The dream-like clichés are well-known – Victoria Falls as a destination is a “Wonder of the World”; a “must-see-in-your-lifetime; the unchallenged Adventure Capital of Africa and one of the planet’s most astounding tourist resorts.
Not mere platitudes, but also stunning reality to international guests who experience such a magic elixir. Yet, simmering beneath the surface away from the public gaze, a life-and-death battle rages near Victoria Falls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Poaching!
Local safari operator and conservationist, Charles Brightman, and his small but tough-as-teak team of scouts of the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) have now been passionately committed for more than 13 years to protecting the rich flora and fauna of the famed area. As a quiet, unassuming leader this man is a rare breed and commands immense respect for his unwavering passion.
And with several traditional corporate sponsors falling away due to financial hardships he continues to fight a critical “Sponsor a Scout” crusade to keep the momentum going.
“VFAPU is under no illusion that we will completely stop poaching,” he states, “but with the support of caring stakeholders, companies, hotels, lodges and individuals we have been able to achieve some great successes. Since our unit’s establishment in January 1999 we have removed more than 20,000 wire snares from our operational area and have arrested about 600 hardened poachers. We’ve also rescued more than 150 mammals injured through poaching and released them back into the wild.”
The Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is surrounded by the 2,340 ha Victoria Falls National Park and the 57,000 ha Zambezi National Park. These state-protected areas are home to numerous species of fauna and flora which, in recent times, have been subjected to a dramatic increase in various forms of poaching.
Charles Brightman and his team of 16 scouts continue to fight the destruction, working in close co-operation with the National Parks & Wildlife Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Africa Albida Tourism, through its flagship property the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, continues to be a resolute primary supporter, but more scouts and more resources are always needed.
It costs US$285 per month to sponsor a VFAPU Scout and companies keen to support VFAPU in fighting the crime of poaching may use the VFAPU logo on all printed material; have their logo placed on the VFAPU website and their sponsored scouts may wear a company logo or branding on their uniforms.
It’s a simple plea from Charles Brightman: “Please help us to stop this. Please consider sponsoring a scout.”
Email Charles at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s fascinating to follow VFAPU on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/4664749665/