Monday, December 27, 2010

Lioness with Mastitis treated. Cubs saved

Lioness with Mastitis treated. Cubs saved.

Today we came across first pride of Lions I have seen in 4 months. I am so happy they have moved in. We saw 2 mature Golden Mane Lions, 3 juvenile males and 3 adult lionesses. Guides said they have seen 2 cubs about 3 months old. One female was in extreme discomfort with Mastitis. This is an infection of the breasts which causes inflammation and severe pain. The milk can go bad and the cubs may die

from bad milk. I loaded a dart with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and a pain killer. I broke of the barb of the dart so it could inject and fall out and darted her. It’s amazing how they respond to treatment and I’m sure she will be healed in 24 hours, thereby also saving the cubs.

The rest of the pictures, after the dart was picked up, were a record of a typical day in Chobe.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Article in South Africa's Toyota magazine

Article in South Africa's Toyota magazine

A bit more publicity. This author saw the humorous side of what I do. (Click Here for a PDF download, for clearer reading)

This article was printed in Toyota magazine its a bit Tongue in Check but still a good read. I was hoping Toyota would donate a new vehicle but as of yet no word from them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

How I spent Christmas Day 2010

How I spent Christmas Day 2010 (Graphic Operation Pictures)
I was awakened to call of distress from a client. Someone had thrown a brick on his dog so they could get into his yard and steal mangoes off the tree. 4 hours of surgery later and dog was stitched up. 

He was putting full weight on leg today and is happily wagging his tail. I don’t do much small animal work anymore as people here have a different perception of pets that in USA.  Sometimes I get it right...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Home Invader

Home invader
A day of work and a night of horror. Home invader confronted in Kitchen of  home.

I spent all afternoon traveling to rescue and treat a baby Zebra and was writing a letter when I heard a noise in the house, Below is copy Of email sent out to Kasane residents.


December 24 2010

Hello everyone

Please be aware that there are active thieves in town. I heard the gate to the kitchen squeak at 1:30 am on the 24th. I thought it may have been baby zebra walking in stoop. 5 minutes later I heard Minnie bark. I went to investigate and as I walked into kitchen there stood a Black man approximately 35 years old  5 ft 9 inches with short hair and a slight beard not 2 feet away from me. He had a large knife strapped to his chest and was wearing blue overalls. I had not locked the back door and he chipped away the wood on the panel. I ran to the bedroom to retrieve shotgun and pressed the panic button for Trojan the alarm company.

I ran back out and shot twice into the air but he was long gone. The 911 radio that has not been functional from day one was useless so I could not call for assistance. Trojan never responded. I locked Laura in bedroom and took land cruiser to search for him. From the car I dialed 911 and was immediately answered and they dispatched the police that were on scene within 10 minutes. I cannot imagine what could have happened if I was sleeping and he had free range of house. It is a very scary and angering episode. Please be aware and tighten your security.

I wish everyone a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year,

It’s good to be home but could do without this episode.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zebra Baby Rescued

Zebra baby rescued

On this day I was called by private citizen from farm town of Pandamatenga . This is a 100 kilometer drive one way. Unfortunately the only vehicle I had available was my large Dodge truck. The Zebras mother had been killed that morning by a pride of Lions and was rescued by a local resident. After calling me we had agreed i would drive out there if i would be re compensated for fuel. On arrival Zeby as we call her was in a fairly stable condition but had suffered shock.

I gave her subcutaneous fluids, antibiotics, worming and shock treatment. After a slight sedation we loaded her up in the backseat of the truck for the hour long drive home. Poor Laura had to sit with her in the back and she was leaning on her and occasionally would attempt to bolt. After awhile she went to sleep. 

I forgot to mention that when I left camp the person that called me rapidly disappeared without even saying goodbye. Five kilometers out of Kasane the truck that was full at beginning ran out of fuel. Fortunately I had a 5 liter can in the back. We arrived in Kasane to discover that there was not any fuel available anywhere in town. TIA. We managed to make it home.

Zeby was in stable condition and i mixed her a nice milk cocktail. I fortunately had a rubber nipple in the clinic. After she had a taste she hungrily drank down 2 bottles. We all felt much relief as we know that she will now survive. It now going to be feeding various times a day until she is old enough to start eating grass on her own. We have an enclosure in our back yard so she can move around.  As soon as she is old enough we will reintroduce her to a herd and hopefully she will be accepted. We will keep human contact to a minimum.

As for the tank of fuel promised nothing was ever mentioned. It cost me P700.00 to fill up the tank and this vehicle is a gas guzzler which i rarely use. I was so annoyed that this happened. Once again i get stuck with the expenses. There will be a lot of time and effort expended to rehabilitate this baby.

I wish there was a way I could keep human contact to a minimum. Africa is harsh and the lions also need to eat. 
At least this baby will get a second chance to live a full life...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Article in Air Botswana

Article in Air Botswana's Airlines monthly Magazine Peolwane makes a difference



Due to difficulty im reading text due to download I copied the draft of article below magazine.

LEAD-IN: A chance encounter with an animal in distress brings to the fore complex issues surrounding the alarming rate of escalating human/wildlife conflict in Botswana 
By: Linda Pfotenhauer
Photos by: Jessica Joy Pfotenhauer

The wounded animal convulsed repeatedly – every time a jolt of electricity went through its body. Saliva foaming at its bloodied mouth and nose, left leg injured and bleeding at the knee, it was heart-wrenching to watch its agony.

On and on this mini-electrocution went. The animal seemed too stunned to be able to get up and move away from the fence – to the point that we all thought it would succumb.Unbelievably, two school boys passing by picked up stones and threw them at the heaving animal.  A man also passing by motioned that he wanted to put the animal’s meat into his mouth and eat it.Cars stopped. Passengers got out – some to stare in curiosity, others to laugh at the animal’s misery.We had been driving the main Kasane Road when we came across the scene – a huge male waterbuck, with massive horns, up against the Mowana Lodge electric fence, convulsing and unable to move.  

Some passers-by said they had seen the animal there since morning. No one knew where it had come from or how it had got there, but it was likely it had walked up from the nearby floodplains of the Chobe River.We stationed our vehicle just in front of the animal and revved the engine, hoping this would prompt it to get up and away from the electric fence. It was clear, however, that it was too traumatized to move.

It was sinking fast and action had to be taken quickly.The town’s wildlife vet, and Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ (DWNP) honorary game warden, Dr. Clay Wilson, was called in, as were DWNP officials. Dr. Clay brought a large pick-up truck to transport the animal, and asked the DWNP officials to round up men to load the animal on the truck.Working quickly, Dr. Clay filled one syringe with M99 tranquilizer – to immobilize the animal, another with antibiotics, and another with painkiller and anti-inflammatory. 

Wildlife officer Mr. Khan loaded a rifle, in case the The Waterbuck, page 2Animal decided to bolt - one charge with those huge horns could bring a deadly blow. Another DWNP official stood ready with a syringe loaded with an antidote.Just as Dr. Clay was about to dart the animal, it suddenly got up and started to run. The men followed in their vehicles and on foot, and when finally within shooting distance, took steady – and obviously very experienced aim – and shot. The waterbuck quickly went down, its muscles temporarily incapacitated so that it could not move. Time was then of the essence – the men and women had about 40 minutes before the drug would wear off.

Antibiotics, as well as painkiller and anti-inflammatory were injected; and the group of volunteers was called in to lift the animal into the pick-up truck. Subsequently, speed was then of the essence, as the vehicles tore through main street Kasane to get the animal safely into the nearby Chobe National Park. A well watered area near a small pan was chosen, antidote given, and seemingly in a magical moment, the great and beautiful animal had re-gained its strength, and was up and sauntering away – full of energy again.It was a happy – and heart-warming – ending to a story that epitomizes many aspects of the alarming, escalating human-wildlife conflict now taking place in many parts of Botswana. 

With increasing human populations, and the accompanying encroachment of their settlements, cattle posts and farmlands on wildlife habitat, animals such as this waterbuck find themselves entrenched – and in some cases – electrocuted by fences meant to keep them out.  And in many cases, the uninformed, unempathetic attitudes of local communities, such as those of the passers-by in this story, persist, despite years of environmental education in schools and many programmes run by conservation NGOs.“There is a tremendous amount of human-wildlife conflict. It’s all about people – the more people we have, the less land there is for animals. There is no doubt about it. It is extreme, and it is worsening,” says Dr. Clay.

Over a three month period, he and DWNP staff have personally witnessed two leopards shot dead (the farmers said they were threatening their dogs), a lion with its jaw shot off, approximately ten elephants allegedly trespassing farmers’ land shot dead, and multiple cases of animals caught in poachers’ snares. In all of these incidents, the animals were darted, treated, healed and released back into the park.Waterbuck, page 3Wildlife researchers working in northern – and other areas – of Botswana hold similar views about human-wildlife conflict in the country. “We have lost five collared elephants to human-elephant conflict,” says Dr. Michael Chase, director of the respected and long-standing NGO Elephants without Borders. “Wildlife-human conflict is a critical issue we need to address. We have very little time left to come up with active conservation measures.”

Says Dr. Gaseitsewe (‘Gas’) Masunga, DWNP officer in charge of Chobe District: “Human-wildlife conflict is increasing in terms of the number of incidents reported to DWNP, but probably not in terms of the number of fields/areas planted. Because of subsidies and other support from Government, the number and distribution of farmers and ploughing fields have increased, probably contributing to increased conflict.”Both subsistence and commercial crop production are equally affected by elephant damage, followed by damage to fruit trees. Within the first half of this year, DWNP has paid close to P50 000 to subsistence farmers for damages caused by elephants on a total area of about 14 hectares. Elephants, followed by buffalo, have been most involved in the conflict, especially within the Kasane/Kazungula development area. Elephants do come into the township at night and feed on people’s fruit trees and plants, and end up being shot at and killed by Kasane residents who have access to rifles.  

The males, in particular, come into people’s yards, school compounds and the Mowana Lodge area in search of food. “What is worrisome is the increasing number of elephants killed by people and DWNP within Kasane Township,” said Dr. Masunga.Incidents of livestock predation by lions, hyenas and leopards are generally lower than those of crop damage. However, incidents of depredation on livestock by lions are prevalent in Pandamatenga, Lesoma, Kachikau, Satau and Parakarungu areas.  Lions are killed in large numbers by farmers in Lesoma and Pandamatenga, says Dr. Masunga.

He notes that most of these lions come from Zimbabwe, which has protected areas adjacent to communal areas on the Botswana side.  One positive development is that Mowana Lodge management, equally concerned as DWNP by the increasing number of elephants being killed, has recently re-erected the electric fence on the eastern side of the hotel property. This was the area the elephants were using to enter the Mowana grounds and then getting into townBuffalo also stray into the township and end up being trapped, snared or enveloped by developments that line the Chobe Riverfront. 

Says Dr. Masunga, “People panic when they see lone or injured buffalo, and our The Waterbuck, page 4Efforts to remove these animals from the public eye sometimes result in the animal being killed, if it becomes aggressive.”The 1992 Wildlife and National Parks Act allow people to kill elephants to defend their property, but they are encouraged to scare them away first.  

A July 2010 DWNP report indicates that 23 elephants were killed within the first half of 2010 in defense of property or human lives. Other species killed were buffalo (21), lion (3), leopard (2), hippo (3), warthog (4), and baboon (3).But conflict is only one side of a situation now nearing epidemic proportions. Poaching is seriously on the rise in the park and in areas adjacent to the parks and reserves. “I see evidence of poaching nearly on a daily basis,” says Dr. Clay. “We regularly see instances of snared elephants, buffalo, and impala – anything they can get their hands on. I don’t know who is doing the poaching, but it’s a fact it is happening.” Dr. Masunga concurs that poaching in the Chobe is on the rise and maintains that both foreigners and Batswana are involved: “I believe there is lot of poaching happening in the Chobe areas, even more than we are able to detect.”

Dr. Clay and DWNP officials have also seen elephants wounded or dead in the park, presumably shot by poachers. Fish poaching is another critical issue, as the death of an inordinate number of fish will have deleterious, potentially devastating, effects on the delicate balance of the river’s ecosystem. Namibian fish poachers stretch nets across the entire Chobe River, from the Namibian side to the Botswana side. (The law says they can only fish halfway across the river.) According to Dr. Clay, thousands of fish are caught daily, irrespective of size or species. Ironically, Batswana in Kasane go to the local market to buy these poached fish caught on their side of the river.  

The demise of fish populations in the river will inevitably impact on the local economy, as well as tourism revenue.  Raids on fish poachers are conducted by DWNP, Botswana Defense Force (BDF) and immigration officials, resulting in the confiscation of fishing nets; but the fish poaching continues.There are active Anti-Poaching Units attached to the BDF and DWNP, but against well armed poachers in the bush, their tasks seem daunting, as they must patrol vast tracts of remotely situated, uninhabited land.

Dr. Clay suggests more extensive poaching patrols, more stringent enforcement of park rules and harsher penalties for prosecuted poachers, the involvement of game lodges and guides in the reporting of poaching incidents, elephant-proof fencing of farmland, The Waterbuck, page 5And the greater use of technology, such as helicopter patrols and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – “expensive but highly effective,” he points out.Dr. Masunga suggests that the BDF should increase their numbers in the air and on the ground in the Chobe region, especially in the hotspot areas; he also calls for increased collaboration between the two anti-poaching units: “Both the DWNP and BDF need to sit around the table and devise new and effective strategies to combat poaching.”The mitigation of human/wildlife conflict is a complex topic that by its very nature would involve multi-pronged, and inventive, approaches, including better fencing methods for agricultural lands, better kraaling for livestock, and perhaps most significantly devising projects and programmes to assist farmers to perceive wildlife as a valuable resource, one that would bring financial benefits from wildlife-based tourism.

Says Kevin MacFarlane, researcher at the Central Kalahari Lion Research Project, which addresses escalating farmer/predator conflict in the Kalahari: “Farmers must be recognized as stakeholders in the desert’s natural resources. As long as farmers perceive lions as value-less, and dangerous to their livestock, the conflict will persist. The only way this perception can change is for farmers to recognize the financial gain lions can bring to them through tourism; all other strategies are stop-gap and may only help alongside this integral aim.”

In the long-term, of course, conservation education, and instilling within young Botswana the ability to value, appreciate and love their wildlife heritage - recognizing the animals’ rights to exist alongside that of human beings - is critical. Whilst this is currently part and parcel of the country’s school curricula, the behavior of the two misguided boys towards the waterbuck in distress would seem to indicate that this needs to be intensified and improved. When that is achieved, in the next instance perhaps we would witness the two boys – concerned and empathetic towards the animal’s suffering – running to help it, instead of wishing to taunt and hurt it, making themselves part of the rescue operation that brought it safe and sound to its – and that of all the myriad species of Botswana’s extraordinary wildlife heritage – refuge, the magnificent Chobe National Park.