Langton Nyakwenda recently in Matusadonha

Providing equal opportunities for women should be taken seriously, as they have the capacity to also enhance wildlife conservation, a ZimParks official has said.

Officiating at a passout parade for 33 game rangers who graduated at Matusadona National Park on Friday last week, ZimParks director-general Mr Fulton Mangwanya called for more women involvement in the country’s wildlife management drive.

It is believed that the country’s national parks have the capacity to attract investors, create employment and grow the economy towards the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

“I want to congratulate you for completing this three-month gruelling course.

“I know it was not easy,” Mr Mangwanya told the delegates, who included ZimParks board chairperson Mr Agripah Sora.

The event was also graced by Chief Mola and Chief Nebire, who both pledged to work with ZimParks in enhancing wildlife conservation.

“Today we have 31 men and two women graduating – only two women.

“At this point let me point out that the issue of gender equity in employment and any other sphere of national interest should be taken seriously and improved,” said Mr Mangwanya.

Ms Melinda Rushinga was the chief instructor for the three-month training programme for the rangers, who are seen as a vital cog in the fight against poaching.

“It gives me pleasure to be a chief instructor in a male-dominated field.

“I feel women should be involved more in this cause to protect our wildlife, which is a source of wealth for the country,” said the 36-year-old.

The world, Zimbabwe included, is currently commemorating International Women’s Month.

Inter Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8 and ran under the theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World.”

Matusadona National Park, which is home to different species of wild animals, including elephants and lions, is flanked by Lake Kariba in the north and two rivers – the Ume and Sanyati – to the south.

It was proclaimed a national park in 1975 and was once a habitat of the Black Rhino.

ZimParks, in partnership with a non-profit making organisation African Parks, intends to restore its former glory.

In November 2019, the two entities signed a 20-year agreement to co-manage the park.

The deal will see African Parks investing about US$50 million to revamp the park, which sits on a 1 470km piece of land.

“The park has the potential to contribute immensely to the national economy of Zimbabwe . . . it is a major employer of so many of our constituencies in the tourism and fishing industry,” Mr Mangwanya said.

Over 70 people from surrounding communities, which are under chiefs Musambakaruma, Nebire, Mola and Negande, are employed at the park.

Chief Nebire, born Wilson Nebire, emphasised the need for local people to co-exist with wild animals.

“We are proud of our animals; they were given to us by God.

“Some have minerals but here we have our elephants and fish.

“People should protect these natural resources which are a huge source of wealth and investment,” he said.

“Our own children from this area have graduated as rangers and we are happy.

“Let’s not invite poachers; let us all join in the fight against poaching.

“We are rich here, we can build schools and bridges and our economy can grow if we conserve these animals.”



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