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Mana Pools National Park eyed for oil

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HARARE – A pristine wildlife habitat in Zimbabwe designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations is being eyed for oil and gas exploration by a mining firm, official documents released Tuesday show.

Local company Shalom Mining has applied for a prospecting licence in the northern Mana Pools National Park, a tourist magnet near the Zambian border, according to a notice published in the government gazette.

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“The applicant intends to prospect for petroleum oil and natural gas within the area,” the notice says.

Mana Pools, a 6,766-square kilometre reserve famed for breath-taking landscape and rich fauna, is listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations’ cultural agency (Unesco).

The agency describes  “great cliffs” that overhang the Zambezi River, and a reserve  home to “a remarkable concentration of wild animals”, including elephants, buffalo, leopards, cheetahs and Nile crocodiles.

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Prospecting activities risk scaring away tourists and pushing wild animals into nearby villages, leading environmentalist Farai Maguwu told AFP.

The project was against Zimbabwe’s “national interest”, he added.

“I’m very shocked that they have even considered to accept that application,” Maguwu said by phone.

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Objections to Shalom Mining’s application need to be filed to a government mining board by May 19, the gazette notice says. – AFP

 

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Speeding into the spotlight: Tsessebe makes rare appearance in Panda Masuie Forest

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IMAGE: Wild Is Life and ZEN

BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

In a groundbreaking discovery, the Wild is Life Trust and Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN) have spotted a rare and elusive species in the conservation area near Victoria Falls – the Tsessebe, Africa’s fastest antelope.

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Camera traps in the Panda Masuie Forest captured footage of the Tsessebe, which can reach speeds of up to 90km/h.

“Panda Masuie Forest stands as a beacon of hope for biodiversity conservation in the region,” said the Wild is Life Trust in a statement. “Our camera traps revealed a rare species never seen by us in Panda Masuie – a Tsessebe.”

The footage was captured at a waterhole called Jos’ Corner, near the Botswana border. Over the course of just a few days, camera traps also captured images of many other species, including elephant, lion, eland, sable, roan, warthog, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, and ground hornbill.

The trust emphasized the significance of this discovery.

“The Tsessebe’s presence in Panda Masuie sheds light on its behaviour and ecological needs in this specific habitat, underscoring the importance of preserving natural landscapes and maintaining ecological connectivity across vast wilderness areas.”

To the organization , this incredible find is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication to wildlife conservation.

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In a separate incident, the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust rewilded a terrapin rescued from a poacher’s backpack near Victoria Falls Town.

The organization announced, “We’re thrilled to announce that it has been released into the Victoria Falls National Park, where it can thrive in its natural habitat… Let’s protect and preserve our precious wildlife for generations to come!”

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Tourism and Environment

Pristine Victoria Falls Society calls for behavior change amidst littering concerns

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BY STAFF REPORTER

The Pristine Victoria Falls Society (PVFS) has urged citizens, particularly those visiting the resort city, to change their behavior regarding littering.

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Formed almost three years ago by stakeholders and residents, PVFS aims to make Victoria Falls the cleanest city in Africa and a world destination of choice. Led by a committee of individuals from various organizations, PVFS has gained momentum as more stakeholders and individuals pledge to maintain the city’s pristine state.

The initiative involves daily litter collection and adopting streets for cleaning. A task force, comprising PVFS, Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Victoria Falls City Council, and police, was formed to spearhead activities and provide enforcement.

However, PVFS campaign manager Douglas Musiringofa notes that efforts to keep the city clean are being undermined by reckless littering behavior.

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“We have noted that when events take polace planners clean along roads yet some people drive and park in random areas in the bush where they leave litter which we are finding now as we clean,” he said.

Musiringofa implored companies to take it upon themselves to clean everywhere.

Musiringofa implores companies to take responsibility for cleaning up everywhere, citing the overwhelming amount of waste generated by visitors.

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“We are overweelmed by waste not from people in Victoria Falls but from visitors hence we have been trying to do fire fighting with our small team.”

The PVFS team collects an average of 50-60 bags of litter daily, with the worst-affected areas being between Mkhosana turn-off and Sprayview, along Livingstone Way, Courtney Selous, BB7, and Aerodrome.

Musiringofa emphasizes the need for collective action to address this issue.

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Parcelling of land in Hwange National Park sparks fears of ecological disaster

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BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI 

Conservationists in Hwange district are sounding the alarm over the parcelling of land to Chinese and land barons for mining and development in the ecologically sensitive Hwange and Victoria Falls National Park, home to the rainforest.

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During a recent parliament session, Larry Norton, a tourism player from the Larry Norton Art Gallery, stressed the need for careful consideration of the Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill (H.B.1, 2024), which aims to address human-wildlife conflicts and sustainable conservation.

“In recent years, many of us who live in Hwange have watched what’s happened on the edges of Sinamatella… can you imagine that hole at the edge of Hwange and in the middle of Hwange National Park?” Norton quizzed.

Who is going to come into that park? It’s impossible… we have to be very very careful, pay attention to how the laws can be utilized, manipulated, taken advantage of, because the losers could be our children,” Norton warned.

“We also have here a living animal, the Victoria Falls itself and there has been a dismantling of the buffer area around those falls, and the protection of the Victoria Falls itself.

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“In the last two years, due to an oversight of leadership, in many different departments, it’s unbelievable…some of us here have fought a court case to protect that area for our children, and l honestly appeal to you to pay attention to what we are doing for the long term.”

Sithandazile Siwela, a female tour guide in Hwange and Victoria Falls National Parks, also expressed concerns about the extinction of wildlife and called for stiffer penalties.

“We have seen the extinction of the pangolin, the black rhinoceros… I want us to send a message to these legislators: can you guys review those penalties that are being given to offenders? We will be seeing in the next decade the animals that you are saying – the black and white rhinoceros – we will be seeing them in the books, because we do not have them in the park.”

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Conservationists are seeking clarity on how Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority plans to handle these concerns.

They are also urging the government to revisit the bill and address their concerns to ensure that wildlife conservation benefits both people and wildlife.

Norton emphasized the importance of taking time to gather feedback and considering the pros and cons of the bill to prevent manipulation by land barons or corrupt individuals.

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