Zimbabwe: Zimparks on the road to boost tourism


George Maponga – Masvingo Office

Zimparks began raising the profile of Gonarezhou National Park in southeastern Lowveld by reintroducing rhinos in a move designed to spur the revival of the local tourism industry, one of the main anchor points of the local and national economy.

Gonarezhou is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular tourist attractions with diverse flora and fauna.

The park is also part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park which joins with the Kruger National Parks in South Africa and Gaza in Mozambique to create one of the largest wildlife habitats in the world.

Rhinos have been hunted to extinction in Gonarezhou for nearly 30 years by poachers, but with the vastly improved protection offered by parks across the border and by Zimparks on the Zimbabwean side, it is now possible to bring back rhinos.

Zimparks spokesperson Mr. Tinashe Farawo said the ongoing reintroduction of rhinos in Gonarezhou will boost tourism in the park. Tourism is expected to play a key role in stimulating national economic growth in accordance with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030.

“We are in the process of reintroducing rhinos to Gonarezhou to strengthen the profile of the park and attract more tourists there. We hope that by bringing rhinos back to the park, the habitat will regain its position as a top local tourist destination and this is in line with our overall objective to develop the tourism sector, ”he said.

“We will officially launch the rhino reintroduction project but the process is already underway but we cannot disclose the number of rhinos involved for safety reasons.”

Mr Farawo assured the nation that adequate measures have been put in place to ensure that rhinos do not fall prey to poachers and disappear again. Rhinos stored at Gonarezhou were transferred from private wilderness sanctuaries such as Malilangwe, which had provided refuges for endangered species, while Zimparks fought poachers in most state-owned game parks.

“Measures are in place to ensure the safety of the rhinos in Gonarezhou. In addition to keeping them under surveillance, we have a reinforced team of rangers to protect the rhinos. There will be increased monitoring and follow-up, especially before they adjust to the new environment. “

“We also have a sufficient team of environmentalists and veterinarians who will be dealing with this endangered species closely, so in terms of ensuring the safety of the rhinos, we are very prepared,” said M Farawo.

This will be the third rhino reintroduction to Gonarezhou.

The last of the region’s pre-colonial herd was slaughtered in the 1930s before the region was declared a national park.

Rhinos were reintroduced to Gonarezhou in the 1960s until the early 1970s, culminating in the declaration of Gonarezhou as a national park in 1975.

An increase in poaching in the 1980s across much of Africa and the closure of Gonarezhou during the Renamo uprising in neighboring Mozambique led to the extinction of the rhinos when the park reopened in Africa. public in 1994.

Zimbabwe has invested in infrastructure development and other things on its side of the Grand Transfrontier Park so that the country can keep up with the progress of its other two partners.

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