Wildlife conservation today requires a sensitive understanding and inclusion of all stakeholders. At the heart of Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust’s mission to help save Zimbabwe’s iconic wildlife lies a holistic approach that above all values the rural communities who live on the front lines of wildlife conflict. Too often these are the people who are forgotten, ignored and uncelebrated. But they are a huge part of the solution – in fact – they are the main part of the solution, and they deserve our support.
We’re trying our best to do our bit – our livelihood, conflict-mitigation, and education programs are providing transformational opportunities for communities within the Victoria Falls area to find their way out of extreme poverty and food insecurity. And without these programs, we would just be putting a band-aid on an insurmountable problem.
If you’re inclined, you can donate today to help our community teams fund the vital work you will read about below. Thank you for your confidence in our work, it means the world to us.
For Wild Africa,
Schools Conservation Education interaction & Eco-Clubs
So far in 2023, the Conservation Education Program has reached 688 people in the Hwange District (631 children and 57 adults) through the weekly wildlife conservation interaction program. We’re delighted that the program is fostering fearless environmental stewards – as demonstrated by learners in five schools leading the National Clean-Up campaign.
Above: Our Conservation Education Program topics cover human-wildlife conflict, deforestation, climate change, pollution and food insecurities as well as possible mitigation measures for all of these areas.
VFWT created a WhatsApp platform to enable conservation practitioners from all schools to cross-pollinate ideas on conservation issues
Last year VFWT partnered with Harare-based My Trees to supply Victoria Falls’ high-density areas with 4,300 rocket stoves. We are pleased to report that we continue to see a significant reduction in timber extraction from our forests, owing to the fact that these stoves drastically reduce the need for solid fuels by more than 66% by efficiently using lighter fuel such as branches and twigs. Women, who traditionally bear the burden of wood collection and cooking, have especially benefited from rocket stoves: firewood foraging times are cut down, exposure to potential wildlife conflict or law enforcement penalties is reduced, as is their exposure to woodsmoke which is a significant contributor to respiratory health problems.
Beatina Nyoni, one of the Rocket Stove participants, said that before using a rocket stove she used USD4 worth of timber on an open fire in one week as opposed to USD1 currently per week on
Most recipients who were visited during the month of July 2023 were using the stoves on a daily basis as shown by the table below:
Improved Animal Health
We continue to make huge contributions towards improving local rural domestic animal health. VFWT realises that swift and effective action is needed to halt the spread of rabies and distemper in dogs, prevent spillover into wildlife populations, and in the case of rabies, prevent human illness. After we received reports of cases of these diseases in the rural areas surrounding Victoria Falls, we immediately instituted an appeal for vaccines and are immensely grateful for the support which was received and is successfully being implemented.
- Over 121 dogs were sterilized between June and July.
- 512 dogs were vaccinated against rabies and distemper between May – July
Prior to vaccination, the average lifespan of a dog in the rural areas adjacent to Victoria Falls is only 3 years. With your help, we are slowly increasing the lifespan of these animals.
Preventing Human Animal Conflict and Developing Sustainable Livelihoods
To enhance rangeland health and help rural communities prevent human-carnivore conflict, VFWT provided new improved bomas, which are larger, hold more livestock (up to 500), are lighter, and are much easier and quicker to move, thus allowing more effective fertilization of the soil. The teams also continued work with community members and our partner Connected Conservation to mitigate elephant conflict using chili, which acts as a deterrent to the animals.
Working with our partner Herding for Hope, VFWT began a pilot project with two wards in the rural community, which encompasses all of our human-wildlife conflict measures and includes a rotational grazing plan. The teams have also helped the community set up their own internal grazing associations, which are the early foundations that will assist the community in governing their livestock as new value chains are developed to sell beef locally to the Victoria Falls community. So far this year, 847 livestock have been ear-tagged and entered into the animal health tracing system, with 155 households participating.
Above: Rotational grazing plans enable effective rotation of the mobile bomas based on soil type, access to water and grazing availability.