The Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) at Elephant’s Eye, Hwange is made up of a serious group of men who aren’t the most talkative bunch, but we were able to chat with one of the scouts who shared his story with us…
Kennedy wakes up every morning with two important clear goals: get poachers arrested & save wildlife. He firmly believes that conservation is important for the future of Zimbabwe, as the economic stimulus that wildlife tourism provides has far-reaching positive effects. On a more personal note, he would like his future grandchildren to be able to still experience Africa’s Big Five in the wild – it’s why he became an APU scout and it’s why his favourite part of his job is being a protector of the country’s flora and fauna.
“…he has also become more mentally fit, a result of being in a state of constant alertness and cultivating a keen perceptiveness…”
Since becoming a scout, there have been some interesting changes in Kennedy’s life. He has become more physically fit due to his daily patrols walking through the bush as well as the PT drills that are part of his job. But he has also become more mentally fit, a result of being in a state of constant alertness and cultivating a keen perceptiveness to the tiniest details that are not always visible to the common observer. He has also become much more familiar with animal behaviour after hours of observing them in the wild, especially the alluring Big Five. He has a special admiration for big cats such as lion, cheetah and leopard.
“…the community appreciates the work that the APU does.”
He’s also noticed a change in the local community, they are more aware of and care more about conservation. Most of the APU scouts are part of the local community so there is a lot of communication and collaboration, for instance when it comes to receiving intelligence or “tip-offs” about poaching activity. As the scouts protect the periphery of Hwange National Park they are also taking care of forestry and some of the neighbouring farm areas so the community appreciates the work that the APU does. Especially when it comes to things like keeping roads clear off fallen branches or trees and minimising Human and Wildlife Conflict (HWC).
“He also finds his job incredibly interesting as spends most of the day in the wild in close proximity to the magnificent animals he has dedicated his life to protecting.”
Before becoming an APU scout Kennedy had worked as a security guard and a tracker but he now feels in his new profession that he is making a real difference. He sees real results from daily tasks such as collecting snares (sometimes up to 140 snares a day), to being a significant part of the first steps to put dangerous poachers behind bars. He also finds his job incredibly interesting as spends most of the day in the wild in close proximity to the magnificent animals he has dedicated his life to protecting. It’s a rewarding role and one we are incredibly grateful for. If you would like to support initiatives such as these please take a look at the Conservation & Wildlife Fund, the organisation that Hideaways is a founding member of. As custodians of these very special areas in Africa, we are determined to ensure they exist for generations to come.