18th December, 2015
has passed and nothing much seems to have changed and yet if you look carefully, a lot has changed. I am sitting in the same chair as this time last year, it is as hot as last year, and everyone is still battling along to make sure what has to be done is done and what has to be paid is paid! Not so easy these days.
Nevertheless, things have been happening in our ZHA world, mainly as far as Rifa is concerned. I am so often surprised when people say “Is the ZHA still going??” It is good to be able to say that “Yes” we are still here and playing a part in our country. We do not have much hunting but it is our hunters who started Rifa and it is still our hunters that we rely on even though the numbers are on the low side. I think some of our old friends are still around and I would be really happy to see any of you if you find time to pop into the office for a cup of tea. Yes, ZHA is very much still alive. Your Committee is still here and all are doing everything in their power to keep the ZHA and Rifa going in an effort to try and teach our youth the value of our precious wildlife which really needs to be carefully looked after for the benefit of us all.
Unfortunately, due to ill health Jean Kok, our book keeper, has moved to Scotland to be with her family. I am sure most of our members will miss her jokes and stories.
At the office, as you may know, we have sort of decorated the walls a bit and put our trophies on display waiting for the day when we have prize giving again!! We are also endeavouring to make a garden. As the water only trickles in it is rather slow work but I am sure you will notice our efforts when you visit us.
To repeat my letter of last year - Membership has slipped down even further to about 55 paid up members! This includes Full Hunters, Non-Hunters and Dagga Boys. As mentioned before, I send emails to about 125 members and ex-members because I am sure some of our members have just forgotten to pay.
The fees for 2016 again remain the same as for the past few years, i.e.
Full Hunter $140
Junior Member/Non Hunter $ 40
Dagga Boy $ 15
Associate Member $ 40
Your annual subscriptions are gratefully received and much appreciated and really helps us to keep moving forward and to make a difference at Rifa Education Camp.
As usual citizen hunting was not readily available. A few hunts were booked but in general hunting enquiries were low. Six hunts were actually booked and unfortunately three of those were cancelled. Hopefully better days are ahead when hunting opportunities increase and time and resources to take up the hunts will also be available.
Any hunting available was advertised to members, i.e., Shashani, Pamuzinda and Mavuradonha. Options were even less than 2014.
Rifa Conservation Education Programme
As always, the Rifa Management, Dave and Elspeth, together with our Education Officer, Freedom, are doing a sterling job at the camp. It is here where you will see the most changes.
At the beginning of the year 50 new Tsetse targets were erected. These are so important for the protection of our children, visitors and our own staff. We trust they will last a bit longer this time as the material purchased is hopefully much stronger.
The Association is most grateful to National Parks for once again donating the Rifa quota. This is absolutely necessary for the education programme to continue.
The Rifa roads are an ongoing worry. Mr. Graham Westhoff most generously supplied the machinery, fuel, time, staff and a work gang to assist with repairs to the road so that it would be made passable for the school buses this year. For this we are most thankful. It is, of course, an ongoing headache. We most definitely need long term repairs to the access roads – surfaces, drainage and stabilizing of gullies.
Rifa has had support again from Safari Club International both Sacrament and Houston Chapters. Most of these funds went towards our sponsored schools together with funds received from the International Monetary Foundation. This year we had four sponsored camps comprising 9 under privileged schools and for the first time one of these was a High School.
We were fortunate to receive a “once off” donation from the Safari Club International Foundation which will cover various educational items for the camp, i.e., stationery and books, upgrading facilities at the Rifa Museum, camera trap and binoculars, etc. These still need to be purchased.
Mrs. Penny Raynor again volunteered to undertake the difficult task of sourcing sponsorship in her spare time (of which she has very little!) She has worked wonders in this respect and managed to source the IMF donation mentioned above as well as a donation from the Dallas Ecological Foundation. The DEF funds will be used to upgrade our Rifa computers, printers, etc., as well as procuring mammal and bird field guides for our library.
The Save Foundation (via Penny again) donated funds which were used to fence a large area of camp around the staff quarters mainly for safety and tidying up. Another change you will appreciate when you visit.
Again special thanks to Bryden School Photo Competition which raised $580 as well as their Mrs. Johnson’s cake raffle which raised a further $330 – a total of $911 for Rifa! Thank you Bryden School!
Trek Petroleum donated 100 litres diesel per month for the whole year for which we are extremely grateful.
We had great support from all schools and friends, too many to mention. Our friends donated items such as paint, dust bins, oil, cable, lawn, fertiliser, hand radios, diesel, and many more badly needed items. What wonderful support from our schools in these difficult times!
We are not sitting back yet. Our latest project on the go is to automate the water system at Rifa which will allow extended hours of operation of the submersible pump at the river. This will ensure availability of water for domestic use at all times and also allow the maximum area of lawn to be watered during the day.
Next on our minds I think is to get solar power at the camp. The electricity bill is very high. We are working on sourcing funding for this and many other items big and small. All round, thanks to our faithful friends, we have managed quite a lot this year. The camp is definitely looking a lot happier.
A big thank you to Mr. Peter Banks who was our volunteer hunter for 15 out of our 35 camps this year. What would we do without him? Thanks also to our other volunteers who sometimes have to step in at the very last minute.
We are already fully booked for 2016 with a waiting list of new schools trying to find a slot somewhere during the year.
Nyakasanga Fishing Camp
Our Nyakasanga Camp is still being taken care of by Mike Malleus and Nigel Raw in their precious spare time for which we thank them. We really need the support of our members. We have people who travel from South Africa every year for their stay at Nyakasanga. Our lease ends at the end of next year. It would be so sad if we have to lose our only last access to the Zambezi River (apart from visiting Rifa). To date we have had 95 nights booked this year.
We still have the river bank erosion problem but slowly but surely work is being done on it. As has been said for a long time, a work party is needed but somehow this never seems to take place. Folk are busy trying to keep their own lives and businesses under control.
Not many have time to spend up at Nyakasanga these days. We understand that but ask our fishermen and members to support their camp if possible. Non-members are also welcome.
The office will be officially closed from 18th December through to Monday 4th January, 2016 but as usual I will go to the office regularly during this period to download emails or sort out any problems. I will always be available on my cell phone 0772-329434.
The Chairman, Committee, and staff wish you a peaceful and happy festive season.
Very best wishes,