Africa's Eden member Halsted's Aviation Corporation (HAC) has been involved in a community conservation project to achieve environmental sustainability in Devil's Gorge community.

Resurrecting the Devil’s Gorge Community in Zimbabwe

By Dorothy Tembo

It is no secret that tourism depends on the well-being of a protected environment. Moreover, a safe environment for wildlife inevitably promotes tourism to Southern Africa, where travellers expect a lush, natural landscape. In this light, Africa’s Eden member Halsted’s Aviation Corporation (HAC) has been involved in a community conservation project to achieve environmental sustainability in Devil’s Gorge community. The aim is for both the community and wildlife to benefit in the rural area at the confluence of the Gwaai River in Hwange, northern Zimbabwe.

The road to prosperity and sustainability

Within a few weeks of HAC entering the community, the project began with high enthusiasm. However, the area’s conservation state was decrepit after vast tracts of land were left unprotected during the country’s land redistribution model rollout.

The project’s first priority was opening long-forgotten roads that were overgrown. Many roads had been unused for over five years and allowed poaching to flourish. Once major arterial roads were in place, the following primary task was to set up a fully functioning ranger camp. This enabled the immediate deployment of an anti-poaching unit to protect the area’s wildlife.

Halsted’s Aviation Corporation is constantly interacting and participating in community activities to ensure the sustainability of its programs. However, it would be practically impossible to sustain these programs without the communities’ active participation. 

The conservancy that lies in the Deka Constituency heralds the lifeblood of over 4000 people. HAC recognises the necessity to support creating a viable economy and solid education in the area to mitigate the loss of wildlife and flora currently being experienced.

The three-legged pot

A three-tiered approach to conservation sustainability and viability resembles the iconic African Three-Legged Pot. If any leg is not functional, the other two would soon topple. As such, each pivotal leg is identified as:

  1. Community 
  2. Wildlife protection  
  3. Education/tourism 

Community leg: It is vital to develop and participate in a micro-economy with the community. The components of this are a supply of clean running water and the introduction of a managed agricultural farm to be used as an educational model to teach permaculture, fish farming, and preserving our natural habitat. 

Wildlife protection leg:  With the assistance of the functional anti-poaching unit, a Game Corridor from Hwange through to Chizarira using Devil’s Gorge Concession creates a vital buffer zone for migrating animals.

Education/tourism leg: Success in protecting Devil’s Gorge means influence in educating established governance on the ability of communities and wildlife to co-exist. As such, the redistribution of these areas for population growth is minimised. 

Currently, poorly managed livestock and subsistence agriculture leaves the community to fend for itself, often resulting in the use of snares and poaching. Halsted Aviation Corporation understands that the tourism community must work together with our rural communities for everyone’s benefit. Poaching will only stop when wildlife protection equates to the protection of livelihoods.