Bringing water to the Zambezi National Park
July 4 2012

The Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe is divided into two distinct areas; north and south of the Kazungula Road.  The area to the north has sufficient natural water supply in the form of the Zambezi River and a spring line, however the southern section is dry with no natural water points.  The consequent concentration of animal species in the north during the dry season exerts ecological pressure as well as focussing tourist vehicles, putting strain on the Park’s limited road system and accelerating soil erosion.

The justification by the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) for creating an artificial water source for conservation related reasons are:

1.  The provision of water to small mammals with limited home ranges which have to move during the dry season as they cannot feed in this Southern area with no local water.

2.  If water is supplied in the Southern section more tourists will do their game drives here thereby relieving the Northern section of pressure.

3.  The water point will attract bigger mammals thus spreading habitat use more evenly across the Park. This is a World Heritage Convention requirement where mega herbivore populations should be spread evenly across the Park in order to spread their impact of use.

4.  The Northern section of the Park is situated close to human settlements and as such poaching and wildlife / human conflict pressure is severe, particularly during the dry season when game is concentrated in this area due to the lack of water in the Southern ranges.  A more even spread of game within the Park could alleviate poaching and conflict levels.

ALERT, through our CCWA division has formed a partnership with ZPWMA and Lion Encounter to renovate a waterhole at Chamabondo Borehole 3 within the Zambezi National Park, including the installation of a pump.  Such action will ensure adequate water supply in the southern ranges of the Park during the dry season (March to November), alleviating ecological stress in the northern section of the Park, the current source of water for most animals.

At the moment the pump has been installed and the pan is filling - it will eventually burst over the border and flood the natural pan around it, hiding the man-made pan to create a natural look to the area.

Waterhole Zambezi National Park

Some antelope and elephant have already been seen using the new waterhole.

To enhance the tourist facilities and encourage visitors to the Park to explore more than just the more popular northern sections, the existing dilapidated viewing platform will be renovated to ensure that it is safe for visitors.  The platform directly overlooks the site of the waterhole and will provide excellent game viewing opportunities.

Game counts using road transect surveys will be conducted in both the northern and southern ranges of the Park to assess the impact on game movement.  Data collected will be provided to the Park’s ecologist for comparison against historical data collected on game movement held since the 1970s.

Waterhole Zambezi National Park

 

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