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Palanca Report 1st Trimester 2014

• Adventurers of yesteryear • Adventure Sport • Africa: The Good News • Book Reviews
• Safari Health • Bush Cuisine • Conservation • Diving • Fishing • History • Hunting •
• Luxury Travel • Photography • News and Reviews • Overlanding • Other stuff  •
 • Rookie writersSurvival and Bush Craft • True North •

In the beginning of the year, a short break in the rains allowed a 4X4 incursion into Cangandala National Park, even though the road conditions had deteriorated substantially. It was a good opportunity to put to the test the new Land Cruiser kindly donated by Toyota Angola, and sure enough there were plenty of good challenges for us to negotiate on our way through the mud. Things seem to be evolving naturally in the sanctuary, with the animals consistently split in two groups, one comprising the old cows and most of the hybrids, and a second herd with most of the young sables.

Somewhat surprisingly, this time the second group was not accompanied by the bull Mercury, but by his younger sibling Apollo, who at age two is still very inexperienced. More worrying is the fact Mercury did not show up at the trap cameras, nor could we pick up his radio signal anywhere. Maybe he has been spending some time on his own, and it was by chance he has gone undetected, but it is a bit suspicious. With Duarte and Ivan out of the picture, and the hybrid bulls castrated, he should be enjoying a comfortable dominance without competition inside the sanctuary, and I can’t think of any reason why he would leave his girls unattended… something to be followed up in future visits.

We were not able to confirm the number of sable calves, as the long grass, soft terrain and thick vegetation typical of the late rainy season, made it very hard to approach the herds. They were generously photographed in the trap cameras, but not simultaneously and similar aged calves are hardly distinguishable individually. In any case, we believe most calves have survived, and the animals look happy and healthy. Once again we could confirm the presence of several intruder roan bulls inside the sanctuary, but no females. On the other hand, the roan herds out of the sanctuary have been producing lots of calves, consistently recorded in the cameras. One curious event revealed by the trap cameras was seeing that one old female - Paula, broke her left horn. Females often interact aggressively as they establish their hierarchical positions within the herd, and sometimes it can result in traumatic lesions. The broken horn however hasn’t reached live tissue and should bring no consequences to Paula, apart from hindering her dominance ambitions. And on the other hand it will make her much easier to be identified from now on.

The trap cameras however also brought us a sweet-sour surprise. Remarkably, out most popular character – crazy Ivan "The Terrible" resurfaced! Following an absence that lasted for more than six months, we had lost hope to locate him alive and assumed he had probably been another casualty of poachers. Well, he is alive yes, but unfortunately we were not that much off target in our fears. He did fell victim of a poaching incident, having been caught in one of the many infamous snare traps that are constantly being mounted in the park and neighboring areas. He has become a shadow of the Ivan we knew, and if it wasn’t for the white ear tags and VHF collar I would find it hard to accept that he is the same individual that now appeared in photos since January 3rd.

Our old Ivan, strong and proud, mighty and threatening, undefeated… is gone.

He is now a poor masculine figure, humble and skinny, feeble and frightened, beaten. Ivan has lost weight and has even lost his shiny black coat, having turned brown, almost female-colored. He is certainly not the same imposing bull, and on his left front leg carries a nasty ring-shaped scar, evidence of the cable snare that almost took his life. The incident must have happened many months ago and he must have gone through hell before finally attempting a hesitant return to his territorial duties.

It is likely that the worst has passed and he will survive, but it is hard to predict if he will make a full recovery. This was yet another shocking proof that the poaching curse is far from resolved, even in Cangandala. It is highly frustrating that in spite of all the effort put into the project by the various stakeholders and the very significant successes obtained over the past few years, we still do not seem to be winning the war against poaching and the recovery and survival of this magnificent and iconic species hangs by a thread.

Photos can be viewed on Picasa Album through following Link:


• Finding Jimmy •
• Bardot and Elephant Culling •
• Rhino in the bathroom •
• The greatest threat Part 1 •
• The greatest threat Part 2 •
• Rhino Wars •
• You cannot eat money •
• Giant Sable •
• Why are cows not endangered? •
• Wildlife in Zambabwe •
• Hunt elephant in the Kruger •
• Where is the Ethos? •
• The Palanca First Trimester •
• Unwelcome strangers •
• Palanca Report 1st Trimester 2014 •

•  •

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