Efforts to conserve elephants in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park are bearing fruit following strategic partnerships formed in the last couple of years, the country’s Tourism minister said.
Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu said there had been no cases of poaching in the area for the past one year due to such cooperation which includes partnerships with a U.S. based conservancy, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), security services and local communities.
IFAW signed a five-year partnership deal with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) in September 2019 and has committed $1 million to various causes to strengthen conservation.
These include: road rehabilitation, training and equipment of rangers, workshop upgrades, procurement of vehicles, establishment of a veterinary lab and construction of a new administrative facility.
The facility, Makona Camp, is expected to boost the presence of wildlife rangers in the park’s southern side and improve relations between ZimParks and neighbouring communities. This in turn will help address incidents of poaching and human-wildlife conflict.
Ndlovu welcomed such partnerships saying they were exactly the boost the tourism needed during such a period of decline brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We agreed to have a camp here where we can have rangers and create a proper communication. They have come to the party and we are seeing today, that almost two years down the line, that this partnership is bearing fruits and we understand that there has literally been no poaching in this area when we are coming from an era where he had all those elephants dying from cyanide,” Ndlovu said.
In September 2013, dozens of elephants were killed for their ivory by poachers who used cyanide to poison a water hole in the park. In 2018, at least four elephants died from cyanide poisoning as poachers capitalized on a drought to contaminate the remaining scarce water sources.