The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance wildlife conservation in key protected areas in Zimbabwe such as Hwange National Park and others. The programme will run for a year with a possibility of an extension.

Zimparks Spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo, says IFAW will mobilise about US$1 million for conservation projects such as enhancement of law enforcement capacity to protect wildlife populations from poaching and wildlife trafficking, as well as working with communities to prevent human-wildlife conflict.

Farawo says the fund will also be used to look after the wildlife; for purchasing and fuelling patrol vehicles; training staff (including rangers); and buying critical equipment such as radio communication, camping equipment and uniforms for rangers.

Amalinda Safari Collection CEO, Sharon Stead, says: “It’s a welcome relief that the US$1 million will be used to aid anti-poaching units and law enforcement. The human wildlife conflict aspect is a very real issue and the communities deserve some reprieve from loss of livestock by predators, and crops mainly by elephants. We as stakeholders and photographic safari operators are doing as much as we can but our resources do not match this bracket. National Park scouts…need proper wages, uniforms, and fuel and field vehicles to conduct follow-ups. Communities need intense training and support on major decisions likely to have a considerable impact on local animal rights, welfare and presenting opportunities for law reform.”

Hwange is the largest national park in Zimbabwe and is home to 400 different species of birds and 107 types of mammals. Located just an hour south of the Victoria Falls, and three and half hours from Bulawayo, the park is easily accessible from both Victoria Falls and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (Bulawayo) International Airports.