IFAW, ZimParks partnership to drive wildlife and people conservation in Zimbabwe
IFAW and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) signed a historic conservation partnership for wildlife and people.
Through this MoU, IFAW will build on activities started nearly three years ago on animal rescue, rehabilitation, and release through a local partner, Wild Is Life (WIL). The pioneering work by IFAW and WIL has already proven to be strategic for Zimbabwe and offers the opportunity for expansion to advance landscape level conservation covering the Hwange-Matetsi Ecosystem in northwestern (NW) Zimbabwe as part of this conservation partnership.
Based on the MoU, IFAW will work together with ZimParks to advance wildlife conservation and protection; support animal rescue, rehabilitation and release to the wild; support research to inform solutions to enhance the persistence of elephants and other wildlife species in a connected network of protected areas.
Additionally, it will complement this with the systematic engagement of local communities in the immediate environments of the target areas. This role is directly aligned with an approach of fresh thinking and bold action for animals and people thriving together in landscapes and the habitats we call home.
In this partnership, IFAW will focus on the NW Zimbabwe Protected Area complex anchored around the Zambezi and Victoria National Parks designated UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, the 14,000 km2 Hwange National Park, and other land units including the Matetsi Safari Area complex and adjoining CAMPFIRE communities.
This is a commitment to collaborate with ZimParks to secure wildlife and promote human well-being in an approximately four million-acre landscape that is a key anchor to the KAZA TFCA and home to Zimbabwe’s largest elephant herd.
IFAW joins this partnership with the firm conviction that strengthening Zimbabwe’s protected area system, the buffer community areas including CAMPFIRE areas, conservancies, and private ranches will contribute to ecological sustainability and economic development at both local and national levels. Interventions will follow a broad-based holistic and integrated framework to ensure ecosystem resilience in Zimbabwe through the following four complementary priority objectives:
(a) Establish and build high-technology driven rapid response law enforcement capacity to combat wildlife crime
(b) Engage communities to reduce human wildlife conflict and support conservation friendly livelihoods, with deliberate focus on indigenous people, local communities, youth, and women
(c) Use innovation and cutting edge science to secure landscape connectivity and resilience where persistence of elephant and other wildlife populations is sustained, and
(d) Facilitate coordinated inter-agency collaboration to gain political buy-in and influence policy to mobilize sustainable conservation financing. This will include promoting/brokering community-public-private partnerships for nature-based and other conservation-friendly enterprises.
These objectives are informed by priorities in ZIMPARKS’s five-year Strategic Plan for the 2019-2023 period. The scope of work further strengthens Zimbabwe’s commitments to the Southern Africa Regional Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement, the recent Law Enforcement Anti-Poaching (LEAP) Strategy for the period 2016-2021, and KAZA strategic plans.
To operationalize this conservation partnership, IFAW will follow a phased approach to prioritize on the ground conservation interventions based on methodical situation analysis, stakeholder mapping, needs assessment, and participatory planning and co-design of solutions. These solutions will be tailored to respond to national priorities identified in existing management plans for the target protected areas.
IFAW will bring to bear best practices from lessons learned from its global network of comparable programs including current landscape work closer to home in the Malawi-Zambia TFCA where IFAW’s work in partnership with the governments is bearing success as restoration of parks are on a positive trajectory and local communities are actively contributing to the positive impact.
This partnership is a momentous milestone for IFAW and we are excited and honored to collaborate with ZimParks to work towards transforming the status quo in the wildlife sector and contribute to the Vision 2030 agenda of rebuilding and transforming Zimbabwe into an Upper-Middle Income Economy.