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The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit

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.

Wild Horizons Featured in Vanity Fair, March 2018

Vanity Fair, March 2018.

We are proud to be featured in this progressive, positive article in Vanity Fair, March 2018.

The story features the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary at The Elephant Camp and highlights the positive impact the Tourism Industry and Responsible Travel can have on conservation.

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Siduli Hide – An up-close wildlife experience

I recently had the pleasure of checking out the Siduli Hide with Proffessional Guide Charles Brightman. Situated on the edge of the waterhole at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, the Siduli Hide offers guests a chance observe wildlife in a unique, and very close-up way. A  Professional Guide escorts guests into the hide, which is designed to look like a termite mound. This involves a short walk (5 minutes) from the lodge to the hide. Once hidden within, guests wait for a variety of mammal, reptile and bird species to visit the waterhole to quench their thirsts or to sample minerals at the nearby salt-lick. 

It is truly an exhilarating way to see the array of wildlife getting on with their waterside antics – absolutely fascinating to observe! There are around 5 small crocodiles that are currently resident to the waterhole, and it is so interesting watching the water birds such as the Yellow Billed Stalk, and the Great Egret skirting around the waterthole, catching fish, whilst actually working hand in hand with the crocs! We also observed impala, elephant, warthog and baboons. Sitting in the hide truly does provide for excellent photographic opportunities, as the animals come very close up, completely un-aware that there are humans clicking away at their cameras inside the “termite mound”. 

The hide ‘sits’ take place at early morning, and late afternoon. Times will vary slightly with the seasons. Sits are usually around 2 hours, but may vary according the presence of wildlife, as of course you cannot just up and leave after 2 hours whilst surrounded by a herd of buffalo or elephant! The activity requires a minimum of 2 guests, and currently can take a maximum of 4 guests. Siduli Hide will undergo alterations next year to accommodate a max of 6 guests. No children under 16 years are allowed (unless special permission is granted).
 

In the morning, clients will be offered tea/coffee at Vic Falls Safari Lodge, before going into the hide. The afternoon/evening sits include soft drinks, mineral water and a limited amount of beer (people need to be in a sober state due to close wildlife interactions). 

Guests should know however that this is an authentic wild experience, and so they cannot guarantee wildlife sightings. Saying this, the drier it gets, the more chance there is of having some very good close up encounters!
This is a must-do activity for any brid/wildlife enthusiast and offers something so much more than the traditional game drive experience from the back of a safari vehicle.