MUTARE SPCA DOES THE BLUE CROSS, August 2017.
A 500km Relay to FUNDRAISE for the SPCAs of ZIMBABWE!
COME NEXT YEAR IN SUPPORT OF US! Did you ever want to visit Africa? Did you want to do a safari with a difference? Read on....
We all have some form of a bucket list. Disneyland, a cruise, The Pyramids......but hopefully, if you have a small sense of adventure, you will include parts of OUR beautiful land in yours. The back-roads, the off-the-grid Zimbabwe has some of the loveliest scenery imaginable. You may need a robust vehicle, and a pack of cheerful mates, Google maps, and a stocked coldbox, and if this is sounding like a great idea, look no further than combining an epic expedition with a good cause and take part in THE BLUE CROSS for the SPCAs of Zimbabwe. Its only 500kms long, it’s only an elevation of 80m short of 2 and a half kilometres, it’s only through remote regions, and completely self-supported. And though it can be a physically challenging event, it is really within the reach of the average person with good preparation, a supportive team, and some determination. I am proof positive of that.
Our team of 6 joined forces for MUTARE SPCA. The treadmill was pounded daily, (in my case 40 minutes at 6kph) and the 4 kilometre path circumnavigating the Golf Course could take a fair while to rehabilitate. Suddenly, the departure date was on us. Two teams, 3 per car, left Mutare in the pink African dawn, and about 5 hours drive later, we reached the start at lowest point in the country at the Save river. There, in the hot sun, the Mutare SPCA volunteers had created a sandy guard of honour in colourful flags, happily flapping farewell. We were really doing it! WE would walk in a relay team over 500kms to raise awareness and money for Mutare SPCA.
We set off immediately. The bush is thick, and in that early stage, it’s possible to encounter some big game – Elephant and Cape Buffalo and more. The vehicles travelled close to the walkers in that leg for safety. Excited to be on the way, a big rustle from the bush to my left had me executing a stylish Fosbury Flop, only to discover the offender was a lost chicken! And later, it was a bit embarrassing to discover that the wildest wildlife on the entire SPCA Blue Cross was a feisty Turkey! Our first campsite was on an unused track far from the madding crowd, and when camp was set up, and the bucket bathing ritual begun, a fire-red full moon lifted through the drying leaves and branches, and gave the night that comfortable feeling that only remoteness and adventure brings. We realized that an indescribable experience lay ahead of us.
In all, we had 5 wonderful nights camping out under the stars at the end of each day’s trail, happily reliving the day’s best moments, prepping dinners and lunches for the next day. Although our campsites were informal, we never felt unwelcome by local residents. Our sites were wonderfully remote, isolated and perfectly quiet, as we fell asleep to new Nightjars and Owls, and awoke to new Robins and Thrushes. Every night we had attained higher altitude, more miles closer to Mount Nyangani, less hours of this phenomenally beautiful walk to do. We had one night at the polo crosse club Fiddlers On the Green, with catering by the welcoming David, and the ladies of Chipinge. In Chimanimani, we were had a cosy night at Kweza Lodge, which we can highly recommend. Across the road is the delightful Frog and Fern for all the extra walkers next year!
Sadly, the Chimanimani Mountain range and park are under stiff pressure for gold mining. Is the desire for a few people to own a couple of glistening baubles really worth the total destruction of this exquisite natural resource? Are we really to forfeit the health of the people living downstream to gold processing poisons, and their quality of water to the siltation of the destructive methods. It’s tragic and Chimanimani stands to lose its whole tourism industry, and related income.
We left with lots to think about, but as we rose higher and higher, over the height of Tank Neck Pass (which had initially given me thoughts of self sabotage) and on through Cashel Valley, the dramatic and stunning views filled us with pride that we live in what must be generally the loveliest region of Zimbabwe. The Blue Cross takes you to amazing and mostly unvisited places.
The 500km walking route keeps you off the paved roads almost entirely, and the route mapped for us this year was mindful of the landscape. How privileged were we? The miles flew because of the scenery, the friendliness of the people, and the fun of walking in a team.
The mature Miombo, gallery forests, deep gorges, unreachable waterfalls and layered mountain ranges, there was no single outstanding day, as every day was a surprise and as beautiful as the last. Moving North, we exchanged mountains for rock Whale Back outcrops or Dwalas, trademark Zimbabwe landscape.
The Cyclists, The horseriders, The walkers, everyone who does the Blue Cross will defend their method as the best way to do it, but in fact EVERY way is the best way. It is a spiritual thing to do. This year, unbelievably, about $30,000 was raised for the widespread seven SPCAs of Zimbabwe. They certainly need it, every one of them. And in the same way, every person who elects to take part may be raising money for the SPCA, but they are doing a phenomenal thing for themselves.
WILL YOU DO IT FOR US NEXT YEAR?
AN UPDATE ON OUR ACHIEVEMENTS MUTARE SPCA, JUNE 17
MUTARE SPCA has, of late, had a hectically busy, mostly happy time. These little cameo stories written for our GlobalGiving forum are just a few things we have been able to do, thanks to the kind donations we have been receiving from you all. Every cent counts.
The Red Mum, who you will know from our earlier report, now has the most WONDERFUL home. She was chosen, along with her fat and fluffy pup, the Poo-Bear, to travel cross country to live on the banks of the beautiful, rugged Limpopo River, of Rudyard Kipling’s Elephant Story. These two are having the time of their lives, a dream life for an adventurous intelligent dog such as this, and her babe. Homes are so few and far between!
We recently confiscated a dreadfully abused, starved and terrified dog, who we named Little Hope, for both its meanings. She has a long and tough road ahead, but if love truly heals, she will be healed as she already has a home that is seeing her through this very tough recovery time. Please keep an eye on our Facebook page, MUTARE-SPCA, to see how well she is doing now. Hope is among the many in whose destiny we have intervened.
We have been in court three times. We now await the cattle cruelty case judgement, and we have another 2 somewhat traumatic cases ongoing. Wish us luck!
Again, on high note, we are very proud to say that we have three newly qualified Inspectors, one of whom, Simba has been fortunate to be employed formally at the Mutare SPCA. The other two, William and Ange will be seconded if we can find the resources to do the same for them. We DO have the work for them!
This past week was a wonderful one! Two volunteers and two of our recently qualified Inspectors travelled to the lush Honde Valley, along our eastern border with Mozambique. What a beautiful place, surrounded by phenomenal high ridges and weird rock outcrops. We joined up with another programme to participate in a 3 day mass vaccination and sterilisation campaign. By 8am on the 1st day the long queue already spoke of the need for this effort, and hundreds came all day long in a heart-warming stream of people and dogs, every shape and every size. One by one, fearful of this completely new experience, uncertain on their necklace leads, or in cocky little packs, over confident and show-offy, (whats all this about, then?) they came.
Some had walked for miles, defying their puppyhood or old age. On the first day, over 500 dogs were vaccinated, and over 50 neutered or spayed.
Mutare SPCA certainly learned a lot. Watching our two new Inspectors counselling with kindness and patience the infinite line of dog owners made us proud, and fulfilled, until the last left, walking literally into the cool Hauna sunset. Some dogs, still a bit anaesthetic-wobbly, some aloft broad shoulders or carried in strong arms, all with a small packet of dog biscuits to take home.
But the day was not yet over for the Team. Preparations for the next day’s work, washing all the drapes and gowns, pressure-cooker sterilizing all the instruments, re-packing all the boxes and trunks had to be done before we finally sat down for a quiet dinner together. Sunrise over tea estates framed by mountains, hot tea in hand, it was a proud team that chatted on the broad NRE guesthouse verandah.
The next neuter, spay and vaccinate programme is in a week, 20th June, and Mutare SPCA would be extremely grateful if some of their expenses could be covered, via a donation from Global Giving. We would love to be able to host this programme to do the same closer to Mutare for the many unemployed and poor people that live here and in neighbouring rural areas.
Finally, in August Mutare SPCA again has the pleasure of hosting our biggest annual fundraiser: The SPCA Blue Cross. This 500km ultra distance event encompasses all disciplines, cycling, walking, horse-riding, and relays. The participants will go from the lowest point in Zimbabwe to the highest. 500kms of unsupported trekking through remote and rugged county. An adventure for the adventurous. All the SPCAs countrywide can receive donations from their respective communities. COME AND DO IT FOR US! It’s the ultimate Ultra Event, or send a donation on GG to sponsor a participant from Mutare? It would mean the world to us if you did.
We live constantly looking for help, and for ways to save money, we look for homing opportunities, and a reason to go on. To quote Winston Churchill loosely : (We will) NEVER EVER GIVE UP.
Please... if you have the wherewithal, make a donation to our cause. We make a big difference to the lives of many animals, without losing hope. We simply must not lose the infrastructure the past has set up for us, as it will be impossible to get restarted.
Please enjoy the pictures as they say it all.
Petal was dying when we arrived at a commercial piggery where we rescued her and some of her siblings.
She was hypothermic and the Vet. was not hopeful. We said "Leave her to us", all the while knowing it was touch and go.
But Petal pulled through. She's tenacious and has a strong SPCA Team behind her.
Currently in Zimbabwe we have many cruelty cases involving both commercial and rural animals, as well as draught animals, being donkeys and oxen. Life is not easy here, and this seems to reflect directly in the lack of care and compassion for animals so obvioulsy in distress.
With YOUR help we can be out there 'picking up the Petals'. It is our mandate and our hearftelt mission.
Please, if you can donate, we can act. It's that simple.
17 March, 2017, A HERD SAVED
Please think of us today, as our SPCA Inspector Mr. Noel Usore and volunteer Lynne James, are scheduled to appear in Rusape Magistrate’s court, a town about 90km from Mutare. Whether the case will be heard today is unsure as our courts are unpredictable.
In November 2016, Mutare SPCA was called to rescue a herd of 38 cattle that were corralled in a small holding pen, and left with no food or water in a heat-wave where temperatures were reaching 40 degrees. They were dying a slow, horrific death. Some had become entangled in the barbed wire fencing in their effort to escape.
Due to strict stock theft laws in Zimbabwe, no one had had the courage to set these animals free to find water and food for themselves.
Their herdsman had apparently not received his wages for some time from the new farm owner, and had abandoned his charges in protest. These animals paid the price for what amounted to a labour dispute between an employee and the absentee farm owner.
Our SPCA team did their best to aid the worst affected animals, which were literally on their knees, by providing them with water and hay. Sadly we had to euthanize one cow – it was the most humane thing to do. We made a police report the same day, and these cattle were taken into our care, under police custody. The sudden responsibility of having to care for 38 head of cattle some 55 kilometres away presented us with some serious difficulties. A farmer in the district kindly stepped in on our behalf he has been caretaking the traumatised herd ever since, pending the outcome of the criminal cruelty case, set to start today.
Food was another huge challenge because grazing was almost non-existent at the time. However, in response to an urgent appeal that we put out to our local community for assistance in cash or kind, a local feed company, PROFEEDS, contacted us and trucked down a load of quality cattle feed! The little herd were now safe, secure, watered and fed. What a feeling!
The new farm owner returned from the UK and promptly challenged us in the civil court for removing her cattle. Sadly we had not managed to remove the entire herd, as the large handsome bull simply refused to get on ‘that truck’! Only last week, some 3 months later, have we eventually secured a court order to be allowed to remove the remaining cattle so that they can join the others in a safer healthier environment.
So, please think of Noel and Lynne today as they stand up for the rights of these cattle against the extreme cruelty that they suffered, in a land where politics can supersede law.
Thank you for your time and your interest. We will keep you updated on this now happier herd.
On Saturday we received a call from a paniced member of the public. It was a little difficult to get all the detail of his call, but the basicgist seemed clear. There was a large dog that has been hit by a car. Please come quickly.
It took us a little while to locate the paniced caller and the dog ...but cell phones are magic used properly! A wonderful mother dog, heavily pregnant who had been clipped by a car whilst straying on the road.
The vet felt that her injuries were minor enough that we could take her 'home' to Mutare SPCA. We made her comfortable in a blanketed basket, and topped up her tummy. Certainly she had challenges ahead of her bigger than her car encounter!
Last night - Monday - she gave birth to 12 stunning little pup bundles...... none seem to be her colour and some are even spotted! Sadlyone little guy died, but she didn't want us to remove him, despite her rather massive still living responsibilies. So for the time being we left him there. They all count for this Mum without a doubt.
And as a Mum she is so gentle - not worried by our approach to her little nest of treasures. She has no doubt done this many times before in a non stop cycle of breeding. A cycle that we aim to stop, by changing our City By-Laws on the breeding of dogs, which will also give us the right to poice said By-Laws with a passion no City Council can match!
No one has called to date to claim this wonderful little family. Surely she is missed? We are doing our best to advertise that we have her.
Our community need to be so much more aware of the services that Mutare SPCA provide.
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