Check out Clay's article on the "Wild Vet Weekly Diary" Page above.
This article is about Clay's efforts in protecting the Chobe River,from over fishing which is affecting the whole ecosystem of the river and the area. I, and many others are helping this work by small donations, and by publicising his work.
Dr Clay Wilson writes-
On Monday 04/10 after long weekend of Independence Day with the help of an officer from fisheries we organized a fish antipoaching exercise. We went to speak with immigration, the Police and the new BDF commander to organize representatives from each to accompany us on your mission
The Namibians on the Chobe River have been setting their nets all the way across the river for years now commencing on the Botswana side. This indiscriminate and illegal catching of fish has severely depleted the population with an untold effect on the aquatic ecosystem. The Namibians are then selling their fish in Kasane which has created a market for them.
On 04/10 after 5:30 myself and 4 plain clothed wildlife officers went up the river to do a recconesance. At that time we counted over 21 nets. The operation was on.
On 05/10 after treating a wounded lion in the park it was time to go.
AT 5 pm as preorganized we met at Lhea to commence operation.
My own personal boat and 2 boats from a private citizen met at agreed point. We all congregated at The BDF camp. The BDf supplied us with one more boat and 4 armed soldiers.
Myself, 2 private citizens along with 4 BDF soldiers, 2 immigration officers, and 12 wildlife officers were off by boat. Two officers went by vehicle on land to Serondella to collect nets as we went along.
It took 3 hours to pull all the nets and then we met back at river crossing just above Chobe Game Lodge to unload nets on to vehicles.
We arrived back at the dock at 10:15 took the arrested poachers to the police station and everyone was thanked for an excellent job. No one was hurt and it went according to my plan and management.
It was a very successful and rewarding exercise. I’m sure the Namibians will not be putting their nets over on our side for some time to come.
Regular patrols will stop this activity along with banning fisherman to illegally sell their fish in our markets should give a chance for the river to replenish its fish population and normalize again. I strongly suggest we look into possibility of creating fish farming enclosures in part of the river not frequented by tourists and breeding and restocking fish populations to help the environment to recuperate.
This exercise is a perfect example of how all different departments can work in conjunction in a positive and constructive way for the benefit of the whole.
We cannot continue to deplete this valuable resource and not think about tomorrow. The difficulty is that there are 4 counties involved with different regulations and cultures.
Many of you have stated concern for my health. It is much appreciated but I am an old dog that has learned a few tricks. All I can say is that “ you can be like most people and you can live your life in the trenches and duck your head but for those of you that stand up you are going to be shot at”.
Be aware of your surroundings and follow your instincts, be careful and meticulous and wear a bullet proof vest ….. And learn to duck………quickly