Ivan Zhakata-Herald Correspondent
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has received a boat, Spotfisher 220, from African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to help in its fight against anti-poaching.
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Harare yesterday, ZimParks director-general Dr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya welcomed the donation, saying the support came to strengthen the establishment of a Special Tactical Unit called the Zambezi River Specialised Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU) formed to deal with all water related operations.
“The state-of-the-art 12 seater boat would be deployed to the mid-Zambezi region where it would be solely used to patrol the length and breadth of the mighty Zambezi River right from below the Kariba dam wall all the way through the Gwembe trough downstream to Kanyemba. This boat is preceded by another operational boat, the Pelican 8 seater which we also received from AWF last year and is already being used by ZARSAU.”
The 12-seater boat is propelled by twin 115 horsepower engines and is fitted with a radar system for detecting human movement during the day and at night. Dr Mangwanya said they expect to derive maximum conservation benefits from the use of the boat.
“It is our wish that the coming of this equipment and the establishment of ZARSAU is going to be a big game- changer in the biodiversity conservation work that the mid Zambezi as a region is pursuing in their area of jurisdiction. Additionally, this is an opportunity to promote trans-boundary collaboration and enhance joint river patrols in the protection of our shared resources,” he said.
AWF senior director Dr Allistair Pole said they hope that ZimParks will be very much prepared to fulfil the mandate of protecting the Zambezi River and preventing incursions cutting across the river.
“The donation is part of the larger program that we have got at African Wildlife Foundation to support Parks authority in suti in Zambezi Valley, but also more broadly with national issues as well. Our focus is on the support that we are giving in the Zambezi Valley which is to help them with anti-poaching and security.
“We supported the development of the River Reaction Unit, a D-camp which is in Nyakasanga just upstream of Mana Pools National Park. We have resourced them with two boats now, the Pelican boat which is going to be for general patrolling and this Spotfisher which is going to be for more reactions to incidents and incursions as they happen,” he said.