Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris
Ecotourism & Conservation in Zimbabwe
By traveling with Cheesemans’ to Zimbabwe, you are playing a vital role in a documentable conservation success story. We have learned that the only way to mitigate human-wildlife conflict is for the communities to gain more benefit than harm from their coexistence with the animals. The lodges and camps where you stay employ staff from as close as possible, and because the camps are on public lands, the communities have a voice in the development and management of the properties. For example, one village bordering Hwange National Park did not want a tent camp to be built. They voted to have permanent structures, so our operator built the lodges according to the specifications deemed by the village and trained and hired local people to do the work. The local people are invested in the success of tourism due to employment opportunities, a sense of ownership from decision-making, and tangible life-improving impacts. They reap benefits from tourism that outweigh the cost of damage caused by occurrences like animals crossing through their crops or killing their chickens. They feel a need to protect the animals that people travel to see because ecotourism is the primary source of their livelihoods.
Zimbabwe’s ecotourism industry in Hwange National Park supports the wildlife and its bordering human citizens in multiple ways. The most essential element required for both is water – water in a land with no natural sources in the dry season. The safari lodges build and support vital pumps in the park for the animals and in the villages for the people. The lodges and camps also create a presence in remote areas which eradicates opportunities for poaching. In addition to offering protection for animals that reside in Hwange, our operator has successfully reintroduced white rhino back into the park. The thriving animal population in Hwange benefits local people by creating employment opportunities and funding services such as fire protection, healthcare, nutrition, education, and sports. This, in turn, encourages the people to live symbiotically with the animals.
How Can You Make A Difference?
How You Can Actively Contribute
- Give a talk about your experience to a local wildlife or nature group or host a virtual webinar to reach a much wider audience!
- Post your experiences on social media so others can learn more.
- Submit a written, video, or audio testimonial for Cheesemans’ to share with future travelers.
- Support local vendors if you buy memorabilia to take home.
- Travel in small group sizes to limit the impact on the environment and wildlife.
- Bring a reusable water bottle to refill rather than accepting plastic bottles.
- Ask for the lodging to not replace your towels or bedding during multiple night stays.
- Turn off lights and fans when leaving your room.
Organizations You Can Support
Imvelo Safari Lodges – Wildlife Protection Solutions, a nonprofit entity, manages the contributions for Imvelo’s conservation and community development work. Imvelo’s top priority is maintaining 18 wildlife pumps and 80 community wells, Hwange’s only water sources in the dry season, and continuing to add more of these vital resources. Imvelo also heavily supports the infrastructure and day-to-day needs in education, healthcare, nutrition, and sports for villages neighboring Hwange. Imvelo understands the need for and fosters a positive relationship between human and wildlife neighbors.
Painted Dog Conservation – This nonprofit seeks to protect and grow the population of painted dogs (also known as African wild dogs) in Hwange National Park. Painted dogs are among the most endangered animal species today and are most at risk because of snares, vehicular accidents, and shootings. PDC engages in antipoaching practices, pack monitoring, and rehabilitation for injured dogs, and because humans are the primary source of harm to the painted dogs, community outreach and education is elemental to their efforts. In addition, PDC runs bush camps for local children to foster a culture of protection in citizens from a young age and establishes nutritional gardens with irrigation systems in the communities whose children attend the camps.