Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT) is set to open three new traditionally built camps in Gonarezhou National Park next month, in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo province.

The GCT is a new model for protected area management drawn up between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, and the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and is directly responsible for management of Gonarezhou for a period of 20 years.

The chalets at the camps will accommodate eight people each, and are being built using traditional materials such as poles, dagga and bamboo for the walls, and thatching grass for the roof. The walls will be decorated with drawings and other traditional patterns using special local soils.

“We are trying to revive the lost pride of the Shangani tradition as well as keep the culture alive just as they do in other areas around the country,” said the GCT. “Our chalets are built mostly using natural resources, just like Shangani huts. We are not using cement except…in bathrooms and verandahs where we have stone work.”

Gonarezhou is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), which also includes South Africa’s Kruger National Park and Mozambique’s Gaza National Park. GLTP is home to more than 500 species of birds, 147 species of mammals, at least 116 species of reptiles, 34 species of frogs and 49 species of fish.