The inaugural meeting of the Chimanimani Conservation Network was recently held at Heaven Lodge. The Network is the brainchild of our new National Parks Area Manager, Ms. Kwanele Manungo. The goal of the Network is to create an active network of tourism and environmental stakeholders in and around the district to share ideas, identify the most urgent challenges, actively support each other and avoid duplication of effort between various individual conservation projects. It’s clear that we’ll get more done if we all work together.
Already leading the way is the Working4Water project (chopping out invasive wattle and eucalyptus from our stream banks, and turning it into saleable firewood). This is a sustainable income-generating scheme, sponsored and set up by the owners of the Frog & Fern Cottages for the Matsetso Stars FC Unemployed Youth Self Help Project. It’s a wonderful example of residents doing what they can with almost no resources.
National Parks have made a start by upgrading the Bridal Veil Falls area, clearing and re-marking the scenic walking trail up to the top of the waterfall. Here, visitors have a very good chance of spotting the resident Purple-crested Louries as they swoop from one giant miombo tree to the next. And on a hot day, climbers will discover a perfect little plunge pool on the way up…
The main Chimanimani National Park has also benefited from an initiative sponsored by ‘The Farmhouse‘ to re-mark the main hiking trails from Base Camp up the mountain to the Mountain Hut. You would not want to get lost in this wildest of parks – you might find yourself in Mozambique without a visa…!
The Conservation Network at its first meeting identified dozens of possible projects, from directional roadsigns at the Wengezi turn-off, to full-scale wildlife re-stocking of the Eland Sanctuary. But achieving all this without a budget is the major challenge.
Smaller projects could be organised for starters – for example, the Arboretum park in front of the village has been neglected for years, but it could once more become one of the town’s most pleasant assets. However, the original plantings and tree species list is long lost. So, first off, we need a tree identification expert to help us name-tag the trees as a point of interest and an educational tool for the town’s youth. Any volunteers?