Friends of Hwange

The Save African Rhino Foundation is run by a beautiful soul named Nicholas Duncan. His organization supports about 20 different groups under his umbrella. He took me to Hwange National Park where we were hosted by The Hide and exposed to the work of Friends of Hwange. There we learned how drought conditions were stressing the wildlife and how expensive the diesel motors used to pump water were to run.

Solar powered pumps seemed the obvious answer but weren’t the complete solution either as they didn’t alone have the capacity to pump the considerable volume of water needed for very thirsty animals.

So, together with the Hwange team on the ground – Dave Dell and his colleague Gary – we devised a compromise plan to place solar pumps next to the diesel pumps, which meant that solar power could be used during the day and that the expensive diesel power could take over after sunset.

The rainy season was on its way, so Dave made the decision not to start drilling for the solar pumps until after the rains ended. To tide them over we dug into our reserves and bought $5,000 worth of diesel to keep the pumps running.

In March 2016 the drilling for the additional solar pump began. The installation cost – $15,000. There was a small snag: in 2015 when I was holding my fundraiser I had a friend step up and ask to sponsor a solar pump in his name. He put in $10,000 because at the time we were told that would be the amount. But because it ended up being a bit more, we were luckily able to pull an additional $5,000 from our reserves to make up the balance and help to make the pump happen. So now a solar pump in the name of donor Greg Polisseni has been installed in Hwange!

One more thing

When we were in Hwange, Gary told us about all of the recent animal rescues he’d had to do, such as pulling baby elephants from the mud. When water is scarce, elephants will go into the middle of a muddy waterhole searching for whatever drops they can find, but quite often the youngsters get stuck. Gary, who’s technically an electrical engineer and in charge of the water pumps, has had to jump into action and save these animals many times. We asked if he had managed to capture any of these rescues on camera. No, was the response, as he did not even have a camera or time to think when faced with the predicaments. We promised to help and soon a brand new GoPro was delivered to Gary. He’s since captured some incredible footage and has saved many lives. Thank you, Gary!