October 23, 2013
REPORT TO DONORS (2013)
Donations were down substantially in 2011, 2012 and 2013 due to the worldwide economic storm and the recession domestically. Wilderness Conservancy and its Project CARE have survived by doing what most Americans do - not spending more than comes in.
Wilderness Conservancy is a small foundation with a small budget. Your donations go 100% to our projects and are vital in sustaining them. Without your support Wilderness Conservancy could not succeed. Your donations are not wasted and do not go to salaries, administration or expense accounts. Wilderness Conservancy has no paid employees and all who help, donate their time, skill and expenses – including me.
NOTE: Some of the following is an update of material contained in my report to you of 2012. Please help so we can continue our work.
ELEPHANT FAMILY: Our donors can be very proud of their funding of the purchase of the family of nine elephants in 1996 from the National Parks Board of South Africa. They were due to be shot in order to reduce the then burgeoning elephant population in Kruger National Park. They now flourish in Shamwari Game Reserve and have multiplied to more than 24.
NAMIBIA: The 1978 Scout aircraft is in Namibia and is operated by Carl Hilker in support of the Cheetah Conservation Fund of Laurie Marker – featured in the December 1999 issue of National Geographic magazine.
SHAMWARI AND CAPE PROVINCE RESERVES: The 1977 Citabria aircraft had been flying antipoaching operations at Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa for eight years. Poaching was down to near zero, however earlier this year three black rhino were killed by poachers (two adult females and one calf). This is a tragedy and rhino poaching is expanding greatly. The Citabria could not be used to dart animals and the distances were too far apart to service water wells by land vehicle. The Citabria was traded for a good pre-owned Robinson helicopter which now serves both Shamwari and the Cape Reserve. The helicopter is more expensive to operate and maintain but Shamwari absorbs that excess. It is a very valuable asset in game management and protection.
MOZAMBIQUE PROJECTS 1 and 2:
1. Catapu near the Zambezi: As reported in the “REPORT TO DONORS - 2012”, “TCT Industrias Florestais, Lda - Mobilias Dalmann is a large timber company headquartered in Beira. It harvests various species of Mozambique timber and replaces each tree harvested with at least 12 young trees. TCT was created at the end of the Rhodesian war and it commenced its timber projects at Catapu near the Zambezi River in a very remote region. During the Rhodesian war the terrorists who were battling the Rhodesian security forces were mainly based in camps in Mozambique. They nearly wiped out indigenous wildlife. Early on TCT attempted to protect the remaining wildlife but it was nearly impossible given the political reality in Mozambique at the time. However, as the political and timber concession began to improve, efforts were made by TCT to expand its protection of wildlife. In the region nearly void of wildlife, which had been abundant in the 1960s, there were no wildlife conservation organizations willing to help restore the fauna. Dr. Cleaves had visited the area several times in the 1980s, 1990s and early in 2000s and was acquainted with the President of TCT, James White. In early 2012 Mr. White made a proposal to Wilderness Conservancy: in years gone by herds of Cape Buff, also roamed the area but due to the lack of water they seasonally migrated into areas where they were heavily hunted. If Wilderness Conservancy would help fund the drilling of two boreholes, water would be abundant year round and the Cape Buffalo might well remain in the Catapu area under the protection of TCT and its small group of game rangers. Wilderness Conservancy agreed and the two bore holes were drilled and did, indeed, produce the water projected and more. In turn the Cape Buffalo have returned and have stayed in the protected area, as have many other species of wildlife. Wilderness Conservancy has also provided uniforms and other essentials for the game rangers and many poachers have been arrested and prosecuted.”
Since the above report Dr. Cleaves visited Catapu in April 2013 and found that the two boreholes had, indeed, produced far more water than expected, that two large pans had been filled with year around water, and that wildlife and vegetation had returned. In addition, Cape Hunting Dogs have also returned as well as leopard and numerous other species not having been seen for many years. Dr. Cleaves also delivered a Panorama 150 motion activated infra red camera to be mounted on various poacher incursion trails. That camera, on the first night of placement, photographed two poachers and registered the date, time and GPS location. James White presented the photo to the local village chief and he identified the two men and they were arrested and prosecuted.
The small contingent of 14 game guards employed by TCT were equipped with military type uniforms and bush kits supplied by funds donated by Wilderness Conservancy and with a state-of-the-art night vision head sets to allow them to see in the dark. This gear, along with the Panorama camera, have served to spread the word amongst the local villages that Mr. White is a “witch doctor” that can see in the dark and take photos which, in turn, has served to reduce the poaching dramatically.
2. Niassa Game Reserve: Niassa is the third largest game reserve in the world and is in the remote north of Mozambique. Rhinos have been wiped out in Niassa and elephants are being slaughtered by the hundreds. There are virtually no antipoaching operations there and Wilderness Conservancy is partnering with the Wildlife Foundation of South Africa to provide a Bantam B22J light aircraft along with pilot and ground teams to fight this slaughter. It should be operational in early 2014 and reports will be forthcoming.
PROJECT CARE: (Baja California, Mexico) Santa Rosalia is a small town on the Sea of Cortez about half way down the Baja peninsula. As reported in my report for 2008, I had heard of the old age home run by an Order of Catholic Sisters at Santa Rosalia, so in 2003 Project CARE undertook to help supply the old age home with wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, an oxygen generator, clothing, skin lotion, soap, toothpaste, etc., for the old folks. The oxygen generator alone, delivered in December 2003 has been of great help to several of the old folks who have breathing problems. This is important because oxygen cylinders are not a feasible alternative in that to refill them requires that they be shipped by sea to the mainland of Mexico then filled and returned at a cost of both money and time. Over the years since 2003 Project CARE has continued to help support the old age home with the supplies needed and to keep the electricity turned on. In December 2012 Wilderness Conservancy donated $5,000.00 to the home allowing it to purchase needed supplies. The home found that it no longer had enough beds to accommodate the demand and early in 2013 Wilderness Conservancy purchased ten new hospital beds and mattresses, five wheelchairs and several walkers and crutches for the home.
PROJECT CARE: Veteran’s Administration.
As reported in the October 1, 2012, report: “For more than 20 years, Tony Bravo, a barber, has donated his time to giving veterans free haircuts. The barber shop is located in a trailer which Mr. Bravo furnished on the West Los Angeles campus of the Veteran’s Administration. The trailer is well over 40 years old and is in very bad condition. The roof leaks badly when it rains and, given the lack of air-conditioning, is extremely hot in the summer months. Wilderness Conservancy’s Project CARE has undertaken to repair and upgrade the barber shop trailer with the approval of the VA. It will have a new water proof roof and a shade awning so that wheelchair bound vets (who cannot now get into the trailer for a haircut as it does not have wheelchair access) can be given a haircut under the new awning just outside the trailer main door. Engineering has been accomplished and a contractor selected.” This project was completed in early 2013 and the barber shop now has a new waterproof roof, is secured to the ground, has a shade awning allowing wheelchair bound vets to be served easily, has air-conditioning for summer and heat for winter, a new paint job and many more improvements.
Dr. Robert N. Cleaves