African Parks & Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority | 13 September 2021
Significant Game Translocation Completed to Elevate Matusadona National Park
Matusadona received 223 zebras to contribute to the revitalisation of the ecosystem and support wildlife tourism
Harare, Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) in partnership with conservation non-profit African Parks have successfully translocated 223 zebras to Matusadona National Park. This large game translocation is part of a long-term plan to help restore Matusadona ecologically, bolstering the park as a prime wildlife destination. By increasing tourism, Matusadona can better contribute to Zimbabwe’s growing economy while simultaneously providing a sustainable source of benefits for local communities.
Dr Fulton Mangwanya, Director-General of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said, “We are facing extraordinary challenges given the pandemic, which has hit Zimbabwe at a time when our economy has been faced with climate shocks associated with drought and Cyclone Idai. But this translocation is a proactive measure and an important moment for conservation, wildlife, and tourism in our country. In collaboration with African Parks, we are taking bold measures to invest in the protection of our natural resources, which is one of the most cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change and prevent future pandemics, and importantly to ensure that the people who live around these critically needed wild areas can depend on them now, and long into the future.”
In November 2019, PWMA partnered with African Parks to carry out its vision of revitalising Matusadona as a leading wildlife sanctuary. Together they are implementing management strategies to secure the park and restore wildlife populations, unlocking its ecological, social and economic value and enabling communities to derive long-term benefits. This specific translocation has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Government of Zimbabwe, the Bubye Valley Conservancy and a donation by the Dhanam Foundation and Mr. Neil Harvey.
In the 1980s, Matusadona was home to large populations of zebras however, a recent aerial survey done in 2020 on the valley floor in the park counted just 36. Although wildlife numbers are expected to increase naturally with enhanced law enforcement and improved park resources, this translocation, and others to come, will enable the National Park to rebound and restore ecological functions, such as the recovery of predators, which supports vulture populations amongst others, creating a cascading positive impact on the larger ecosystem.
The zebras were donated by the private conservation area Bubye Valley Conservancy (BVC). Howard Hunter, the Conservancy Director in BVC said, “African Parks has that same proven track record of sound and principled conservation management of conservation areas so we know that we are sending animals to a well-managed and safe environment where they are going to increase and so create another wildlife population that can be used in future to restock other deserving conservation areas when they are in a position to receive, manage and protect that wildlife. We see this move as creating another seed stock population for Zimbabwean wildlife”.
The translocation was carried out over the course of three weeks, transporting 20-30 animals every two to three days by trucks from Bubye Valley Conservancy. The first 100 were released into the south of the park and the remaining 130 were released onto the valley floor, after they were transferred from trucks to a purpose modified ferry across the lake to Matusadona in a complex and ground breaking first. “This translocation showed how together with our Government partners and fellow conservation operators in Zimbabwe, we have been able to relocate these incredible animals to even the most inaccessible areas. While the move was not without difficulty, the tenacity and resolve of the teams and partners involved demonstrated what is possible”, said Rob Reid, Matusadona National Park’s Park Manager.
“Zimbabwe is one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources and wildlife, with enormous potential to be a major wildlife destination on the continent” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks. “The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is making a tremendous effort to revitalize Matusadona and prioritize protection of this incredibly valuable natural asset, and we are honoured to be helping Zimbabwe to achieve this vision for the benefit of the entire nation.”
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About Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority:
The Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority operates under an Act of Parliament, the Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975. The Authority manages one of the largest estates in the country, about 5 million hectares of land or 13% of Zimbabwe’s total land area. Mandated with the protection, management and administration of the wildlife of Zimbabwe, the Authority has had a proud history of sound management that endeavors to preserve the unique flora and fauna heritage of Zimbabwe. For more information visit zimparks.org.
About African Parks:
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks manages 19 national parks and protected areas in eleven countries covering over 14.7 million hectares in Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information visit www.africanparks.org, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook