Renowned Artist John Banovich visits BVC’s lions

Renowned wildlife artist and conservationist John Banovich spent a week at Bubye Valley Conservancy researching lion for his upcoming painting. 

"BVC is perhaps the most successful lion recovery story in modern times. What was once a cattle farm is now one of the top game areas in Zimbabwe. From just 16 lions brought on a few decades ago there are over 500 today which is the densest lion population in Southern Africa.

Well done to Blondie Leathem and his team for making a difference in lion conservation and thank you for sharing the beauty of this place with me. I can not wait to create some epic paintings from BVC!"

- John Banovich, Artist/Conservationist

 
 

As well as creating works of art depicting the beauty and diversity of African wildlife, Banovich is a tireless conservationist. Through his career as an artist, Banovich works to promote a deeper understanding of the world and its wildlife, encouraging both conservation efforts and awareness of endangered species. In 2007 he founded the Banovich Wildscapes Foundation, a nonprofit organisation which fosters efforts to conserve wildlife and habitat as well as helping the surrounding communities. The foundation supports twelve projects in seven different countries. A percentage of sales from Banovich limited edition print canvasses benefit the Wildscapes. 

Banovich is passionate about lions and has studied themfor decades. We were delighted that he chose to explore BVC and draw inspiration from our lion, who will be portrayed in a stunning work of art. We spent a week photographing two separate prides and were very lucky to have some spectacular sightings and opportunities to watch them interacting. 

Banovich’s works are celebrated and collected globally, and highlight the importance of protecting wildlife around the world. To explore his works please click here and visit his website.

 
Artist and Conservationist John Banovich sketches BVC's lions during his visit

Artist and Conservationist John Banovich sketches BVC's lions during his visit

 
Now more than ever, we need to expand the message about the vital importance of the world’s natural places and utilize the forceful role that artists can leverage in the efforts to conserve them. Through my artwork, I hope to move, reveal and inspire people to seek a deeper understanding of the world around us and bring together groups of individuals to unite on a common ground. Our natural world is severely threatened and with this increased pressure, a new paradigm must emerge...artists, conservationists, sportsmen and environmentalists must come together in areas of overlapping interests.
— John Banovich, Artist/Conservationist

Banovich’s works are celebrated and collected globally, and highlight the importance of protecting wildlife around the world. To explore his works please click here and visit his website.

 

Photographs by Touran Reddaway

Lights. Cameras. Action: Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) Photographic Competition

Bubye Valley Conservancy is for the second year running supporting the Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) Photographic Competition’ for wildlife and photography lovers taking place in November. This program is used as a platform by WEZ members to spread awareness about wildlife and the environment and also gives them a unique opportunity to showcase their photographic talent.

BVC is sponsoring a 5 day / 4 night stay at our Malangani Dam camp as a prize for one of the winners of this year’s photographic competition. Below is a signed copy of the winning 2016 WEZ Photographic Competition, hanging at the Malangani Dam Camp. Yours could be hanging there soon, don’t forget to sign up! 

 
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Click on the link below to see a full list of photographic categories, prizes and to download your application form:

http://www.wezmat.org/photographic-competition-2017.html

Bubye Valley Conservancy is a proud sponsor of Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) 2017 Photographic Competition.

 
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Bubye Valley Conservancy was recently celebrated for its contribution to wildlife conservation. 

Collars donated to Lion Research at BVC

The Lion Research Project here in BVC is entirely reliant on the kind financial and equipment donations from individuals and organisations across the wildlife conservation sphere. Lars Svensson, a loyal supporter of our work, recently donated two new lion collars which will enable us to continue to collect valuable data on lion movements and habitat use. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Lars for his kind donation.

Lion collars enable the researchers at BVC to monitor these animals and gain a better understanding of their movements and habits. This information will ultimately contribute to maintaining balanced ecosystems on BVC.

'Aiden' can be monitored thanks to a donated collar

'Aiden' can be monitored thanks to a donated collar

If you would like to support our conservation effort in any other way, please also get in touch with us by clicking here and filling out our contact form.

 

Accolade to a wonderful gentleman - Tina Ndou

 
 

This amazing, now very old man, Tina Ndou, has been working on what is now
called BVC, which was originally Liebig's Cattle Ranch, then renamed Lemco,
since 1947 !!! He is not exactly sure of his age, or what age he was when he
was first employed on Liebigs, but he says that it was when he first got
facial hair, so probably around 14 or 15 years ? 
He is still working here, an astounding 70 years later, that has to be some
sort of record and puts him at around 85 years old - he has certainly seen
many changes in his lifetime ! He now looks after a 7km stretch of the BVC
game fence, which he not only walks and checks every day, but also clears a
1m strip so no grass etc. touches the electrics on the fence...that is a
14km stint every day. 
When he was asked if he would like to go on retirement and take a well
earned break, he was actually affronted, and asked what we thought he would
do all day ...accolades to this wonderful old gentleman.

                                                     - Article and photographs by Katrina Leathem

Christmas comes (very!) early for the Anti-Poaching team

It has been a busy but successful last few months for the BVC anti-poaching unit. A recent donation of Aimpoint scopes by Lennart Ljungfelt will revolutionize the unit’s effectiveness, giving each scout increased confidence in defending themselves against armed poachers. As we begin this new year, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those people who have and continue to support our conservation efforts!

 
 

SigfoxRhino Operation

Bubye Valley Conservancy had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Ambassador Kumar Gupta of Canada and his wife Nadira on a rhino operation implanting tracking devices donated by French company SigFox. Both have become passionate about wildlife since their arrival in Zimbabwe and raise much needed awareness. The Sigfox team also flew out from Paris to install their low power and long range network using solar energy and satellite connectivity to help the Bubye Valley team monitor the rhino more closely.  

Everyone got very involved in helping Natasha and Chap Masterson (vet extraordinaire), resulting in tracking devices fitted into the horns of three rhino. Click on the images below to enlarge them.

With so few left, rhino need a hand. If you would like to help please click here. 

With so few left, rhino need a hand. If you would like to help please click here

Research Survey

 

The research team have recently completed the annual road strip counts to estimate the density of prey species across the conservancy. Prior to beginning the survey, we drove a practice transect to train our new spotters Godknows and Micho, who quickly understood their roles and proved to have eagle eyes! Oliver the driver, who has plenty of experience, lead the team ensuring that not even a steenbok was missed!

 

 

Two Legends Pass On

For several years we have posted updates on two of our main study animals, Winston and Wilbur, both of whom have very interesting and unique life stories. It is with sadness that we now update you on their deaths. Winston, who used to dominate the Mazunga area along with his partner Geronimo, could no longer defend his territory alone and was pushed out by a stronger male coalition and left to fend for himself. He subsequently moved north, encountering other territorial males where he was beaten up further. A tough ending for a once powerful and confident lion who once ruled over a pride of 30 lions! Wilbur, as many will know, originated in Tuli (where he was known as “Mastwane”) and ended up in BVC after a long and likely arduous journey through villages and farms, over major tar roads and finally through the conservancy’s double fence. He settled in the northern section of the conservancy where he had since successfully defended his territory and no doubt sired several offspring. As some may recall, Wilbur was blind in one eye which adds to our amazement at how he navigated and survived the incredibly dangerous journey between Tuli and BVC. Sadly, it was his blind eye that eventually contributed to his downfall – two months ago we noticed a large tumor developing in this eye which was clearly causing him major discomfort. His condition worsened, considerably limiting his ability to defend himself and his territory from three challenging males. This highlights the often torturous lives lived by older lions evicted from their territories.

Sabi & Squirt

Sabi arrived in the middle of the night (as they usually do), at the end of April 2014. He was a casualty of a poached mother, killed on another Conservancy. He was so small when we removed him from the transport crate, that my son lifted him out under his arm, not what you would expect to happen with a rhino calf. We think he was a week to 10 days old, still had his umbilical cord! He settled down to his new life with us and readily took to his feeds, which were very regular at that age, 5 to 6 times a day. He was fed on skimmed milk powder with added glucose, and after about a month we started him on e.pap, similar to Pronutro, and he thrived on that diet. After a few months, he was introduced to game nuts, which once he became accustomed to them, were a firm favourite.

After we had had him a few days, we managed to get 2 young goats to keep him company, as we don’t encourage too much human contact, although at that age, it is difficult not to have quite a bit of contact with them. He and the goats got along famously, and all through the winter months, the 3 of them slept under an infra red light (for warmth) in their hay filled boma. Sabi grew very nicely, he was actually quite a little thug, and we put big tractor tyres in the boma that we could jump into when he got too rough. During the day he would go out into a paddock with ‘his’ goats, so that he could browse naturally, and in the evening, for security, we shut him in the boma, where he had various cut browse to feed on through the night.

Squirt was about 6 weeks old when he came to us – he was born to a blind mother, who at the time was being held in a boma because of her condition. Obviously long term boma conditions are not ideal, especially from new born for the first few weeks. He started scouring, so the decision was made to remove him from his mother and try and hand raise him, because black rhino calves are generally very easy to manage. Squirt was a bit of a different story because of his diarrhoea and his condition worsened quite quickly. Fortunately, Penny English was playing surrogate mother at the time and she called in Dr. Chap Masterson, who was actually on the Conservancy for a few days with his family, and he managed to stabilise him. He still had his ups and downs, and Penny had a full time job to keep him going. Eventually they decided that it may be better if he came down with a view to ultimately join Sabi. Obviously because of the age and size difference, 7 months, they were kept separate for a couple of months until we thought Squirt could deal with the ‘thug’ Sabi..

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Squirt was still not physically well and went through periods of refusing his feeds, very worrying ! It was decided that we would load him up and send him off to the vet in Bulawayo, which was undertaken by Natasha Anderson and Roy Lenton… it was a long day, but worth it, as they decided the cause of his ups and downs was stomach ulcers. Long story short, Squirt was put onto ulcer treatment for 2 months, no mean feat. Tendai, who was the rhino minder, had the unenviable task of crushing 20 tablets a day , putting it into a minute bit of glucose water, and fooling Squirt into thinking it was palatable…he managed to do this by feeding him a banana straight afterwards….it does not take too much to fool a rhino !!

After a couple of months we united Sabi and Squirt, they had had contact through a fence since Squirt’s arrival, and it went pretty smoothly – a bit of snorting and chasing around the boma, but nothing too serious. They then became very firm friends, and along with the goats, spent their days (and months) in the paddock and their nights in the boma. Many, many gallons of milk were mixed and fed to them over their duration here, more than I would ever like to calculate!! They grew very well, even Squirt after his bad start, and we decided that they should be ok to go back into the wild, they were by now 25 months and 18 months respectively. Their re-location was done in May and went very smoothly – judging by the camera trap pictures, they have settled very well in their new surroundings and are looking in great condition and very relaxed. 

Article by Katrina Leathem