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Richard Branson in Zambezi conservation walk

by Staff reporter
04 Jul 2023 at 13:48hrs | Views
One of the world's richest men and owner of the Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, is in Zimbabwe taking part in the Zambezi Valley Walk for Wild Expedition covering Mana Pools and Matusadona national parks.

Branson arrived in Zimbabwe last week to take part in the month-long event which started on June 6 covering a walking distance of more than 330km through an area of 6,3 million acres of diverse habitat.

The programme is divided into eight different stages with six different teams. The first four stages are being hosted by some of the key conservation stakeholders with whom Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF) works. The final stages will be hosted by ZEF.

Not so long ago, Mana Pools, in the Zambezi Valley, was losing elephants to poaching at an alarming rate.

In 2015, John Stevens, a renowned safari guide and once warden of both Mana Pools and Matusadona national parks, was motivated by the extinction of the wild rhino he had witnessed in the area in the 1980s, and decided to take action in case the same happened to elephants.

This led to the formation of ZEF with assistance of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks).

ZimParks, with the assistance of a range of conservation partners on the ground and through the support of donors, has managed to keep the elephant population in the lower Zambezi Valley stable.

"Overall, ZEF is aiming to share a unique perspective of the work being done on the ground by a range of contributors — those impacting the solutions and success stories as well as adapting to the ongoing needs of this iconic landscape," ZEF executive director James Egremont-Lee said.

The Zambezi Valley Walk for Wild Expedition was borne out of an idea by Stevens and the ZEF team two years ago with the aim of bringing together conservation stakeholders and enthusiasts in a collaborative exercise that would focus on conservation success as well as highlight the challenges and ongoing needs of the landscape.

According to a statement from ZEF, the month-long journey, which started in Matusadona and ending in Kanyemba, will also highlight Mana Pools National Park as the beautiful place where ZEF originated.

"This experience promises to be exceptional for both first-time and lifelong visitors who are taking part. Travelling through the most remote sections of the valley and taking in the spectacle of nature both on foot and by canoe, will enable participants to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the conservation story, the human story and the vulnerability of the area.

"The goal of the expedition is to encourage a wide range of participants to spend time immersed in the landscape, with the opportunity to envision what the sustainable future of this iconic valley could look like if resources were combined effectively," ZEF said.

Source - newsday