Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently donated two vehicles to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) that will be used in patrols and problem animal control in the Hwange National Park’s Makona area.
The two Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles cost US$85 000 and they came with a service kit for one year together with a set of four extra wheels. Mr Philip Kuvawoga the programmes director for landscape conservation at IFAW said they had partnered with Zimparks in various areas.
“Zimparks and IFAW signed a memorandum of agreement for conservation support focusing on Hwange and Zambezi National Parks in terms of law enforcement, infrastructure development, and capacity building of front-line staff in order for them to be able to address poaching pressures in the parks.
“We started in the Makona sub-sector. The vehicles we provided to Zimparks are part of efforts to ensure that they have reliable off-road vehicles to enhance the mobility of their patrolling teams. But it’s an assortment of capital assets that we think can enhance the capacity of the authority to manage Hwange National Park,” he said.
The organization has so far invested close to US$500 000 since the beginning of the year to Zimparks’ Hwange National Park.
“Some of it comes in the form of support grants which goes towards procurement of fuel, rations for rangers and rehabilitation of roads as the park has Kalahari sands that are deep and difficult to navigate. This road rehabilitation serves to enhance reaction time of rangers to anti-poaching incidents and it also expands the tourism products within the park as tourists can now venture into other pockets of the park where ordinarily it was not possible because of the road,” he said.
Mr Kuvawoga said part of their broader mandate was to improve ranger welfare through infrastructure development within the parks.
The spokesperson for Zimparks, Mr Tinashe Farawo, said they were grateful for the gesture.
“We appreciate the donation of the vehicles as they will improve law enforcement and patrols and rangers need to be mobile as they can cover more ground. It will also assist us in addressing issues of problem animals in the parks. The housing also improves the standard of living for our officers and that in turn boosts their morale when they are at work,” he said.