By Luckmore Safuli
SAFARI operators in Hwange’s Matetsi area have pledged to scale up ongoing wildlife conservation projects amid calls for the country to fully harness the potential of the hunting industry in the transformation of wildlife-rich communities.
At a time wildlife authorities are struggling to raise adequate funds to support wildlife conservation due to impact of covid-19, some safari operators have taken the initiative to support the protection for the treasured wildlife resources.
Vexford Safaris is among the safari operators in Hwange’s Matetsi area that have partnered Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) in-game water provision programme. Vexford Safaris Director Mr Fidelis Muchenge said the game water supply project is the testimony of the how hunting industry is contributing to wildlife conservation.
“We are into hunting here in Matetsi Area and we feel we have an obligation to assist not only in the protection of the wildlife but also in the socio-economic development. Work being done here involves the de-silting of the pans and rehabilitation of the dam wall in order to enhance game water supply,” he said.
Under the project, the safari operator is funding the pan and dam scooping exercise, installation of solar-powered boreholes and dam wall repairs. Zimparks Hwange Cluster Manager Mr Samson Chibaya said enhancing water holding and retention capacity remains critical in the conservation of wildlife.
“There are a lot of benefits that we are deriving as Zimparks from partnerships with our stakeholders, in particular, Vexford Safaris who have embarked on a massive water harvesting project here in Matetsi area. Given the threats being posed by climate change we are focusing on improving water holding capacity,” he said.
Wildlife remains a major drawcard millions of tourists who visit Zimbabwe each year. Habitat loss due to overpopulation of elephants and frequent droughts have emerged as some of the major threats to the survival of the treasured wildlife resources.