Sustainable Use Workshops in Zimbabwe
February 2015, Volume 13-1

In November and December 2014 Conservation Force initiated and sponsored two workshops in Zimbabwe to prepare an up-to-date National Elephant Action and Management Plan.

On 17 and 18 November 2014, the CAMPFIRE Stakeholders’ Workshop Towards the Development of a New Elephant Management Plan and Policy was held in Harare, funded by Dallas Safari Club, and Conservation Force. It was attended by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), the Ministry of Environment, both the Board Chairman and Director of the CAMPFIRE Association, more than a dozen District and Ward representatives and coordinators, a representative of WWF Zimbabwe, two safari operators (Clive Stockil of Save Valley Conservancy and Miles McCallum of Charlton McCallum Safaris) and representatives of Dallas Safari Club and Safari Club International.

The National Elephant Action Plan Workshop, initiated by Conservation Force and funded in large part by Shikar Safari Club International was conducted on 2to 4 December in Hwange National Park by ZPWMA with the objective to replace the 1997 National Elephant Management Plan with one that included smart, clear goals, objectives and management options/actions and indicators that are measurable. The preliminary 2014 aerial survey results of the Great Elephant Census were presented. The Zimbabwe elephant population, excluding the Bubye and Save Valley Conservancies, is estimated at approximately 82,000 to 83,000, marginally below the estimated 88,000 elephant in Zimbabwe’s last countrywide aerial survey with a similar methodology in 2001.

Zimbabwe’s largest elephant population in Hwange National Park has grown to more than 40,000 and continues to grow, a fact which Zimbabwe authorities have represented to both USFWS and the US Congress. The total NW Matabeleland population is up 10% since 2001. This population, taken together with the adjoining population in Botswana, comprises the largest elephant population in the world. … [Collaboration] between the local hunting operator and ZPWMA made short work of the poachers and poaching. The local hunting operator there has his own 12-man anti-poaching team and regularly flies that quadrant of Hwange National Park. Also, ZPWMA has installed a permanent anti-poaching outpost in the area. … Expert [opinion suggests] that the population in Hwange is four or more times greater than management objective. The second population in Gonarezhou National Park has been steadily growing for 20 years and has more than doubled since the last national aerial survey in 2001 to more than 11,000 (134%). The Lower Zambezi Valley population is down from 19,000 in 2001 to 14,000 and the Sebungwe population is down 75% from 14,000 to 15,000 in 2001 to 3.500.

The new draft 2014 National Management Plan provides for the creation of a national elephant coordinator and the creation of a national and four regional committees to meet regularly and create and implement regional plans under the new national plan framework (for the complete article click HERE). Extracted from the World Conservation Force Bulletin by Gerhard Damm