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Thursday, December 6, 2012


         Newsletter of THE ZAMBEZI SOCIETY

The Zambezi Society is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation.
We promote and conserve the valuable wildlife and wilderness resources of the Zambezi Basin for the benefit of wilderness, wildlife and people

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If you have not already made a supporting donation to the work of THE ZAMBEZI SOCIETY this year, please do so.


In this issue:
Mana Pools-Chewore: Heavy Minerals Sands mining exploration
SAVE MANA POOLS Facebook Campaign Logo Competition
Vine Camp tourism development: EIA under revision
Zambezi Valley chosen for RAMSAR Wetland listing
Chisipite Grade 6 Schoolgirls raise more money for rhino conservation
Leopard project nears completion
Zimparks Strategic Planning
Bird Checklist for Mana Pools reprinted
Kariba Dam Hydro expansion - no extra water-use allocation allowed
Batoka Dam Hydro-electric scheme: Zamsoc would like to hear from stakeholders
Zamsoc staff Changes and FUNDING APPEAL


UNESCO’s response
The Zambezi Society is delighted to report that the Zimbabwe National Commission of UNESCO, which is responsible for overseeing matters of relevance to the country’s World Heritage properties, has taken seriously the concerns about mining exploration within the Mana Pools/Sapi/Chewore World Heritage Site brought to its attention by the Zambezi Society.  Earlier this year, UNESCO and a group of government stakeholders undertook a site visit to Mana Pools.  This was followed by high level detailed consultations with technical and legal advisors in the public and private sectors.  As a result of its findings, UNESCO Zimbabwe has advised the World Heritage Centre in Paris that it strongly “discourages mining or mineral exploration in the World Heritage property and its immediate environs” and that the mining project on the Ruckomechi and Chewore rivers will not be allowed.  It states that such a project “negatively impacts on the Outstanding Universal Values of the World Heritage Site” and that mining activities would “jeopardise all conservation initiatives within the Park”.

If the project proponents ignore the recommendations of UNESCO, Zimbabwe will be faced with a situation where UNESCO may withdraw World Heritage Site status for the Mana Pools-Sapi-Chewore area and place the property on the “Sites in Danger” list.

Tourism Authority briefed
In the meantime the Zambezi Society has met with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to brief them on this issue and our concerns about it.  The ZTA is preparing for Zimbabwe to co-host with Zambia the next meeting of the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Victoria Falls in August 2013. 

Things have gone ominously quiet since the stakeholders meeting held on 31 August 2012 by the proponents of this mining exploration project (Habbard Investments) and the consultants appointed to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), (Impaco). Impaco promised to arrange an interview with the Zambezi Society soon after this workshop but, in spite of our prompting this has not materialised. A further attempt to arrange a meeting was made recently– this seems to have failed. It is with disappointment that we note that due process is not being followed. Stakeholders were criticised by the proponents for talking about this issue in the public domain. Sadly this “closed door” approach leaves stakeholders with few alternatives.

More details about possible mining processes
The Zambezi Society has been finding out more about what heavy minerals sands mining might involve.  We stress that the current EIA process is seeking permission only to EXPLORE,  not to mine.  However, the next logical step would be for the proponents to apply for a mining EIA.    Two potential mining methods are possible.  Both would unavoidably have adverse impacts on the river and its environs. The most likely mining method (Dry Mining) would be highly destructive.  For more detail, on possible mining methods and their implications, please see the PDF file attached to this newsletter:-  Heavy Mineral Sand Mining.   

The legalities
Meanwhile, close reading of the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Act shows that the Mines and Minerals Act does NOT (as is often thought) supercede all other Acts of Parliament (and effectively give mining a free rein).  The ultimate responsibility of allowing mining operations within a National Park lies with Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment or the President.   This raises interesting potential for recourse to the law should the necessity arise in defending Mana Pools & Chewore from mining activities.  However, this would be an expensive exercise for which the Zambezi Society will require substantial funding. 
If you are in a position to help, we would like to hear from you.  (See the Funding Appeal at the end of this Bulletin).

The Zambezi Society is pleased to note that the international community is showing interest and support in opposing mining – exploration or otherwise – in the Mana-Sapi-Chewore World Heritage Site – through the revived Facebook campaign SAVE MANA POOLS
To create awareness of the issues, the campaign’s international supporters have organized a competition for Zimbabwean schoolchildren to design a SAVE MANA POOLS Logo, and have put up a prize of $1000 for the school with the best entry.   Entries for the competition closed on 30th November 2012.   A panel of judges has been selected and judging will take place in the first week of December.
This is excellent work, and we thank the campaign for its support.

Find out more on the SAVE MANA POOLS Facebook page. 
You can view the logo entries online HERE

As a result of formal objections from the Zambezi Society and other stakeholders, and following a site visit and consultations by UNESCO’s Zimbabwe National Commission, the EIA for Mana Pools Safari Camp (the 24-bed tourism lodge under construction at the Vine Camp site in Mana Pools) has been recognised as being “flawed” and is currently being revised.

UNESCO Zimbabwe has requested the project proponent (ECIS Investments) and the consultant (Vibes Consultancy Services) to address the following in the revised document:-
i)   Carry out a comprehensive public consultation
ii)  Revise the baseline information on the EIA document
iii) Revise the legal framework to incorporate bi-lateral and multi-lateral conventions
iv) Provide  an Environmental Management Plan for waste generated on site, control of human and vehicular traffic and energy use.

Meanwhile, The Zambezi Society has been asked to comment on some proposed revisions to the EIA. These involved changes to the design of the camp’s staff building in line with  recommendations made by the Zambezi Society in its objection to the development’s original EIA, as well as proposed changes to the original septic tank/soakaway system. 

To see the full text of the consultant’s proposed revisions and the Society’s response to these, click on the downloadable PDF’s below:

b) Vine Site development Zambezi Society reply to revised EIA October 2012

Zimbabwe is signatory to a number of international environmental agreements, (e.g. CITES), but it is only in the last two years that it has undergone the formal process of becoming a fully-fledged member of RAMSAR  - the International Convention on Wetlands.  This it should achieve by March 2013, if certain criteria are met.

In late October this year, two international representatives from RAMSAR visited Zimbabwe to meet with government and non-government organisations working for wetland conservation.  They toured various Zimbabwean wetland areas which have been proposed for inclusion on the RAMSAR list of Wetland Sites.   The Middle Zambezi River (from Kariba Dam downstream to Chewore – including Mana Pools) is one of the proposed sites, and The Zambezi Society’s Education Officer, Leslee Maasdorp, who is a member of the Zimbabwe National Wetlands Committee, went with them.

At the end of their tour, it was declared that the following were to be listed as the first Zimbabwean RAMSAR sites:-
Monavale Vlei (Harare)
Lake Chivero/Manyame complex (just outside Harare)
Middle Zambezi Valley/Mana Pools National Park
Chinhoyi Caves


The yearly “Save the Rhino” fund-raising efforts of Chisipite Junior School for Girls in Harare have once again astounded the Zambezi Society.  This year, the Grade Six pupils raised more than $7500! 

The money was received by the Society’s Projects Manager, Peter Musto (left) at a recent “Rhino Assembly” at the school.   This is a truly phenomenal effort on the part of these young schoolgirls.  We congratulate the school and its pupils and staff for decades (literally) of committed fund-raising for rhino conservation.  What a valuable lesson all these girls are learning!

The Society will be reporting back to the school on the use of the funds in our project to assist the Parks and Wildlife Authority in the Matusadona National Park, to monitor and protect the few remaining black rhino in the Park.

The Zimbabwe Leopard Project started in 2010 and should be completed by the end of this year. The project is a collaboration between The Zambezi Society, WildCRU(Oxford University) and the Zimbabwe National Parks Authority ZPWMA, and is funded by the Darwin Initiative UK

Peter Musto,  Operations Director at the Zambezi Society, gives an overview of what the project has accomplished as it draws to an end:-

“There are various aspects to the survey including GPS tracking, DNA analysis of tissue taken from trophies, DNA analysis from scat samples, trophy measurement data, management data(quotas and off-take) and spoor density surveys – the latter being probably the most important aspect of the project.

The aim of doing a spoor survey is to get an index that can be used for comparative purposes and not to get an actual number of cats in an area. There are a number of factors that affect leopard densities such as prey abundance, hunting/poaching impacts, habitat and competition from other predators, especially lion. For this reason the surveys required the recording of all mammal species, detailed vegetation and substrate descriptions and spoor measurements for both leopard and lion. The purpose of doing spoor measurements of individual cats is to ascertain male/female and sub-adult male/sub-adult female ratios etc.

Initially, the aim was to do a minimum of seventeen surveys countrywide.   But in fact twenty surveys have been completed, with the possibility of one or two surveys being added before the end of the year.  In Northern Region, surveys have been done in Mana Pools, Nyakasanga, Rifa, Hurungwe Mukwichi(Campfire), Dande South/Dande North(Campfire) and Chewore North. In Southern Region. surveys have been done in Save conservancy, Malilangwe, Gonarezhou, Chipinge Safari Area and an area within Chiredzi RDC(Campfire).  In Central Region, surveys have been completed in Chizarira, Chirisa/Sengwa and Omay South(Campfire). Chete remains to be done but will probably only be done next year. In Western Region, surveys have been done in Matetsi, Hwange - Sinamatella, Hwange - Ngamo,Ngamo/Sikumi forestry area and an area in the communal lands around Victoria Falls.  Surveys are currently being done in Hwange South and Tsholotsho. 

In the late 1980s it was estimated that Zimbabwe had a leopard population of about 85 000 and on the strength of that estimate Zimbabwe was allocated a CITES hunting quota of 500 trophies per year.  However, the highest number of leopard that have been hunted (and officially tagged) in any one year is just over 320.  This suggests that the either the hunting quota has been set too high or that the estimated country-wide population is unrealistic.

Until recently, leopard research had been carried out in isolated pockets around the country, but there had never been a comprehensive, countrywide survey.  This was obviously sorely needed to try to get a more accurate idea of the status of the leopard population.    

As a result of the recent Zimbabwe Leopard Survey project, therefore, we will soon have a far better understanding of the status of the species in each area and countrywide.  This will result in more realistic and sustainable hunting quotas being allocated to each concession area.  The analysis of all the data collected will be carried out by Dr Andy Loveridge and his team at Oxford University (Wild Conservation Research Unit WILDCRU) and should hopefully be available by the end of 2012.

I'd like to thank Dusty Joubert for the surveys he did in Southern Region, Tanith Grant and Rhett Bennett for the surveys they did in Central Region, Justice Muvengwi for the surveys he did in Northern Region and Matt Mundy for the surveys he did in Western Region. Most of the surveys carried out in Western Region have been done by the WildCRU team. Roger Parry of Wild Horizons did the communal land survey around Vic Falls and Graham Van Der Ruit did the Hurungwe Mukwichi survey in Central Region.     

Special thanks must go to Toyota Zimbabwe for their very generous support in the way of a sponsored vehicle for the Northern Region surveys.  Thanks to Rose Mandisodza, senior ecologist ZPWMA, for all her work on this project. Thanks also to all the trackers, Parks and RDC, who have been involved in the project who, without exception did a great job.

Finally, A very special thank you to Dr Andy Loveridge and his team at WildCRU(Oxford) for planning and coordinating the project from the start and for all the work that they’ve done on it.”

In October 2012, The Zambezi Society was invited, along with several other stakeholders and Parks support entities, to the opening day of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s strategic planning session.  Our Strategic Director, Richard Maasdorp attended and reports:

“This workshop was professionally and efficiently facilitated.   The Society was specifically thanked for the work done in support of Zambezi Valley Parks both on-the-ground as well as on the advocacy side.

We indicated our need to, where at all possible, be part of all planning workshops where the Zambezi Basin is concerned, or at least be advised of the outcomes, as this will help us position ourselves to provide the most effective assistance to Parks.

We strongly supported the Parks intention to adopt a "Results Based Management System" which involves the setting of clear goals, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. We specifically highlighted that the aspects of evaluation and monitoring need to be strengthened on all the on-station projects in which we have been, and are involved.

There seemed to be almost total support to lobby at all levels to prevent mining in the Parks Estate and any other environmentally destabilising activities.
The audience were reminded that Mana Pools-Sap-Chewore is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a Core Area of the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve.

We look forward to receiving the relevant agreed outputs once the workshop report is completed.

ZamSoc have submitted a draft MoU to cover all its generic activities with the ZimParks Authority and a specific MoU covering its monitoring and support activities in Matusadona National Park with a prime focus on the black rhino.”

The Zambezi Society’s popular bird checklists for Mana Pools and the Kariba area have been updated and the old names replaced with the new ones (Roberts Seventh Edition Field Guide 2007), thanks to painstaking work by Dr. Ian Riddell. 

We would like to thank Ian Riddell and also  PRINTWORKS in Harare for very generously sponsoring the reprint. 

The checklists can be found at the Zambezi Society office in Harare and at Zambezi Valley National Parks Stations in Marongora and Mana Pools for a US$1 donation to the Society.

The proposed addition of extra hydro-electric  generating turbines over the next 2 - 4 years on the North (Zambian) and South (Zimbabwean) banks at Kariba Dam has raised some concerns about future lake levels in Lake Kariba.  

However, the Zambezi Water Authority (ZRA), which operates on behalf of both the Zambian and Zimbabwean Governments, is the custodian of the Kariba Dam wall and has the mandate to allocate water to both power generation utilities on both the North and South bank. 

The Zambezi Society understands that the ZRA engineers use current and historical hydrological data from monitoring stations up and downstream of the dam to manage water usage.   We are informed that both power utilities have a yearly water-usage allocation  and that they both  use their full allocation most years.  The expansion of the power utilities on both sides will, we are told,  allow additional peaking power to be made available.  “But over the course of each year, power generation will need to be managed within the current water allocation”. 

In other words, no extra water use will be allowed, even when the new turbines are fully operational. 

There have been recent reports in the local press to the effect that the Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Station, a joint project between Zimbabwe and Zambia will take off in November 2012, with the World Bank as a partner.

A spokesperson for the Zambezi River Authority which owns the project, Elizabeth Karonga, said the World Bank has already come on board, adding that another environmental impact assessment programme will be done before the project takes off. Karonga announced that progress is already underway for the building of an access road on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River. 
As a major stakeholder, The Zambezi Society intends to play a role in the EIA for this project.

We would like to hear from other interested and affected parties in order to discuss a co-ordinated approach.

Advocacy is one of the Zambezi Society’s core competencies. The success of well directed and successful advocacy is so very important for the long term health of our wilderness areas and sustainability of the biodiversity of the Zambezi Basin.   Our campaign to defend the Mana Pools-Sapi-Chewore World Heritage Site from mining activities is a case in point.

Sadly funding for this vital activity is hard to come by.

Yet costs mount up, particularly if we need to seek legal advice.   
We have made the decision to reduce the Society’s core costs and will maintain its effectiveness by using technology and our committed, diverse and professional range of volunteers.

It is with regret that the services of two long serving members of staff have been terminated. We take this opportunity, on behalf of our members, and other beneficiaries of our efforts, over the years to thank Evyline Makore (17 years, bookkeeper and administration) and Eddie Hodzi (12 years, office clerk ).
Should any member have an employment opportunity for these two wonderful and effective contributors please email us at  or

We encourage corporate and individual supporters worldwide to contact us directly if they feel they can assist with the costs of our advocacy activities.
You can also make a contribution to our General Fund via our website at this link:-  SUPPORT US   

The Zambezi Society
Conserving the valuable wildlife and wilderness resources of the Zambezi River and its basin
Harare Office: Mukuvisi Woodlands, Msasa, Harare, Zimbabwe.  Tel: + 263 (0)4 747004 
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