“The COVID-19 pandemic across the region has shown an increase in challenges of poaching and as result, there is need for more support in the conservation of wildlife in the Zambezi Valley”- Georges van Montfort, UNDP Zimbabwe, Resident Representative.
Zimbabwe is home to a large variety of biodiversity which includes plant species, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The country is facing multiple challenges linked to biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, the impact of which has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, revenue from the tourism industry supports most of the conservation work conducted in the sector. There is currently a funding gap to support critical operations such as anti-poaching surveillance and monitoring of wildlife populations. UNDP with support from GEF has facilitated the purchase of 7 vehicles for ranger patrols, and 11 tractors for veld fire management. In addition, the project will support the purchase of patrol rations, fuel, drones and boats for a combined total of USD 289 000.
The key challenges being faced in the Zambezi Valley include wildlife poaching, deforestation, land degradation and human-wildlife conflict. In April 2020, at least 78 bags of charcoal (packed in 50kg bags) and 13m3 of firewood were confiscated from poachers. The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry , Hon. Nqobibizitha Ndhlovu, acknowledged these issues and the importance of support from partners during his remarks, “These vehicles are coming at a time when we have intensified our conservation efforts and scaled up our anti-poaching activities after indications of an upsurge of poaching attempts.”
*The Strengthening Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management and Climate Smart Landscapes in the Mid to Lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe is being implemented by the Government of Zimbabwe and UNDP with support from GEF. The project will run until July 2024.
*UNDP and GEF will continue to support the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Forestry Commission, the Environmental Management Authority, Civil Society, local communities and other stakeholders in protecting biodiversity in the Zambezi Valley.