April 2017 – Wilderness Safaris has been shortlisted in the We Are Africa Innovation Awards for the role it has played in supporting the Scorpions Anti-Poaching Unit in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, in partnership with the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, SATIB Conservation Trust, Imvelo, Panthera and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA). The winners will be announced at the Innovation Awards ceremony in Cape Town on the 2nd of May, 2017.
“Wilderness Safaris has a long legacy of pioneering authentic and sustainable ecotourism in Zimbabwe, dating back some 20 years. We are extremely proud that our renewed collaboration with the above-mentioned partners in December 2015 generated the required funding to ensure a future for this critical initiative, which has made great progress in reducing poaching levels within Hwange National Park”, said Ron Goatley, Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe MD.
The Scorpions Anti-Poaching Unit was established in 2011 in response to high levels of bushmeat and ivory poaching. It works in partnership with the ZPWMA and relies on funding and resources from partners to protect 56 000 hectares (138 000 acres) in the south-eastern region of Hwange. “As the largest National Park in Zimbabwe, Hwange is a huge tourism asset, and we are honoured to play a role in preserving its natural resources for communities to benefit from and tourists to experience“, Ron added.
In December 2015, the Unit urgently needed funding to provide the manpower and resources to remove snares and arrest poachers along the Park’s boundary regions. A renewed collaboration of partners came together to keep this important work going, and to date, the Unit has removed 2 500 snares. The success of the team’s patrols is evidenced by the greatly reduced numbers of wire snares they now find – about 20 per month. Additionally, all large species in the Hwange area have increased in population size, including rare antelope such as roan, sable and eland, and predators like lion.
At the same time, the Unit, Wilderness Safaris and its non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness, continue to work closely with the Park’s surrounding communities to show them that they can benefit greatly from conservation as a result of the economic opportunities that come along with sustainable ecotourism. This involves meeting with adults in the communities and visiting local schools to discuss wildlife issues. Additionally, a Guest Interaction Educational Centre is under development so that visitors to Hwange National Park, including school groups and tourists, can learn more about the Unit’s work and the role of ecotourism in enhancing livelihoods.
Click here to watch a short video on the Scorpions Anti-Poaching Unit.