Wildlife Surveys Carried Out In Chizarira National Park and Chirisa Safari Area, Zimbabwe
October 19 2015

At the request of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wild Life Management Authority, ALERT has carried out wildlife surveys of Chizarira National Park and Chirisa/Sengwa Safari Area. These areas are under the jurisdiction of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wild Life Management Authority (ZPWLMA) and combined cover 3,713km2.

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Chizarira and Chirisa/Sengwa are a contiguous Protected Area (PA) and share common boundaries. This PA forms an ecological island ecosystem surrounded by Communal Lands heavily settled by people with large numbers of livestock. Poaching, both commercial and subsistence, is taking place despite Park’s best efforts to curb this negative use of wildlife, however there are core areas in these PA’s that still support viable populations of wildlife including elephants, buffalo, lion, waterbuck, impala, warthog, leopard, spotted hyaena, sable, zebra, kudu and eland.  ALERT plans to support the area in the future.

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In Chizarira an aerial survey was carried out between 9th - 11th September using a four-seater Cessna 182 with ALERT and Parks staff acting as observers and recorder. A Savanna microlight with one observer was used to survey the Chirisa/Sengwa complex.  The aircraft were calibrated for observers to count animals within a known strip width using the methods described in Norton-Griffiths’ (1978) “Counting animals”.  Second edition.  AWLF, Nairobi.

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During the same period a ground large carnivore survey was carried out in Chizarira using the call-up method (broadcasting a recording of a calf in distress from two cone speakers). All carnivores responding to the calls were counted, aged and sexed (where possible). 

A similar ground survey was carried out in Chirisa/Sengwa between 20th and 21st September and an aerial survey using a two seater Savanna, was carried out between 12th and 14th October.

Four lions and twenty-one spotted hyaenas responded to the calling stations within the 3,173km2 PA. Other carnivores included one black-backed jackal.  Parks staff accompanied the ALERT team during the surveys and ALERT would like to thank the Director-General of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the Regional Manager in charge of the Central Province, and Area Managers of Chizarira and Chirisa and Sengwa and their staff for their assistance and support. 

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These surveys were carried out at the invitation of the Director-General, and ALERT scientific staff in conjunction with ZPWLMA ecologists will be producing a report which will provide some management suggestions. 

Aerial surveys of the wider Sebungwe area have been carried out in the past but this is the first such intensive survey carried out of this important Protected Area and ALERT is proud to have been able to help in conducting this survey which will go towards supporting the conservation of the area.

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