The Sunday News
Fairness Moyana in Hwange
HWANGE Rural District Council (HRDC) is set to commence full implementation and restoration of the Sidinda wildlife conservancy project after embarking on an expansion exercise that is set to improve community involvement in the tourism package.
The project boasts of a teeming variety of browsers and grazers such as buffalo, wildebeest, zebras and kudus translocated from Zambezi National Park and other conservancies. Sidinda which was once a wildlife haven had its wildlife decimated through poaching and habitat loss and the restoration exercise will see the establishment of non-consumptive safaris such as photographic and game drives.
According to HRDC conservation officer Mr Xolelani Ncube, the KAZA funded expansion area was necessitated by the increase in the population of wildlife following their translocation to Sidinda in 2018.
“When we translocated those animals, the area was very small and as such it was 37 square kilometres that was fenced by then. However, now the animals are increasing we translocated 100 buffaloes, 20 zebras, 20 wildebeests and kudus. Now since that time the animals have increased in terms of population. So, we have got funding from KAZA that has come in to say we expand our fencing to the ideal ecological carrying capacity which upon assessment was supposed to be 258 square kilometres,” said Mr Ncube.
He said operation of the project was expected to commence by the end of September after all processes such as fencing the expanded area and setting up of a community trust is finalised.
“We expect that within a month or so all the processes will be in place and the safari operators contributing towards that too to ensure the animals are in the free space and also free ranging within that area. The communities are well aware of that and also Council and other parties like Campfire Association, Mbalabala Safaris as well as KAZA which is the main funder of the project. We are in the process of making sure that the implementation and all other things are attended to.”
Mr Ncube said council had since engaged a consultant to come up with a business development plan that would inform operations of the venture and communities who are subsequent beneficiaries.
“In terms of the business development plan there was a consultant who came in and there will be a lot of non-consumptive activities taking place ideally photographic safari, game drives as well as other associated activities. So, for now we are still at infancy and the communities are going to come up with a trust to make sure that upon completion the proceeds from the game drives, fishing expeditions will go towards the community.”
Wildlife has been causing a lot of anxiety and death to the communities and the project is seen as a means to ensure communities benefit from the resource.
The project will also boast of eco-tourism where tourists who visit the conservancy will also get an opportunity to do village tours to promote local culture thereby bringing vigorous growth in eco-tourism venture amongst the communities as incentives and dividends accrue to them.