Herman Aindongo had the privilege to travel with NACSO Director Maxi Louis to Zimbabwe in May to broaden his experience of conservation in southern Africa. His report on the regional SULi meeting follows below.
"An Eastern and Southern Africa SULi (Sustainable Use and Livelihood) meeting was held at Chilo in the Mahenye communal land, Masvingo province in Zimbabwe from the 23rd – 24th of May 2017. The objectives of the meeting were to bring together a group of practitioners from Eastern and Southern Africa to discuss the potential collaboration for the two regions on sustainable use of wildlife resources and livelihoods issues. Another objective was to find common ground for the two regions to contribute to the implementation of SULi’s 2017 - 2020 strategy. There were also discussions how these contributions could be made and to establish an informal interim process to carry forward agreed actions from this workshop.
This regional meeting was seen as crucial to address the issues of the sustainable use of wildlife resources, rural livelihoods and human-wildlife conflict management in east and southern Africa. There was a strong element of CBNRM in the discourse which was the primary motive for the selection of the meeting location. The Mahenye area Is renowned for its successful CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) programme. CAMPFIRE is a Zimbabwean CBNRM programme and it is the foundation upon which many CBNRM programmes in southern Africa have been established. It started in the 1980’s and this was the beginning of communities benefitting from their wildlife. This is also the area where Zimbabwe’s second largest national park, Gonarezhou National Park is located.
Overall, the meeting yielded good results. A list of issues that SULi needs to address were identified, such as the need to address the ignorance of the African diaspora and the world at large towards the complexity of conservation of Africa’s biodiversity. Coming up with mechanisms that are pro-people and pro-conservation to ensure sustainable use of biodiversity and social upliftment was also one of the issues discussed. An action plan has been drawn up and various meeting attendees have volunteered to work on these action points."