Mashonaland West – Zimbabwe

SUPPORT FOCUS: Wilderness Conservation IAPF led a 12-week training course for key rangers from the Unit in 2010. Amazing results have been achieved there, including the removal of 4746 snares the following year. The IAPF is preparing to establish a permanent footprint in the region to assist with the growing pressure. In 2013, the IAPF began sending resources into Bumi Hills again to scope the feasibility of a long-term anti-poaching project for the region. Occupying the region are the Tonga people, displaced during the formation of Lake Kariba in the late 1950’s. A deep-set historical resentment against wildlife conservation concepts and colonialism exists. A lack of adherence to laws protecting wildlife are comprehensible when the Tonga people have been continually de-prioritised and left out of important decision making processes. Seemingly, the only concept for widespread long-term upliftment to have had success in the area since resettlement has been the CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources) project. These benefits have gradually reduced in recent years however. As human populations grow across Africa, and the World placing added pressure on natural resources, Nyaminyami RDC and Bumi Hills Stae Lands will not be exempt. The protection of wildlife is no longer a conservation issue, but a security concern. Well armed, well trained units crossing international borders to take down high target species should be considered an act of environmental terrorism. Urgent security measures are needed now to stop the hemorrhaging of poaching in this region so as long term measures can take root within the communities and allow for the rebuilding of relationships between humans and wildlife. The IAPF is positioned to fulfill this niche role within a greater vision of stabilizing the region and its people, but highlights the need for committed, long-term community-focused partners in projects for this region.