Matusadona National Park is fortunate to have a five kilometre buffer zone around its boundary which limits the effect of traditional conservation challenges such as human-wildlife conflict, encroachment of human settlements and agriculture. However, poaching of high value species, including buffalo and elephant, and fishing at unsustainable levels is still a major challenge for park management and will be addressed by over hauling law enforcement.
Poaching for bushmeat
Hunting is an important custom in many African cultures and the consumption of bushmeat is a traditional practice. Local communities hunt using wire snares and rifles, and increased human population pressure has intensified the pressure on the park’s wildlife.
Elephant and rhino poaching
The illegal killing of elephants for ivory and rhinos for their horns is a major and urgent threat to the park, as it has reduced both populations dramatically and has virtually eliminated the rhino population altogether.
Significant commercial and local fishing activities occur on Lake Kariba as well as along the two rivers, the Ume and Sanyati, that border the park. Fish stocks are reportedly declining due to overfishing and this activity goes hand in hand with poaching for bushmeat. In addition, Illegal gold panning along the Ume river has declined following arrests and community engagement.
African Parks will recruit and train rangers from local communities who will be deployed throughout Matusadona National Park to ensure wildlife and its ecosystems are protected. New recruits will complete a basic field rangers course and current rangers will receive specialised training to protect the park in accordance of with African Parks standard operating procedures. Training will include the use of firearms, patrolling and tracking methods, navigation, data collection, communication, and first aid operations. In 2021, training programmes was done by Tikki Hywood Foundation, which was provided for police, public prosecutors, and Matusadona rangers to improve docket preparation for the courts.
Improved Intelligence Systems
We will implement improved intelligence systems in Matusadona, and adapt the law enforcement operations from a reactive anti-poaching strategy to an active counter-poaching strategy which will disrupt and decrease illegal activity. In addition, a communications and technology network will be constructed throughout the park, and all information will be centralised 24 hours a day at the operations coordination center. Through these improved communication systems and information gathering, the intelligence system will enhance our efforts to protect the park.
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