With everyone focussed on a single goal, Zinave has come alive with activity since the commencement of the joint management in early 2016.
As their work requires them to live in very remote locations, it is vital to provide Park staff with a comfortable and productive work and living environment. Accordingly several staff houses, ranger dormitories, single units and patrol posts were constructed. The three main park entrance gates were also enhanced with tourism welcome centres, ablution facilities and solar power systems. More than 500 000 bricks that were manufactured on-site and over 200 workers from the local communities employed through these projects.
A project implementation team and senior park staff haven been employed and the necessary equipment, such as vehicles and computers, bought to enable them to do their work. Twenty-four of additional rangers, recruited from the local communities and graduated from a ranger course presented by the Southern African Wildlife College, were appointed as part of the Zinave ranger force, more than doubling the size of the park’s patrolling capability. The rangers have also been trained in strategic patrol planning and equipped with Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) tracking systems.
A Savanna S Light Sport Aircraft, a 6×6 Samil crane truck, two new Land Cruisers and two Yamaha TW200 motorbikes were acquired to promote effective park maintenance and operations. Anti-poaching operations were boosted with the delivery of 50 Buffalo bicycles to be utilised by rangers for patrols. A drone was also acquired to help with various planning and conservation tasks, such as road alignments, the tracking of new game released, filming for promotional purposes, and record-keeping. Work continues on upgrading access roads to the Park and central services.
A new digital radio system has been installed in the park to enable communication across the expanse of the park and to link into the new Anti-Poaching Operations Control room. This, combined with more well-trained rangers and better equipment, has already resulted in great anti-poaching sucesses in the park:
- CONFISCATED: thousands of snares
- SEIZED: more than a hundred rifles
- UNCOVERED: an entire network of poacher trails and camps leading deep into the Park
- IDENTIFIED: critical poaching hotspots
- HALTED: illegal logging inside the Park boundaries – a practice that had been devastating the natural resources in the park.
Protracted wars, hunting and lack of management resources have resulted in the loss of several large mammal species, including the emblematic giraffe. What remained was a park with an excellent wildlife habitat , boasting more than 200 incredible tree and over 40 grass species.
The medium-term rewilding strategy aims to relocate over 7,000 animals to the Park over a five-year period.
With the purpose of focusing conservation and protection efforts within the more than 400 000 ha Park, a 18 600 ha sanctuary was erected as initial habitat for translocated wildlife, with the plan to only release animals into the larger expanse of the park once sufficient security measures have been implemented. More than 2280 animals that included impala, reedbuck, waterbuck, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, sable and elephant, have been translocated into this sanctuary from conservation areas in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The development of the Park is giving focus to intensified engagement with the local communities living adjacent to and inside the Park area. In addition to increased employment opportunities already offered through the Park, baselines studies have been concluded to determine the needs and development potential of all relevant local communities and to support the resurrection of the community committees. This has led to the kick-off of first phase projects aimed at improving water provision systems and establishing conservation agriculture projects in selected settlements.
Ideally situated close to one of Mozambique’s tourism development nodes, the Vilanculos-Bazaruto Archipelo, Zinave – once restocked and developed – could become a sought-after tourist destination. Commercial development could include the establishment of 4×4 routes, as well as a range of 2 to 5-star ccommodation options.