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New Year, Renewed Hope

And so we bring in the New Year of 2020, and things in Zimbabwe are tougher than ever. Our natural resources are a closed barter between politicians and new immigrants and “investors.” Our doctors have had to go on strike to get a livable salary, and our hospitals have depressing few medicines to administer to patients. Children are removed from schools, homes sold and blame is directed wrongly. Costs soar just as salaries are in melt down.

Mutare SPCA Inspectors seem to be rushing from case to case, and it’s difficult to get any conclusions if we go to court to fight cruelty. Our predecessors were able to embody into Zimbabwean law great legislation's, but the current legal process has ways and means to defeat us. We are a “chin up” society, but I must say that at times we feel jaded. But GG don’t give up on us now. Having this fund to resort to is the most incredible source of encouragement.

Struggling economy leads to surrendering of pets

My report this month is much the same. We have great plans to help the poor. We are to hold a rural outreach to neuter and treat dogs, and we are ready to go, but our team is a little thin on the ground, as the state of the economy hits home.

We are not of the mentality to confiscate pets, but rather to educate and co-operate. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, we are elated. Recently, an older gentleman surrendered his lovely dog to us. She came in with a collar of pink hearts, and a happy disposition. Why did he bring her? Our town council has put up the costs to license beyond the reach of the regular household. To be fair, our currency has devalued by 23 times in the last 2 years. Salaries have not kept up as businesses flounder, and crash. So she becomes our problem, as many people can’t afford the wonderful prospect of owning a pet. Thanks to you and people like you, we were able to get her neutered, one of our volunteers paid for her licence, and we returned her to her home.

Recently surrendered dog reunited with her human family

Previously surrounded dog due to the crisis of the economy is reunited with her human family.

If you had seen the happiness in her and the child who welcomed her back, well, suffice to say, we were all in tears.

We have found a few lovely homes for both cats and dogs, but it’s a heartache for us, for the ones left behind. This pic is of little Copper meeting his new mum.

Copper is adopted

Our community is just the best, and this year the small school over the Christmas Pass in the nearby village of Penhalonga, put on a most entertaining play, proceeds coming to the Mutare SPCA.

School fundraiser for us

Happy, uplifting story

While the news from us could have been better, I thought I would include, in an effort to keep a positive spirit for the new year, an article taken from the blog of our founder member Jill Wylie. The volunteers took a cake and held a tea party for our stalwart former committee at the old age home. Remember that Mr Noel Usore, who is still with us part time, has been with the SPCA in Mutare for 47 years, so they were all delighted to be re-united. I hope you enjoy it... as such is the quality of the precious people who made it all happen.

Our founder, Jill Wylie with Noel, Answer and William (Left to Right)


Come the new year I’ll grit my teeth and try to count the costs and the losses, the despair and the devastation of the last year. But now, with the hooves of Christmas ringing on the wind, there must surely be some more pleasant things to write about. Life at Wildwoods. I’ve been reminding myself, isn’t all dramatic rescues, exhausting patrols, frantic chases after rabies suspects, and bitter battles to save our precious wildlife and wild places from poachers and fires against unrelenting odds. Ordinary, homely, peaceful scenes can usually be found here and there amidst the chaos.

Several times a year, for instance, a pretty bantam lays her eggs in a basin in the old downstairs bathroom we use as a laundry. I don’t mind, really. It’s better than nesting in the shrubs where predators abound. She comes and goes, as we all do, through the low-silled window. A cheeky Somango monkey and a very small round mouse also pop in now and then to see if she’d left any grain in her dish. This time she’s hatched out two little chicks, a cock and a hen, and every evening she tucks them up for the night in a nest of hay on the ironing table.

To conserve water we rigged up a shower over the ancient bath tub. The chicks have got used to the light going on and off: sudden day, sudden night. At first, when we switched it on, they’d stretch and yawn, rubbing their eyes and saying: is it time to get up? Now they just make drowsy comments in soft, whistling voices. But when I draw the shower curtain back and start to dry they stand up and preen their feathers and flap their little wings like the flapping ends of the towel. The moment I stop they settle down to sleep again.

Later, when the smells from the kitchen which tend to drift into that room have dispersed I close the window against night-time predators. The bantams really relax then, safe and secure. They even snore. When we have chicken for supper we tell them it’s pork.

Eventually, when the little cock chick starts trying to crow, the dogs will herd them gently down to the hen house each evening to join the rest of the flock, because that is one sound you don’t want before daybreak from your downstairs bathroom.

Almost every day a sleek lizard somehow gets into the sitting-room through an ill-fitting window and can’t get out again. I find him on the wide sill, nose pressed against the pane, eyes gazing longingly out at the garden. I have to reach across him to open the rather stiff window. If he panics and flops onto the floor there’s no way he can get out unless he slithers and slips right round the room to the door. usually he gets in a corner and exhausts himself trying to climb up. So I plunge after him, slither and slip on my stomach – more becoming, I always feel, than bottoms up – and guide him to the door or catch him and let him out through the window. Sometimes he makes a dive for the curtain and hides in the folds. If he misses the return dive we’re back to the slither syndrome and all that en-tails.

Lately he has waited for me to open the window for him, tapping his nails impatiently on the sill. The other day I stroked his tail as he waddled out. He stopped and looked at me with his south-side eye, muttered something I didn’t catch, and went unhurriedly on his way. The next time I stroked him from nose tip to tail tip. He came back in for more. I see the unfolding of a beautiful friendship.

A pair of tiny sun birds, in an effort to elude marauding monkeys, build their nest each year on a branch so low it almost touches the window. The nest is a beautiful little rondavel of grass and fibers, bound with spider hammocks from the Virginia creeper, and lined with the soft silk of wild kapok. It has a domed roof, a porched entrance and a high sill to keep the weather out and the chicks in. And there they sit, feet up on the little sill, and watch TV through the window. Of course, when the chicks have hatched, we draw the curtain on certain programmes. They can have the cartoons!

Bushbuck foal

A bushbuck doe I’ve been monitoring lost her first fawn to an eagle and the second to a jackal. She hid the third in a part of the forest only paces from the kitchen door, where she would indirectly benefit from the dogs’ efforts to guard my free-range bantams. Success was here and she has hidden her new baby in the same place. I saw it there the other day, a perfect sculpture in chestnut and gold, caught in a leaf-filtered ray of sun, gazing at me with great dark eyes, ready to run should its mother run. I called softly, my special call, and the mother watched placidly as the dogs and I went by, her last season’s fawn still at her side. We know each other well, this doe and I.

Christmas means so much to us, but nothing at all to the birds and animals unless our greetings of joy and goodwill go out to them, too. Remember them; care for them; and may the coming year be kinder to you all.

THANK YOU JILL, for what you have done for us all.

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