In 2000, and for at least another decade, Zimbabwe took a hit on many fronts – political unrest, social upheaval, hyperinflation and virtual economic collapse. This was the start of a downward spiral that saw tourism in the country do a somersault as visitors began to dwindle and, as a result, many tourism businesses leave or close down, unable to justify the losses they were making. It was a hard time to stay in a country that had so little going for it – the silver lining was no longer apparent and getting people to visit was now a near-insurmountable task.
At Wilderness Safaris we suffered the same financial impact, but despite this we refused to give in, and we refused to renege on our investment in the day-to-day operations such as game water provision, firebreak maintenance, anti-poaching, community engagement – and just the simple matter of our presence on the ground.
To quote Tom Petty’s song, ‘I won’t back down,’ this is exactly how we felt about our beloved Zimbabwe and we have never backed down.. Today we continue to run our Zimbabwe camps as we always have – with the utmost care and dedication to each and every one of our conservation operations.
The following videos show just a few of the projects we have worked on in our camps in Hwange – the first of which is a video of the wonderful work being done by the Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit. The Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit was recently shortlisted in the We Are Africa Innovation Awards.
Our second video looks at our involvement in the communities of Hwange National Park and the role we have played in changing lives through our programmes – one of which is Children in the Wilderness which has reached out and helped improve the lives of many young children in the area.
Another project that we are very proud to support – ‘The Beating Heart of Hwange – Elephants, Water and Conservation’ – showcases the importance of our 14 Hwange National Park boreholes. We monitor the ecological implications of water provision through ground water measurement and regular game counts (species diversity and numbers) at the pans, and manage a long-running movement study of Hwange elephants to examine the relationship between this keystone species and water.
Why do we believe?
- We employ more than 100 local community members in our camps, and they support another 700 dependents.
- Our Children in the Wilderness programme runs Eco-Clubs, nutritional programmes for learners, school rehabilitation projects and more in villages like Ngamo, Ziga and Mpindo.
- Our anti-poaching operations remove fewer and fewer snares each year – demonstrating improvement in local conditions.
- All large mammal species in the area have increased over the past 16 years, even rare antelope such as roan, sable and eland, and predators like lion.
- The last six years have seen zebra, elephant and buffalo population increases at compound annual growth rates of 16%, 21% and 24% respectively.
– Kate Collins