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Lion guardians on call

Lion guardians on call

Communities and wildlife are both safer in Hwange these days
Communities and wildlife are both safer in Hwange these days




On the outskirts of Hwange National Park, in an area known as Mambanje, lives a community of Nambya people whose descent is linked to the Rozvi Empire from the Great Zimbabwe/Masvingo area.

Renowned for their crops, cattle and mining, the community settled along the Mambanje River, hoping for a prosperous livelihood. Unfortunately in the 1970s the river dried up, fences were stolen and the challenges of co-existing with wildlife increased. 

As neighbours of Hwange National Park, the community has frequent encounters with a variety of wildlife species, but predominantly with lion and elephant. In April 2014, the Sibanda family from the community tragically lost their seven year old son, Elton to an injured male lion. The community was devastated and has since had a negative view of lion in and around the Park.

By 2014, Hwange Lion Research Unit had already established its Long Shield Lion Guardians programme, which entails working with and employing community members as Lion Guardians, to monitor lion and other wildlife movements within specific communities. Guardians are trained, and in turn train others, in wildlife lore, what to do in the event of encountering a lion or other predator, train children on the need for coexistence with wildlife and work with the community to push lion back into the Park.

Limited resources had meant that at the time of Elton Sibanda’s fateful incident, a Long Shield Lion Guardian project had not yet been set up in the Mambanje community.

African Bush Camps Foundation has partnered with US-based Elefence International to support a Long Shield Lion Guardian for the Mambanje Community. This will mitigate the conflict between this community and lions, give the community a greater awareness