It has been just under three months since the national lockdown started in Zimbabwe on 30 March 2020. As expected the downturn in tourism revenue flowing into the Victoria Falls region has unfortunately resulted in an increase in poaching and ecological-related illegal activities.
Statistics released today highlight how the private sector players, in collaboration with Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, have contributed to the ongoing conservation efforts during the lockdown period.
470 patrols, totaling over 6,000 kilometres, have resulted in 197 wire snares being recovered from the landscape which, if undetected, would have caused untold damage to the wildlife population surrounding Victoria Falls. Whilst there have been unfortunate wildlife fatalities due to poaching incidents, there have also been successes in saving numerous animals through rescue and rehabilitation efforts by Zimparks and the dedicated team from Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust.
Approximately 350 people have been caught on the wrong side of the law during this period resulting in verbal warnings being issued for minor offences, or arrests being made for more serious offences.
Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit, Wild Horizons Anti Poaching Unit, Zambezi Horse Safaris and other private conservation entities continue to play a vital role in working with, and assisting, the authorities by providing dedicated, effective and regular ground coverage within their respective protected areas. Not only have the Zimparks rangers and anti-poaching scouts employed by these units had to endure the normal strains related with their important role, but they have also had to face the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 by being on the front line. They are among some of the true heroes that have come out of this trying time.