Antipoaching in Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

by Tracy Kelly

The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of our local wildlife and natural resources.
Surrounded by the Victoria Falls National Park, the town of Victoria Falls is located in one of the most beautiful environments on earth, with unspoilt expanses of wilderness, abundant wildlife and spectacular settings, drawing tourists from around the world.
However with the beauty of the location comes with some heavy burdens of human and animal conflict. VFAPU tries to ease some of the burdens by protecting the wildlife and habitat from poacher pressure (subsistence and commercial), as well rescue and rehabilitate animals injured by human interference. Additionally, we try to train and find employment for ex-poachers so that they have a sustainable income without doing harm to flora and fauna. Education is also important, and VFAPU and its partners try to reach children at an early age through school and community awareness programme.

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The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) was established in January 1999 by Charles Brightman, a local safari operator (Discover Safaris) and conservationist, together with the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. It aims to reduce human-wildlife conflict and protect the valuable and varied flora and fauna of the Falls and its surrounding areas.
The Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is surrounded by the 2,340 ha Victoria Falls National Park and the 57,000 ha Zambezi National Park, bordering the southern bank of the Zambezi river. In recent years, these state-protected areas have unfortunately come under increasing pressure from illegal activities like poaching.
VFAPU aims to reduce the level of destruction taking place, and to rescue wildlife that has been injured or is sick due to human interference.
Having started off with three scouts initially, the unit has grown in strength and now has twelve full-time scouts (all ex-commercial security guards or Parks & Wildlife ex-game-scouts) who actively patrol an area of approximately fifty square kilometres surrounding Victoria Falls. The patrols operate seven days a week, day and/or night in close co-operation with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
The Unit also works hard to educate the communities in and around Victoria Falls about the value of their wildlife resources and to find employment for ex-poachers.
VFAPU is supported by a large number of local companies and organisations, including many from the tourism industry.

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