Gonarezhou Conservation Trust
Partnering to protect Zimbabwe's ‘Place of Elephants’
Gonarezhou means ‘place of elephants’ in Zimbabwe’s Shona language. Population estimates regularly exceed 10,000 animals. The dry savanna woodlands with their diverse plant communities, the four river basins and the extensive pans provide habitat for a regionally unique community of reptiles and amphibians, an estimated 500 species of birds, 50 species of fish and about150 species of mammals, including Nyala antelopes and growing populations of predators like lions and African wild dogs.
Gonarezhou National Park is an integral part of one of the largest conservation areas in the world. The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park connects protected areas of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa in a conservation area covering about 35,000 square kilometres.
A Conservation Partnership
One of the main objectives of the FZS Gonarezhou Conservation Project was to introduce rhinos, but several limitations, one of which was inadequate manpower, prevented this. Exploring options to finance staff salaries and based on the trust between FZS and the Zimbabwean wildlife management authority, the idea of the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT) was born.
Today, the GCT is a local registered Trust in Zimbabwe with a mandate to assume management responsibility of the Gonarezhou National Park. The Trust officially started to operate in March 2017 and good progress has been made. It is foreseen that rhinos could be introduced to Gonarezhou in 2019.
Structure and staff
The Senior Management consists of a Trust Director, Area Manager and Finance and Administration Manager, based in Chipinda Pools. A key component of the human resource policy is to employ staff from communities adjacent to the Park whenever possible.