History of Friends of Hwange
Friends of Hwange was formed on the back of the extreme drought of 2005 that severely affected Hwange National Park. The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe, plagued by lack of funding and a decrease in tourist arrivals, did not have the funds to keep enough borehole pumps going. As a result, only a handful of waterholes had water and countless animals died.
Hwange National Park has very little natural surface water during the dry months of the year. Most of the water has to be pumped from underground sources to surface pans so that the wildlife can drink.
- FOH Mission Statement
- to develop and maintain water resources in Hwange National Park for the benefit of its wildlife, in collaboration with the Authorities responsible for the Park;
- to develop and maintain opportunities for the conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources in the Park so that it will be enjoyed by the generations to come;
- to assist in the attainment of national objectives for wildlife conservation, with particular reference to Hwange National Park.
- Crisis management: To ensure that FOH does every thing in its power to prevent animal deaths owing to lack of water.
- To assist National Parks in carrying out their duties in terms of deployment of rangers on anti-poaching patrols.
- To maintain roads and fireguards in the park.
- To work towards a situation where there are sufficient well-distributed waterholes in Hwange National Park that pump water through eco-friendly, cost-effective means.
- To expand our efforts in conservation issues such as anti-poaching, animal rescue and research.
- Wildlife: a Precious Resource
Hwange National Park is one of Zimbabwe’s most valuable resources. The tourism industry relies heavily on wildlife as a major attraction and revenue earner. Hwange boasts various private safari camps camps which provide employment and are a significant help with the supply of water to wildlife, anti-poaching and maintenance of roads, but they cannot sustain the upkeep of the park. Tourism in Zimbabwe has been depressed due to political turmoil in the country and this has effected Hwange National Park’s main source of funds. Friends of Hwange Trust has stepped in to assist until such time as tourism generates sufficient funds to run operations in the park once again.
- What We Do
- To start with FOH was responsible for 10 key northern waterholes in Hwange National Park. Today we are responsible for all of the pans in and around the Main Camp area.
- Owing to the expense of diesel (a single borehole engine uses around 500 litres a month) alternative methods of pumping water have been explored. Whilst windmills are robust and affordable, their pumping capacities are limited. Their function is to provide a head start so that waterholes are as full as possible by the start of the long dry season, thereby reducing diesel requirements for the drier months. Solar systems drastically reduce fuel requirements but pump water during daylight hours only, and this is often insufficient to meet the demands of the wildlife
- In the dry season (July – November) the demand for available water increases, mainly due to elephant pressure. We are currently working towards solutions to provide sufficient water using solar energy which is both eco-friendly and cost effective.
The People of Friends of Hwange
Dave Dell, Beck Edwards, Barry Wolhuter, Ken Jenkins, Dave St Quintin and John Brebner are trustees of Friends of Hwange. Gary Cantle is our resident Hwange NP man on the ground and is responsible for carrying out the day to day work of FOH.
- All trustees are passionate about preserving Zimbabwe’s most precious resources for future generations despite the turbulence Zimbabwe has experienced in recent years. The trustees work on a voluntary basis, and receive no monetary compensation for their time.
- After many years, Gary finds himself living once again in the Park, he spent his early years growing up there when his father was a warden at Main Camp.