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Brigitte's father, Johnny Rodrigues, is Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. It was formed in April 2001 by a group of Zimbabweans who were desperately concerned about the unacceptable levels of poaching and environmental destruction due to the law and order break down in Zimbabwe.

During the "land grab" operaton in Zimbabwe, it was not only agricultural land that was targeted. A large percentage of private game ranches and conservancies have also been confiscated, leaving the wildlife to the mercy of so called "war veterans". Several conservancies are now completely devoid of wildlife.

It is estimated that, in the past 5 years, over 90% of the game in private ranches has been lost to poaching and illegal hunting. The loss in conservancies is estimated to be 60% and in the National Parks almost 40%. Some game ranchers have reported that they do not have a single animal left. Yet the slaughter of wildlife in Zimbabwe continues unabated.

Some of these game ranches and conservancies are home to endangered species. The poachers do not discriminate between endangered and common species. The Painted Dog, an endangered species previously hand reared on a conservancy in Gwayi near Victoria Falls, has been totally eliminated.


On a conservancy in Matabeleland, it is estimated that almost 50% of their Black Rhino, also an endangered species, has been slaughtered by " war vets ".

In many cases, wild animals are caught in wire snares and left to die an agonizing lingering death. Oftentimes the perpetrators do not return to the snares to collect the meat, instead, they merely leave it to rot.

One method used by war vets/poachers, to capture and kill animals, is to force an animal into a corner, utilizing hunting dogs. Once the animal is cornered the poachers spear it with assegais, made from metal rods stolen from bore holes. Frequently, the terrified animal frantically tries to escape with the embedded spears protruding from its body. It tries to run between the trees but the assegais prevent it from moving any further. In a desperate attempt to free itself, the animal pushes through the trees causing the assegais to tear out its insides.

Johnny writes - "Until five years ago, road signs were posted everywhere in Zimbabwe. They alerted motorists to the presence of wildlife. In fact, it was very rare to travel from Harare to Beit Bridge without having to slow down or stop for a kudu, giraffe or elephant. This was part of the beauty and excitement of travelling through Zimbabwe. Today the warning signs have been removed — there is no longer any need for them. Every day, another strong and vibrant creature is caught, tortured, shot or maimed for its skin and other body parts."