GONAREZHOU Conservation Trust: sharing responsibilities in conservation

Karen Laurenson and Minister Oppah Muchinguri at the launch function. Photo: Patrick Eickemeier/FZS

Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) recently signed an agreement for the formation of the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust. The innovative approach to jointly manage Gonarezhou National Park aims to achieve financial sustainability and to enhance partnerships with the local communities in addition to protecting Zimbabwe’s natural heritage.

Speaking at the launch of the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, Minister Oppah Muchinguri said: “The trust will not only generate the much-needed revenue amid ever rising challenges that include poaching activities, but will also bring in sustainability and consistence in the general conservation of Zimbabwe’s wildlife.”

“For conservation in Gonarezhou, park security, community involvement and financing, the formation of the trust is a major milestone,” said Karen Laurenson, FZS acting Africa director.

FZS has supported conservation and development of Gonarezhou National Park, an integral component of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, in close collaboration with ZimParks since 2007. “The trust puts this partnership on a new footing. It may well serve as a model for management of other protected areas in Africa,” said Laurenson.

“Enhancing security in the park is vital. Through increasing manpower and providing training and oversight the trust will help us to effectively counter poaching and to establish a safe area for wildlife and eventually the reintroduction of black rhinos,” said Tichafa Mundangepfupfu, chairman of the ZimParks board.

The trust also aims to create benefits and opportunities for the local communities around the park, through tourism development, job creation and educational programmes.

In the long-term, the trust aims for financial sustainability. The costs of the management of the park are to be covered completely by the revenue it generates, through tourism, for one. The park is administered by a board of trustees, with equal representation from FZS and ZimParks. A management committee will be implementing the park plan and reporting directly to the board.

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