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As 2021 winds down, I’m struck by what Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust has been able to do this year in the face of a raging pandemic, budget cuts, and closed borders. It’s been a hard year for conservation but we’ve landed with a solid financial foundation, strategic growth, and strong, impactful programs as we usher in the New Year.

Thank you to our supporters, friends, partners, staff, and volunteers who have helped and empowered us along this wild journey. I am wildly grateful for every one of you. I thought you would like to see a snapshot of what we’ve been up to and how we’ve used some of your conservation dollars. I hope you’re pleased; let us know how we’re doing. Contact with your feedback or request a copy of our most recent Annual Impact Report.

Stay safe, stay well, and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate.


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Jessica Dawson
Executive Director


The beginning of 2021 saw a dramatic rise in poaching as the pandemic’s effects of unemployment and nationwide anti-poaching budget restraints persisted. This year, we lost eight lions to human-related causes, the majority due to snaring and one to a vehicle collision. Yet, despite the high mortality, we saw our resident lion prides grow in numbers, which means the populations are stable and are able to defend and maintain their territories. Luckily, the rains have arrived in Zimbabwe, bringing with them a much-welcomed reprieve from poaching as lions follow dispersing prey animals. We can breathe a sigh of relief as snaring overall tends to decrease.
We also identified new male coalitions, which is very welcome news! Sub-adult males are moving out of their birth prides. They’re thriving and protecting their territories – all signs of healthy lion populations and ecosystem processes that will help ensure our lion population’s genetic diversity and longevity overall.
Human-lion conflict typically increases during the rainy season. Lions pushed to the periphery of protected areas will pursue livestock in communal areas as prey availability decreases. Over the last few months, we have fit new satellite tracking collars on five lions identified as high-risk or known “conflict cats.” When a lion crosses a virtual boundary, our Community Guardians will warn the communities and help corral the livestock into predator-proof bomas at night (also provided by The Trust) and will chase the lions back into protected areas and out of the community.
Recently, our Community Guardians successfully prevented the loss of 5 adult lionesses harassing cattle in a resettlement area. These leading ladies are the queens of a pride of over 17 lions, and by chasing the lions back to the national park, our Guardians ensured wildlife authorities didn’t destroy them. This was good news for the pride as the cubs’ might not have survived had the lionesses been removed.
Elephant-human conflict is a serious problem in Victoria Falls town, which sits within the Victoria Falls National Park. Living in a national park provides us with many opportunities to interact with wildlife. However, wildlife habituated to humans and pets can be dangerous to life and property. Elephants visit our dumpsters and gardens – occasionally knocking over walls and sitting on parked vehicles. For pedestrians walking home from work or visiting friends at night, they can be downright dangerous.
Over the last month, we have collared five elephants considered to have a high potential for conflict because of the considerable time they spend in town. Together with Connected Conservation, we will monitor the movement of elephants in the urban areas in Victoria Falls and haze with chili powder to prevent conflict.
A very big thank you to those who donated this #GivingTuesday to help save our vultures. Thanks to all of you, $20,524.40 was raised, including the entire $10,000 match! Our fieldwork erecting wire mesh around the base of nesting trees to protect vulture nests from elephants will begin soon.
I am excited to announce the establishment of an endowment fund to benefit the long-term stability, fiscal responsibility, and financial viability of Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust. Carol and Ed Strongin say their visit to Africa and their time spent with Sylvester were life-changing. They wanted to make sure The Trust continues our vital conservation and research work in perpetuity.
Their contribution is three-part: a planned estate gift, which will fund the endowment; an endowment accelerator fund currently paid into annually; and continued annual donations designed to continue their support of wildlife conservation each year. The Strongin’s motivated commitment to our vision and mission reached beyond their philanthropy: they also inspired a 100% match to their planned estate gift from a family friend launching this endowment fund in a stellar fashion. We’re eternally grateful for this meaningful gesture from friends who have come to mean so very much to us.
VFWT is excited to announce the inaugural 50-kilometer VICTORIA FALLS TRAIL RUN on May 21st and 22nd, 2022. Set for both trail-running veterans and those new to the sport, the trail will take you through rural villages, remote forest areas, and wildlife-rich trails along the edge of the Gorge of the Zambezi River more than 350 feet below.

Our infamous 3-day mountain bike adventure through the Zambezi National Park will be held July 15-17, 2022. The ZAMBEZI CYCLE CHALLENGE is a must-do event for any mountain bike rider looking for experience as the trail goes through scenic off-road landscapes. Proceeds from this event will benefit The Trust.

The MOTORBIKE ENDURO will be held April 30th– May 1st, 2022. This two-day off-road challenge takes novice and experienced motorbike riders along the edge of the Batoka Gorge and into Hwange Communal Lands and culminates in a fun gala on the banks of the Zambezi River.

Don’t forget the Sylvester 2022 Calendars are available and, along with t-shirts and other swag, make great Holiday gifts. Purchase directly here and proceeds benefit Sylvester’s Legacy Fund!

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