Saturday, October 9, 2010

THE KILLING OF A RIVER

This is a very important guest post by Dr Clay Wilson, a Wildlife Veterinarian from Chobe Wildlife Rescue, Chobe, Botswana. Read about his amazing and valuable work here- Wildlife Rescue
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.





We had a brief meeting to discuss strategy and at 5:30 we were off.

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.



At 6:20 we were on scene. 5 Namibian fishermen were found on our side of the river actively setting up their nets and were arrested by each boat in turn. This is the time they are there once all boat traffic has left the park. We rendezvoused with vehicle at Serondella were we dropped off poachers and began coming down river to extract the nets that were strung right across the river. After much hard work we managed to confiscate 41 nets and quite a few fish that were already caught.






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.

I strongly suggest that regular BDF patrols are organized on a regular basis to patrol this area at night. The new BDF commander was in agreement with me and is keen to do this.

I’m sure the fish poaching is just as bad further upriver from Serondella to Ihaha but due to the fact that rocks in river bed would prevent boats going up past this point I suggest that the BDF above this point utilizes the airboat to patrol this section of the river.

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
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2 comments:

Jim said...

Yay for Clay!!!!!And for all who helped!Fantastic work

Emptyhead51 said...

Yay Clay...Great job!!