from NGONIDZASHE CHIKANDIWA in Malipati, Zimbabwe
MALIPATI – THERE are multiple benefits to be amassed from an innovative and sustainable conservation project created in southeastern Zimbabwe.
The creation of the Manjinji Bosmans community camp, which has been officially opened in the area, is set to boost tourism, create employment for locals and enhance conservation.
The project will ultimately bring much needed development in the area that boasts the Gonarezhou National Park as its main tourism attraction.
The Malipati community will be the main beneficiaries.
It exists in the backdrop of the Gonarezhou National Park, Malipati Safari Area and the corridor of the Manjinji Pan Bird and Wetland Sanctuary.
The Manjinji Bosmans community camps is a project three years in the making.
It is an initiative developed by WILD -Africa.org, a department of Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) to promote sustainable conservation and community based tourism in the Great Limpopo Trans frontier conservation Area (GLTFCA).
Funded by The European Union (EU), with some additional support from United States Agency for International Dvevelopment (USAID), the Manjinji Bosman’s Community Conservation and Tourism Project.
It was established as a public-private community partnership between the Malipati Development Trust (MDT), Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT) and the Chiredzi Rural District Council (CRDC), with proceeds going to the Malipati community.
Dr Chap Masterson, Sustainable Agriculture Technology Chief Executive Officer, believes the project will be a long- term income generator for the community.
“We have stretched the donor funding in a long way, and created a community conservation centre, two scout camps and paid a lot of attention to create sites that will boost local tourism,” he said.
GCT will maintain the project and the camps until the MDT, which represents the community, assumes a position of capability.
The camps have inclusive access to Gonarezhou National Park and the nearby Manjinji Pan Bird and Wetland Sanctuary.
The latter also falls under the Manjinji – Bosman’s Community Conservation and Tourism Partnership.
Visitors thus directly access a rich ecosystem of wildlife and bird species.
Fenced and secured, with well-furnished cabins, the two scout camps run on self-catering and fees are determined by the services required by the visiting tourists.
GCT caters for tourists, with packages on offer such as game and safari drives.
GCT has empowered communities adjacent to the southeastern Lowveld wildlife corridors.
Seventy percent of the Gonarezhou National Park’s employees are local.
An overall annual figure of about US$960 000 is channelled in salaries to employees.
Timo Olkkenen, the European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, in his keynote address at the opening of the Manjinji -Bosmans community camp, said communities are the guardians of natural resource and the first line of defence against poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
The envoy believes the Manjinji Bosmans commuity camp will facilitate the movement of tourism from South Africa.
The Great Limpopo Trans Frontier Conservation Area comprises of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambican National Parks.
Zimbabwe is however losing tourism revenue due limited touristic infrastructure.
“Only with adequate and viable benefits will local communities play a reliable durable and trustworthy role in protecting wildlife,” Olkkenen said.
Tanyaradzwa Mundoga, Deputy Director: Natural Resources in the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and the Hospitality, asserted this was a community project that would address the community livelihood problems that Zimbabwean rural communities face.
“The project comes as an answer and a tourist destination for those coming in especially from South Africa,” Mundoga said.
Callisto Killion Gwanetsa, the Chiredzi South parliamentarian, concurred.
“This is a project that will change the community and its ownership by the community is paramount,” the legislator said.
Chief Sengwe believes the project will boost tourism, create employment for locals and bring development in his custody area.
The Malipati community is buoyant the Manjinji-Bosmans community camp will capacitate viable and sustainable livelihoods.
– CAJ News