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Woman Trucks in Food to Save African Herds from Starvation

Woman Trucks in Food to Save African Herds from Starvation

Woman Trucks in Food to Save African Herds from Starvation


(PHOTO ABOVE: night vision photography reveals hippo grazing on  trucked-in food)

Conservationist Karen Paolillo takes a deep breath and opens the screen door  to her cottage nestled along the Turgwe River at the Save Valley Conservancy in  Zimbabwe. She looks down to see that the screen has been ripped  again, vandalized during the night by Bella the baboon who is constantly  trying to get into the house which she and her husband Jean-Roger built with  their own hands. It’s breakfast time here, not for Karen, but for the many  animals she hopes to keep alive in a once-green landscape that is quickly  turning to dust.


Very low rainfall has created a localized drought along this section of the  river and essential grasses are nearly gone now. The vegetation isn’t expected  to return until December, so Karen has two choices. She can either find a way to  feed the herds of hippos and other grazers who live in this area or she can  witness the starvation of the animals she’s spent decades trying to protect.

Through land invasions, violent uprisings, several bouts of malaria and times  when she had little to eat herself, Karen has stood among the wildlife here as  their sole champion in a land where animals are valued not for their beauty but  for the price they can fetch by wealthy hunters who fly in, usually from  America, to claim their ‘prize’. Wildlife is a commodity to so much of the human  community here, but to Karen, they mean so much more.

“Since I first formed the Turgwe Hippo Trust nearly 20 years ago, 48 hippo  calves have been born,” explains Karen, who can identify each individual and  knows them by name. The land is also home to thousands of lions, wildebeest,  buffalo, elephants and more in the 3,000 square kilometer refuge.

Karen remembers her early days here well, as she protected the herd  during an extreme drought in which the river dried up entirely. By pounding on  doors and begging for help to conservation groups worldwide, she was able  to gather enough funds to excavate a large cement basin and to fill it with  water to allow the hippos to submerge and all the animals to drink. And with a  blend of hay and horse cubes, she fed the grazers here, and remarkably, hippo  calves were even born during the drought.

Now here we are again, and there is a small question mark over this second  mission. Though the water basin is still intact and ready to supply hydration  to the animals here, the cost of hay and a broken down vehicle provide the  recipe for their biggest test of faith yet.

“She has finally given up the ghost,” says Karen of the used Land Rover that  was generously donated to the trust by the Summerlee Foundation 14 years ago.  “She has helped us remove over 11,000 snares in our patrols in the bush to  combat poaching. She has pulled the sand pump to the river in order for us  to dig up silted pools and repair natural pools for the hippos.  She has  carted wood and rocks for building projects.  She has transported children  to the hippos as well as taken our volunteers around the bush for various jobs  that they are involved in. But now at the crucial time when I begin feeding the  animals, I have no vehicle.  I can feed the hippos closest to home with  wheel barrows but that will not be the case for the hippos further  away.”

The Harmony Fund, a small charity devoted to helping ‘underdog’ animal rescue  teams across the planet, has set up a platform for people to help keep the  animals alive during this drought. To learn more or to get involved, click  here.

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About curi56

Fighting for justice means fighting for justice for all of us and not playing around with the colour of skin. Focus on justice. i am a scientist for educ./psychoanalysis/art - and frankly speaking a savant - discovered that I can do more with blogs & social networks for humans in shadow, children in shadow, animals in need et al - I have some more blogs, please, visit them p.e.: Curi56blog et al. I am glad to meet YOU here: Annamaria thank you Annamaria

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