THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) is set to get a boost in its conservation operations after Government approved the restart of tourism activities, which had been put on ice since March as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
ZimParks relies heavily on tourism receipts for its conservation efforts and had of late begun to struggle due to lack of funds.Over and above several national parks strewn around the country, the authority is also the custodian of Zimbabwe’s premier tourist destination — the Victoria Falls.
In an interview, ZimParks public relations manager Mr Tinashe Farawo, said the authority hopes to scale up and meet its mandate with the opening of the tourism space.
“Last week Government gave us the greenlight to open our national parks to visitors, so we have made a decision to open most of the parks,” said Mr Farawo.
“We rely mostly on tourism to fund our conservation activities and this includes law enforcement as well as reacting to human/wildlife conflict incidents.
“Over the past three months, we have been facing serious challenges in terms of responding within reasonable time, to human/wildlife conflict incidents because we were not generating income,” he said.
Mr Farawo said the authority had put in place measures to make sure the parks will not be new Covid-19 hotspots.
“We are putting mechanisms in place to ensure that our people will be safe, we don’t want to be a source of Covid-19. All our staff are undergoing the mandatory Covid-19 test so that they are ready to receive visitors. We are busy regularly sanitising areas, which visitors patronise, we will also be doing the basic screening checks for our visitors.
“We want to assure visitors that as ZimParks, we are doing all reasonably possible to guarantee their safety and thus urge them to visit our parks,” he said.
The opening of parks comes after the country recorded 1 034 cases and 19 deaths from Covid 19 as of yesterday afternoon. The Government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to contain the pandemic and tough measures are being put in place to stop cross border drivers from smuggling people, some of them Covid-19 positive into the country.
The pandemic has disrupted global value chains as countries sealed their borders and international airports as part of a host of measures to contain the disease.