Communities must participate in environmental and wildlife conservation

The Chronicle

Leonard Ncube in Hwange

COMMUNITIES living near game parks and protected forests were encouraged to actively participate in environmental and wildlife conservation to promote consumer and non-consumer tourism in their areas.

Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) in Hwange spearheads a voluntary community anti-poaching unit where the communities of Mabale, Nabushome and Dopota, all near Hwange National Park, have organized themselves into groups and were trained to patrol nearby wildlife sanctuaries, remove wire snares and prevent poaching. activity.

Their activities are mainly in the areas managed by the Forestry Commission between the wildlife park and the communities where the villagers graze their cattle and harvest wood and firewood.

Mr. Fanuel Ncube, one of the members of the Community Anti-Poaching Unit in Dopota

The program began in 2015 and to date has more than 100 volunteer anti-poaching units.

Anti-poaching units recovered more than 5,000 metal snares from the bush.

Small game that had migrated from nearby communities is slowly returning due to reduced poaching activities.

Tourists visit game parks to observe animals and experts believe that village tourism can be promoted where guests can visit communities for cultural exchange programs and at the same time see small game.

Communities sometimes endure human-wildlife conflict, especially when encountering elephants, lions, hyenas and buffaloes, but believe they can co-exist with animals if they take advantage of these natural resources. .

“Every year, animals cross our region to drink water from the Gwayi River. With this program we have successfully reduced the prevalence of animal capture and have seen small game return. We want to be able to have photographic tourism here where customers can come and see the game directly in the communities and that can help develop our regions,” said Mr. Fanuel Ncube, Chairman of Dopota Group of Volunteer Rangers.

In many cases, tour operators take customers to communities for village tours, but without monetary benefits for the villagers. The PDC Education and Community Programs Officer, Mr. Wilton Nsimango, said the volunteer program has helped change behaviors in the community as villagers are now responsible and respectful of natural resources.

“The goal is to have a generation of community members who are actively involved in conservation. This volunteer program has reduced poaching and animal trapping. This will benefit the community through development programs and also attract tourists, especially since this area will be a corridor with animals going to Gwayi-Shangani Lake,” he said. [email protected]

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