Supporting Community-led Conservation in the Great-Limpopo Trans-Frontier Conservation Area
Clive Stockil’s dealings, dedication and proactive solutions during the initial negotiations leading to the establishment of CAMPFIRE in the 1980’s earned him the lasting respect and trust of the Mahenye Community who set the example for Community-Led Conservation in Zimbabwe – a model widely adopted and adapted widely in the region and elsewhere in Africa.
A decade after beginning trophy hunting as an important revenue stream in Mahenye, Clive introduced the community to a hotel developer and negotiated a lease for land on which two safari lodges were built. The lodges brought additional benefits in the form of formal employment and logistical support to the community as well as tourism which in turn has translated into a number of additional private donations to the community – for example, as financial support for the local clinic and school.
Development of the Jamanda Community Conservancy being supported by the WILD Programme represents a further step in devolution of user rights over natural resources from the Rural District Council to the Mahenye Community and will empower the Community to take an even more central role in management and decision-making in their various conservation-based enterprises.
The initiative has established the Jamanda Community Conservation and Development Trust incorporating Traditional Leadership (Chief Mahenye and Headmen) and elected community representatives with whom SAT, other WILD stakeholders and Chilo Gorge Lodge work closely towards establishment of the Jamanda Wilderness Area, which is a non-utilisation, non-cropping conservation preserve in the core of the Mahenye wildlife area. This particular zone, about 30,000 acres in extent on the eastern bank of the Save River bordering Gonarezhou National Park, is not settled and not cropped, and, as in all other parts of Mahenye, deforestation is prohibited by Traditional Law. As a result the pristine habitat of the Wilderness Area, in conjunction with the premier tourist facilities at Chilo Lodge and the spectacular forests, wetlands and scenery around the confluence of the Savé and Runde Rivers, is a major asset in the establishment of a world-class eco-tourism product.
Being based on a non-consumptive eco-tourism model the Jamanda Wilderness Area also represents diversification of Community-Led conservation away from the traditional trophy-hunting model upon which CAMPFIRE has become somewhat overly dependent. The Mahenye Community retains strong tradition and culture which is an additional major asset to the area.
WILD activities and outputs in Jamanda / Mahenye will include all aspects described in the preceding section describing activities and aspirations of WILD. The Jamanda Wilderness will be fenced into Gonarezhou and all developments germane to wildlife management, protection and production will be developed as per the work-plans and budget described below.
From an anti-poaching point of view within Gonarezhou National Park, the establishment of Jamanda will contribute crucial access control to this remote eastern boundary of the National Park.
It is only fitting that WILD supports updating of Community Led Conservation in this, the birthplace of CAMPFIRE.