Ahead of the launch of the new project HUM-ANI (of which the operational phase started in 2021) and building on the outcomes of the EU-funded project ProSuLi (2018-2022), 40 partner and stakeholder representatives of the network Hwange LTSER held a consultative meeting in the Hwange District, in the Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe on September 29, 2021.
For acronyms and additional context, please refer to the bottom of the page.
Hwange LTSER’s partners and stakeholders meeting
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this stakeholder network focusing on development and conservation has remained low for a couple of years. However, prior to the pandemic, members used to meet regularly to discuss issues and opportunities related to the coexistence of people, wild animals and the role of protected areas in the wider landscape (biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, people livelihoods and well-being).
Participants to the September meeting were drawn from Zimbabwean and South-African institutions such as protected parks, conservation and research groups, NGOs, local communities (traditional leaders), governmental institutions, as well as the private sector: WildCRU, Painted Dog Conservation, Wilderness safaris, French national institute for sustainable research development (IRD), Cirad, CNRS, Hwange Rural District Council, Chezhou Primary School, the Forestry Commission, Gwayi Valley Conservancy, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Nelson Mandela University, Project ProSuli, Village Magoli, the Ministry of Education of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) of Zimbabwe.
The meeting relied on the long-term engagement of both the Zone-Atelier Hwange (ZA Hwange) and the Research Platform Production and Conservation in Partnership (RP-PCP), which involve various partners:
- French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
- French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)
- French Agricultural Research and International Cooperation Organization (Cirad)
In South Africa
The meeting started with a presentation by Prof. Hervé Fritz, summarising the major research achievements conducted by the French and Zimbabwean institutions involved in ZA Hwange and RP-PCP for more than two decades: experience gained and lessons learnt in the field of research in Hwange and similar protected areas. Prof. Fritz noted that these achievements should be used to enhance future projects, calling for new research foci and approaches in order to reach optimal results for people and the environment.
The stakeholders then discussed the role of research and researchers in the Hwange context, providing the HUM-ANI project with an operational framework for its ground activities, in order to ensure maximum advantage for the participating institutions, including local communities. The project HUM-ANI promotes basic and applied research, with extensive capacity building and stakeholder’s engagement, focusing on the impact of Climate Change on interactions between humans, domestic and wild animals, and the consequences on infectious disease risks. HUM-ANI’s activities will be implemented in Zimbabwe, in two Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) in Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) and Limpopo, where connectivity between countries has been designed to promote conservation and local development.
Local Chief Nelukoba expressed his gratitude towards the project’s partners for considering the Hwange District as one of the beneficiaries. Moreover, Chief Nelukoba highlighted the area’s unique wildlife and natural resources, noting the crucial importance of the project HUM-ANI in terms of research and conservation support. Though he also urged the partners to engage in the project meaningfully, by including local women and youth, particularly children. He also suggested that headmen (traditional leaders right below the chiefs) should be part of it too, as they are at the grassroots implementation level of the project.
Adding on the same topic, KAZA TFCA National Coordinator, Godfrey Mtare, said: “When designing research/projects, these should be linked to something on the ground. We should not only concentrate on research but also on impact. Youth participation in the project would be key as these would form a new generation of scientists”.
Coordinators of the project HUM-ANI, ZA Hwange and the RP-PCP took these constructive remarks into consideration and plan to align their research, engagement strategy, and field actions with the stakeholders’ wishes.
The Research Platform Production and Conservation in Partnership (RP-PCP)
The RP-PCP is historically and closely linked to the Zone Atelier Hwange (ZA Hwange). Their vision is to contribute to self-sustaining and functional social-ecological systems for the betterment of life of people and animals within southern African protected areas and their periphery. To achieve this vision, ZA Hwange and the RP-PCP strengthen national and regional research capacities, by co-designing and implementing demand-driven research-action through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches.
Hwange Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research site (Hwange LTSER)
The Hwange LTSER hosts a long-term interdisciplinary research project to understand the dynamics of a savannah socio-ecosystem of the Hwange National Park (~ 15000 km²) and its periphery, located in the Northwestern border of Zimbabwe. This system, characterized by important environmental and societal changes, is part of the largest transboundary conservation area in the world: the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).