By Staff Reporter
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) last week handed over operational facilities to the Government of Zimbabwe to aid the fight against poaching and wildlife trafficking.
At a ceremony held on the banks of the Zambezi River in Chirundu, a border post shared between Zimbabwe and Zambia, AWF gave the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) the keys to a new office block, an operations room, entertainment center, ranger accommodation, new vehicle workshop, as well as a new vehicle to fortify conservation efforts and help ease operations and logistics.
The facilities will benefit the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU), an arm of Zimparks, which was established to primarily deal with water-related security operations. Poachers have long used the Zambezi to transport wildlife trophies or products and other contraband, contributing to a thriving transboundary illegal wildlife trade.
“These facilities are not just nice to look at, they will richly enhance the anti-poaching work in the Zambezi Valley and play a key role in securing Zimbabwe’s natural resources. The boats will ensure that poachers can no longer use the Zambezi River as trafficking highway, the vehicles and the vehicle workshop will ensure that rangers are able to seamlessly conduct their security patrols, the office block, entertainment centre and ranger houses are all to ensure the comfort of Zimparks personnel as they discharge their duties. They risk their lives everyday to secure our wildlife, it is only fitting that they enjoy state of the art accommodation and amenities,” said Olivia Mufute, the AWF Country Director for Zimbabwe.
In attendance were senior Zimparks officers, including the Director General Dr. Fulton Mangwanya who received and launched the facilities on behalf of ZARSAU.
“Today we are here at the ZARSAU D Camp where we are all witnessing the good infrastructure that has been set for our staff and the establishment of a sub-station which qualifies to attain full status of a fully-fledged station. For those of us who know this site as D Camp, it used to operate more like a simple patrol picket or base with no buildings, save for the old wooden office close to the river. Today, AWF has helped us to transform this site into a modern station of which it compares favorably amongst the best stations we have in the Zambezi Valley,” said Dr. Mangwanya.
AWF has a long track record of conservation success in the Zambezi Valley. AWF works with the Zimparks and other key partners to strengthen the capacity and management of rangers throughout the landscape. We have built a rapid response unit, trained rangers in advanced ecological monitoring with CyberTracker and SMART, and installed a full-time anti-poaching specialist within Mana Pools National Park. We are also equipping the wildlife authority with an upgraded digital radio system, which not only provides secure and encrypted radio communications but also allows easy communication between the rangers in Mana Pools and their colleagues at the Zambezi Valley Reaction Unit — an anti-poaching base.
The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa.
Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands.