HARARE PRNewswire/ — The Government of Zimbabwe and conservation non-profit African Parks signed a 20-year agreement on Friday November 1st for the management of the iconic Matusadonha National Park. African Parks in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority will implement management strategies to secure the park and restore wildlife populations, unlocking its ecological, social and economic value enabling communities to derive long-term benefits.
“Zimbabwe is among the world’s richest nations in natural resources and wildlife. These are assets which have drawn millions of visitors annually and form a vital base for our economy,” said Mr. Fulton Mangwanya, Director-General of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. “Our public-private partnership with African Parks to restore Matusadonha helps to leverage conservation further as a sustainable mechanism for growth, promoting a tourism economy to benefit people while ensuring the protection of Zimbabwe’s wildlife.”
Matusadonha is an ecologically diverse landscape, with 700-metre-high hills descending to its northern boundary on the shores of Lake Kariba. The park harbours more than 240 bird species, baobab woodlands and wildlife including elephant, lion and buffalo. However, decades of poaching coupled with inadequate resourcing contributed to its decline.
“We are proud to be partnering with the Government of Zimbabwe for the first time to develop the potential of one of its most exceptional national parks,” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks. “Zimbabwe has a strong history of conservation excellence, and our shared ambition is to ensure that Matusadonha is revitalised as one of southern Africa’s leading protected areas.”
Together the Zimbabwe Government and African Parks will fully restore the park, implementing good infrastructure, law enforcement, conservation and community development programmes, and will boost tourism enabling communities to derive long-term benefits. Once a stronghold for black rhino, the park will be secured and reestablished as a sanctuary for these critically endangered animals and other key species.
Matusadonha National Park is the first protected area in Zimbabwe to come under the management of African Parks, a new milestone which expands their portfolio to 16 protected areas, covering almost 11 million hectares across 10 countries. The Wyss Foundation, Oak Foundation and Stichting Natura Africae are strategic partners of African Parks and are contributing part of the operational support for Matusadonha’s management.