Historic US$50 million boost for Zimbabwe conservation

– The revised agreement begins immediately and commits the partnership to a further 25 years with an expected investment of about US$50M over that time, IFAW top official said.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has signed a historic 25-year agreement to secure a US$50 million partnership, to support wildlife conservation in Hwange National Park.

The agreement is riding on the successes of an existing five-year partnership between the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and (ZimParks), that mainly focussed on Hwange National Park.

“The revised agreement begins immediately and commits our partnership to a further 25 years with an expected investment of about US$50M over that time,” says Jimmiel Mandima, IFAW Vice President for Global Programmes & Institutional Giving. 

“It’s a vote of confidence in our joint achievements and extends our vital work to secure Hwange National Park by significantly increasing IFAW’s investment in wildlife security, conservation, management, community development and tourism development.”

“We are excited about this long term partnership with IFAW as it sets us for lasting impact to turnaround Hwange National Park and its environment to earn back the ‘go to tourism destination’ status where local communities and wildlife thrive together, “ says Dr Fulton Mangwanya, Director General of ZimParks. 

Hwange National Park which is 14, 651 square kilometers big, is the largest national park in Zimbabwe and a key part of the Kavango-Zambezi-Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).

This forms an integral part of IFAW’s Room to Roam initiative to secure landscapes and maintain connectivity for elephants and other wildlife. 

The conservation and investment partnership goes one step further by including both IFAW and ZimParks officials on a six-person steering committee, three from each partner, to direct activities. 

Mandima said this development which falls in the Private Public Partnership  (PPP) will benefit both parties, enabling each to learn from the expertise and experiences of the other. 

The new agreement starts immediately and will be focused on the Main Camp Management Area of Hwange National Park, which represents 70% of the park. 

– IFAW relationship with ZimParks

IFAW first entered its first conservation partnership with ZimParks in late 2019 shortly before COVID 19 struck. 

It immediately shifted focus to support ranger welfare thereby enabling key staff to remain at their posts and helped reduce elephant poaching to a record zero, in Hwange National Park, in the past three years. 

The partnership has also helped with the building of a full-service ranger base in the Makona section of the national park, including an operations centre and staff housing for the 25 rangers and their families.

The rangers will live there permanently to protect the park and wildlife, and to provide a swift response to incidents of human-wildlife conflict in the bordering community areas. 

IFAW is a global non-profit organisation whose main mandate is to help animals and people thrive together. 

Their operations are in more than 40 countries around the world ,where their experts work closely with local people.

 IFAW rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and help restore and protect their natural habitats, in partnership with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. 

Meanwhile this 25 year partnership with IFAW comes at a time when ZimParks is battling to cope with the destruction of habitat, dwindling funding to maintain conservation efforts and a ballooning elephant population.

Zimbabwe has the world’s second largest population between 85 000 and 100 000, after Botswana and about one quarter of the elephants in all of Africa.

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