Zimbabwe Parks Authority tightens security in Hwange National Park
June 11, 2022
Under the mild sun of May, the whirring sound of the drone could be heard
with almost every step taken.
Like the watchful eye of “big brother” in the sky, one would not look up to
know a drone was hovering several metres above a group of journalists close
It stayed with the group as they were being shown the construction of
several buildings in northwestern Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park’s new
campsite, “Makona”, located some 100 kilometres from the main camp.
The campsite is being built by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority (ZimParks) and will consist of eight blocks, an
entertainment facility, administration office, and a state of-the-art
Makona is expected to cover 4,000 square kilometres within the park, which
spans over 14,000square kilometres of wilderness.
“This is going to be a state-of-the-art facility that will house our
rangers to monitor the wildlife area in and around the camp,” said ZimParks
spokesperson Tinashe Farawo, who led the group of journalists during a
one-week media tour.
Farawo told journalists the drone is just a concept of the type of
high-level security implemented by the authority.
By building these new campsites, ZimParks aims to avoid a repetition of the
2013 massacre of more than 120 elephants, which were poisoned by poachers.
Farawo said when the elephants were poisoned, it was difficult for ZimParks
to move from the main camp to the site. He added that having onsite housing
would also make it easier for rangers to respond to wildlife affecting
One of the nearest communities from the park is Tsholotsho district,
located some 10 kilometres away.
Farawo said construction of Makona will ensure rangers are able to protect
elephants. Hwange National Park still has a number of blind spots where
poaching can occur, hence the need for onsite rangers.
“We have about eight blocks which will house two families per block, then
the administration office. There will be a house for our officer-in-charge
(of the camp). There will also be a workshop…but mainly it is to improve
the welfare of our rangers,” Farawo said.
“Now, the camp will be fully fledged with an officer-in-charge, with a
staff complement which can react to distress calls from communities.”
He said it would also ensure that officers, because of the accommodation,
will now have improved welfare. “It is because of IFAW (International Fund
for Animal Welfare) who are doing a massive job. Our officers will also
have entertainment centres so that they can also relax after work,” Farawo
“They can watch DSTV, play snooker, soccer, and enjoy many other
entertainment facilities.” Makona previously had two buildings, with the
construction of the new buildings being supported by budgetary support of
US$2 million (£1.6 million) from IFAW, a United States- based animal
“This is a massive project which is a result of our partnership with the
International Fund for Animal Welfare. Over the last two years, they have
provided more than US$2 million (£1.6 million) and we are extremely
grateful,” Farawo said.
“The road we have used from the main camp to here, Makona, is about 100
kilometres, and at some point you needed to spend a day travelling by that
road because of the Kalahari sands.
They have assisted and it's now navigable. We used to deploy our rangers
here from the main camp and considering that kind of distance it was really
However, ZimParks is limited in its ability to provide housing facilities
and carry out its general mandate of conservation as the Covid-19 pandemic
significantly reduced tourism revenue.
For 2022, as reported in this edition, ZimParks is underfunded to the tune
of US$6,76 million (£5.41 million). This has meant it is struggling to pay
“We are talking about operational salary funds that amount to about ZW$55
million (£142,660) in local currency per month…the accommodation of our
rangers needs to be improved,” ZimParks director general, Fulton Mangwanya,
said in an interview.
“Right now, I am behind by a month or two in paying these salaries and the
danger is that if we don’t pay these rangers, they will become poachers.”
He said there were slightly above 2,000 rangers but an additional 1,000 are
This article is reproduced here as part of the African Conservation
Journalism Programme, funded in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe
by USAID’s VukaNow: Activity. Implemented by the international conservation
organization Space for Giants, it aims to expand the reach of conservation
and environmental journalism in Africa, and bring more African voices into
the international conservation debate. Read the original story here.