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Looking back on 2023: Our work in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is home to about 100 000 African elephants, the second biggest population in the world. It also has the fourth largest population of African black rhino and critical populations of African wild dog. The country’s 11 national parks provide a sanctuary for many of Africa’s most iconic species but are largely unfenced, resulting in human-wildlife coexistence challenges as animals venture into communities. Elephants can destroy crops, predators sometimes kill livestock and human lives are also at risk. Habitat loss is compounding this issue, with Zimbabwe losing 330,000 ha of forests every year, as well as loss of other biomes to agricultural and urban expansion, forcing wildlife populations into smaller areas. Poaching, too, is an ongoing challenge, from the targeting of elephants and rhino for their tusks and horn, to the indiscriminate snaring of smaller game. Our campaigns in Zimbabwe hone in on domestic tourism, creating the basis for financially viable conservation and encouraging the enjoyment of Zimbabwe’s wild spaces by all its citizens. Working with broadcasters, news agencies and on social channels, we tackle issues of deforestation, habitat loss and poaching directly, drawing attention to the impact and advocating for alternatives. We also promote solutions to human wildlife conflict in our messaging, and work closely with organisations on the ground that are empowering communities living around conservation areas to better protect their livelihoods.

AMBASSADOR MESSAGES

Our ambassadors in Zimbabwe come from a wide range of industries, uniting their voices to call attention to Zimbabwe’s conservation challenges, and for Zimbabweans to visit their national parks, boosting the economy and creating jobs. As some examples, PSAs from the First Lady were filmed on pangolins, tourism and human wildlife conflict. A PSA to promote parks was produced with ambassador, ZaZa (TV personality and businesswoman) and a second PSA created in partnership with the Forestry Commission, calling for a halt to deforestation and the setting of forest fires. Just prior to the Netball World Cup in SA, we worked with Zimbabwe Gems (National Netball Team) to create a “Visit a national park” and “Poaching Steals From Us All” PSAs

Further PSAs include Feli Nandi, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest female musicians and fashionistas, with a heartfelt domestic tourism message, and religious leaders from 3 different denominations preaching on a common good (anti-poaching).

Another PSA featuring Shashi, Zimbabwe’s first female musician to be signed under Universal Music Africa is in final post production. 

UNSUNG HEROES

In collaboration with our partner, The Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, we filmed an Unsung Hero mini documentary about a Zimbabwean farmer, Douglas Mafukidze, adopting more sustainable methods for tobacco curing and teaching other farmers. Another Unsung Hero featured was Travel Mufasa, who walked 1,500km journey around Zimbabwe on foot, discovering the magic of the country’s natural heritage and the importance of protecting it.

Travel Mufasa walked 1500km around Zimbabwe, a journey that now shapes his work in wildlife education
Douglas Mafukidze is pioneering an alternative approach to tobacco farming in Zimbabwe that protects indigenous forests

WORKING IN ZIMBABWE’S PRISONS

We’ve been working in key prisons in Zimbabwe, like maximum-security prison, Chikurubi, educating inmates about wildlife and the importance of wildlife life for the survival and thriving of human life. Two documentaries on wildlife crime with a morality play were released, and the campaign was extended by creating a permanent ‘screen’ on a wall in Chikurubi, showing Wild Africa content for education and entertainment. Convicted poachers and wildlife traffickers were also hosted at a partner’s game reserve for a day to learn what it takes to be a ranger as well as about the importance and beauty of wildlife with Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwe.  

PROMOTING NATIONAL PARKS

A series of promotional videos for Zimbabwe’s national parks have been produced for TV and social media, in airports and on the Zimparks website. The series included a video covering all parks, as well as spotlighting individual parks like Mana Pools, Hwange, and Victoria Falls. We’re excited for these videos to be released and in use in early 2024. To assist Zimparks in promoting their work, we also produced a corporate video for them.

MUSIC FOR WILDLIFE

During the annual Victoria Falls Music Festival, several live performances were filmed and a handful of musicians were taken into the national park to experience wildlife and wild spaces up close (Bombshell, Alyn Sano and Anita Jaxson). Conservation-related messages were also shot in the park with top Nigerian artist, Ckay. 

DIRECT SUPPORT

As part of our Human Wildlife Coexistence goals, Wild Africa supported a local organization, Tikobane Trust, to assist in reducing human wildlife conflict around Hwange National Park. A mini documentary about their work is now airing as part of the ‘Unsung Heroes’ series. 

Through our partnership with Airports Company Zimbabwe (ACZ), Wild Africa are finalizing details with a local partner to provide sniffer dog coverage to detect ivory and pangolin scales at Zimbabwe’s airports and border crossings.

PARTNERS

Government: Zimbabwe national parks and wildlife management authority, Zimbabwe prisons and correctional services, Airport company of Zimbabwe, The Forestry Commission. 

TV: Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Zimpapers Television Network, NRTV 

Print: Zimbabwe Herald 

NGOs: Imire Game Park, Care International, WCA, Haka Game Park, IFAW, Wild is Life, ATS, SOFA