Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe

by African Lion & Environmental Research Trust
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe
Sponsor Community Guardians in Zimbabwe

Community guardians are the interface between the rural farming Communities and the Protected Areas around which they live.   Wildlife in Protected Areas are under increasing threat due to human population expansion and poaching within the Protected Areas (P.A.)

Before the burgeoning human population, wildlife was free to move between P.A.`s along traditional animal paths that had been used for hundreds of years.  This movement allowed gene transfer, reduced population pressure and reduced social conflict and of course gave vegetation a chance to recover from animal browsing and grazing.

We are working at establishing the existence of traditional animal corridors between P.A.`s in our lion and elephant research where animals are collared with a GPS collar so that their movements can be tracked on a digital map.  We are also able to inform communities of the possible movement of wildlife into their areas so that they can protect their crops and livestock.

The community guardian, as the liaison person, is able to bring awareness to communities of the need to protect crops and livestock but also to help educate people for the needed to allow animals safe passage between P.A.`s and to keep the corridors open to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. 

The community guardian is chosen from the community that they will work in so that they are known to the community and are also trusted by the community.  This is important as there is often distrust between the community and the Protected Area authorities.

This project still needs additional funding before it can be expanded sufficiently to be totally effective.  ALERT staff frequently fill in the gap by carrying out the role that the community guardian has and we are slowly building up trust with the communities.  Recently we were asked to deal with a lioness that had killed cattle by capturing it.  We failed but fortunatately the lioness went back ino the park and safety. 

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Thank you to all who have identified with this project and have contributed to making sure it can continue.

We have little to report during the period since COVID has disrupted this program to a large degree.  However, be that as it may, we have still achieved part of our vision for this project in that we have been able to warn villagers of the likelihood of elephants moving from Chizarira National Park into the neighbouring villages so that they are able to take precautions such as putting bonfires around fields, having dogs with them and beating drums and old cans.

This warning system would normally be done by the Community Guardian, but as we are unable at this stage to reemploy one, we personally meet with the Chiefs and Village Heads and convey the information.

One collared elephant has moved from the park through the villages to Kariba Lake.  He has travelled over 300kms and we have been able to plot and monitor his movements and provide advance warning to the villages.

In addition to this we have put up mobile livestock holding pens for the protection of livestock against lions and spotted hyaenas.  This has worked well and as soon as we are back on track with a Community Guardian in place, we will begin to document raiding incidences so that we can obtain an idea of trends of attacks.

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Dear Sponsors,

We will be putting this project on hold since incoming funding was low and insufficient for us to do justice to this important program.  We thank all who have so unselfishly donated funds to this project and for identifying with our needs.

A Community guardian is the interlink between the community and wildlife authorities.  This person collects data on human-wildlife conflict, checks out incidents, reports these incidents to us (ALERT) and we then try and mitigate wildlife predation incidents in such a way that the wildlife and the community is protected.  The guardian will talk with affected communities, find out why there have been incidences of stock killings by carnivores and make recommendations.  Frequently we find that villagers do not have adequate livestock-holding facilities, or do not put their livestock in pens at night, and if this is the case we give advice and material assistance if the villager is willing.

In the case of livestock predation by lions or spotted hyaena, ALERT erects predator-proof livestock holding pens in the conflict “hot-spots” or helps villagers build sturdier predator-proof traditional-style pens.

The Community guardian’s role is important but this person needs consistent support in order to maintain respect and credibility with the community in which he/she works.  At present, due to low funding and our own financial difficulties due to Covid, we will put this project on hold.

A total of $522.55 was raised out of a target of $6,600 for this project.  The funds so far raised has been used to buy a bicycle, a GPS, tape measure (to measure predator footprints), stationary, clipboards, cell phone airtime etc.  We will resurrect this project when finances improve but will continue to keep it viable by regularly meeting with the local government authority in charge of the village areas and the Chief of the area.

Finally we would like you to know that through your donations and support we were able to produce a working document entitled “Human-wildlife conflict in the Chizarira National Park buffer Communities: Status report and mitigation strategies”. The data for this document was obtained with the help of a Community Guardian and put together by the ALERT team.  Just recently the document was presented to all stakeholders in the area at a Rural District Council meeting.  Our mitigation strategies as recommended by us in the document are now being implemented. 

 

You can be proud and assured that your support has made a difference.


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Community guardians are an important link between communities, wildlife and conservation.  Their function in communities surrounding a Protected Area includes collecting data on wildlife seen in the communal areas, reporting problem animals, keeping records of human-wildlife/livestock conflict, and to be the interface between community and the Protected Area Authorities.

To date the support response for this project has been poor probably due to the situation that we all face due to the Covid-10 pandemic.  We would like to thank our sponsors to date, for their sacrifice and commitment.  It has helped to make a difference in that although we are unable at this time to employ a full-time guardian, we have used the funds so far received to enable our researchers to step into the role that a guardian would take.

Zimbabwe had an exceptional season of rain after more than 4 years of drought.  The Villagers on the edges have eked out an existence by planting maize, ground nuts, sorghum and pumpkins that have had poor yields, heaping an extra burden on the community.  However this last season has seen good rains, rivers flowing and water holes filling up.  Villagers have been able to plant their crops and are due to reap an excellent reward for their efforts.

But as we left Chizarira a week ago we had reports from the District Councilor that there were reports of elephants in crops.  We brought up maps of the elephants we have so far collared and noted that one cow with a herd totaling 30 was in the Communal Land.  We have been able to warn villagers to carry out measures to stop the elephant going into the crops using age old methods namely fires around fields, lookouts, dogs, noise and light.  By so doing we are able to help the villagers protect the crops and also to prevent lethal retaliatory action by villagers who may be affected.

This project will continue since it is so important for the community and for the wildlife, but if funds do not come through we will need to look at other ways of fulfilling our commitment to the community. As mentioned our researchers are filling this role at this time and we are ensured that there is continuity in the support that we give villagers.  If and when sufficient finds are available, we will employ a fulltime guardian from within the villagers who knows the area and is respected by the community.

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult time.  Stay safe!

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A Community guardian is a rural community’s link with the wildlife authorities who are the custodians of wildlife and the NGO’s who work with communities in assisting them on human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures.  The role that this person plays is many faceted and includes monitoring and reporting all wildlife incidents affecting the community (livestock killings by lions, elephants decimating crops, crocodile attacks etc.,) assisting in remedial measures, as well as carrying out conservation education.  By responding rapidly and positively to human-wildlife conflict incidents and through conservation education, the Community Guardian helps prevent retaliatory killings against wildlife being undertaken by the affected community.  

The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) works with rural communities adjacent to two National Parks:  Zambezi National Park in the Victoria Falls area and Chizarira National Park which lies south of Lake Kariba which is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume. 

During the period being reported on, ALERT was urgently requested to assist villagers by protecting their livestock against lions.  Unfortunately funds to employ a full-time community guardian were not available however a village spokesperson, acting as a guardian, reported the incidents to ALERT who, with the help of the spokesperson and villagers, were able to put up one mobile predator-proof livestock holding pen in the Mucheni ward in the Binga area north of Chizarira National Park. 

The traditional pens made of local materials are often insufficient to protect livestock against predators.  Villagers try and keep lions away from livestock pens by making a loud noise using vuvuzelas, by banging pots, and shouting etc.) and by building fires around the pen.  This is dangerous to the villager and is not sustainable.  The community guardian will be the person to assist villagers in building a better pen, and who will try and convince villagers not to poison the lion or spotted hyaena responsible for livestock killings.

Until we can employ a guardian full time, ALERT research staff working in Chizarira National Park react to incidents such as these as quickly as they can but often only receive a report a few days after an incident.


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Organization Information

African Lion & Environmental Research Trust

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lionsinafrica
Project Leader:
Stuart Armstrong
London, United Kingdom
$633 raised of $6,600 goal
 
16 donations
$5,967 to go
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