NEW PROJECT TO PROTECT WILDLIFE IN THE CHARARA "CORRIDOR"
The Zambezi Society is delighted to have been awarded a generous funding grant from the Lion Recovery Fund to undertake a 2-year project with partners to assist ZimParks to secure valuable wildlife resources in the vulnerable Gache/Charara/Hurungwe area at the eastern end of Lake Kariba.
This area of mixed land-use (community farmland, safari areas and urban settlement) lies within the UNESCO-designated Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve (see shaded area on the map) and forms an extremely important wildlife corridor “bridging link” between the Matusadona National Park and the Middle Zambezi Valley which includes Mana Pools National Park and its associated World Heritage Site areas of Sapi and Chewore.
Over several decades, the area has suffered from a lack of holistic management and neglect and its wildlife resources have been severely depleted due to lack of resources for protection. This has resulted in a significant increase in illegal wildlife activities.
The aim of this project is to secure the corridor between Matusadona National Park and the Lower Zambezi Valley, with a threefold approach: 1. to strengthen management, wildlife and habitat protection and law enforcement, 2. to engage communities in understanding the importance of the area as a wildlife corridor, and 3. to undertake wildlife research, particularly focused on “keystone species” such as lion and elephant.
The Zambezi Society main role in project is to strengthen the role and effectiveness of ZimParks in the area, through logistical support and training in collaboration with partner agencies such as the Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT) and Flying for Wildlife (FFW).. This will involve:-
a. Providing water and land-based transport and equipment for deploying anti-poaching ranger patrols
b. Undertaking weapons training for ZimParks field staff
c. Undertaking aerial surveillance, wildlife population monitoring and anti-poaching support
d/. Improving communications, facilities and living conditions for ZimParks staff
To do this, the Zambezi Society will employ a Project Manager based in the area.
At the same time, research partners will undertake work to assess the populations of key wildlife species in the area (particularly lions). Assessing the viablility of the Gache Gache communal land and the Charara/Hurungwe area as a wildlife corridor will also require considerable engagement with local communities in these areas.
If this project is successful, it will ensure connectivity for wildlife between Matusadona and the Zambezi Valley, will rehabilitate some 1.600 square kilometres of prime habitat by tackling bushmeat poaching and other threats, and will allow lions and other species to increase in number.
It also has significant potential to focus on tourism and create another major tourism hub in Zimbabwe, due to its proximity to Lake Kariba and due to the presence of an international airport in Kariba town.