Victoria Falls comprises of many wild and wonderful things, from the sprawling wilderness to the diverse wildlife population. However, poaching is a harsh reality, and if ignored, would cripple Africa’s eco-system.
While Victoria Falls may be home to a natural wonder, it is also the heritage and legacy for a community of people with indomitable strength. The Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit (VFAPU) have boots on the ground and eyes on the future. They are the unsung heroes of every game drive and safari in our National Parks areas, protecting the environment and its inhabitants for generations to come. Wild Horizons has been a proud supporter of VFAPU for 15 years, providing financial and operational aid to further their reach and impact. This meaningful partnership is rooted in a shared sense of purpose and appreciation for the remote wildlife areas that make Victoria Falls such a special, diverse space.
VFAPU comprises 15 high-performing scouts who are trained in the tracking and apprehension of poachers, many of whom pose a lethal threat not just to the animals, but the scouts themselves. It is a job that requires the utmost dedication as the days are long and the challenges daunting. Some patrols take place over several days, venturing deep into the National Park with the team covering up to 15km each day. Small details such as a footprint in the dust or trampled patch of grass can lead the scouts in the right direction. Their senses must remain on high alert for any small piece of evidence that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye.
When one thinks of wildlife poaching, images of poachers with high powered rifles may come to mind. However, this is just one approach. Snares are rudimentary pieces of wire fashioned into a loop, left (and often forgotten about) in areas of high animal traffic. They wrap around the neck or leg of an animal, and the more the animal tries to escape, the tighter the snare becomes. VFAPU have removed 22 500 snares from wildlife areas, saving as many lives in the process. To date, the scouts have rescued nearly 300 mammals who have been injured through poaching activities, all of which received veterinary attention and once recovered, were released back into the wild. A staggering 900 poachers have been apprehended, and the damage prevented through this alone is incomprehensible.
Funding remains one of the biggest challenges that VFAPU faces. Their invaluable work incurs massive costs and donations are vital to ensure the continued success of the organisation. Wild Horizons is a proud supporter of VFAPU, paying the salaries of three scouts each month and sponsoring the fund raising activities hosted by VFAPU.
By simply reading and sharing the work that VFAPU do, the call of the wild travels a little further. However, if you would like to donate to VFAPU, please visit their website at http://vfapu.com/donate/ where you can also discover more about their extensive projects. Financial help is always appreciated, but boots, green shirts, hats, flashlights, sleeping bags, raincoats and medical supplies will also make a difference.
VFAPU started as a team of three dedicated individuals. Now, they have given a global community the power to transform knowledge to action. Because of them, future generations will walk in an elephants footsteps, hear the haunting whoop of a hyena, find shade beneath a tangle of trees and watch a sunset over the pristine Zambezi River. It has been an honour to be part of their journey, and Wild Horizons will continue to be a proud supporter of the Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit for decades to come.