Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT) was the dream of a dedicated wildlife conservationists Gavin and Best and his wife Shay. Gavin’s love was rescuing, rehabilitation and raising orphaned elephants and releasing them back into the wild. He had a dream to start a wildlife trust dedicated to saving African wildlife and empowering rural communities so that they could peacefully coexist with the wildlife with which they share the landscape.

One night nearly a decade ago, Gavin and I happened to bump into each other and eager to catch up we decamped to the pub for a few beers.  The few beers turned into a long session and Gavin told me of his dream to start a wildlife trust dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of snared or injured animals and to build a fully functional wildlife laboratory to identify and treat animal diseases. He also said he wanted to explore ways and means of dealing with wildlife/human conflict and educate rural populations on the importance of wildlife. After six hours our respective irate wives came looking for us which is just as well as the ideas and dreams were getting larger and more, seemingly at the time, preposterous as the evening progressed.

That would be the last time I ever saw Gavin, three days later he was dead – killed by one of the orphaned elephants he so loved and had practically hand raised. Fortunately, Gavin’s dream didn’t die with him that day. Friends and family came together to form a Board of Directors and chip in seed money for what would later become VFWT.

Another tragedy struck a few years later when Shay, who had been a driving force behind the trust and its patrons, died of an aneurysm. If I had two wishes, one of them forever doomed to be unfulfilled, would be for Gavin and Shay to see their dreams come to fruition and to hear Gavin’s delighted laughter to see that even our beer-fueled flights of fantasy are not so farfetched after all. The other, eminently possible with your generosity, is to see the trust continues its great work and is able to take on new projects and expand.

I am honoured to sit on the Board of Trustees for VFWT, and each year I do a walk for wildlife that benefits VFWT – a non-stop, long-distance trek that takes place in just 24 hours, covers some of the most majestic and wild landscapes in Zimbabwe.

This year, Walking for Wild will take place on July 16-17th. Money raised will help support our

  • snare removal,
  • rhino dehorning and other anti-poaching efforts,
  • a wildlife conflict hotline,
  • our mobile livestock boma – predation prevention program,
  • wildlife laboratory needs,
  • our rural community education and empowerment programs to steward a culture of coexistence with wildlife.
  • IAPF female rangers (families of ladies who died while serving)

I sincerely hope you can support this extremely worthwhile trust that accomplishes tremendous amount of good.

Thank you for your generosity; we can’t do this without with you.

Keep on walking,

Leon Varley.

NB. – VFWT is a registered 501(c)3. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

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