At the Tikki Hywood Foundation we don’t just rescue, rehabilitate and release, injured and orphaned wildlife. We work hard at conservation too and believe that conservation is a team effort. That is why we not only work with other conservation organisations, but also strive to form working relationships with the many different government departments who play a big role in legislation and implementing the laws that protect specially protected species and indeed all fauna and flora in Zimbabwe.
Measuring success in this area is not easy, but as we recently discovered by going through an “Expanding our Approach” list we created four years ago, we have indeed made great strides. We have been updating our website and were working on our LEGISLATION page and that is where we discovered the “wish to do” list which was written in 2014, this was a wish list of what we wanted to try and achieve over a course of five years, a target period we thought manageable as we were not sure of the work involved. Looking at the list today, we can proudly announce that every single one has a big tick for completion – EVERY SINGLE ONE – this is a great sense of achievement for a cause that so often brings delays, setbacks and the dreaded heartbreak.
In case you are interested, read our list below and see what we have managed to complete over the past four years.
Now of course, it is back to the drawing board to get cracking and create the next “wish to do” list, detailing our plans and objectives for the coming five years. But here is what we have proudly achieved so far:
- We plan to engage with the Public Prosecutors on a similar level that we had done with the magistrates.
In order to understand the challenges at their level, we had to meet with the Public Prosecutors who deal with the wildlife cases head on. We subsequently held formal workshops and informal mentoring sessions in order to inspire and facilitate these officials to do their necessary work.
- Develop a checklist handbook for arresting Officers and Public Prosecutors and Parks personal so that all documentation and relevant evidence is correctly submitted to court.
We printed a handbook which has been distributed to all relevant Zimbabwe Republican Police officers, Public Prosecutors and National Parks personnel and have printed Checklist posters for all police stations.
- Implementing training that would better equip Magistrates and State Prosecutors in the matter of wildlife related crimes.
Awareness constitutes a large portion of the battle. Sometimes just making someone aware of the problem is enough to encourage them to make a difference.
- To facilitate workshops throughout the Provinces targeting prosecutorial procedure to discover further challenges and create solutions in the handling of wildlife related crimes.
The way forward as we discovered were the smaller mentoring sessions in key wildlife areas. From private stakeholders, to police to members of the judiciary, we were able to get a more rounded view of the obstacles that these people face and a way to mitigate them.
- Develop in situ contacts amongst the law enforcement officers and judiciary within the Provinces who may then aid the process through information dissemination. Promote the consideration of placing wildlife crimes in a category of serious offences. If wildlife crimes are placed in this category, the cases will require more senior judiciary to handle the case.
The increased exposure of our organisation to illegal wildlife trafficking has allowed this network to develop rapidly. Through all the combined actions listed above, we have managed to increase the level of awareness of the seriousness of wildlife trafficking. Crimes such as possession of ivory are now also considered commercially motivated, which leads to stiffer penalties.
- Train a person who would be called a ‘watching-brief”, who would be able to work and follow each wildlife case in the hopes of being able to avoid any irregularities prior to them happening.
Our team has grown by three to incorporate this ‘wish’ and so more.