Water for Wildlife: Zimbabwe 2024

Hwange National Park, spanning 14,651-square-kilometers, serves as sanctuary for African elephants and diverse wildlife, especially during the dry season from May to November. This biodiverse region plays a crucial role in conservation efforts within the KAZA Trans-frontier Conservation Area.

KAZA, a conservation collaboration bewteen Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, is the world’s largest terrestrial transboundary conservation area, covering an impressive 200,000 square miles (520,000 square kilometers) – a size larger than California. It harbors three World Heritage Sites and is home to over half of Africa’s remaining savanna or bush elephants (Loxodonta africana).

Despite its size, Hwange National Park faces challenges during dry periods. In response to the severe 2004 drought, the Friends of Hwange Trust was established to support the park’s water infrastructure. Limited funding had led to wildlife fatalities due to insufficient water points.

Since 2005, Friends of Hwange has embraced solar technology advancements to create eco-friendly water points, replacing traditional diesel engines and windmills. From May to November 2024, Global Humane is partnering to maintain five critical water points, crucially supporting the survival of approximately 6,000 elephants and a myriad of other wildlife species every day.

The selected pans—Dom Pan, Nyamandlovhu Pan, Boss Long One, Guvalala Pan, and Shapi—represent 5% of Hwange’s watering holes and cover 20% of Friends of Hwange Trust’s area. These strategic locations along wildlife routes require ongoing maintenance for wildlife protection and tourism.

Our project involves daily monitoring of water availability, road upkeep, and enhancements to concrete troughs. Three pans feature dual boreholes and solar pumping systems, while two have single boreholes with solar arrays. Additionally, two pans are equipped with battery systems for nighttime pumping, aligning with wildlife drinking patterns. Daily monitoring serves a dual purpose, ensuring any animals in need of assistance are identified and rescued.

Amidst challenges like the recent harsh rainy season, we remain committed to efficient water management. Our efforts include constant monitoring of borehole replenishment rates to meet varying elephant needs. Flow meters track daily water volumes, helping us swiftly address any issues.

Our goal is clear: to provide sustainable water access for Hwange’s diverse wildlife, particularly elephants and buffalo. Through proactive maintenance and monitoring, we aim to safeguard this precious ecosystem and its inhabitants.