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Wildlife Action Group Malawi


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#1 pemby123

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 05:49 PM

The Wildlife Action Group (WAG) is an NGO, who co-manage two governmental protected areas Thuma Forest Reserve and Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve which are located in the Central Region of Malawi between Lilongwe and Lake Malawi on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. Together the two forest reserves cover an area of app. 500 km˛.
The main project of the Wildlife Action Group is the "Thuma Forest Reserve Eco-system Rehabilitation Project” which began in 1996 and in 2007 was extended with the "Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve Eco-system Rehabilitation Project".

It hasn't always and sometimes still isn't easy but we are on the right track: Thuma F.R. is now, without doubt, one of the best, if not the best, protected forest reserve in Malawi. W.A.G. emphasizes on training its own scouts to assure 100% dedication and efficiency. And in 2006 W.A.G. has reached the target of employing one scout for almost every 15 km2 of Thuma; a very high protection level compared to most other reserves in Africa. And our scouts do spend their time in the field: about 25 days per month in a row, because that is where a scout should be: in the field, protecting wildlife!

As a result, in the last 10 years poaching pressure in Thuma F.R. has reduced significantly, wildlife numbers are increasing, elephants returned to Thuma F.R. in 1999 after they left the area due to severe poaching in the 80's, and buffalo, previously split up in small groups of 3 to 4 animals to escape the poaching pressure, now form herds of up to 30 animals.
However we still suffer significant problems with poaching and elephant crop raiding due the reserve only being partially fenced, this has significant impacts on local communities; loss of crops, injury & even death as well as impacting education as it is not safe for children to travel the long distances to school when elephants are present.

We have come to rely heavily on international volunteers who have been deployed to supervise and assist with the construction of roads, scout- and volunteer accommodation as well as conducting game counts, biological surveys and taking part in the scout training.
By implementing conservation micro-projects in the communities around Thuma, W.A.G. targets to make its conservation efforts to be of the benefit of both people and wildlife.

An Important Biodiversity Hotspot In Malawi

Thuma FR and Dedza-Salima FR contain significant numbers of the remaining large mammals of Malawi, including several key populations identified by the IUCN. Thuma F.R. and Dedza-Salima F.R. are one of the few protected areas in Malawi which give still home to elephant and buffalo. Other (larger) game include greater kudu, bushbuck, baboon, vervet monkey, bush baby, leopard, cerval, spotted hyena, genets, African civet, warthog, bush pig, porcupine as well as a number of smaller antelopes like Sharpe's grysbok, common duiker and klipspringer. But Thuma F.R. is not only of interest for these mammals. There is a variety of trees and plants, birds, insects, and other animals which make the two reserves an important biodiversity hotspot in Malawi.
Poaching Of African Elephants

The most immediate threat to most elephant populations in Malawi is illegal hunting for ivory. WAG works very closely with Department National Parks & Wildlife and other government agencies to bring about the effective enforcement of these laws. This activity will not only curtail the operations of those illegal forest/ wildlife exploiters who are prosecuted, but as awareness spreads it will act as a deterrent and reduce the overall level of illegal hunting and trade.
However uncontrolled illegal activities in the two reserves (mainly poaching, charcoal burning and illegal harvesting of bamboo and timber) threaten to destroy its habitats and the environmental services it provides the region and the nation, which is why our scout work and presence is so important.

Primary Task Of Scouts And Other Field Staff Is To Protect And To Secure The Wildlife

Most NGO's working in conservation receives funding for starting micro-projects in villages, for putting up an electric fence to keep elephants out of the fields of farmers, for putting up direction signs, for buying GPS's for mapping natural forest resources, for conservation awareness projects and so on. Most people acknowledge that these activities are extremely important in conservation, as do we, at the same time often hardly any funding is made available for paying the staff, who do a crucial and dangerous job.
We hope this programme will raise interest to contribute directly to the conservation of Malawi's wildlife and environment.

@WAGMalawi
http://www.wag-malawi.org/

#2 Game Warden

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 06:17 PM

Pemby, did you read the above rules for this subforum: that you have to be registered as an NGO or Aid/Voluntary worker to begin a topic here. If you wish to change your catergory, please do, if you have involvement with WAG Malawi. And if you haven't already read it, you can see my interview with a previous Field manager of Thuma, Albert Schenk, here.

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#3 pemby123

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 10:44 PM

Pemby, did you read the above rules for this subforum: that you have to be registered as an NGO or Aid/Voluntary worker to begin a topic here. If you wish to change your catergory, please do, if you have involvement with WAG Malawi. And if you haven't already read it, you can see my interview with a previous Field manager of Thuma, Albert Schenk, here.

Apologies, I did see that but when attempting to register it accepted my current username. I shall register as a voluntary worker for the NGO. Ihave seen that interview but it is very old now and outdated for our current work, I thought an update would be useful.

#4 Game Warden

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:13 AM

Very useful indeed Pemby: how long have you been with WAG and what experiences have you had? Very interested to find out more. Matt.

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#5 @WAGMALAWI

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:42 PM

Very useful indeed Pemby: how long have you been with WAG and what experiences have you had? Very interested to find out more. Matt.


Registered as an NGO.

Im UK based but spent the summer of 2010 out there and have been raising awareness, etc since. Did a lot of community outreach. The reserve was extended in 07 when we took over Dedza Salima which is contiguous with Thuma our original forest reserve which doubled the area and perimeter we have to manage and police. We have a number of villages surrounding us, some within 10m of our boundary. We suffer from subsistence poaching, organised ivory poaching and illegal bamboo cutting & charcoa burning. The bamboo cutting and charcoal burning is facilitating the elephants crop raiding which is the most direct stimullus for antagonism from the communities as they attack the elephnts and the elephants defend themselvs. In 2011 we got funding to have some of our scout team formally trained by the department of national parks and wildlife which is a huge step forward. The main aim for 2012 is to get funding together for an extension to the existing stretch of 12km electric fence which goes someway to alleviating the crop raiding but recently the ele's have been walling around it and then the fence has acted as a barrier to them returning when the locals and wildlife officer intervene. We had a fantastic new manager take over in 2010, Lynn Clifford who has done an amazing job in difficult circumstances, the main camp has been ransacked twice in the last year.

#6 Game Warden

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 10:31 PM

Please do arrange some photos of your work there, and perhaps some monthly field reports to share with us: in terms of boots and field kit, is there anything UK based Safaritalkers can do getting Army surplus gear your way?

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#7 @WAGMALAWI

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 07:48 PM

Hi everyone at ST. Much of my own information is contained in the above posts. I have to apologise for a lack of posts I have been very busy with work for WAG and my day job in recent months but I hope this will lead to a more concerted effort to post and raise awareness on our work in Malawi.

I have recently been in contact with a number of "professional" fundraisers if I can use that term who all convey the same unfortunate message, they have have never known the times to be so tough. Increased competition for funding is leaving small grassroots conservation projects like ourselves in tough situations but all is not bad. We have made some significant progress recently. Our field team are WAG Malawi, I take no credit for any of the work going on in Malawi although I hope to get over there soon. I feel uneasy stating this as a cause for celebration but due to the pressures we face it is indeed one, for the 1st time in 15 years our anti poaching scouts are armed. The Dept of National Parks & Wildlife have agreed to allow our scouts to carry weapons against poachers. This is after some of our scouts received their forst formal training in the governments game ranger programe so that is a big step forward (as much as we would prefer not to require firearms). Subsistence poachers are not too much of an immediat ethreat, although they are often aggressive but we have had 2 groups (possibly 2 of the same party) of armed poachers present on reserve this Winter (Malawi winter).

The real reason for this post is to highlight a small campaing we are running to equip our anti poaching efforts. For the next 29 days any donation given will be matched by an anonymous donor and also if we meet the $4200 mark we will be awarded a permanent fundraising spot on Global Giving. I know anyone affiliatted with large multi national NGO's may scoff at this but it would make a big difference to us.The link is below and I plan on being more active on ST from now on with updates. I do contribute with my personal username above but I do need to add that my personal views may not be those of WAG all of the time :)

So please at least check us out, mention us to a friend, tweet us, check us out on facebook and if you can spare a few dollars, pounds, Euros or Rand every penny can help. As many of you are seasoned safari go-ers I would also implore you to consider Malawi as an alternative to the big boys of the safari world. We run Thuma Forest which is a very rustic and genuine African experience but other parks in the country are also making good progress in regards to tourism ventures.

Matt, I apologise I missed your previous post in this thread regarding field kit. Indeed we do struggle for basics like boot polish, boots, knives torches, tents, sleeping bags etc. All the things we would usually buy without much of a second thought. Most recently we put out an SOS for anyone who could donate a couple of battery chargers and rechargeable batteries. If you think the UK based Safaritalkers would be interested in supporting us in such a way I can request an up to date SOS list.

I hope I have not rambled on too much and our work is of interest to all of the Safari Talkers.


Should you have the means to afford us a dontation our Global Giving campaign is below

http://www.globalgiv...ican-elephants/

#8 Game Warden

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 08:02 PM

Yes, please do post a list of logistical items that Safaritalkers might be able to help you with.

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#9 @WAGMALAWI

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 07:46 PM

In terms of items, basically any army surplus type equipment. Obviously dull colours! Anything which is of an advantage in the field, compass, whistles, boots, socks, general clothing, tents (small and very portable). We are in need of a decent GPS or two.

We have just begun construction on a new stretch of electric fencing around some of the communities. I know this is an increasingly controversial proactice but at this point necessity dictates a requirement for physical barriers to limit human conflict.

I know most Safaritalkers are seasoned Africa-philes so understand the type of kit which is necessary out in the field. Not to lay it on too thick but the kindness of others has kept us going for 15 years!

Just got news of an ele spotted with a heavy infection, possibly from a snare injury so trying to locate it at the moment.

#10 @WAGMALAWI

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 07:53 AM

Hi Safaritalkers. An update on WAG Malawis work over the past 6 months.

No surprise here but it's been an up and down mid 2012 . We received funding to almost double our anti poaching team from the Abraham Foundation in the USA. This has been wonderful as many funding bodies do not pay for wages yet manpower is what we need. The key challenge now is recruiting reliable and honest scouts and kitting them out as we don't have. Funding for that.

We have continued to extend our electric fence to prevent elephants wandering out of the reserve and crop raiding but this is increasing due to encroachment in other areas of the forest.

We have had a lot of arrests which is great, the challenge is getting the, to prosecution and we have been working with the local magistrate to bypass corrupt police officers. We have also been working much more closely with village chiefs to implement traditional justice as this often has more impact than "western justice" thighs includes livestock fines and social stigma.

We did have 3 scouts injured in a fire fight with armed poachers in September and the arrests as a result of this led to a retaliatory attack on our base camp during which we wear ransacked, losing almost all of our equipment.

Last week we arrested a woman peddling ivory.

So we have taken a big hit after the robbery. We have published our 2013 wish list so if anyone can or knows anyone who can help you would be making a meaningful contribution.
We are planning to carry out a camera trap survey in 2013 as we still don't have a clear idea as to the mammal diversity but this is reliant on having enough camera traps so if anyone can donate a trap, we aim to get to about 15.

2013 WISH LIST
Six scouts to be sponsored for next year
40 army uniforms – army trousers, army shirts, army backpack packs, sleeping bags,army rain jackets,
Good quality torches with rechargeable batteries
Laptop x 2 with long life battery
External drive to store our back ups
Oven gloves x 4
Good quality pots and pans
Night vision goggles
Digital camcorder
Digital camera with good lens
(OR: DSLR with good HD recording)
Night camera to record animals (camera trap)
Good quality second hand mobile phones (quad band) x 30(these are needed for fence attendants, scouts, informers etc (unlocked if poss)
Walkie talkies good quality
Power drill rechargeable battery
Solar chargers for phones for on patrol
4 ANDROID PHONES FOR NEW GPS USE
A large plastic water tank and fittings
Very long water hose to assist with filling our showers etc

All the best from WAG Malawi.

#11 @WAGMALAWI

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 07:02 PM

I should point out our request for old android smartphones was an error it is actually windows based or old PDA's. this is not due to gadget vanity! We are looking to trial CYBERTRACKER which runs on these devices to digitally map poaching activity and wildlife. Unfortunately at the moment it omlynruns I windows based. The website suggests
Samsung Omnia SGH-i900
HTC Touch Diamond
HTC TyTN II smartphone
HP iPAQ hw 6500 Series Mobile Messenger

If you are interested in this sort of thing check their website. I guess you could use it to track your own wildlife viewings on safari.
http://cybertracker.org/





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