The real heroes of conservation

19 May, 2020 - 11:05 0 Views
The real heroes of conservation The writer, middle, shares some moments with park rangers as a white rhino grazes in the background

The Sunday Mail

Behind Zimbabwe’s incredible wildlife are men and women who work round the clock, taking care of the wildlife. These men are the real heroes of conservation!
Some of the dangers they face are unbelievable as they stand guard protecting the environment.
I had a chance to interview one of the rangers, Shepherd Batinosi, about his experiences.
Shephard says his job is something he has always wanted to do even though it has its dangers. He also educates people on the importance of animals and to “catch them young”.
He is really passionate about his job. Listening to him speak  and learning a couple of things about tracking and completing a mini-tracking crash course he set up for me ignited something in me.
I realised that the best safaris have that “swan effect” – whilst breath-taking on the outside, ferociously paddling away behind the scenes, are the incredible men and women who ensure that the animals are safe, the tourist is safe and the environment is safe.
These are the real heroes of conservation.
Zimbabwe’s tourism is predominantly wildlife-based and for this, the country boasts of having some of the best safaris on the continent. Therefore, wildlife is one of the key aspects that makes Zimbabwe a unique tourism destination.
A while back, the president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, Emmanuel Fundira, talked about Zimbabwe’s strong position as a safari operator in a radio interview and why Zimbabwe’s safari industry stands out.
Zimbabwe is known to have one of the highest elephant populations in the world, and the growth is a result of good management practices.
Tinashe Farawo, head of communications at the National Parks and Wildlife Management of Zimbabwe said most of the funds invested in conservation come from tourism activities and these have been subdued by with Covid-19.
Despote tge slump in earnings, tourism patrols are still happening in wildlife reserves. National Parks rangers are also dealing with many cases of human-animal countrywide. On social media, a video of elephants walking through Victoria Falls town has gone viral.
Whilst it might be quite amusing when watching the clip on social media, it can be quite disturbing for the people witnessing the event. National Parks’ mandate is to respond to such calls. They have continued to do so even when there are no funds.
Farawo says that National Parks manages 26 percent of the country, which is the percentage that is reserved for animals. He explained that since the time that Hwange National Park was created in 1928, the population of people and animals has increased by 20-fold and yet the country is not expanding and cannot expand, which explains the human-animal conflicts.
More than 20 people have been killed in human-animal conflicts across the country from the beginning of this year.
The next time you are out enjoying a safari or a game drive, spare a thought for these incredible men and women, those fighting unimaginable battles daily to conserve the environment and in some instances protecting people from the animals.
They are one of the reasons future generations will enjoy what we are enjoying today. They are part of the reason Zimbabwe stands tall, head held high, shoulders square as the country receives tourism sustainability awards, year after year.
Mazwi Shamu is a teacher and travel and tourism consultant and blogger. She can be reached on 0712893354 or [email protected]

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