The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority is a government department which is responsible for managing and administering game parks and wildlife. It operates under the ministry of Environment and Tourism. It manages one of the largest estates in the country, about 5 million hectares of land or 13% of Zimbabwe's total land area. Most of the national parks are located in agro-ecological regions four and five which are marginal to agricultural production. The Authority has a mandate to manage the entire wildlife population of Zimbabwe, whether on private or communal lands.
The organ operates under the Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975. The Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975 made provisions for devolving the responsibility to manage and benefit from wildlife from the Sate to alienated landholders through the granting of Appropriate Authority status. The provision of Appropriate Authority status to freehold landholders proved to be a catalyst in getting farmers to adopt wildlife as a land use with many farmers mixing wildlife with other farming activities. This saw a massive expansion of the private wildlife industry in the country. This also set the basis for the development of conservancies. The Parks and Wildlife Act was amended in 1982 to accommodate the residents of communal lands. This was effected through giving the AA status to Rural District Councils. This saw the conception and practice of the Community areas management programme for indigenous resources (CAMPFIRE).
Zimbabwe's National Parks
These are areas managed and run by the Authority and provide visitors with leisure and accommodation facilities such as lodges, chalets, cottages, caravan sites, camping sites and picnic areas. No hunting is allowed in the National Parks as the Authority endeavors to preserve the pristine and original nature of these areas. Zimbabwe has eleven National Parks, each of which offers vastly contrasting and fulfilling wilderness experiences. The Parks are located around the country and the visitors are mainly attracted by a variety of scenic, cultural and wildlife experiences.
- Hwange National Park
- Kazuma Pan
- Mana Pools
- Nyanga National Park
- Victoria Falls National Park
Most of the recreational facilities administered by the authority are located within or close to the national parks mentioned above; especially around, lakes, dams and water bodies.It goes without saying that the Authority is mandated with the managing of the country's aquatic life, flora and fauna within the parks as well as to monitor the impact of recreational activities on the environment. Recreational facilities administered by the Parks and Wildlife Authority are as follows;
- Chinhoyi Caves
- Matobo Dam
- Osborne Dam
There are also sanctuary where animals threatened with extinction are kept. These include Mushandike, Tshabalala and Eland Sanctuary. Botanical gardens where exotic an indigenous species of trees are protected are also administered by the authority. These include for example Bunga forestry in Matabeleland and Vumba in the Manicaland province. The authority also runs Safari areas where controlled hunting is permitted. These include Tuli and Matetsi ranges.
Cyanide and Poaching Scandals
In 2014, there were incidences in which at least one hundred elephants were killed using cyanide poison with the hope of getting ivory which is on high demand on the international market. A ministerial taskforce comprising Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere and also included Sydney Sekeramayi (Defence), Kembo Mohadi (Home Affairs), Ignatius Chombo (Local Government), Jonathan Moyo (Information) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism and Hospitality) was put in place to investigate the case. The first step was made to ensure that all villagers in the affected areas of Tsholotsho and Hwange to surrender all their cyanide chemicals to the authorities. Numerous cases of poaching have also exposed the authority's failure to safeguard the country's wildlife.
- The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, "Zimbabwe National CBRNM Forum", retrieved:07 Oct 2014"
- , Profile, "Zim Parks and Wildlife Authority", retrieved:07 Oct 2014"
- T. Macheka, Minister fingers govt officials in cyanide poisoning, "The Zimbabwe Mail", published:15 Apr 2014,retrieved:07 Oct 2014"
- N. Bhebhe and R. Muponde, Cyanide scandal: Govt exposed, "Newsday", retrieved:07 Oct 2014"