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General News - June 2010

General News - June 2010

Vulture population count - 2 June 2010

Vulture population count
 2 June 2010

The first "Vulture Count" day took place on 1st June 2010.  There will be others later in the season.  For more information, contact Rory MacDougall
Another concern is the status of one of the Zambezi Valley's most charismatic and beautiful avian "specials" - Lilian's Lovebird.  These delightful little jewels were once common in the Lower Zambezi National Park/Mana Pools area.  However, recent records indicate that they have become scarce on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, and that their numbers may be diminishing even in Mana Pools National Park

The fear is that trapping of these birds by the "caged bird" market may be occurring.  If you see Lilians Lovebirds in the Zambezi Valley, please report your sighting to Rory MacDougall (as above) and Dave Rockingham-Gill


It's the end of the rainy season, but the waters of the Upper Zambezi catchment are still are still tumbling over Victoria Falls and into Lake Kariba which, at 90% full and still spilling, is the highest it has been for decades.  While this provides beautiful new Kariba vistas and water-filled creeks for houseboaters, fishermen and leisure-seekers, it is a serious problem for wildlife.  With the waterlevel now at the tree-line, all the shoreline grassland has disappeared, leaving nothing for grazing animals to eat.  

Wildlife on Kariba's islands is particularly susceptible to this problem, as there is no mainland interior to escape to.  Starvation Island, which you can see as you look out over the lake from Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is a case in point.  Aptly named during Operation Noah when hundreds of animals were trapped there by the rising waters of the newly-filling lake, this island has once again become a wildlife disaster in the making.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is appealing for help to provide hay bales and stockfeed to sustain the animals on Starvation Island for the next few months until the water level recedes and the grassy shoreline returns.  The Zambezi Society has offered Bumi some fuel assistance and has agreed to spread the word through its networks.   
Richard Vickery from Bumi Hills has just sent this report:  "A visiting group from the conservation support organisation, SAVE Foundation (Australia) had their lunch interrupted by a group of waterbuck swimming from Starvation Island to the Mainland.  By the time I spotted them, the two males were already lagging and they were only two-thirds across.   the 2.5km crossing.  We rallied the troups into two boats and sped out to them.  The boats managed to grab one male each by his horns and ferry it to shore safely.  My boat had to race back to the group to rescue a female which had cramped up and could no longer swim.  We got her to shore safely and she recovered enough to walk after about 20 minutes.  The three rescued waterbuck would not have made it without our intervention!  The swim across the gap is now 2.5 km.  If more animals attempt this crossing in their weakened state most will perish!"

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