General News - January 2014
Thank-you from Cancer Research - 13 January 2014
On behalf of the Cancer Researh UK committee thank-you so much for supporting our Film Gala so generously.
Raw conservation in Central African Republic - 2 January 2014
Success, even though its on a small scale, in Dzangha Sangha Reserve.
A note from one of the bravest guides in Africa - Rod Cassidy!
So this is Christmas and what a build up it has been to Christmas here at the lodge. All the expats living here (three of us), will not only celebrate Christmas but the capture of an ivory poacher on Monday in which we at Sangha Lodge were directly involved.
I want to mention thanks to all of you have helped us return and remain here. Right now there are only 3 3xpats in Dzangha Sangha, Louis Sarno, Tamar (my wife), and myself. Without our presence, incidents like this would go entirely unnoticed, let alone be followed up in good times.
On Sunday morning, 22nd December, we heard 3-5 gunshots at 7am, each spaced about 30 seconds apart, followed by more shots, all coming from the area near Massapola village.
I called the village and got word to the conservator, and then after some delays headed off to Massapola to assess the situation. Massapola is a village of mainly Baaka people and is spread along the main road, the shooting had obviously happened between this village and Sangha river. The village was a ghost town with everyone off in the forest in search of meat also having heard the shots and knowing the score.
I followed with a Bantu guide, along a rough trail leanding through farmbush, and then swamp forest and the finally real forest for around 3kms, finally the noise of the people in the distance, gave away the position. People carrying loads of meat back to the village. I arrived on the scene at around 1030, the villagers had stripped the elephant down completely by that time, all that remained was bones and a single ear ... a single elephant killed by people coming down river from Salo.
Locals reported them loading tusks and elephant meat onto a pirogue, and circumstantial evidence of tracks leading toward the river to support this. Locals say it is elements of Seleka in cahoots with local poachers, giving them arms etc. This seems the most plausible story.
The eco-guards gave some chase at least 4hrs behind the poachers, but the eco-guards returned empty handed, except for one unlucky bush meat poacher.
On Monday 23rd December, I headed into Bayanga village to meet with the conservator and staff, as well as get on the internet and spread the news. Whilst posting about the incident on Facebook, the manager came running in to say the Seleka had arrived with arrested poachers, at the river near the lodge! They asked us to call the conservator and send people to arrest them. At first I didn't want to go but was convinced it was okay and went down with the guards. There were 4 Seleka men in uniform with their guns and the poachers (5 or 6 of them), sitting on the shore. The boat was laden with meat, various bags and the tusks of the elephant was on the shore with one soldier. The one poacher looked familiar and it turns out he is the head gendarmerie of Salo which is the town just up the river!
So great news - we caught the poachers and the partnership we have between the new army, Sleka and the local conservation authority worked like a charm!
Please feel free to write to Rod and show him your support on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Sanhga Lodge website.