AWF Helps Zimbabwe Gvt Develop Biodiversity Economy Report

THE African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is currently supporting the Government of Zimbabwe in producing the Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy Report, following a request by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to the Ministry of Environment to outline the economic contribution of nature to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.

By Michael Gwarisa

The move is part of AWF’s mandate to partner and support the Government of Zimbabwe in leveraging their rich biodiversity to promote empowerment, inclusivity, and equitable sharing of conservation benefits.

Speaking recently during the the World Wildlife Day Commemorations which ran under the theme ‘Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation,’  AWF Country Director, Olivia Mufute said strategic partnerships were key to enhancing biodiversity and wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe.

“This year’s World Wildlife Day theme, aligns with AWF Zimbabwe’s 10-year Conservation Strategy roadmap which emphasizes on strategic partnerships as critical for the attainment of thriving wildlife, secure habitats and increased quality of life for people. We are fulfilling this through strategic partnerships with the Government of Zimbabwe, through, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), development partners and other Conservation players.

“All our efforts as AWF are in line with the National Development Strategy 1 which prioritizes sustainable environment, tourism and climate resilience as economic growth anchors. We believe that AWF’s interventions in the landscapes where we are operating will go a long way in the realization of a prosperous and upper middle-income economy by 2030,” said Mufute.

She added that the support they are rendering to the Government of Zimbabwe in producing the Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy Report will be the first report in Zimbabwe to profile the value of nature to Zimbabwe and to position the biodiversity economy as a key economic sector to invest in.

“This strategic document will inform development policies that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of Zimbabwe’s natural resources and shows the importance of strategic partnerships in wildlife conservation and sustainable development.”

She added that the strategic partnerships have enabled AWF to make conservation efforts for wildlife and their habitats to thrive in Zimbabwe. Since 2018, AWF invested over USD 10 million in the Mid Zambezi Valley through infrastructural developments, provision and digitalization of radio communication equipment, providing fuel, field and camping equipment, patrol rations, vehicles, and boats for anti-poaching patrols. We have facilitated specialized training and capacity building programs for rangers as part of efforts to combat poaching and reduce illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in the landscape.

“With support from our partners , We donated three vehicles to Zimparks in 2021, one vehicle in 2022, and recently purchased two Toyota Land Cruisers to support anti-poaching work by Zimparks in the Mid Zambezi Valley. We also supported Zimparks with one spot fisher patrol boat, one pelican boat and installed a modern boat jetty at D Camp, along the Zambezi Valley.

“The  boats and some of the vehicles have been named after  Zimparks rangers who were dedicated to fighting poaching in the landscape. By doing so, we believe we can motivate current teams of young rangers by honouring and telling inspiring stories of their predecessors. This is in line with advancing story telling on wildlife conservation from an African perspective,” she said.

She also said AWF was leveraging the fourth industrial revolution where they are supporting the installation of digital radio equipment for Chewore North and Chewore South Safari areas to improve anti-poaching patrol effectiveness in the Mid Zambezi Valley.

“We have invested in camera traps and night vision and other technologies to improve the monitoring of wildlife movement and give rangers information on species location, population sizes and animal  interactions etc In addition, we have trained Zimparks rangers on the use of Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) technology to improve data collection. This technology is useful in preparing reports for several conventions including the CITES and informing daily management decisions. Rangers from the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU), Chewore Safari Area, Mana pools National Park and Marongora Safari Area benefitted from the SMART training. ”

Through partnering with the Zimbabwe National Army Boat Squadron Regiment and Zimparks, AWF trained 18 launch-master coxswain personnel in Kariba to deal with water related security problems, reduce poaching, illegal wildlife trade and trafficking and fostering coordinated efforts in wildlife conservation.

“Worth noting is that during this women’s month, we continue to celebrate one of the female Zimparks rangers Rosemary Kateguru who became the first woman holder of the Launch-Master Class One License (out of the training funded by AWF) to operate big boats and vessels in Zimbabwe. She is a ranger who operates in the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU) D Camp area in the Middle Zambezi Valley. As AWF, we would like to thank the Her Excellency First Lady of Zimbabwe  for hosting a dinner ceremony for Rosemary and members from her Doma Community in honor of her outstanding achievement in February 2022.

“The strategic partnership between Zimparks and AWF has also seen AWF handing over an office block, operations room, entertainment center, ranger accommodation, and a new vehicle workshop to support conservation efforts and help to ease operations and logistics. This clearly demonstrates AWF’s long term commitment in wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe and the fruitful partnerships we are celebrating on this year’s World Wildlife Day theme.”

Meanwhile,  AWF is working with Mbire Rural District Council to impact on communities living in and adjacent to wildlife areas. In Mbire District, AWF has managed to do this through providing technical and funding support for the development  of the Mbire Land Use Plan (2020-2030), training and capacity building of community wildlife scouts, some who are represented here today, supporting alternative livelihoods and mitigating Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) by working with communities to identify best practices in HWC mitigation.

All these efforts are critical in the conservation of wildlife and cannot be implemented without proper partnerships.



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