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AWCF Profile: Zimbabwe

Country Overview

Location: Zimbabwe lies in south-central Africa where it stretches across an extensive rolling plateau. On the north and northwest, it drops into the Zambezi Valley where the river of that same name forms the border with Zambia. Likewis, in the south the plateau drops into the Limpopo Valley and the border with South Africa at the Limpopo River. In the east, a mountain spine called the Eastern Highlands butts against Mozambique.  And on the southwest and west lies the border with Botswana.

Topography: The plateau Zimbabwe straddles features three different topographies. The Highveld sweeps around Zimbabwe from the southwest into the eastern mountain range that flanks Mozambique and north and west again into the Zambezi Valley Escarpment. Running between 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) to 5,000 feet (1,600 meters), most of the high veld is marked by kopjes, rocky hills, and eroded ridges. Mount Nyangani in the Eastern Highlands is Zimbabwe’s highest point at 8,504 feet (2,592 meters). Altogether, 20% of Zimbabwe is Highveld country.

The Highveld gives way to wooded savannahs and hills covered in coarse bracken ferns in the Middleveld between 2,953 feet (900 meters) to 3,937 feet (1,200 meters). This biome accounts for 40% of the landmass, sloping down each side of the Highveld country into the Zambezi River in the north and the Limpopo in the south.

In southern Zimbabwe, the plateau continues to descend into the Lowveld. It lies below 2,953 feet and makes up about 20 percent of Zimbabwe. Hotter and drier than the rest of the country, the Lowveld is covered in grassy plains.

Wildlife Conservation

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority: The Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) falls under the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Authorized by an Act of Parliament, the Authority has the power to control, manage, and administer all Zimbabwe wildlife resources, whether on government, communal or private lands. ZPWMA also manages about 5 million hectares of land, amounting to about 13% of Zimbabwe’s total landmass.

ZPWMA’s stated vision is to be the world leader in sustainable conservation. And its mission is to conserve Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage through protection and sustainable utilization of natural resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Priorities and Challenges : Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) are cross-border regions comprised of various areas with different forms of conservation programs, including national parks, private game reserves, communal areas and hunting concessions. These areas are jointly managed for long-term sustainable use of natural resources across international boundaries.  Zimbabwe is currently pursuing six TFCAs that are at various stages of development:

Restrictive International Measures: Like many African countries, Zimbabwe is heavily impacted by measures in other countries to control hunting and the import of hunting trophies from abroad. The most prominent examples are the threats posed by misguided efforts to implement trophy importation bans in California and the United Kingdom. Such bans would have a devastating impact on conservation efforts and rural economies throughout Zimbabwe.

Professional Hunting & Safari Associations

  • Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ)
    Telephone: +011-263-242-779792
    Email: soaz@mweb.co.zw or soaz1@mweb.co.zw
    – SOAZ is the professional association for safari companies operating in Zimbabwe. Hunting, photo safari and other specialized tourism service providers are members of ZOAZ and must be registered and licensed and employ only registered and licensed professional guides, hunters and couriers.
  • Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association (ZPHGA)
    Telephone: +011-263-4-702402 / +011-263-733-316739
    – Email: soaz@mweb.co.zwzphga1@gmail.com
    – ZPHGA is the association of professional hunting guides in Zimbabwe. It serves two purposes: 1) to lobby government on sound conservation policy for wildlife and habitat; (2) to maintain high standards of professionalism among members, ensuring they are committed to the long term management of wildlife resources, and proving training and education for future guides. Members must be licensed and registered.

Travel Information

Current Travel Status: Reopened to international tourism by air travel as of October 1, 2020. All tourism facilities are clear to resume full operations under COVID-19 protocols for businesses. Land borders remain closed but are due to reopen in early December 2020 to local and international travelers under the COVID-19 protocols.

COVID-19 Protocols: All travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test result issued within 48 hours of date of departure. Those arriving without test results must quarantine for 14 days. Arrivals are also screened for symptoms of COVID-19 when entering Zimbabwe. Travelers must wear masks and practice social distancing. Temperature check points and contract tracing protocols are in place.

Impacts of Pandemic

  • Direct and indirect job losses in excess of 100,000, with significant impact to the economy.
  • 85% unemployment, with people struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis, leading to increased poaching
  • COVID 19 appeared during a debilitating drought and on the coattails of Cyclone Idai. It has caused widespread cancellations of tourism bookings nationwide.
  • Revenue loss of nearly US$100m. Infection resurgences in key tourism markets mean the remaining US$10m worth of business for 2020 may not be salvaged.
  • Income loss to the hunting industry has had a ripple effect throughout the country, negatively impacting additional spin off revenues related to logistics, accommodations, and broader tourism spending that generally accompanies most hunting trips.
  • The safari industry in Zimbabwe lost nearly US$100 million revenue.
  • Widespread cancelations, 90% of booked hunts for 2020 cancelled (about 8,000 hunting days typically accrued by tourists in one year), per a survey of safari operators conducted by SOAZ.
  • Spikes in poaching and human-wildlife conflict due to sudden and drastic decline in safari tourism revenues.Transfrontier parks program accounts for 2 million direct and indirect jobs, now under threat due to COVID-19 related issues.
  • With the reopening, some hunts were conducted in October; some more are scheduled for November and December, but overall very little uptick in tourist activity.
  • Some operators discounted safaris to entice business, pay for antipoaching efforts and avoid retrenching key staff.
  • Resurgences in infection rates and mandatory quarantines for some returning travelers prevented many clients from taking advantage of discount opportunities. Other operators have lost money on discounted hunts.
  • To provide relief for members, SOAZ requested assistance from ZimParks and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to provide relief and flexibility on fees and levies and to carry consumptive quotas forward into 2021 in order to keep the industry afloat until tourist hunting can resume.SOAZ worked with the Zimbabwean Government to facilitate 10 hunts for international clients, generating nearly half a million dollars.

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