From Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
The newly-formed Gonarezhou Conservation Trust has said it will strive to ensure the transformation of Gonarezhou National Park to be the best in Southern Africa, while top priority is on the reintroduction of the Big Five in the mega animal sanctuary.
The Trust, which commenced operations on March 1 this year, is a partnership between the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Frankfurt Zoological Society.
Addressing guests during the pass out parade of 28 game rangers, Gonarezhou Conservation Trust board member Mr Jerry Gotora said they were aiming at reducing the rampant cases of poaching which were threatening the wildlife population in the country’s second largest national park.
He said the main target was to uplift the standards of the park, while also introducing the Big Five. “Tourists come to see animals, not trees,” he said. “Our main aim is to upgrade this conservation area to a level where we will be confident that all animal species will be safe.
“We want tourists to come and view game. With the electric fences which we are setting up around the park, we strongly believe that nothing will stop us from reintroducing the Big Five.”
Mr Gotora said their priority was also to reduce poaching to zero, hence the continued training of more game scouts. “We want to reduce poaching to zero. Today you are witnessing the pass-out parade of 28 game rangers and this brings the total number of our scouts to 156.
“Before the Trust started operations, we only had 56 scouts and I believe these men and women will work strongly towards protecting our wildlife,” he said.
In an interview with journalists, director of the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust Mr Hugo Van Der Weisthuizen said they had acquired more utility vehicles, which would be used to run the park.
He said they had started renovating most lodges in the park. “We have a budget of $150 000 every month,” he said. “This covers all our day to day operations. The greater chunk of the budget is going towards anti-poaching.
“We have sourced new equipment that will be used by the rangers on their daily patrols. We are also upgrading lodges like Svimuwini.”