A solar installation, valued in excess of ZAR 240,000 – which will provide additional dry-season water for the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe – has been installed on Forestry Commission land, bordering Hwange National Park Main Camp. This installation was secured by Sharon Pincott of the Presidential Elephants Conservation Project and was donated by Grundfos South Africa, the world’s largest manufacturer of pumps. The Honourable Minister Saviour Kasukuwere accepted the donation from Grundfos at a ceremony at the site on Monday, 3 March (World Wildlife Day), with a vote of thanks given by Mr Darlington Duwa, the General Manager of the Forestry Commission.
Sharon – who has worked with the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe since 2001 – gave the dignitaries present a brief introduction to these elephants, explaining that they are Zimbabwe’s flagship herd that roam primarily in areas just outside of Hwange National Park Main Camp. This uniquely friendly wild elephant herd, now numbering more than 520, were decreed with an extra level of protection by President Robert Mugabe in 1990; a decree that was reaffirmed by the President in 2011. They are said to represent Zimbabwe’s commitment to responsible wildlife management. Sharon pointed out that providing sufficient dry-season water in these areas has been a challenge now for many years, and Grundfos very kindly responded quickly and positively to a request for assistance. Solar technology has improved vastly, with significant cost reductions, in the past few years and is now a very viable alternative to traditional diesel pumps that require expensive fuel and human resources to operate.
Some might tend to think of Forestry areas being only about trees, but the reality is that there is a lot of wildlife in these Hwange Forestry Commission areas, as well as inside the National Park itself. Both the Forestry Commission and the Parks Authority have responsibility for Zimbabwe’s flora and fauna, and both report to the Environment Ministry led by Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
The Presidential Elephants are considered a key tourist attraction for Zimbabwe. Visitors to Hwange – in addition to enjoying the large numbers of elephants in wide open spaces inside of Hwange National Park – are able to also enjoy the alternate experience of up-close and personal encounters with wild elephants in these adjacent areas that include this Forestry Commission land. The Presidential Elephants are known by family group, by individual, and by name, with some particularly friendly well-known elephants. “Such unique encounters regularly reduce tourists to tears,” says Sharon, who believes that Zimbabweans should be incredibly proud of their flagship herd.
Zimbabwe’s elephants, as well as Zimbabwe’s Presidential Elephants, have faced considerable challenges of late, with both the recent cyanide poisoning incident and land claims being of particular concern. It is certainly encouraging to see donors like Grundfos South Africa stepping in, to help ease other burdens that Zimbabwe’s elephants face. “We are profoundly thankful to Grundfos for their support and assistance in helping to provide additional water,” said Sharon.
For more info on Sharon and the Presidential Herd :Sharon Pincott.