the project, in partnership with local communities, government and local scientists and international NGOs, while building capacity in resource management. Projects included the creation of community-based conservation areas, both marine and terrestrial, research and protection of endangered ecosystems and species (elephants, turtles, whales, coral reefs and mangroves, coastal forests), land-use planning to allow for the co-existence of different uses (conservation, local use, tourism) as well as the management of human-wildlife conflict. Julie’s work with local communities focused on women and the development of alternative livelihood systems to reduce poverty and pressure on ecosystems, as well as social projects to improve access to basic needs (water, education, health). The Odyssey Conservation Trust was formed soon after Julie and Chris left Mozambique in 2008. The Trust is based upon their own experience in the field, working for 20 years with local communities in biodiversity-rich areas, and on the acknowledgment that local communities, and especially women, are the keystone to maintaining ecosystem health for present and future generations (www.odysseyconservationtrust.com).

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Storm over the Indian Ocean, dwarfing a lobster fishing boat, Vamizi Island, Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique

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a. Coconut crab (Birgus latro) in the forest, Vamizi Island. b. Freshly caught lobster. We put out a request for lobster for my birthday. c. More lobster, choosing lunch. d. The waters around Vamizi are pristine with spectacular reefs so fish abound. e. John showing local turtle monitors a collection of fishing flies, fascination all around

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f Main picture: Marsha and John heading for the flats and elusive bone fish, or just any fish! f. and g. Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) being injected with an ID transponder and measured before release

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a. Samango monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis) in the forest on Vamizi Island. b. Samango monkey and human prints on the beach. The monkeys will forage along the sand in tide pools at low tide. c. Completed luxury lodge, jewel on the island with strong community connections. d. Major Dade, John and Marsha, aquamarine waters

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Author and John Anderson with a beautiful kingfish caught in the shallows

Small sailing dhow with single fisherperson

Fishing is one of the main occupations along the Mozambique coastline, the majority of inshore boats use sails.

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Ilha de Moçambique

a. Low tide on Mozambique Island, one of the many churches on a peninsula b. Cross (1498–1998) commemorating Mozambique Island and its religious connection c. 1824 engraved cannon in the fort d. Old coffin in a church, weathered walls e. One of several churches on the island, fishing nets piled in front f. Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, next to the old fort g. Selling fish door to door h. Reef fish i. Traditional door j. Child and bicycle

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k. Fort São Sebastião on Ilha de Moçambique. Prior to 1898, Ilha de Moçambique was the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa. It is an island connected to the mainland by a causeway and lies within the province of Nampula. The island was a major Arab port and boat-building centre in the years before Vasco da Gama visited in 1498. Subsequently, the Portuguese established a port and naval base in 1507 and built the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte in 1522. Historically, it saw the trading of slaves, spices and gold but with the opening of the Suez Canal the fortunes of the island waned. The capital of Mozambique was moved south to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). l. Old grave of bishop, letters carved in stone in the chapel (see Bishop’s hat) m. Secondary fort n. Inner courtyard of the Fort São Sebastião

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Elephant conservation work in Mozambique - not for the faint-hearted From 2007 through to 2018, I spent a considerable amount of my professional time working with elephant throughout Mozambique, mostly with WCS. I have specialised over my many years as a wildlife veterinarian working with charismatic megaherbivores such as elephant and rhino. But I have become increasingly frustrated and disillusioned in recent years by the escalating poaching threat. In short, I have become tired of seeing dead elephant. No more so was this true than in Niassa National Reserve (NNR) in the period 2015–2018. Before I got involved in NNR, I worked with Dr Julie Garnier and Chris Cox in 2007, four years after I had seen them on my 50th birthday. The development of the tropical island of Vamizi had been progressing well and a strong community programme inland had been established. Elephant are not African communities’ favourite animals: they are big, threatening, raid your crops and maize storage bins, and often make water collection challenging. They occasionally block paths, preventing access to schools and health clinics and, generally, have a negative influence on rural people’s lives. So wildlife veterinary work with elephant has two components: 1. chemical immobilisation and satellite GPS tracking collar application, and 2. human-wildlife conflict (HWC) mitigation and examining health impacts. In the late 1990s, the elephant along the coastline in Cabo Delgado had been increasingly in conflict with people, especially as human populations grew and migration inwards occurred once all serious conflict in Mozambique had ceased (1992). The Maluane/Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project based out of Vamizi Island needed to be better able to monitor elephant, their movement and impacts on villages inland, so several GPS satellite tracking collars were applied. Whilst working with Julie and Chris, I was also contracted by the Conservation Ecology Research Unit (CERU) at the Mammal Research Institute (MRI), University of Pretoria to assist them in collaring elephant throughout central and northern Mozambique as part of an elephant ranging study. I worked closely with Professor Rudi van Arde and colleagues from CERU, and with Mozambique colleagues, including Dr Agostinho Nazaré de Mengueze, a young veterinary graduate of Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo.

Aerial view of coastal forest in Cabo Delgado with a small herd of elephant in a dambo or clearing. Stressed elephant will find refuges in thick forest or jesse bush to spend the daytime resting, before venturing out late afternoon and through the evening, into early morning. Elephant behaviour has changed significantly with the poaching threat.

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a. Training eco-guards on helicopter safety

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b. The author preparing darts for immobilising elephant, watched by an entire village! c. Female elephant becoming recumbent; her siblings stand next to her d. Author working with an immobilised elephant e. Zoological Society of London (ZSL) eco-guard on a bicycle f. Large bull recently darted (dart can be seen in rump) very close to the beach in Cabo Delgado. The bull is in walking mode as the drugs take effect.

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I mentored Nazaré for several years, helping to build his knowledge and experience as a wildlife veterinarian and conservationist. Nazaré has matured over the years and in 2016, after being with the Government Veterinary Services, based at the GVS Epidemiology Unit in Maputo for most of his career, he joined the Administração Nacional das Áreas de Conservação (ANAC). ANAC is the department responsible for conservation and management of National Parks in Mozambique. The former Director General, Dr Bartholomeu Soto, is a veterinarian. Dr Nazaré was in charge of Conservation Areas but has moved to the Moz Bio programme working with Madyo Couto, project coordinator. Dr Carlos Lopez Pereira is in charge of Law Enforcement and Protection and Dr Alfonso Madope works with Transfrontier ‘Peace’ Parks; both are veterinarians. Dr Carlos and I have worked together over many years and recently on elephant operations in NNR. In 2018, a new Director of ANAC was appointed. Mateus Mutemba is a former Warden of Gorongosa National Park and is not a veterinarian.

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Main picture, above: Dr Nazaré, the author and helicopter pilot Barney O’Hara working with a large elephant bull in the Quirimbas National Park (QNP). This operation was part of WWF’s work in developing and supporting QNP. Top left: Barney’s Hughes 500, the Rolls Royce of game capture helicopters, nicknamed the ‘Egg Yolk’. Barney is giving Nazaré some lessons. Bottom left: Nazaré collecting drugs from his immobilising kit surrounded by a pair of impressive elephant tusks


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a. University of Pretoria CERU researchers, Dr Sam Feirrera, technician Johan Fourie and heli pilot, Frank Molteno, on top of an inselberg in northern Mozambique (2007). Sam is now the Chief Ecologist for SANP based in Kruger NP, South Africa. b. The beauty of northern Mozambique, rock inselberg c. A group of big-tusked bull elephant, unfortunately likely to have been poached in the last several years or some shot by a sport hunter! d. CERU crew collaring an immobilised elephant in miombo woodland, typical of northern Mozambique

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Niassa National Reserve, Niassa Province, northern Mozambique

Niassa National Reserve (NNR)* is a protected area in Cabo Delgado and Niassa Province, northern Mozambique. NNR covers over 42,000 square kilometres and is the largest protected area in the country. Niassa is part of the Eastern Miombo woodlands, which also encompasses parts of Tanzania and Malawi. The reserve is one of the largest miombo woodland ecosystems in the world, with miombo forest covering half of the reserve. The remainder is mostly open savanna, with some wetlands and isolated patches of forest. NNR is characterised by impressive groups of inselbergs (granite mountains), seen graphically in this pictorial journey. There are two big river systems: the Rovuma on the border with Tanzania and; the Lugenda River in the south. The latter is an incredibly productive river in Niassa, with many channels and islands, and is heavily fished by local communities and Tanzanians during the dry season. The reserve is home to Mecula mountain, located at the centre of the park with a height of 1,441 m (4,728 ft).

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The NNR is a multi-use protected area with several concessions in blocks. Some of these blocks are specifically used for hunting, for example, Kombako Safaris is a hunting operation in Block L8 in the east. Other blocks combine some ecotourism with hunting, whilst a few like Mariri Investimentos/Niassa Carnivore Project (Block L5S), Chiulexi Conservancy (Blocks L5N, L6 and R6) and Niassa Wilderness Trust (L7) are run as community conservation areas with developing ecotourism. These latter blocks stretch from the south of the Lugenda River all the way to the Tanzanian border, an area of 10,988 km2. In recent years (2016), these three operations have created the Niassa Conservation Alliance (NCA), which is committed to protection and conservation of eastern Niassa National Reserve with objectives of: Wildlife Conservation through collaboration, harnessing community and political support, sharing knowledge and resources and to develop a viable and profitable tourism destination. *In 2018, the name of NNR was changed to Niassa Special Reserve to conform with new conservation laws and ANAC restructuring. To avoid confusion, NNR will remain in the text of this chapter.


Niassa National Reserve and Mecula mountain (1,441 m), a mountain range considered sacred to the community and a refuge for elephant

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Niassa is unique in that people live in the reserve. Many moved into the reserve during the civil war for safety (as early as 1964) and have stayed – northern Mozambique is remote and undeveloped. More than 35,000 people in 40+ villages live within the boundary of the reserve. The real uniqueness of Niassa is in its size and the challenge is developing a protected area whilst practising conservation with people, villages and towns existing inside the reserve. These communities have livelihoods that they practise and all of this impacts on biodiversity. The presence of large megaherbivores such as elephant creates a number of issues at the interface with people and, under these circumstances, it is very difficult for law enforcement to protect these animals. If, over the long term, NNR can thrive through innovative programmes such as the NCA with support from the Mozambique Government, it could be a model for other protected areas in Africa. As a wildlife veterinarian, I have spent several years working in Niassa and I have travelled and worked in the entire 42,000 km2 of the reserve. I consider my involvement unique, for example, I have done work with lion and elephant that has been conservation and

protection related, but I have spent considerable time working with communities addressing their health and livelihood challenges. I will deal with this and work with NGOs later in this Mozambique journey. Of significance to my pictorial journey, NNR has historically been famous for its elephant herds, and specifically for big, old tuskers. When I first got involved in NNR in 2005 with the Beggs, one would see several big tuskers along the Lugenda River and around their camp – unfortunately no more (see photo memorial to elephant, b. on page 172). The population estimate in 2006 for NNR was 12,000 elephant, by 2016 the number had plunged to an estimated 3,500 elephant. The total elephant count for Mozambique in 2016 was 9,605, with a carcass ratio of 32%. Elephant declined 53% in five years based on the Great Elephant Census (www. greatelephantcensus.com). Within the NNR ecosystem, poaching continues unabated with August 2017 having one of the highest kill rates in a month according to one of the private operators in Niassa. Poachers are shooting groups of elephant to maximise ivory, as ivory size decreases and the number of tuskless animals increases. Key challenges, therefore, have been how to develop mitigating measures to reduce poaching.

Inselbergs and elephant, quintessentially Niassa

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Blood and gore ... a stark reality of conservation work in Africa

Eight elephant were killed whilst we were working in NNR in November 2015. We discovered the fresh carcasses from the helicopter as we returned to HQ, a grisly sight. The poaching gangs are very professional, fearless, fast and masters at disappearing.

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a and c. The shooter has dropped the elephant onto its knees with one brain shot – the ugliness of illegal killing. b. Memorial to dead elephant at Mariri, many are the skulls of big bulls (including a number of 100 pounders). d and e. Two elephant shot early morning close to Mariri’s camp. Shots were heard, anti-poaching response was quick, poachers managed to get ivory from one animal only, the other elephant’s ivory was intact.

The irony of the ‘Freedom Bridge’ between Tanzania and Mozambique, near to the border town of Negamano, weighed heavily on me when I carefully took this picture. The bridge is flanked by two tusks at either end, supposedly to honour the elephant that roamed this area in great numbers when the bridge was built. These ‘cement’ tusks stand as sentinels to rampant poaching, illegal wildlife trading and logging, driven by the Chinese and corrupt Mozambican and Tanzanian officials and nationals.

f. Poachers melted into the multiple channels of the Lugenda River system, impossible to track, like ghosts.

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Helicopter in the 2018 elephant operation, perched on an inselberg, overlooking the Rovuma River and Tanzania

One avenue is to improve monitoring and law enforcement by the use of satellite tracking (GPS) collars. So I have been part of the team working with Niassa’s elephant over the last several years for WCS and the Mozambique Government, placing tracking collars. Unfortunately, elephant with satellite tracking collars are being shot, and collars have been buried in antbear holes or burned in fires started by poachers. The picture bottom left shows Derek Littelton, an armed concession owner (Niassa Wilderness, L7), exiting a helicopter as we searched for a collar buried amongst six dead poached elephant. We eventually found the collar buried deep in an antbear hole.

L7’s Derek Littelton exiting the helicopter armed, as we searched for elephant carcasses amongst inselbergs. GPS collar data from an elephant indicated no movement in the last 24 hours.

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The highest current poaching rates in Africa are in Tanzania and northern Mozambique. With corruption rife, police are involved in smuggling ivory and the Chinese connection evident with poaching and illegal logging. In NNR, both elephant poaching and illegal logging are occurring in a number of blocks close to Tanzania and where there are Chinese construction projects, often road building. My pictures on elephant work in Mozambique tell the story of an Africa-wide scramble to try to save a unique and charismatic animal. This is often repeated elsewhere in this book and I am afraid it will not go away. The illegal killing of rhino and elephant, and the illegal wildlife trade are as big a challenge to the world today as is dealing with drug trafficking and climate change. The solutions are NOT simple.


L7

Main picture: The author with Dr Carlos Pereira, professional vet colleague and head of Law Enforcement in ANAC, helicopter flown by Ben Osmert. Top left: Falk Grossman with Phil Mathews and the EC130. Falk coordinated elephant field operations in Niassa and ongoing monitoring. Falk was a WCS colleague when I worked for WCS, we worked together in South Sudan and Mozambique with helicopter pilot Phil Mathews. Falk is an accomplished fixed-wing pilot, having been involved in the Great Elephant Census in several African countries. Top middle: Inselbergs in L7. Elephant work, be it immobilisation or protection, requires teamwork and a certain dedication to the cause. Top right: Carlos and Falk attaching a satellite tracking collar, scouts from L7 on guard JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

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Niassa National Reserve in 2018: a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered elephant in northern Mozambique

A herd of 16 elephant with two young calves, seen in the centre, crossing the Lugenda River flood plain not far from Mariri, NNR

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Biggest GPS collaring operation to date

a

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 IN NNR In October/November 2018, the third elephant collaring operation was planned for NNR, the first two having been in 2015 and 2016. An operation planned for 2017 had failed to materialise due to bureaucratic issues – this was not good for the elephant. An experienced team of veterinarians, pilots, GIS experts, logistics managers from both WCS and ANAC gathered at the NNR HQ on 25 October 2018 and a collaring operation began. It was one of the biggest operations I have been involved in with 40 collars available for deployment. The veterinary team was led by Dr Carlos Pereira, a senior ANAC veterinarian and Head of Law Enforcement. Carlos and I had worked together on previous collaring exercises in Niassa (page 175), and we considered ourselves two silverbacks. Two young veterinarians, Dr Joao Almeida and Dr Hugo Pereira, joined the team, and this was a golden opportunity to build capacity and mentor our young colleagues. I imagined if I had been a young wildlife veterinarian, what an extraordinary opportunity to work in one of the last true wildernesses left in Africa, and extraordinary it was indeed. Over a period of 10 days, averaging four elephant a day, we worked herds widely distributed across the centre and eastern part of NNR. The west was considered unlikely to have any elephant left. The planning of the operation through Falk Grossman was based on recent aerial survey work done on the whole NNR by an independent group led by Dr Colin Craig (an old Zimbabwean colleague). The data were very accurate and we found several groups of elephant in strategic areas. What was very encouraging was the presence of herds that had a balanced number of adults, sub-adults and many young calves (1–2 year old). There were still some herds in high-risk areas that behaved like stressed elephant, bunching up, appearing a little confused with helicopter pressure. On page 171 and 172 of this chapter, are photographs of several fresh carcasses found during the 2015 elephant field operation. My memories of 2015 were of carcasses old and new, and stressed elephant. In 2018, the situation on the ground was very different. We did not find a single fresh carcass, elephant were more settled and old carcasses recognised from previous years. Why the change? There had been increased interest by the President of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, and he had deployed a special police force to join the NNR ranger force out of Mbatamila AND strengthen the operators (in Luwire, Mariri and Chiulexe) anti-poaching units. This, combined with better intelligence, improved air cover and with the deployment of 40 satellite GPS tracking collars, may well prove to be the tipping point, with a recovering population. Elephant numbers appeared to be in the 2,000–3,000 range and the presence of so many young calves gave hope, although the consequence of poaching was that 48% of elephant were tuskless. When we finished the collaring operation, there was definitely a sense of cautious optimism but we had no doubt that the poaching gangs would be watching and planning.

b

c

a. WCS’s Cessna 206 taking off from the Luwire (L7) airstrip b. A beautiful Belgian Shepherd and handler. Wim Ebersohn in the Chiulexe Conservancy has established a two-dog tracking unit, another arrow to the lawenforcement bow, and a psychological deterrent. These dogs love to work and are phenomenal trackers. A big challenge, though, is to protect the dogs from the bite of tsetse flies and the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Tryps can kill the dogs if not treated. c. Herd moving away from an immobilised female. Once safe, the helicopter would land. JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

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a. Dr Carlos Pereira entertaining children from the village of Mbamba. This big bull was immobilised close to the village. With school children pouring out of the village, we had to control the situation quickly and made it into an additional PR exercise. This was a lifetime experience for these kids. b. His Excellency, President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi participated in one elephant collaring, a young bull that was subsequently named ‘Mr President’. President Nyusi’s appearance surprised us but was great PR for Niassa’s elephant. c. Dr Joao Almeida and Dr Hugo Pereira, getting the experience of a lifetime working with elephant in Niassa National Reserve

c

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Herd of elephant in a clearing between burned bush and flushing miombo woodland. Southern African miombo is unique in that it goes through a spring colour change (see inset), rather than an autumn one, as seen in parts of North America and Europe. JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

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PROJECTO CARNIVOROS DO NIASSA –

Mariri Investimentos You will remember two individuals from reading and looking at photographs in Chapter 2: Zimbabwe, namely Keith and Colleen Begg, and their previous work with honey badger (www.honeybadger.com). This is a couple who have dedicated their lives to living in remote regions of Africa, especially those that have significant biodiversity and need protection. After Colleen completed her PhD on honey badger, the couple set off looking for a remote place in Africa to continue their research and conservation endeavours. They went on an Africa overland trip far to the North, exploring Uganda, Kenya and other East African countries. Eventually they turned around and headed back south, arriving in northern Mozambique, and were overwhelmed by the size and scale of Niassa. In 2003, they founded the Niassa Carnivore Project (NCP) and 15 years later the rest is history. They continue to be deeply committed to Niassa, its communities, and its wildlife (www.niassalion.org). I first visited NNR in 2005 when the Beggs asked me to assist them with lion immobilisation and placing of tracking collars. They were concerned about the amount of experience they had with immobilising large carnivores. Keith had attended the Zimbabwe Capture Course (see Chapter 2) but was not yet comfortable enough with drugs and lion. I was working for WCS at the time and got permission to travel from the Western Cape in South Africa to northern Mozambique. I had a short-wheel-based Land Rover Tdi300 soft top (pictured below and in Chapter 13), which I packed to the gunwales and headed north. To be sure, as with travelling anywhere in Mozambique, it was an adventure, but one week and 4,000 km later I arrived at the southern boundary of NNR. I almost killed myself driving onto the bridge over the Lugenda River – the culvert before the bridge had washed away, the sun was setting and I could not see clearly and I went airborne ... another ‘cat life’ was used up. I met the Beggs on the other side. Even in 2005 NNR was remote and undeveloped, and the Beggs had a rudimentary home on the banks of the Lugenda River with tents and a thatched cooking and eating area. Their home-sweet-home then is not much different from today, simple and basic where elephant stroll past the kitchen and between the tents. What is different today is

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the development of the Mariri Field Environmental and Skills Training Centre, which is situated 10 km up the river, and the expansion of the Begg family: two children (Ella and Finn), a couple of ducks, chickens and local staff. The Environmental Centre has a full workshop servicing several Land Rovers with an inhouse mechanics training programme, the open-plan Field Environmental and Skills Training Centre building, offices, a meeting room, kitchen, organic garden, storerooms and a view to die for looking out over the Lugenda River (see picture, next page, top left). A kilometre from HQ is an all-weather landing strip and hangar for a Husky fixed-wing aircraft that Keith pilots (see picture, next page top right).

a

FINN

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ELLA

Main picture: Keith and Colleen in Mbamba village with their specially modified Land Rover (see collection of pictures, page 185). Eusebio Waite, lion technician and tracker, proudly shows off his daughter. a. Finn, Keith and Colleen’s youngest son, playing with a Kigelia flower b. Finn and older sister, Ella, admiring their two muscovy ducks – two great survivors! c. In order to survive, the ducks are locked into a secure ‘duck’ box at night – predators abound along the Lugenda River and around camp.

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Mariri’s camp and educational centre along the banks of the Lugenda River The establishment of Projecto Carnivoros do Niassa – Mariri Investimentos and its subsequent development is a testament to hard work and dedication, often in the face of adversity. Keith and Colleen have lived in Niassa for nine months a year since 2003 and are raising and home schooling their two children there. They are known for their practical application of research knowledge to find simple solutions to conflict, collaboration, good reporting, and for living in the field. They believe in using all the tools at their disposal to support conservation, including documentary film, photography and journalism. Both Keith and Colleen are accomplished photographers (www.beggnature.co.za) and have produced National Geographic-standard films, one on the honey badger called Silent Killers and one on a sacred place in Niassa called Chemambo, where all yellow baboons are believed to be people. Spirit Creatures: Niassa’s Invisible Realm examines how communities often call on the help of their ancestral spirits, some of whom are embodied in animals. This invisible realm, locally called ‘Majini’, greatly influences how people think and act. It seems to be connected to just about everything from man-eating lion and the bushmeat trade, to the elephant poaching crisis sweeping across Africa today. NCP’s mission is to conserve lion and other large carnivores (leopard, spotted hyaena and African wild dog) in the NNR (NCP Annual report: Mission Statement).

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Husky ZS-MYK on the all-weather airstrip, Mariri, NNR Niassa is vital for global wildlife conservation efforts, particularly for lion and African wild dog, and elephant. Black rhino once existed in Niassa but are locally extinct. Lion, in particular, are in crisis throughout Africa. There are fewer than 20,000 (2015) wild lion left in Africa today and the need for locally derived, grassroots solutions has never been more critical. Today, only five or six conservation areas in Africa support more than 1,000 lion each. These are the recognised strongholds for lion populations, and NNR is one of them. The NNR now supports an increasing population of lion, currently estimated at 1,000– 1,200 lion (2012 survey). The Beggs and their team survey the lion in NNR every three years. A dedicated team, led by Eusebio, focuses on locating and following collared lion. The reserve is also home to more than 350 African wild dogs, which combined with Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve population, is the second largest wild dog population remaining in the world today. There are only an estimated 8,000 African wild dog remaining in Africa. It is impossible to closely monitor individual lion and leopard across the whole protected area that is Niassa, but the NCP have an intensive study area in which a number of lion have been immobilised, identified by unique markings and collared. The first collars were placed on lion in 2005, whilst I was in NNR, and we also collared a honey badger. Tracking of these animals is made easier by the presence of rock inselbergs, allowing signal detection over a wide area. The Husky that Keith flies can also be used to track lion. NCP has gathered data on density, prey, mortality, recruitment and movement patterns of lion since 2005. Research has highlighted snaring as the most critical threat to lion and leopard in Niassa Reserve, but other lethal methods such as poisoning is on the increase. Poisoning results in significant collateral damage, especially to birds such as vultures.


Lissongole village. The road heads south to the Lugenda River and onto Marrupa.

Above left: The road from Marrupa to Mecula town divides the eastern part of NNR and the Mariri Concession western boundary area (L4E). Several villages are dotted along this road and the biggest challenge for Mariri is managing this situation, whilst keeping true to their conservation objectives. Bottom left: The key village in the Mariri concession is Mbamba village, where the project has several ongoing programmes, including livestock raising (chickens and rabbits), electric fencing and beehives to mitigate wildlife incursions, especially elephant, conservation incentives with a community cash fund, schools and education, anti-poaching, and so on. Mbamba village and the sacred mountain, Lipembulu. A powerful witch is said to live on this mountain.

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Environmental Centre, open plan and doubling up as the dining room

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a. A herd of elephant in the Lugenda River opposite Keith and Colleen’s secluded camp b. Construction of accommodation for staff using traditional building and thatching methods, and using local village staff c. Environmental Centre with Colleen and Agostinho Jorge addressing MOMS Community Wildlife Guardian Programme – Involving Communities in Wildlife Monitoring and Conservation. These wildlife guardians are based in most of the villages in NNR and provide a useful reporting role.

i

d. Presentation of a bicycle by Colleen to the best WG for 2016. e. Specialised Land Rover, modified for lion work, on the left; author’s Tdi300 on the right, in Mbamba village f and g. This Land Rover performed the most extraordinary offroad feats following lion and honey badger. Roads, what roads? h. Honey badger in Niassa. Keith and Colleen worked on these creatures early on in Niassa, continuing work carried out in the Kalahari. They eventually expanded into researching the larger carnivores. i. Immobilised lion, Keith and Colleen taking measurements and collecting a blood sample

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Left: An aircraft makes tracking a lot easier in a landscape as big as Niassa’s.

‘H’ antenna

Oscar testing an extended ‘H’ antenna, trying to get a signal from the tracking collar of a honey badger, somewhere out there. The ‘H’ antenna allows one to get a direction based on signal strength but must be in line of sight. Elevation on top of an inselberg helps. Lugenda River can be seen in the background.

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Bottom right and inset: Lion can be called onto bait using animal calls – a squealing pig is good. Once they settle to feed, it is possible to dart them. Healthy free-ranging lion rarely get diseases unless they are compromised in some way. This female was noticed to have lost the hair around her neck and the skin had darkened. It looked like a reaction to the collar but we also ruled out skin parasites. Removal of the collar can be problematic as follow-up may then not be possible.


NNR HQ airstrip: Stunning view to the west, light, dust, inselbergs and Mariri’s Husky ZS-MYK airborne

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Trophy monitoring is an important part of the Warden’s job in NNR. At the end of the hunting season (November), each hunting camp assembles cleaned skulls of all animals killed. The Warden and his team document species, trophy sizes, whether conforming to a quota setting and the final issuing of permits, so hunters can ship their clients’ trophies back home, for example, to America or Europe.

Flying to Safrique’s hunting camp in the west of NNR

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a. The Warden and team checking and measuring trophies in L8, Kombako Hunting Safaris b. Leopard skull destined for Machaba Taxidermy, Maun, Botswana c. Buffalo, sable, eland, kudu and other skulls on display at Kombako

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ONE HEALTH AS PART OF THE CONSERVATION TOOLKIT ...

Limpopo National Park and Niassa National Reserve, on a health mission A significant percentage of the work of a wildlife veterinarian involves the use of drugs to immobilise wild animals, which should not be a surprise considering how tough it would be to examine a wild lion without sedation. Animals can be immobilised to collect samples for disease work, treat sick and injured animals, relocate or translocate animals, and assist ecologists and biologists in their work, for example, applying GPS radio-tracking devices. But this is not the only thing we do. Wildlife veterinarians are also involved in working on health and disease issues in the broadest sense. This has evolved into a new paradigm termed One Health (OH). This is essentially: healthy people and their livelihoods, healthy ecosystems (the environment) and supporting the biodiversity in these systems. It entails operating in a multi-disciplinary way involving various professionals, including doctors, veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social scientists, economists, and the list goes on. We have to deal with so many complex issues these days, that the only way to ensure long-term sustainability is by adopting a OH approach. There is a tug-of-war between those who see OH as having to do primarily with disease, therapeutics (drugs used to treat disease) and disease transmission from wild animals to people and domestic animals, rather than the mantra I and others have adopted: OH is not just about disease. The discussion that follows gives an example of a OH and ‘out-of-the-box’ approach that examines many facets of health in communities and the environment, and how this impacts on conservation success. In 2003, whilst working for WCS, I was part of a group that developed the AHEAD programme, which was launched at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. A ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across East and southern Africa were assembled. The meeting tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent – and AHEAD was born. Since then, a range of programmes addressing conservation, health and concomitant development challenges have been launched with the support of a growing list of implementing partners and

A Nguni bull seen with young Shangaans whose job is to herd and manage these beautiful indigenous cattle for their community. These cattle corrals are located just outside the village of Machamba, Limpopo National Park, Gaza Province, Mozambique.

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donors who see the intrinsic value of the One World, One Health approach. AHEAD is a convening, facilitative mechanism, working to create enabling environments that allow different and often competing sectors to literally come to the same table and find collaborative ways forward to address challenges at the interface of wildlife health, livestock health, human health and livelihoods. It is through the AHEAD programme that I and colleagues have continued to work on conservation challenges in Mozambique, adopting an OH approach. Dr Steve Osofsky, a former WCS colleague, has been instrumental in developing AHEAD and continues with this work based at Cornell University Veterinary School (www.cornell-ahead.org) along with Shirley Atkinson and others.

Rural communities in Africa have to adopt a diversified strategy in terms of their livelihoods. They are often at the mercy of weather, even more so with climate change, and the environment they live in is often harsh and uncompromising. Our OH surveys highlight these challenges, a picture is truly ‘worth a thousand words’.

Food security is such a critical part of rural Africans’ lives: without a good harvest on a regular basis these communities remain food stressed and impoverished. This impacts negatively on their health (in the broadest sense) and makes any attempt to practise good conservation problematic.

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So let the journey continue with a peek into the lives of communities in Limpopo National Park (LNP, part of the Transfrontier Conservation Area known as the Greater Limpopo TFCA, www.greatlimpopo.org). The LNP lies within the GLTFCA and borders Kruger National Park (KNP) to the west, Gaza Province, Bahine and Zinave NPs to the east, Gona-re-Zhou in Zimbabwe to the north, game ranches and conservancies to the south of Massingir. We shall also return to Niassa National Reserve and meet the people who are critical cogs in the conservation wheels that will determine future sustainability in NNR. We will be doing this through a health lens.


WALKING THE TALK WITH ONE HEALTH

OH surveys in Limpopo National Park 2007, 2010 and 2013: people, landscape and environment, and key health issues

Map of LNP used in discussions with villagers; the chicken is crossing from north LNP into Kruger

We carried out three surveys in LNP with a team consisting of social scientist, Mike Murphree, fellow veterinarian Dr Agostinho NazarÊ de Mengueze, Dr Clara Bocchino (Mike’s wife) and field staff (Tomas Mupata and Dona Lourdes) from LNP based out of Massingir. The goal of these surveys was to visit the villages (10) inside LNP and a few on the outside, including Pafuri in the north, Mpai across the Limpopo to the east and Massingir just south of the LNP. We also visited hospitals and health clinics in these towns, Mozambique government officials and the occasional business person. LNP was unique in being part of the GLTFCA and having people living in the park but, based on a grand plan, these people were to be relocated out of LNP to resettlement villages. The resettlement was fraught with difficulties, delayed and short of funding so in many

instances although villagers had agreed to relocate they were caught in limbo with very little support and unable to develop. We interviewed these villagers asking about their health issues and those of their livestock (in 2012 there were 39,000+ head of cattle in the LNP) and over the three surveys identified key issues and looked at trends over the years 2007, 2010 and 2013. On the one hand, we picked up improvements in health care, especially related to HIV, but on the other hand, we detected increasing resentment by the villagers, as resettlement stalled, food security and lack of development became an issue. This resentment was translated into a new driver identified in 2013 and that was illegal hunting. For example, the poaching of rhino in South Africa became significant after 2007 and by 2013 the countrywide number was approaching 1,000 rhino killed. JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

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Cattle are important to the communities inside LNP, providing milk, and meat on occasion. They are sold for cash, used for transport and ploughing the fields. Nguni cattle are valued for their beautiful colours and toughness. LNP is a designated wildlife area and with cattle in the park there was always the danger of contact with wild animals, especially buffalo and issues around disease transmission, and increasing human-wildlife-conflict.

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MIKE MURPHREE

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a. Michael Murphree and his beloved Land Rover under the shade in Mavodze village on the LNP southern boundary with Massingir Dam b. Bicycle transport c. Village lady using a traditional clay pot and wooden ‘pestle’ to grind corn, a tough life but always smiling NAZARÉ DE MANGUEZE

d. We met traditional leaders and village members, talking with men and women, health workers and school teachers. Here Nazaré is asking questions in Shangaan, which was then translated as we took notes, a mix of Shangaan, Portuguese and English.

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The Kruger National Park (KNP) had the highest number of black and white rhino in South Africa and had become a target for poachers, particularly from Mozambique, including LNP and the villages, and many villages to the south of Massingir including notorious Magudi. It was clear from our OH surveys that poor communication, lack of community support, questions about benefits from the LNP and health issues had all contributed to a sense of abandonment and encouraged illegal activities. We predicted pending problems in 2010 and by 2013 these problems had surfaced, and rhino and elephant began to suffer significantly. A OH survey is a very visual and dynamic activity and the following pictorial journey shows village life, the people, their livelihoods, wildlife, key issues and shows the vibrancy and resilience of a ‘lost generation’ caught betwixt and between by bureaucracy and incompetence, but there was always room for a smile. The key message is if you want to create conservation success you have to attend to communities’ aspirations, involve them in decision-making for the future and listen to what they have to say.

Cooking area in a village household, Massingir Vehlo. The young boy has a pail of milk and is surrounded by ducks, chickens, dogs and cats. Life is harsh and the real issue of diseases comes to the fore with the consumption of unpasteurised milk. The communities also have to deal with wildlife, including elephant and predators, both from a humanwildlife conflict perspective and in the case of buffalo, for example, potential for disease transmission to cattle, including tuberculosis.

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Children are always willing to learn but in LNP there were many constraints, including quality of classrooms and teachers, ability to get to school safely (an elephant in the road can be a problem), health and nutritional issues. It is clear that conservation and education have to go hand in hand.

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a. Railway line from Chicualacuala on the Zimbabwe border heading south towards Maputo – migration is an issue not only for village members seeking work in South Africa but also the spread of HIV-Aids. Over the period 2007–2013 there was a marked improvement in the availability and distribution of antiretrovirals throughout the LNP. b. Meat being sold next to the railway line in Mpai without any meat inspection. More recently a new abattoir has been built in Mpai. c. Health clinic and nurse-technician in Machamba village d. Village livelihoods in a line, diversity brings strength in hard times.

Village children need to attend school but they are also part of the working family and this extended family ensures resilience into the future.

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Support communities, talk to communities, be sensitive and educate, the rest will follow ...

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The interface between livelihoods, in particular crops, cattle and small stock, and wildlife, provides one of the greatest challenges to future conservation success and the preservation of large wild landscapes. Lack of food security leading to poverty, human-wildlife conflict and illegal hunting are triple threats to a sustainable future.

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WALKING THE TALK WITH ONE HEALTH

OH survey in Niassa National Reserve 2016: people, landscape, the environment and key health issues

Traditional leader Jorge Omar of Nambunda village, east of the Lugenda River in L9, NNR

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NNR was established in 1954 in the remote northern part of Mozambique, bordering Tanzania. As a reminder, it is 42,000 km2 in extent with approximately 35,000 people living in 40 or more villages, and several towns, especially to the west. The successful management of NNR cannot be achieved without considering the communities living within the reserve. Just as in LNP, failure to involve these communities in decision-making, failure to communicate and educate, support and develop tangible benefits will result/has resulted in an unsustainable situation. The OH survey was conducted from 21 September to 27 October in 2016 and the goal was to provide baseline data (health and socio-economic) to assist NNR management better address some of the complex problems they currently face, many community driven. Biodiversity in NNR is threatened by land use change, habitat alteration and degradation, overexploitation, illegal activities (mining, poisoning, poaching), diseases and climate change impacts. The OH survey adds to the conservation toolbox – a more diverse toolkit allows one to address and try to ‘fix’ problems more effectively, or at least try to have a finger on the Niassa pulse. The villages and towns we visited were scattered throughout the reserve and are represented by red, yellow and blue pins in the map (see below). The northern border of NNR is the Rovuma River. We travelled over 4,000 km off road, visiting 36 villages, three towns, two mining sites and some hunting concessions. We also travelled outside of the NNR and visited Marrupa town where there is a provincial hospital. Many of the villages had rudimentary health clinics/posts and the bigger towns, such as Mecula and Mavago, had larger health facilities, approaching hospital status, 42% of villages in NNR had a health post. The remoteness of NNR limits the ability of the Mozambique Government to provide professional health services. Many of the clinics/ posts are staffed only with nurses or health technicians, with a few doctors working in the bigger centres in Mecula, Mavago and Marrupa (outside the NNR to the south).

Mama Catharina Rabo being interviewed in the village of Cuchiranga. We had considered the use of theatre to help educate communities and Mama Rabo was a born actress. Here she describes elephant pulling mango fruits from the village mango trees. ‘Pluck, pluck, pluck!’

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The OH survey team after meeting with traditional leaders and village officials in Mbamba village. Key individuals who formed the core of the OH team, front right kneeling: Maria Pinto, NNR Community Coordinator. Back right: Dr Hugo Pereira, veterinarian and Community Liaison officer at Mariri. We had several MOMS assistants in each village participate with Celestino Dauda (a) accompanying us throughout the survey as translator and ‘diplomat’. Others involved included Horatio Murico, MOMS coordinator, Mariri (b) and Albino Joao, NNR Community Technician (c).

Goats are an important part of rural livelihoods.

Rabbit raising is encouraged as an alternative livelihood option. The OH group gathers with a rabbit lady in Mbamba village.

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Dr Hugo Pereira and a local guide walking across the sands of the Lugenda River to a fishing camp. The Lugenda is an incredibly productive river, rich is resources but under increasing pressure from overfishing, particularly from Tanzanian fishermen. These Mecula-based fisherfolk were critical of ‘foreign’ fishers and certain fishing methods. The dynamic between the river, local and foreign fishers and illegal activities such as elephant poaching presents a conundrum.

Pictures below: Ncuti Village lies downriver from this fishing camp and the Chief is Namaluma (right). One of the livelihood options along the river is growing tobacco, which is harvested, then dried and the Chief then goes through an intricate process of braiding and rolling the tobacco. The resultant roll is worth 300 Metical (US$1 = 48 Metical, 2018) and is an important cash crop. Controversially, the growing of tobacco is extractive on soils and can cause significant erosion along the river banks. Diversification of livelihoods is important in Niassa so as to spread the load and provide income and nutritional inputs throughout the year, and in good and bad years.

NAMALUMA

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Mixed gathering in the village of Macalange, the homebase of Celestino Dauda, our intrepid translator and ‘diplomat’. Talking with mixed groups, more often a greater number of woman than men, was always a rich experience but required some managing as emotions often ran high. Life is never easy for these communities. They live within the NNR and the interface that exists creates several ‘wicked’ problems. Showing an interest by caring, listening and communicating is more likely to create a ‘win-win’ situation for both sides. JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

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Dr Hugo Pereira interviewing a group of traditional healers in Mbamba village

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The OH survey data collected was collated, analysed and presented in a report to WCS and the Mozambique authorities. The report made recommendations for further actions that would enhance the relationship between NNR and the communities. Key health areas involved access to clean water and animal husbandry and preventative practices, particularly regards chickens and diseases. Water is a perennial issue, whether we are talking about LNP-GLTFCA in Gaza Province or NNR, and has a direct impact on health. Key to health in remote rural communities is access to health care through village health clinics/posts such as the Negamano and Naulala Health Posts depicted here (above and next page,

top right). Negamano is a village on the border with Tanzania in the northeast corner and Naulala 2 is situated further southwest, in the interior of NNR. Many locals seek health care at these clinics but health care facilities are often better and more comprehensive across the border, so many will make the longer journey to southern Tanzania. Some travel many hundreds of kilometres to seek treatment, especially for diseases such as tuberculosis. The most common diseases encountered at NNR clinics were malaria and diarrhoea. The latter is often associated with the lack of clean drinking water. We were surprised by the presence of a number of neglected tropical diseases such as filariasis and leprosy, all of them treatable.


Health post at Naulala 2, very rudimentary but a solar refrigerator was recently installed (2016) allowing therapeutic drugs and vaccines to be safely stored in cool conditions. Ambient temperatures often hover around 35–45 °C in the summer.

Health technician has just confirmed a positive malaria case in a young woman, using a rapid card test.

Positive malaria case, tested using a drop of blood and a rapid card test. Early detection is critical.

The single most important non-infectious disease was hernias in both sexes, sometimes confused with filariasis in males. The high prevalence of hernias may be attributed to hard physical work in the fields and marginal nutrition. Conventional medical practice is often combined with traditional healing in these rural communities. Out of the 36 villages visited, 79% had one or more traditional healers (TH). These THs (most appear to be men) use a wide variety of traditional plants (200+ have been identified) to treat various ailments. THs are licensed by the Mozambique Government and have certificates allowing them to treat a selection of diseases. The interface between THs and medically trained personnel is important, for example, epilepsy has a strong cultural component with girls suffering from epilepsy being considered powerful and able to speak to the spirits. THs are often consulted first, treatment is available but THs will refer patients to the health post/hospital, especially in severe cases.

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Illegal gold mining and environmental contamination with mercury c

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a. Illegal gold mine near to the village of Nampequesso in NNR b. Using a hessian chute to wash excavated soil. Gold adheres to hessian and then is extracted using mercury. c. Miners in a jovial mood with OH survey team, they were jovial when they realised we were not going to arrest them. d. Deep hole excavated by hand and tools, no buttressing used so danger of a collapse is real. Small-scale mining can be very dangerous. e. Bob Marley bag used to transport the loot f. Smiling miner, it is back-breaking work. g. Panning for gold in water used to wash mined soil

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Mercury

Fire

Gold

Gold trapped by mercury is then heated resulting in evaporation of mercury, releasing toxic products, leaving behind a gold flake. NNR has a number of challenges but one of the most complex and difficult to stop is illegal mining or what is often referred to as artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). ASM is common throughout the world, with an estimated 25 million artisanal miners actively mining (www.fraserinstitute.org, miningfacts.org). There is minimal machinery or technology used. ASM relies on simple techniques and physical labour. The miners operate without legal mining titles (concession, claim) or a valid contract. There is low productivity since ASM often takes place in very small or marginal plots and is limited to surface or alluvial mining using inefficient techniques. It is dangerous work. As an example, it is estimated that at least 6,000 workers are killed each year in small illegal Chinese coal mines alone. ASM is often practised seasonally, as is the case in NNR, and is driven by economic insecurity. Environmental degradation and contamination is significant. Mercury is used to extract the gold, and there is little control, resulting in contamination of water and soil, much of which is washed down into the main rivers in the rainy season. Little is known about the downstream/river impacts of mercury and all rivers eventually empty into the sea. Mercury and its toxic health effects have been well described. Many villagers recognise the illegality of ASM but will say ‘What else are we supposed to do? We have no jobs, struggle to grow our food, deal with wild animals raiding our crops and have little Government support. So we mine illegally and make a living.’ It is hard to argue with this, and in the example of the illegal gold mine located near to Nampequesso village, Chief Rui Siabo had few answers and turns a blind eye to these illegal activities. Mariri Concession arrests over 2,000 miners every year. They are taken to NNR HQ, their tools are confiscated, they may spend a few nights in jail, and then they are released. Most become repeat offenders by necessity. It is an unforgiving environment and poverty just below the surface. Mariri are seen as the bad guys.

The Nampequesso mine, when we chatted with the miners who were more than happy to give us information, produces 30–50 g of gold/month. One gram of gold is worth 2,500 Metical (US$43), so monthly income varies from US$1,300 to US$2,150 which is shared by all the miners. When the amount of gold extracted is less than 5 g/month the mine is non-viable and will be closed. The miners estimate that they purchase 50 small containers of mercury per month at a cost of 50 Meticals (US$0.85) for 1 g mercury. (As an estimate, 500–1,000 g mercury is used per month as a rough estimate). However, mercury use by the ASM sector is a growing environmental concern in developing nations. Because it is an element, mercury does not break down in the environment. Instead, it is cycled between the atmosphere, land and water, and can travel large distances from the original source, in this instance in NNR, into the river systems (Lugenda and on to the Rovuma) and out to the sea. Mercury can also build up in humans and animals and become highly concentrated in the food chain. This is a problem since low levels of mercury exposure can build up over time until concentrations are high enough to be harmful. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization estimates that 1,000 tons of mercury is released into the air, soil and water each year by this sector. As illustrated in the pictures above, mercury is used to purify gold from ore in a process called amalgamation. Miners and their families often inhale toxic mercury vapours through this process, and mercury can pollute homes and communities. It was difficult to estimate the degree of contamination at the Nampequesso mining site, but if you multiple the thousands of illegal gold mining operations in NNR, some large enough to have a small community with satellite TV dishes and ladies of the night, the impact is likely to be significant. Clearly from a One Health perspective further research and monitoring is needed. On the other hand, ruby mining is altogether different. JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN

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Ruby mining a. Deep hole excavated in ground with a different geology to that of gold-bearing soil/rock b. Artisanal miners use washing trays to sort through the extracted soil and rock. c. Surprisingly, despite the hard toil, often sifting for rubies in the containment dams all day long, the miners we interviewed seemed in good health. The greatest challenge with stopping illegal ruby mining is the monetary value; with gold mining, the environmental impacts are the most concerning. d. A small, reasonable quality ruby. We saw several rubies in the washings, of varying sizes and quality, so a ruby mine is more productive than a gold mine. It is no different though in terms of the hard, backbreaking work required in dangerous conditions.

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We visited a previously illegal (now legal) ruby mine in the Calitz Safari block not far from the Lugenda River. The legality of the mine was linked to the War Veterans Association and a mining licence granted by the Minister. Most ruby mines are not legal. Mercury is not an issue with ruby mining, just the environmental damage and mining community impacts, BUT rubies are more valuable than gold. Historically, the largest ruby found at this mine weighed 4 g with an estimated value of 70,000 Metical (US$1,192). We were told that the value

e. Health issues highlighted included diarrhoea and malaria, not surprising considering the environment these miners work in. They do get visited on occasion by health personnel from Mavago but rely on traditional medicines. Diarrhoea is treated with a bark-infused concoction that is left for a week before it is consumed to good effect.

would be closer to 1 million Metical once the stone was in the market. On average a 1 g very best quality ruby will fetch 300,000 Metical/g (US$5,000). When we visited the mine, few miners were operating due to a problem with water ingress and pumps breaking down. We were told that 2–3 g of rubies are extracted/month (income of US$10,000–15,000/month), contributing a significant income in a region dominated by economic insecurity. It is hard to stop and even harder to argue that miners should cease and desist.


SURVEY:

Education

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Education promotes equality and lifts people out of poverty. It teaches children how to become good citizens. Education is not just for a privileged few, it is for everyone. It is a fundamental human right. – Ban Ki-moon c

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A quality education grants us the ability to fight the war on ignorance and poverty. – Charles B. Rangel There are more schools than health posts in NNR villages but the quality of the schools varied tremendously. Naulala 1 had a solid schoolhouse (a) with happy kids but a deteriorating structure; other villages had no more than a pole and thatch structure with benches and a blackboard (b and c). Teachers with these inadequate classrooms pleaded with us to talk to the authorities. We said we would do our best. A new school building (d) was being constructed in Naulala 2 through funding and support

from the Chuilexi Conservancy. The Niassa Conservation Alliance (Chuilexi, Mariri and Niassa Wilderness) have committed US$700,000 to community programmes and have provided 19 secondary school scholarships. They are building and upgrading school facilities with lunch provision for more than 350 school-going children. Mariri has established the Mariri Environment Centre for bush visits and conservation education to more than 100 local children, as well as skill training for adults.

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One Health work needs to be long term, helping to monitor trends, shifts in old drivers and the development of new ones. It needs to be long term in order to enhance conservation success and show communities that actively supporting NNR can make a difference to their lives.

Nalichi village, outside of NNR on the way to Marrupa, often used by poachers to blend in with communities. NNR law enforcement cannot follow up without police support. Communities may actively support the poachers. Surrounded by inselbergs, the village elders said that birds of prey, especially falcons (saker and peregrine) were a problem with the village chickens.

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Traditional leaders and healers are key individuals within the village hierarchy, respected, consulted and considered wise people. We always approached the most senior individual first, preferably the traditional leader, introduced ourselves and stated the purpose of our visit. Without exception, we were welcomed and were able to interview a wide range of people. This gallery shows some of the traditional leaders (TL) we encountered: a. Big Chief Mataka, TL for Mavago. b. Chief Regulo Nanguar, TL for Mecula town. c. and d. Chiefs Magulo and Issufo, Mavago. e. Smiling Chief Namaluma, Ncuti village, proud tobacco producer and smoker


The elephant in the room when debating conservation and wildlife issues is always ‘there are too many people’. The world’s population (2018) is projected at 7.6 billion, of which Africa is projected to have 1.16 billion people. Africa’s population by 2050 is projected to be 2.5 billion with over 60% under the age of 35. It truly is the elephant in the room but nobody seems to be walking the talk, just talking the talk. Working in northern Mozambique was an eye opener in terms of the number of children in the villages, with some of the traditional leaders having 20 children. Many of the children have no parents due to the prolonged civil war and the hardships of surviving and avoiding diseases such as malaria. Poverty is rife and the opportunities to lift oneself out of poverty limited.

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MOVING BACK SOUTH

Avian influenza sampling around Lake Chuali, Bilene Macia District, Gaza Province, southwestern Mozambique

African swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis) being restrained before sampling for avian influenza virus. All birds are ringed before release for further follow-up. The swamphen is a beautifully coloured bird of southern and tropical wetlands and can be seen walking on top of floating vegetation or clambering through dense shrubs. Its extremely long toes help it walk on lily pads without sinking. This bird was caught using a mist net.

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a. My Land Rover 90 parked in a vlei on the shore of Lake Chuali, campsite and vehicle bathed in early morning light, kettle on b. Setting up a mist net on the edge of Lake Chuali c. A pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) being gently restrained The principal town in this district is Macia located on the main EN1 highway that heads north from Maputo. The rivers in the district belong to the drainage basins of the Komati River and the Munhuane River, a major tributary of the Komati. There are three permanent lakes in the district: Lake Chuali, Lake Pave and Lake Sacative. Lake Chuali is just west of the EN1, south of Macia and is well known for its birdlife. It is a lake that floods seasonally, therefore, the aquatic habitat varies depending on the amount of seasonal rainfall. In 2010, the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute based at the University of Cape Town became involved in a worldwide survey for the avian influenza virus in wild birds. They developed a sampling programme in Mozambique and South Africa. Wild birds are natural reservoirs for the avian influenza virus,

they host a wide diversity of subtypes, and provide a dynamic population for viral evolution and transmission to domestic bird flocks and mammals. Avian influenza has the potential to be pathogenic to humans but has its greatest impact on domestic birds, including poultry and ostriches in southern Africa. The surveillance programme was called GAINS (Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance of Wild Birds). I accompanied the UCT team on a sampling programme in Mozambique around Lake Chuali and was involved in some GAINS training programmes in Zimbabwe. These pictures show the UCT team at work and a variety of birds being captured, sampled and released. There are several ways of capturing wild birds including mist nets and ground traps (usually a net-designed cage trap with the use of baits).

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A GAINS training programme in Zimbabwe at Lake Chivero, west of Harare. Student handling an African jacana (Actophilornis africanus), sampling and applying a leg ring

a. African pygmy goose (Nettapus auritus) being IDed for future reference b. Measuring an African swamphen c. Measuring a heron d. Blood and swab sampling kit to detect the avian influenza virus e. Restraining an African jacana whilst taking notes

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There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D. Wild aquatic birds – particularly certain wild ducks, geese, swans, gulls, shorebirds and terns – are the natural hosts for most influenza type A viruses. Although there are many subtypes of avian influenza viruses, only some strains of five subtypes have been known to infect humans: H5N1, H7N3, H7N7, H7N9 and H9N2.


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AT A JOURNEY’S END

Goodbye Mozambique and hello South Africa! But before we leave we can have ... the last laugh Ever wonder what wild baboons do when presented with an image of themselves? The adult males sit and admire their images in the mirror, occasionally checking behind the mirror. The females and youngsters are less self-congratulatory and spend more time checking where the baboon is that is looking at them. They make several furtive trips, glancing behind the mirror. Fun on the banks of the Lugenda River, Niassa Wilderness camp (L7).

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JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN In the 1970s James Herriot’s books on the life of a country vet in the Yorkshire Dales in England delighted his readers and placed the veterinary profession in the limelight. Applications to study Veterinary Science soared and to this day it is one of the toughest degree programmes globally to be accepted into and to complete successfully. Anything is possible after graduation and Through My Eyes shows how a dream can come true for a veterinarian, through focus and effort. It is an altogether different book, put together with the age-old adage of a picture is worth a thousand words. It demonstrates the power of pictures to tell a story. This is a remarkable life story covering wildlife and conservation work across three continents and globally. Africa is the focus and the book contains unique pictures of a wildlife veterinarian plying his trade in remote corners of the African continent. There are surprises and delightful stories aplenty and sobering moments as the author describes the loss of charismatic species such as rhino and elephant, and the ongoing efforts to save them. Crucially, this book is not just about animals; it is about people, their livelihoods and aspirations. This is a book with stunning pictures, at times taken under great duress. It is incredibly visual, almost tactile, as you turn the pages. If you are a veterinarian, adventurer, traveller, explorer, conservationist, photographer, in fact, just about anyone, Through My Eyes is a journey well worth immersing yourself in.

Profile for Dr. Michael Kock

THROUGH MY EYES - A JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN BY DR MICHAEL D KOCK  

Coffee table book with French fold dustjacket. 600 pages, 250mm x 300mm landscape format, and printed in full colour. An abridged version p...

THROUGH MY EYES - A JOURNEY OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN BY DR MICHAEL D KOCK  

Coffee table book with French fold dustjacket. 600 pages, 250mm x 300mm landscape format, and printed in full colour. An abridged version p...

Profile for kockmd

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