As we all struggle to understand what the future will hold and what that may look like in the post-COVID 19 pandemic, many of the world’s natural wonders are holding out hope that people will want to come back and visit. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but for the people that live here, tourism which is our lifeblood has disappeared over the last year. This led to a rapid increase in poaching in this idyllic part of the world where flora and fauna normally draw hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. Fortunately, through the support of this project we were able to improve ranger capacity and over 1488 wire snares were recovered from the bush over the last five months, this is more than three times as many snares than before the start of this project.
Hope still shines in this tourism town and the future is starting to look a bit brighter. In Victoria Falls we have managed to ensure that the biodiversity and especially the elephant will remain as part of the landscape. This was largely due to the support of the IUCN Save Our Species, co-funded by the European Union which has assisted in helping protect the biodiversity of the Victoria Falls National Park, Zambezi National Park and surrounding area. Over the last five months, this project has managed to expand the area coverage by more than 100%, with over 18,000kms covered on patrol and help the rangers on the ground be more effective in identifying areas of priority for environmental crimes.
This project has managed to achieve the following:
While the Victoria Falls community has been bad affected economically due to COVID-19, the community has come together to help one another and protect the resources that benefit everyone. This project assisted anti-poaching rangers in funding support for their livelihoods and make an impact against poaching. The rangers were able to cover more kilometers each month with this support and this increased the number of snares removed from the bush, and increased the number of arrests and interdictions by more than 100% compared to pre COVID 19. Healthy rangers ensure they are able to look after the natural resources of Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Parks.
As we are all cautiously optimistic that flights will resume, borders will reopen and people can soon travel again, this project made a major difference to protecting the elephant and biodiversity of the Victoria Falls area and ensuring that the resources remain for when you can come and see it firsthand. In the interim, we will keep working hard to help make a difference in conservation, protecting critical species, biodiversity and finding solutions for sustainable livelihoods.
Disclaimer: This project is funded by the IUCN Save Our Species and co-funded by the European Union. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IUCN or the European Union.