The Zambezi Society recently announced that as a result of its representations to ZimParks (The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority) on behalf of the visiting Public, the Authority has reinstated “unguided” public walking in Mana Pools National Park, with immediate effect.
Here is the statement issued on 8th July 2015 from ZimParks:-
“We would like to thank you and your team very much for efforts at engaging the Authority with regards to the above…
The ban on unguided walks has been lifted with immediate effect.
All walking activities will require permits as follows:-
$10 per day for Zimbabweans
$15 per day for foreigners;
The option of hiring a ranger still remains at the gazetted price;
All persons found walking without a permit will be fined $100;
Kindly note that this is with immediate effect. This position will be reviewed at the end of the year in line with all other conditions.”
The Zambezi Society’s representations were backed by the results of their Public Survey on the “Ban on Public Walking in Mana”.
The survey had a total of 121 responses - a highly representative sample of visitors to Mana Pools. Of this sample:-
55% were from Zimbabwe and 45% were foreign visitors
15% said that unguided walking is bad
78% said that unguided walking is good
52% said they would stop coming to Mana Pools, or would come less frequently as a result of the ban on unguided walking.
The survey results showed an overwhelming call for the ban to be revisited, and a strong acceptance that an enforceable Code of Conduct be put in place.
Prior to the ban, the Zambezi Society had worked with its constituency members, the Lower Zambezi Tour Operators Association (LZTOA) and the ZimParks Authority at Mana Pools station level to develop and agree on two Codes of Conduct – one for Mana Pools National Park and one for Chitake Spring.
The ZimParks Authority has agreed to these Codes of Conduct being implemented. It is putting in place strong measures to ensure that fines are strictly enforced for offenders and non-permit-holders.
The Codes are available for download - see Codes of Conduct for Visitors to Mana Pools.
The Zambezi Society thanked the ZimParks Authority for taking its representations seriously, and added: "We urge visitors to Mana Pools to recognise the privilege that has been returned to them and to respect the guidelines provided by the agreed Codes of Conduct. While making a daily payment for the privilege of “unguided” walking adds an additional financial burden to visitors, it is nonetheless arguable that this requirement should have been in place long ago, and might have served to prevent the unacceptable behaviour of a small minority of visitors in recent years."