Anti-poaching boost in Zimbabwe through AWF donation of field equipment

– Mbire has become a problem in terms of human-wildlife conflict, hence provision of more vehicles and radios will shorten reaction time, the ZimParks head said.

John Cassim

Dr Fulton Mangwanta – ZimParks Director General on the extreme left and the ZimParks Board Chairman, Dr Aggripa Sora on the extreme right examining the patrol boots that were donated by AWF at Chinhoyi Caves this week.

Chinhoyi Caves, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) anti-poaching project has received a timely boost from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) through a donation of US$ 33 278 worth of field equipment.

The equipment was handed over on Friday, to the ZimParks Director General Fulton Mangwanya by AWF Mid-Zambezi Valley Programs Manager Simon Muchatibaya, on the sidelines of the ZimParks strategic meeting, held at the Chinhoyi Caves.

Chinhoyi Caves is a Ramsar site, that is under the management of ZimParks, situated 125 km west of the capital Harare.

“We have got 20 LED torches, 43 water bottles, 10 doom tents, 43 sleeping bags, 20 mosquito nets, and 43 socks for the community scouts in Mbire,” Simon announced as he handed over the equipment.

For the protected areas, AWF donated 60 stretcher beds, 60 overalls, 60 one-man tents, 60 sleeping bags, 133 patrol boots, 60 raincoats, 60 mosquito nets, and 60 patrol bag packs.  

“We are sincerely grateful to receive this very expensive equipment from AWF, this will go a long way in assisting our rangers when they go out, especially this rainy season, they really need this equipment, when they go out and look after our parks estates they must be looked after very well,” Dr Aggripa Sora, the ZimParks Board Chairman said.

“This is going to make sure the rangers continue to have the zeal to do their work while protecting the wildlife species that have to increase instead of decreasing,” Dr Sora added.

Meanwhile, the provision of anti-poaching equipment for the protected and communal areas was made possible through support from the CITES MIKE, the Utariri Project, and other private donors.

According to AWF, the equipment is going to be used in the Mid-Zambezi Valley landscape where already some massive infrastructure development is taking place through its US$ 10 million injection.

Some state-of-the-art radio communication and internet facilities were built along the Zambezi River, and some patrol boats, vehicles, and mechanical back-up were also donated last year.

AWF has also helped with the construction of new modern ranger homes in camps and in the field, a move that has helped reduce poaching, along the Mid Zambezi Valley, especially in Mana Pools.

In a statement read on her behalf, AWF-Country Director Olivia Mufute said Mid Zambezi Valley is one of their priority landscapes.

“As you may know, the landscape is richly endowed with megafauna and flora and houses, protected areas including a UNESCO World Heritage Site Mana Pools National Park. The landscape also houses communal areas where community wildlife scouts conduct their antipoaching work.

However, the landscape is not immune to threats such as poaching, illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss, and the encroachment tide of human activity,” Olivia Mufute said.

Through the ZimParks and AWF partnership, in April 2023, 15 rangers graduated in the advanced Coxswain training in anti-poaching and law enforcement activities in water-based environments.

This was supported by the European Union under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (CITES MIKE) project. 

In July 2023, 28 community wildlife scouts were drawn from Mbire and Muzarabani Districts. The scouts graduated from the Zimbabwe Institute of Wildlife Conservation (ZIWC) in Masvingo after completing the basic ranger training supported by SIDA-funded Utariri.

Utariri is an integrated and adaptive biodiversity, climate, and livelihoods project in the Zambezi Valley running from 2022 to 2025.

Meanwhile, the ZimParks Director General, Fulton Mangwanya pleaded with the board and AWF to consider providing an extra vehicle in Mbire situated extreme north of the country owing to increased human-wildlife conflict.

“Mbire has become a problem in terms of human-wildlife conflict, the local authority has one vehicle and as ZimParks we have one vehicle, we thinking that maybe we can another vehicle in that area so that reactions become easier.

There is no network there so the radio communication needs to be worked on so that there is a better reaction to the human-wildlife reports coming from this area,” Mangwanya pleaded.

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