Meryl Harrison in Zimbabwe
"INNOCENT VICTIMS" - Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions
Meryl Harrison's extraordinary story
by Catherine Buckle
Published by: Merlin Unwin Books, U.K.
Innocent Victims is the story of how Meryl Harrison rescued thousands of animals stranded on invaded farms during Zimbabwe's land re-distribution. Meryl's mission was not about people or human rights but about animals and their welfare and there was no room for race, politics or prejudice.
Meryl, in her sixties and with a heart condition, always traveled with one or two young SPCA Inspectors and together they faced mobs of men who were often drugged or drunk and almost always armed with weapons ranging from sticks and stones to guns, knives and whips. Meryl drove thousands of kilometers to remote and abandoned farms; she and her colleagues went into "no-go areas" and faced war veterans, secret police, army and youth militia; they dismantled road barricades and went to places which even the Police said were dangerous and unsafe.
Meryl soon built up a reputation which preceded her - she never took sides and had only come for the animals. Cows which had been hamstrung and axed, donkeys and a race horse burned alive; dogs shackled and abandoned - if there was even the remotest chance that she could help them, treat them or rescue them, Meryl never said no! There wasn't an animal too big, small, slippery or furry for Meryl and she rescued cats, dogs and goldfish. She and her team caught pigs, sheep, cows, goats and chickens. They saved horses and ponies, duikers and sable antelope and intervened on behalf of lions, hippos and ostriches.
In 2002 Meryl and her colleague Addmore received international recognition for their extraordinary work and were jointly awarded the BBC Special Award for Outstanding Work in Animal Welfare. Just days later they were back at work on the dirt roads in remote areas of Zimbabwe. Meryl saw at first hand the environmental impact of Zimbabwe's land redistribution: poaching, de-forestation and massive burning.
All of the stories in Innocent Victims are the original first hand accounts taken from Meryl's personal diaries. Some of the rescues are gruesome and heartbreaking but others tell of great courage, ingenuity and joyous reunions. All tell of the extraordinary dedication and deep passion shown by one woman for the lives of many thousands of animals. Innocent Victims is the story of an unsung and reluctant hero in Zimbabwe's darkest of times.
Meryl Harrison has won international recognition for her courageous work and some of her awards include:
1. 2002 - RSPCA (UK) Overseas Gallantry Award
2. 2002 Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club (UK) Special Presentation for Recognition of Work in Rescuing Animals in Distress
3. 2002 - BBC Special Award for Outstanding Work in Animal Welfare (Together with Addmore Chinhembe)
4. 2003 - Rotary Foundation of Rotary International - Harare Club - Paul Harris Fellow
5. 2003 - International Fund for Animal Welfare/Animal Talk - Action Award
6. 2004 - St Anne's Diocesan College Old Girls Guild (South Africa) - St Anne Award for Dedicated Service Above & Beyond the Call of Duty
7. 2005 - The Zimbabwe Kennel Club - Lifetime Achievement Award
8. 2006 - Rotary Foundation of Rotary International -Borrowdale Brook Club - Paul Harris Fellow -
Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions.
Meryl Harrison's Extraordinary Story."
By Catherine Buckle.
Foreword by David Shepherd, O.B,E. , M.B.E.
Published by: Merlin Unwin Books, U.K.
Classification: True stories of heroism, endurance and survival.
Available March 2009. Hardback. 352 pages. Black and white photographs.
Author: Catherine Buckle
ISBN: 978 1 906122 07 2
Published: March 2009
Format: 234 x 156 mm
No. of pages: 352
8 page b&w plate section
"Innocent Victims. rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions.
Meryl Harrison's Extraordinary story."