‘Looks like the rigs are outside the perimeter, Rudolph observed. ‘Well, lets just go and check and then if they are we can go and wait in our ambush position’ I decided… We were heading out into Palm bay toward Spurwing island at 2100hrs. It was pitch black and the well oiled lake of an hour before now resembled the Cape of Good Hope… Anyway we had work to do.
The kapenta rigs are not allowed to fish withing 3 kilometres of a lodge, or one kilometer from any shoreline. This is to prevent them fishing in areas where fish breed and to ensure they stay away from fragile ecosystems, especially river systems.
With parks pretty much down and out the lake has all but become a free for all. Rigs go where they want, meet Zambian banana boat on islands and trade kapenta. They take ice to the banana boats so that the Zambians can bury their stash and poach for another night etc.
But not tonight!
We found the first rig within one kilometer of our initial location and carried on until we had another three. We were nearly run over by a rig suddenly materializing out of the darkness with no lights. And we would have been left to swim to shore I am sure of it had we capsized.
One rig made its getaway, however I had recorded it’s location in a photograph and on my gps – so that was easy to follow up.
Since that operation there has not been one rig anywhere near palm Bay. However we are fighting a battle we will never ultimately win… Pessimistic or realistic?
The best option is to get a good intelligence network on the ground and that means paying people for information. Money talks – especially at times like these. I think incentives for Parks and Wildlife personnel who do their jobs wells should be rewarded in some way. Yes, some might argue that it is for Parks to do – but they don’t. So must the rest of us sit idly and watch from the sideline as things get worse?
A reward system would also be a stab in the heart for the poachers as those that forwarded information that led to a successful conviction, preferably before the act would be much more forthcoming with good intel if they were to receive $200?
It was one small battle in the war, as I believe if you can control the kapenta rigs you have a decent grip on lake security at night. But there is a long way to go and things do look positive when you make an inroad into the illegal activities on the lake. To date the kapenta rigs have come nowhere the Matusadona shoreline… so I am happy. happy for a number of reasons, but the most being that the security blanket is effective and though this is a relatively small fish, it might damage the bigger operations in the area…
Until next time,