A team from WildAid Africa recently travelled to Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park to get insight into the impact of the covid pandemic on organisations and individuals, and to showcase the ongoing efforts of tourism stakeholders in providing essential support to communities living alongside wildlife areas.

Teaming up with Wilderness Safaris, WildAid Southern Africa Consultant Guy Jennings and WildAid Ambassador Rumbidzai Takawira joined the Children In the Wilderness Team to distribute food packs to Jabulani Village near Victoria Falls, and Ngamo Primary School near Hwange National Park. These food packs are part of an ongoing distribution programme specifically to people who have been adversely affected by the decimation of the tourism industry due to COVID-19. Each food pack can provide meals to a family of 4 for one month, and is based on recommended government nutrition guidelines.

In addition to sponsoring the food packs for distribution, the WildAid Africa team took time to learn about the work being conducted by the Scorpions Anti-Poaching Unit, and interviewed Arnold Tshipa, Wilderness Safaris Environmental Officer who has been conducting vital research of Elephants across the Zambezi Region. “In the past 18 months we have all been given a stark reminder of how everything and everyone are interlinked and to some extent rely on each other. With the collapse of tourism in places like Victoria Falls and Hwange, where tourists come to see wildlife, the communities are the first to suffer and this then filters down to wildlife and conservation efforts. Now more than ever, collaboration and working together to assist the communities is vital, will help reboot tourism and will ultimately support the protection and celebration of Zimbabwe’s wonderful wildlife heritage for future generations to enjoy and benefit from. It was an absolute privilege to partner with Wilderness Safaris and Children In the Wilderness on these important initiatives which are fundamental to recovery and sustainable tourism efforts,” said Guy Jennings WildAid Southern Africa Consultant

In 2018, Rumbidzai Takawira was appointed as an Anti-Poaching brand ambassador for WildAid and the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority following an agreement between the two organisations to begin a “Poaching Steals from us all” campaign across the country. Since then, Rumbidzai has been working with WildAid on a Conservation Conversations Series to be promoted across various channels in support of local conservation awareness. 

Whilst in Victoria Falls, the Wild Aid team met with several stakeholders to understand the impacts of the covid pandemic whilst learning about some of the incredible and innovative initiatives that have been undertaken by the community in response to the pandemic. 

Interviews included visiting renowned Comedian and Entrepreneur Carl Joshua Ncube to learn about his research on the development of rural tourism economies, Sipho Moyo Community Outreach Director of Jafuta Foundation to learn about the various community based initiatives to support communities across the landscape, an interview with the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, meeting with Judith Dzimbanhete from Dzimbahwe Lodge to learn more about the upcoming business women in Tourism and how they have adapted during these times of adversity, and interviews with two renowned professional guides Lewis Mangaba and Blessed Mpofu to understand the impact on the guiding fraternity in and around Victoria Falls and learn about the voluntary efforts that guides have undertaken to continue training and mentoring upcoming learner guides in the field, and assisting with ongoing conservation and anti-poaching efforts across the region. 

“One cannot trivialize the impact of tourism on the livelihoods of communities surrounding the tourist towns  of Victoria Falls and Hwange. Sadly many have lost jobs due to the effects of COVID-19, and some have been forced to resort to unsustainable practices like poaching and other wildlife crime practices. Now more than ever is when we need to put our hands together and find ways to assist communities and preserve Zimbabwe’s Flora and Fauna for both present and future generations even in the darkest of times” said Rumbidzai following her recent trip to Victoria Falls and Hwange.

Earlier this year Rumbidzai Takawira starred as an actress in a local produced documentary about Rhino anti-poaching titled “Behind the Horn”, directed by Nigel Lozane and written by Imire Wildlife Conservation.

WildAid continue to support conservation and community development and well-being initiatives in Zimbabwe and further afield in Africa. The Victoria Falls Community would like to take this opportunity to thank WildAid for their continued support, and to thank Rumbidzai Takawira and her team for the important awareness being created for conservation and community development across the country. We hope to have you all back in Victoria Falls again soon!

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