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Zimbabwe: Landuse in Dry Tropical Savannas

Wildlife systems

National parks; Zimbabwe

Initially, game reserves were established where high concentration of large mammals were found. People realised later that it was futile to conserve wild animals without consideration for the plants, rivers, soils and other components of the environment on which they depend. Consequently, the practice of establishing protected areas only where there were high population of large mammals began to fall away, although this remained the focus of legislation.

National parks in Zimbabwe occupy 12,7% of the total land area. They are located within fragile and infertile ecosystems characterized by skeletal, usually sandy soils in rugged terrain or deep infertile soils with low water holding capacity (1). A case in point are the Kalahari soils found in the area occupied by Hwange National Park.

The National parks, Communal land interface

National parks are on state land and they are managed by the department of National Parks and Wildlife. Traditionally, national parks are run by national parks wardens for the benefit of tourists. Conflicts have often arisen between adjacent communal land and national parks, with hunting expeditions into national parks land by the locals and problem animals invading communal farmers crops. A culture of mistrust and suspicion has developed between national parks wardens and communal farmers over the years.

While protected areas provided long-term conservation benefits, they were not designed to help local people meet their needs. This created hostility towards such areas. Consequently game was slaughtered in communal lands as well as on private farms, especially near protected areas where wild animals frequently ravaged crops and killed livestock.

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