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Custodianship and Development Initiatives gain momentum
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Custodianship and development initiatives gain momentum

13 December, 2023
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One of our core values embraced by the community of Victoria Falls is custodianship of the incredible biodiversity that surrounds us. In addition, community impact and benefits are a core foundation in pursuing a more resilient and sustainable future for our destination.

A number of initiatives have gained momentum over the course of this year to push forward the sustainability of our destination, and to support both conservation of our natural resources and to ensure downstream community benefits and development. 

Pristine Victoria Falls Society

October was exactly one year since Doug Musiringofa was appointed as the Campaign Manager for Pristine Victoria Falls Society, a membership association where residents and businesses across Victoria Falls have pledged to work together to make the City of Victoria Falls the cleanest greenest City in Africa. 

The community of Victoria Falls could not be prouder that on his one year anniversary of working as the Campaign Manager for Pristine Victoria Falls, Doug won an award at the Africa Travel Under 40 Awards held in Nigeria for the incredible work he has done for our destination. These achievements in just one year include the following: 

  • Over 50 tonnes of litter mopped up from our streets.
  • 300 membership base which include major tourism players and companies. Over 80 streets are adopted for cleaning by these members.
  • Established the Pristine Schools Awards with over 40 schools participating.
  • Established the Pristine Jnr Eco Warriors with 40 students and 80 parents participating in the environmental programs.
  • Established the Victoria Falls Waste Management Taskforce comprised of ZRP, Pristine, EMA and City Council. It is all about environmental law enforcement which has achieved over 300 tickets in 1 year.
  • Recruited/enrolled over 200 volunteer cleaners.
  • Commenced recycling activities at the Dumpsite through recyclable waste bailing and shipment to Hre recycling centers.
  • Management of fire guards at the Dumpsite 

Wildlife Conservation Coalition 

In early November, the formation of the Wildlife Conservation Coalition was announced in Victoria Falls as two key conservation organisations in the region joined forces. The newly formed association saw Bhejane Trust and the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching merge under one Board and under one Leadership Team. The unity of these two key conservation organisations aims to provide a united voice for conservation in the North Western Matabeleland Region and to provide ongoing support to Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife in continued collaborative efforts to protect the natural resources and wildlife across the region. Whilst both Bhejane Trust and the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching unit maintain their individual brands and conservation mandates, their unity offers many great opportunities to enhance their conservation footprint for greater impact and sustainability. 
The benefits of this merger include but are not limited to the pooling of resources and operational logistics, the combining of expertise and experience and a unified voice to Donors, Stakeholders and Authorities, to enhance and expand the existing and ongoing conservation efforts across Victoria Falls and beyond. 

Jafuta Foundation Centres of Hope

It had always been the vision of Jafuta Foundation to create a beautiful place of meeting, exchange of ideas and learning for women and youth in the rural area on the outskirts of Victoria Falls.  A place where the youth can meet, play games, read books, go online, watch a movie and just ‘hang out’.  These are things that we take for granted and yet for most rural youngsters, they have never had these experiences.  An area for the little ones to play in a recycled themed playground with stimulating and educational playthings and to grow flowers. Where women can meet and have the opportunity to learn and practice new skills, and school leavers with no opportunities are assisted to gain employment through vocational skills training and have access to I.T. skills.

Today that vision is firmly in place and has been operating successfully throughout 2023. Two of three planned buildings (the Education Centre and Creatives Centre) are up and operational, as is the playground, all completed in October 2022, with the third building (the Women's Refuge) coming on line in early 2024. Collectively, the buildings, playground, sports fields and garden nursery with upcoming women's refuge are known as the Centres of Hope in honour of Kathy Cole, the founding contributor to the funding needed to bring this dream to reality.

Each building has a name meaning hope in the three main languages of the people who will benefit from the centres - 

A much appreciated benefit that has arisen from having these wonderful bases to work from is that they provide the perfect space for collaboration with other NPOs and NGOs active in the area, to provide the largest possible benefits and impact for the communities as a united force. 

Mopani Snare Jewellery by Batoka Creatives, Jafuta Foundation

A women and youth empowerment project initiated by Children in the Wilderness in collaboration with Jafuta Foundation, the Mopani Snarewire Jewellery Collection has grown in popularity with travellers visiting the destination making purchases from Batoka Creatives outlet at Elephants Walk located in the City. 

This collaborative initiative was initiated as a result of snare collections made by The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) and the Wilderness Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit where an estimated 200 kg of snare wire are removed every year in and around Victoria Falls and Hwange and the surrounding national park and protected areas. The majority of these snares are placed by people who subsist well below the poverty line, poaching to feed families and generate income through selling illegal bush meat and animal products. The mission is to transform these people’s lives through education and skills development programmes. By turning this snare wire into beautiful jewellery products, the hope is they are able to earn incomes and realise the true value of our country’s wildlife resources.

Children in the Wilderness teamed up with local jewellers, from the Ndau Collection’s team members Joe Mutoka and Ngoni Chivasa, to develop methods of working with the inflexible material. Well-known designer Christie Halsted took the lead, working with Obert Monga, a member of the Ruoko artists’ project, to create a wearable collection of jewellery. Today a number of the Jewellery pieces available for purchase at Elephants Walk in Victoria Falls have been made by additional community members working from the Jafuta Foundation Centres of Hope. 

Breaking Barriers in Conservation: K9 Ranger Project 2023

In a groundbreaking collaboration between The Wildlife Initiative Trust Africa (WITA) based in Victoria Falls and the K9 Ranger Project based in Canada, the week of November 20th-24th, 2023, marked a turning point for conservation efforts in Southern Africa. Hosted at the EleCREW Centre (Jafuta Lodge) in Victoria Falls, this unique course welcomed ten K9 anti-poaching units, including three from South Africa and seven from Zimbabwe, which included handlers from our own ZimParks K9 units. What made this event truly exceptional was the involvement of international lecturers who brought their expertise from their own industries to share and integrate the skills into the anti-poaching context. The course covered an array of crucial topics, including Tactics and Team Movements, Learning Theory and Decoy Fundamentals, Tracking and training fundamentals, and K9 and Human Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). Extending further than a classic lecture format, this collaboration went beyond knowledge sharing; it fostered a two-way learning process. Attendees shared their experiences, unique challenges, and operating conditions with the lecturers, sparking many conversations on problem-solving. These intensive lessons and discussions throughout the week resulted in immediate success stories as units reported improved performance in their critical work within just a week of completing the course.

This collaboration is more than just information sharing; it's changing the face of conservation. By promoting a culture of networking and cooperation, the course significantly boosted unit morale and fostered an environment where shared expertise is key to success. Crucially, this event was a 100% non-profit event, made possible by the extensive fundraising efforts of the Canadian team and the generous contributions of local companies here in Victoria Falls who we will be sure to credit in the detailed report to follow. Stay tuned for the upcoming post-course report and an exciting after-movie that will showcase the incredible story of this groundbreaking initiative. We invite you to keep an eye out for future posts that will delve deeper into the transformative impact of this course. Together, we're breaking barriers and forging a brighter future for wildlife conservation.

"Trees for Homesteads" launched on the outskirts of Victoria Falls 

Initiated by Greenline Africa Trust in partnership with the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe and the Jembwe Community, the "Trees for Homesteads" initiative was launched this week in continued efforts to combat climate change and push forward reforestation efforts in the region. 

Supported by tourism sector operators from Victoria Falls as corporate sponsors, trees for the launch were bought from the Jembwe Tree Nursery for planting at homesteads across the region. Over 50 trees were planted as part of the inital launch with plans underway to expand the initiative to other communities in and around Victoria Falls. 

 

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