Gache Gache Wilderness Area, Kariba – Community Anti Poaching Unit puts a stop to fish and wildlife poaching.

Charlie Hewat, CEO Environment Africa, with Gache Gache Anti-Poaching Unit.
Charlie Hewat, CEO Environment Africa, with Gache Gache Anti-Poaching Unit.

The area around the Gache Gache Lodge situated on the south bank of the eastern basin of Lake Kariba has been teaming with illegal poachers and fishermen netting large amounts of fish and destroying the natural breeding sanctuary for fish in the river system.  Illegal catches of 10 tonnes and more a day were no exaggeration.  Local fishermen with legal licences in the area were concerned about the fish poaching as it was also impacting their own livelihoods and a group of four community members  approached Gache Gache Lodge for assistance to put a stop to this.

Cormorant Snared in Discarded Fishing Net01
Cormorant Snared in Discarded Fishing Net

Gache Gache Lodge responded positively to the community fishermen and to date have supported them with uniforms supply of boats and motors , fuel and vehicles to transport them around the area and take poachers to the Kariba police station.  Local National Parks, Nyaminyami Rural District Council, local Police and the surrounding community, with limited resources are all working together to conserve, protect and rehabilitate this beautiful area.

The Community Anti-Poaching team started patrolling in October 2010 and on their first night, they caught 19 poachers, confiscated 7 boats and illegal nylon nets which stretch for kilometres in the waters.

To date, the Gache Gache Anti Poaching Unit have succesfully caught and arrested 150 poachers, impounded 72 illegal boats and the nylon nets are burnt so that they cannot be used again.

Confiscated Illegal Fishing Boats
Confiscated Illegal Fishing Boats

A number of successful convictions have resulted in jail terms, fines and severe warnings.   Word is now out within the local community area – Gache Gache is a zero tolerance zone for poachers and illegal activities.   Although it has been only five months since the unit became active, positive results are already being seen, wildlife has started coming back into the area and the levels of fish have noticeably risen.  The rod and line fishing

has improved dramatically with catches equalling those of 10 years ago.  Legal community fishermen in legal fishing zones outside of the wilderness area are experiencing improved catches. The local community have since asked the anti poaching unit if they would be able to extend their activities right down the river to protect a larger area.

Tapson Chibayamagora, the Unit leader, a Tonga born local, described a typical day of anti poaching activities. Their day starts at sunrise when they go out into the bush looking for snares and captured animals.

gache croc ensnared
Croc ensnared in illegal fish netting

He said they can find anything up to 60 snares a day which they dismantle and destroy.  Then as the sun sets, they begin to get ready for the night watch on the water.   A patrol can be anything from 4 to 7 days out in the bush and on the waters.

This story typifies what Envirnonment Africa has been advocating for successful conservation in localized areas, PPCP’s, Private Public Community Partnership’s and Gache Gache Anti Poaching Unit is an inspiring working model of this concept.

It is imperative that local communities take responsibility and are involved within their areas and together with the support of private sector and relevant regulating authorities, it is not a dream, but a reality.

The success of the Anti-Poaching team will require long term support and the community together with Gache Gache Lodge and Environment Africa have formed the Gache Gache Wilderness Area (GGWA).  The GGWA is a trust fund established to raise funds to support the protection of the GGWA, not only for today, but for our children of tomorrow.

K.I.T.F.T. (Kariba International Tiger Fishing Tournament)

A Measure of Success - Increased Fish Sizes
A Measure of Success – Increased Fish Sizes

have fully endorsed the GGWA & encourage others to support this public private community partnership approach to conservation & communities.


‘’I am encouraged by the dedication & passion of this community anti-poaching team & amazed at how fast wildlife & fish have come back into this area over such a short time. Please, I encourage you all to support the protection of the GGWA’’ – Ray Townsend

“Within four months, we have managed to control illegal activities in this area, we are fighting for and protecting our heritage and we will continue to do so.  We don’t want our future generations to read about  and see a picture of a Tiger Fish in a book, we want them to see a beautiful, live fish in the lake”

– Tapson Chibayamagora, Gache Gache Anti Poaching Unit Leader

Gache Gache