The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) is a non-profit registered Trust that is committed to the conservation of the African lion (Panthera leo) and the environment in which lions live. ALERT recognizes that conservation of wildlife and habitat will only be successful if the local people surrounding conservation areas participate in, and benefit from, the protection of that wildlife and habitat. ALERT has therefore adopted a responsible development approach to conservation which includes the upliftment of local communities alongside the protection and conservation of wildlife and habitat.
Chizarira National Park (1,910km2) and Chirisa Safari area (1,713km2) are adjacent conservation areas of rugged and scenic landscape; home to elephants, buffalo, lions, leopard, impala, waterbuck, warthog, duiker, eland, sable, zebra, kudu, bushbuck, as well as many other smaller herbivores and carnivores. The birdlife is spectacular with over 400 bird species recorded in Chizarira.
On 11th January, 2017 ALERT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) to assist Chizarira National Park in terms of research, upgrading facilities and working with surrounding communities. The MoU extends into Chirisa Safari Area. ALERT is partnered with Coventry University in this project, and additional partners from a variety of fields of expertise are being encouraged to join the venture.
The Chizarira National Park Project consists of several aspects:
Assisting the Park Management to upgrade the Park. This includes water supplies, road and bridge repairs, building maintenance and upgrades, communications infrastructure, tourist camp repair and upgrades, and providing transport and training for management purposes, including anti-poaching. This project will also invest in advertising the Park to increase visitor numbers which will increase revenue earnings for further Park investment. An abandoned group of buildings will be renovated to to provide accommodation and facilities for researchers.
Social Development and Education Programmes. Protection of the Park and the habitat will not be successful unless the surrounding communities reliance on natural resources is reduced, that they feel that they are part of the management of the Park, and are receiving benefits from it. A variety of social development programmes in adjacent communities will be undertaken to improve food security and conventional education, and provide conservation education and vocational training.
Lion Conservation. Research will be undertaken on the existing wild population, that is currently below the carrying capacity of the Park, to assist in management of this largely isolated population.
Conserving Biodiversity. No research has been carried out in this Park for over two decades. ALERT scientists will be carrying out research in a variety of areas to ensure that the Park is able to maintain biodiversity, that ultimately is able to support the lion population, and produce benefits for neighbouring communities.
CURRENT FUNDRAISING FOCUS:
The most pressing need at present is potable water. We took a water engineer to the Park to undertake a detailed study of the present system. We want to put in a solar motor and pump to provide water to the main station tank so that all staff can get potable water instead of collecting from the river.
Budget: USD 5200 for solar panels, solar stand, wiring, pump, motor and inverter together with fitting and labour.