Zambezi National Park

Zambezi National Park

Keith Vincent (CEO) and Ron Goatley (Regional Manager) of Wilderness Safaris addressed a meeting of local stakeholders on a Wilderness Safaris initiative to co-manage the Zambezi National Park in conjunction with National Parks. Keith explained the initiative was aimed at developing the Park to cater for the anticipated increase in tourism to Victoria Falls – currently over 50,000 tourists a year go on Chobe day trips from Victoria Falls, and the idea is to capture a lot of that trade for local operators.
Keith added that the initiative would not only incorporate those individuals and entities already involved in the Park, but would enhance their participation. Wilderness Safaris has no direct financial interest in this initiative, and to secure the interests of local stakeholders, it will be run by a board  which will incorporate local participation. However, Wilderness will be able to use their clout to raise funds to run the Park.

After a fruitful meeting and discussions, Keith left to pursue the plan with higher authorities, with the support of the local stakeholders.

We commend Wilderness on their open and frank approach, as local stakeholders are extremely concerned about commercial or quasi commercial operations which are apparently planned for the Park, and that are negotiated without any local stakeholder input at high levels in Harare (which raises doubts about the legitimacy of these plans). These plans could have serious a serious impact on the Park, from environmental, game movement and local operators aspects, and it appears that no Environmental Impact Assessments have been done, as required by law, and these EIA’s are specific in that stakeholder consultation is a requirement.

Local stakeholders have requested that the Minister and Parks Director General address them to clarify the situation re all these issues. They also appeal to the companies/entities concerned to show the same integrity as Wilderness Safaris and address the stakeholders on these issues which have a direct bearing on their livelihoods, and on the future of the Falls tourism.

From : Bhejani Trust Newsletter by Trevor Lane