Codes of Conduct for Visitors to Mana Pools

ZimParks/Zambezi Society

Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage Site; a unique wilderness and one of the most iconic wildlife parks in Africa.  It is also an extremely fragile and threatened ecosystem.  It is essential that all of us recognise this and do our utmost to protect it.

To facilitate this, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks), together with The Zambezi Society and stakeholders, have developed a Code of Conduct, which is backed in law by the Parks and Wildlife Act (General Regulations).

All visitors to Mana Pools are expected to adhere to these rules and regulations without exception.  They are designed to ensure that all visitors can enjoy a life-enhancing experience, without harming the welfare of the incredible wild animals, birds, fish, forests and bush habitats that make Mana Pools a highly-prized wilderness destination.


MANA POOLS CODE OF CONDUCT

Respecting wildlife and the environment
Mana Pools offers a unique opportunity to interact closely with wild animals.  Please respect their space at all times and never interferewith their natural behaviour.

  • Never block an animal's path to water or disturb it while drinking.
  • Never cut off an animal from its herd, pride or pack
  • Feeding of any animal or bird is strictly prohibited including enticing animals with locally available foods (like pods).  It associates humans with food and can lead to animals becoming aggressive, forcing ZimParks to destroy "problem" animals.
  • Never use recorded sounds to attract animals or birds.
  • Fishing is only permitted with a licence purchased from reception.  Only five fish may be kept per licensed fisherman per day and NO FISH can be removed from the park.
  • It is an offence to remove from the park: plants, animals, flowers (dead or alive) soil, rocks and cultural artefacts etc.  Zimbabwean law stipulates a prison sentence for removing animal remains.


Camping
Please be aware that there are no fences around campsites – all camps are in the open and wildlife can wander through.  Be mindful at all times and do not let children move about alone.

  • Please keep noise to a minimum.  No music is allowed to be played through speakers anywhere in the park so as not to disturb other visitors or the wildlife (please use headphones).  The use of generators is prohibited.
  • Do not enter campsites for which you do not have a booking.  Respect other campers’ privacy either on foot or in your car.
  • It is prohibited to collect firewood from the park.  Please purchase firewood from the ZimParks office only.  Please reduce your use of firewood by keeping fires to a minimum and using gas where possible.  Firewood is a limited resource and a haven for wildlife.
  • Leave your camp as you would like to find it – litter, ash and toilet paper free.  Bury ash and take all rubbish out with you.  This is now standard practice worldwide.
  • Do not leave foodstuff around your camp or in your tents as this will attract the destructive attention of baboons, monkeys and hyena.

Litter and waste
Mana Pools is a pristine wilderness and operates a CARRY IN CARRY OUT policy.  This means that you must leave with all your non-biodegradable waste.

  • Do not leave any litter in the park, whether in your camp or on the roadside.  Bury ash, burn toilet paper and all combustible rubbish except hard plastics.
  • CARRY OUT ALL YOUR REMAINING LITTER with you when you leave.  You will be required to show your litter at the exit gate and failure to do so will result in a fine.
  • Should you need to answer a call of nature in the bush, bury all your waste.  Used toilet paper must be safely burnt and buried or taken back to your camp.
  • Dispose of your litter in a town outside the park and NOT in roadside or lay-by bins as they are not emptied.

Driving
Driving is only allowed on designated roads.  Driving off-road is strictly prohibited and attracts a large fine and/or the impounding of your vehicle.  Use only designated tracks as defined by the map shown here.

  • DO NOT FOLLOW other people’s off-road tracks – you are not entitled to break the law as they have.  Do no rely on Tracks-4-Africa as some roads on their map are no designated.
  • Do not drive in river beds except at designated crossings.  If you get stuck in sand, please fill in any holes that are made.
  • Remain in your camp during prescribed hours as posted at the Park Reception
  • Night driving is strictly prohibited as is the use of spotlights at all times.
  • No unregistered communication radios are to be used in the park except in an emergency
  • Keep your speed to below 30kph within the park and be mindful of the dust you are creating which can be unpleasant for campers, game viewers and other vehicles.
  • Visitors are prohibited from entering Tour Operator and Exclusive public campsites without a booking (see map).

Walking
Mana Pools is unique in Africa in that it allows visitors to walk without a guide provided they have received a walking permit in advance.  Please note that this is at your own risk and it is recommended that you hire a ZimParks Ranger unless you have considerable experience.

  • Never walk more than five metres away from your vehicle unless you have already paid for a walking permit and have signed the necessary indemnity with ZimParks.
  • Never tag onto or shadow other guides or walkers without being invited
  • Do not do anything that forces animals to move when they are resting
  • Keep noise to a minimum and be alive to the fact that animals may be uncomfortable with your presence.  Do not pursue animals if they are moving away from you.
  • Do not approach if other visitors are already at a sighting – be patient.  They should leave soon.  If they do not, a quiet request for permission to approach is appropriate and good manners.
  • Avoid crowding or surrounding animals.  All observers should watch from the same viewing quadrant and the person or group that arrives there first determines the position of the others.


Photography
Mana Pools offers unique experiences and opportunities for photographers of all levels.  Please note that all commercial photographers MUST have a valid permit from ZimParks available in Harare.

• The use of drones is prohibited
• Photographers are required to adhere to all the above demands to respect animals’ space.

Other

  • Any commercial safari activities within the park must be conducted by a registered Mana Pools Tour Operator
  • All firearms must be declared on entry to the park and (unless carried by tour operators licensed for this park, or their guides) must be handed in or sealed at the ZimParks office.

Help us
It is not ZimParks’ desire to apply draconian rules, but to create an environment where visitors and wildlife can coexist in harmony without degrading the fragile ecosystem.  We therefore encourage all visitors to report any contravention of these regulations in the spirit of co-operation and conservation

  • Report all untidy campsites, preferably with dates, times and pictures
  • Report any vehicle that is seen driving off-road, and please take a time-dated picture as proof.
  • If you hear gun shots, please immediately report them and the location to ZimParks
  • Report the location of any dead animals to ZimParks
  • You can report illegal or suspicious activities to registered tour operators who act as intermediaries to ZimParks.

NOTE
Persons found to be contravening any of the above regulations will be liable to a fine of up to $1,000, the impounding of their vehicle and potential imprisonment.  Furthermore, they may be removed from the park and banned from entering Zimbabwe’s National Parks in the future.

Ignorance of the rules of the park will not be a mitigating factor.
 

SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR VISITORS TO CHITAKE SPRING

The above Code of Conduct applies to all areas within Mana Pools National Park, including the pans and springs.  Please place a high value on the very unique Chitake Spring in the southern section of Mana Pools National Park and what it has to offer.  Here are some specific guidelines for visitors to this beautiful wilderness.

  • Treat the animals and the secluded and tranquil environment with the utmost respect. Rather forgo a sought-after photograph than disrupt the natural behaviour of the targeted animal(s).
  • Chitake Spring is “designed” as a walking, sitting and viewing tourist experience. In the dry season this is the only water for many kilometres and  animals come to the Spring stressed and thirsty. Be patient, give them right of way, allow then to approach, drink and retire undisturbed. This will often require a selfless attitude.
  • Game viewing is not meant to take place by driving around, and off-road driving will be penalised.
  • You are only permitted to be at Chitake if you hold a valid booking for one of the camp sites. Day visitors are not permitted.
  • It is prohibited to collect your own firewood from the surrounding area. All firewood must be purchased at the Nyakasakana Gate.
  • Drinking water should have been brought in with you. 
  • If you need to collect water from the Spring do so only if there are no animals in the area, do not dig large holes in the river bed, cover any depression you create to scoop water.
  • The road along the East of the Spring is strictly for Parks staff use only. Using the road for game viewing is extremely disruptive to game needing to access the Spring

 

Other useful articles:-

A Guide to Ethical Wildlife Photography

How to stay safe in wild areas

 

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