The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Zimbabwe joined the Zimbabwe and Zambia delegations for the tour of the Lower Zambezi Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area (LOZAMAP TFCA), where AWF, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, is implementing various conservation projects.
By Staff Reporter
The tour came just after the signing ceremony of the LOZAMAP TFCA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, Honorable Nqobizita Mangaliso Ndlovu, and the Zambian Minister of Tourism, Honorable Rodney Sikumba, at a high-level event held in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.
I wish to specifically mention the following organizations from the Zimbabwe side who directly assist in the Zimbabwe component of the TFCA, that is the Peace Parks Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Global Environment Facility through the GEF6 project,” Minister Ndlovu said on May 26 during the signing ceremony of the LOZAMAP TFCA.
“By signing the MoU, we are committing our two Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States to the processes of implementing the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement of 1999.”
The transfrontier conservation area measures approximately 17,745 square kilometers, housing the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, Mana Pools National Park, and surrounding Safari Areas in Zimbabwe, including Game Management Areas, Safari Areas, Communal land, private land, and conservancies within the landscape.
During the LOZAMAP TFCA tour, the high-level delegation from Zimbabwe and Zambia had an appreciation of the refurbished Marongora Vehicle Workshop, the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU) D Camp-all constructed through funding support from AWF, the Zambezi Valley Reaction Unit, and Mana Pools National Park, where AWF and Zimparks are working together on various wildlife conservation projects such as cross-border anti-poaching patrols.
Speaking during the conclusion of the tour at D Camp, Charles Mweshi, Zambia’s Director of Planning and Information in the Ministry of Tourism, commended the efforts by the Zimbabwean government for facilitating a smooth process from the signing of the LOZAMAP TFCA agreement to hosting a successful tour of the landscape on the Zimbabwean side.
“The tour has been very successful from the signing of the MOU, we have seen that the Zimbabwean team put a lot of effort in planning this activity,” Mweshi said. “In terms of when we are likely to invite you, we have not sat down to determine the date, I just presume this can be worked on within the month of June.”
The LOZAMAP TFCA tour provided a platform for Zimbabwe and Zambia officials to discuss some of the challenges faced in wildlife and biodiversity conservation with solutions put forward for the two countries to consider during the LOZAMAP TFCA agreement implementation stage. Zimparks Mid Zambezi Valley Regional Manager Felix Chimeramombe noted that the LOZAMAP TFCA initiative will not only focus on biodiversity conservation, as it is an opportunity for Zimbabwe and Zambia to improve tourism marketing in the landscape.
“From the interaction we had, we got quite a number of lessons, the regional commander shared with us that there is migration of elephants between the two borders, on the Zimbabwean side, we are seized with a matter whereby we have marked a decline in our elephant populations, but we cannot see the carcasses and the causative factors to the decline. That is another opportunity whereby we are now saying we need to collaborate closely in research and monitoring even on the surveys that we do to take stock of our animal populations,” Chimeramombe said.
In October 2022, AWF Zimbabwe handed over equipment and supplies to Zimparks and the Zambia Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DPNW) to support the first-ever transboundary joint hippo survey along the Zambezi River. The survey seeks to get up-to-date information on the population status and distribution of species.
Prior to the tour and the signing of the LOZAMAP TFCA agreement, AWF Zimbabwe has been making significant strides on wildlife conservation initiatives in the Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools landscape through cross border anti-poaching patrols and meetings between Zimbabwe and Zambia law enforcement agents, training rangers on the use of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) critical in transboundary conservation work, providing fuel and rations for anti-poaching patrols, training of rangers on court procedures and handling of suspects, and ranger coxswain training for water-related anti-poaching patrols.
Other major milestones achieved by AWF Zimbabwe in partnership with Zimparks include the digital radio communication system installation in the landscape, infrastructure development which includes the setting up of the Marongora Vehicle Workshop, the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU) D Camp, development of the Chewore South Water System, and the extension of the Mkanga Ranger field station. These achievements have been made possible through funding from various grants, including the Dorothy Batten Foundation and the CITES MIKE.
“We believe that AWF Zimbabwe has already contributed towards preparatory measures that will aid the government of Zimbabwe through Zimparks to implement the LOZAMAP TFCA agreement, activities such as the cross-border collaborations on anti-poaching will be instrumental during implementation stage,” Olivia Mufute, AWF Country Director, said. “Our support is anchored on the AWF Zimbabwe’s 10-year Conservation Strategy (2020-2030) which among other result areas seeks to promote social and economic development through building strong partnerships.”