We are pleased to announce that ALERT, through our on-the-ground partner Lion Encounter Zimbabwe, has signed a public-private partnership agreement with the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) to develop volunteer programs throughout the National Park system. These programs will generate much needed funding, logistical capacity and technical resources to improve the effectiveness of ZPWMA‘s work in the parks estate, whilst providing volunteers with unparalleled opportunities to become involved in conservation research, community outreach and the daily management of a National Park.
The agreement will first be enacted in Zambezi and Victoria Falls National Parks, and once established, will be extended to Hwange, Matusadona, Mana Pools and beyond, some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife areas.
Each program will have specific focal projects as agreed as urgently needed with ZPWMA. For Zambezi & Victoria Falls NP many programs are already operated by us for some time now, however the expanded program will permit greater emphasis on these programs. The principle foci will be an assessment of large predators and elephants with a specific view to tackling the significant human / wildlife conflict with these species within the region. Research will be conducted via driven and walking transects, remote camera traps, baited call-in stations and community surveys.
Additional projects for these two Parks will include the removal of alien plant species from the unique Victoria Falls mist forest ecosystem, as well as an entomological study and biological monitoring program to improve our understanding of this ecosystem’s function. In Zambezi NP regular game counts will be conducted to assess the biodiversity of the Park, waterhole and fire management will be undertaken and anti-poaching efforts will be conducted.
Volunteers will also assist in the Park’s administration, in the creation of improved visitor facilities, information and management systems, also to extend community outreach programs to keep communities up to date with the Park’s management and to enhance local understanding of the importance in conservation practice for generating tourism in the region that in turn provides employment opportunities. Some of the funding generated by this program will be utilised to provide free places to students of Zimbabwe’s universities to encourage local capacity building for conservation within Zimbabwe.
We will be working with many other local partners to increase the effectiveness of these programs, and any others that may be developed over time. The volunteer program will be marketed by our existing partner African Impact who have won multiple awards over the years and are the largest on-the-ground operator of volunteer programs within Africa.
We are very excited by the opportunity to extend our existing relationship with ZPWMA and further assist their work in managing Zimbabwe’s exceptional national park estate. We also look forward to meeting volunteers from around the world and providing them with exciting and memorable experiences of Africa.
If you are interested in finding out more about how you can join this program and help manage Zimbabwe’s national parks please visit this program’s volunteer project profile.