Story by John Nhandara
THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZIMPARKS) has signed a SS$50 million deal with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to support wildlife conservation at Hwange National Park.
The partnership is a revised agreement that builds on an existing five-year partnership for wildlife conservation.
The funds are meant for wildlife security, conservation, management, and community development.
It is also expected to help in strengthening anti-poaching activities in Hwange National Park following the successful establishment of a fully-fledged permanent range base at Makona section of Hwange National Park which was a hot spot for poaching.
As a result of the intervention, no single case of elephant poaching has been witnessed at the animal sanctuary in the last three years.
“We had a five-year agreement which was supposed to be a trial run. Since we signed this agreement Hwange National Park has never lost an elephant in the last three years due to poaching because of the help we are getting from IFAW,” noted ZIMPARKS Spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo.
“This is a game changer considering the work that IFAW has been doing in the past years. They have built a camping site at Makona where more than 30 rangers are going to be housed. It was difficult for our officers to react from Hwange to Makona,” he added.
The funds will also help in reducing human wildlife conflict on the boarders of the national park, amid revelations that 66 people were killed in cases of human wildlife conflict last year, while more than 70 were injured, some suffering permanent injuries.
“We have been witnessing an upward trend in cases if human wildlife conflicts not only in Hwange but across the country. This kind of partnership will help us to react within the shortest period of time.it means we secure more vehicles and we become more visible in communities,” Farawo also said.
“In 2022 we received about four thousand distress calls and we only managed to react to three thousand. We need resource to engage communities on issues like animal behaviour,” Farawo went on.
Hwange National Park is the largest animal reserve in Zimbabwe and is a key part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA).