The Zambezi Valley, on Zimbabwe’s northern border with Zambia and Mozambique, is a vast area consisting of many unique ecosystems that support a diverse range of wildlife, including part of the world’s second largest elephant population. Numbers in the valley are now estimated to stand at about 16,000, but since 2001, the Great Elephant Census survey showed a decline of 40 percent in the Lower Zambezi elephant population and 75 percent in the Middle Zambezi elephant population.

Rhinos, which once freely roamed the Zambezi Valley in high numbers, were wiped out before any meaningful preventative action could take place—we cannot allow the same to happen to elephants. The Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF), a GWC-supported organization, was founded to prevent this from becoming reality by establishing a locally based, central support unit that could, collaboratively, reinforce conservation efforts in the valley. There are clear indicators that the collaboration between most entities on the ground is making a considerable difference in the Lower Zambezi Valley.

Elephants in Water
Photo by: John Stevens

Achievements through collaboration


Various collaborating partners raised funds that ZEF's partner Tashinga Initiative Trust implemented to build a strategically placed base within Mana Pools National Park. It now accommodates 24 rangers, adding considerably to the strength of anti-poaching efforts in the Lower Zambezi with more men on the ground and quicker reaction times.

The Zambezi Society, with whom ZEF also has a strong working relationship, has held various weapons training courses for rangers, improving both morale and skills.

The Zambezi Society and volunteers have deployed rangers, and Bushlife Support Unit has set up tactically placed fly camps and opened up tracks, especially on the southern boundary.

Flying for Wildlife provides aerial support and surveillance, working closely with the park wardens and marking co-ordinates, assessing and recording water sources, carcasses, etc.

Zambezi Rangers
Deployment of rangers. (Photo courtesy of Zambezi Elephant Fund)

Project Goals

By working alongside the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, ZEF’s overall aim is to empower communities, support specialist organizations, and to streamline fundraising efforts for implementers and operators.

Zambezi Elephant Fund:

  • Provides resources to communities and organisations enforcing anti-poaching measures and regulations.
  • Constructs ranger outposts and training facilities, equipping and motivating rangers.
  • Implements a community-inclusive conservation model, which addresses the needs of the community while getting them actively engaged in conservation efforts.
  • Procures the latest technology and surveillance equipment for ranger teams.
  • Achieves sustainable and long-term operations in the Zambezi Valley.

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