CHIKOMBEDZI – THE hostilities between one of Zimbabwe’s iconic game parks and local communities are now a thing of the past following an initiative the former has embarked on to take on board the grievances faced by the locals.
Gonarezhou National Park has embarked in engaging with the community, taking concerns from the local people.
The harmonious relation is under the theme, ‘Mpfhuka’, which means a journey or pilgrimage, in the local Shangaan dialect.
“When embarking on a journey, there are challenges and problems that you meet on the way. Also, the ‘Mpfhuka’ is not an easy journey but slowly we will get there,” said Evious Mphofu, the senior area manager of Gonarezhou.
Officials said the high levels of subsistence poaching prompted the idea behind mpfhuka.
“The mpfhuka is not only a journey that is going to benefit Gonarezhou alone. Local people will also benefit through employment,” said Elias Livombo, Community Liason Officer.
Gonarezhou has created employment for an unspecified number of youths.
They are employed as game rangers while some are working at the construction of the Runde causeway, now called Kwangulatilo Bridge.
“Most young men in the communities surrounding Gonarezhou are not well educated. The creation of employment by Gonarezhou has given them a vision in life and helped them to solve some of their financial problems,” said engineer Matumba who is also working at the causeway construction.
Gonarezhou has also introduced a training centre, which is a vocational facility for the community.
The game park has also empowered some women who have since embarked on a grass-cutting project.
Gonarezhou helps market their products.
The Gonarezhou National Park is one of the iconic wilderness areas of Africa.
It boasts a diversity of landscapes, features and growing wildlife populations.
– CAJ News