SILWANE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE

Mopane the lion
Mopane the lion

"If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa’s animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever."

Nelson Mandela

Until very recently, Silwane was a safari hunting area. In many parts of Zimbabwe, land bordering wildlife National Parks sanctuaries have been allocated as safari hunting areas. There are no fences or boundaries between National Park sanctuaries and these areas. Wild animals are free to roam (occasionally enticed by hunters) between the two. This area has always received high hunting quotas and it is estimated by wildlife researchers that possibly half of all lions hunted in the greater Gwayi safari area are killed in this location.

Currently the dominant male, Mopane with his Somadada pride are resident in the area and they are frequently seen and heard. It is concerning that currently there are hunting websites advertising Mopane as a potential target, should he roam into the safari hunting area, which comprises part of his territory. His previous coalition partner, Sidule, was killed by trophy hunters on 10 August 2019 (ironically World Lion Day). This followed the death in this location of a well-known lion named Cecil by a bow hunter in 2015, which created an international outcry.

A small group of conservationists, with a strong passion for the protection of wildlife of Hwange National Park and its surrounds, came together to try to change this narrative, realising that to stop hunting, practical steps needed to be taken. Some landholders were approached with the vision of the establishment of a conservation area that could help support them and their future generations without hunting. Working together, the area has been transformed from a safari hunting area to a photographic safari conservation area now known as the Silwane Conservation Area (SCA) where animals and the ecology of the land will be protected. Here visitors can immerse themselves in this wonderful, wildlife rich area knowing their support of SCA is an important contribution to conservation, the end of hunting, and the development of the local community.