WILDERNESS Wildlife Trust (WWT) has funded the installation of five solar pumps to serve the parched Hwange National Park.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

The organisation also donated a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser to the Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit (SAPU) to help boost ongoing anti-poaching activities in the game reserve.

The five solar pumps were installed at Back Pan, Madison Pan, Scott’s Pan, Mandundumela Pan and at Wexau, where SAPU operates.

The large population of elephants means there is hardly enough water for all the animals during the dry season.

In a statement, WWT, in partnership with Wilderness Safaris, a non-profit organisation, said the donation was made “in order to supply more water for wildlife during the dry season”.

Wilderness Safaris Zambezi ecologist, Arnold Tshipa said the organisation was committed to conservation activities.

“For over two decades, we have been committed to offering life-changing ‘Journeys with Purpose’ to our camps in Hwange, remaining loyal supporters of Zimbabwe and its phenomenal natural heritage,” Tshipa said.

“Part of this commitment has been to ensure the effective game water provision in our private concessions – an essential part of Hwange’s ecosystem, with the first borehole having been sunk as far back as 1935.”

Traditionally, during the dry season, water resources in Hwange are “tested to the limit as the pans dry out” and since 2002, Wilderness Safaris has maintained 15 boreholes in the park; servicing and financing the watering points.

“From early April, the season gets into full swing with the pumps running 24 hours a day right through until the end of November or sometimes December, when the summer rains arrive. To keep up with the elephants alone is a major task – they consume about 70 000 litres of water per pump every 24 hours,” Tshipa said.

“The  ongoing project has ensured the movement of wildlife within the park is not restricted, as would be the case if the water supply dried up.”

He said said there were plans to phase out diesel pumps and replace them with solar.

“To further demonstrate our commitment to operating with as light an eco-footprint as possible, we are planning to replace all of the old diesel generators with solar pumps going forward in order to reduce our carbon footprint. We look forward to continuing to play an important role in the ongoing biodiversity protection of Hwange,” Tshipa said.

Conservationists Rich Jones and Diana Sutter said they were “thrilled” by the donation.

“We are  thrilled that the Wilderness Wildlife Trust has come on board to further support our efforts by funding the installation of five solar pumps to date, two of which were generously funded by Wilderness Safaris guests,” they said.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) has been calling on willing conservationists to join hands and provide resources to serve wildlife in the area. Hwange is reportedly overpopulated by elephants, with approximately 44 000 beasts according to an aerial count done in 2014 by Elephants Without Borders.

This large population of elephants means there is hardly enough water for all the animals during the dry season.