The looming drought calls for sound range management in the national parks, conservancies and other private parks. Efforts should be made to ensure that the land that is set aside for wildlife is sufficient. This can only be achieved through proper range management programs. Range management is the conservation and protection of health, diverse, and self-sustaining ecosystems. It is premised on the realization that enhanced game production occurs through maintenance and sustainable manipulation of natural ecosystems. It, thus, requires deliberate planning to ensure that natural food webs or food chains are not disturbed.
Wildlife deaths which occurred in Mutetsi some years back, a dry area between Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls should not happen again. Hwange National Park is in ecological regions four and five that receive low annual rainfall and does not have many natural water reservoirs and Park authorities uses diesel pumps to supply water to the vast game area. Areas that do not receive enough rains results in plain game and other species starving to death as they can not compete for basic food and water with elephants. Animals can be forced to walk long distances to get water and appropriate food. It is during these long journeys and the unavailability of nutritional food that they suffer from malnutrition and the vulnerable eventually die.To avert such deaths which prejudice the tourism sector of revenue and severely affect biodiversity there is need for sustainable parkland ecosystems It is important that as Zimbabwe is on a drive to revive the tourism industry, stakeholders in the sector work together to help such programs. Tourism only surpassed by agriculture and mining is one of the biggest foreign currency earners in the country.
The mission of National Parks Department should therefore be to ensure and promote the steward ship of the country’s national parks, conservancies and related ecosystems and associated renewable resources.
A clear understanding of the quality of the basic national park resources, such as soil, plants and water their ecosystems and principles applicable to the management of game reserves will improve and promote sound range management by the National Parks Department .Through the improvement of weather and climatic tracking devices, the Department can get information for effective management strategies. Such information can be used to determine the animal population that can be supported by a particular ecosystem, which can be followed by the culling or translocation of the overload. Programs such as Campfire should be enhanced so that people who live near wildlife sanctuaries are involved in range management programs. When local communities are made aware of the benefits accruing from wildlife, they would be averse to practices that endanger wildlife populations such as burning grasslands and poaching game. They should also practice controlled grazing to ensure healthy and productive plant communities. Hunting will also be scaled in accordance with game stocks, while animal population, will be balanced according to available grazing and browsing area.
Sound range management would also ensure that the carrying capacity of the land area that is set aside is not strained. Range management programs are vital because wildlife is an important economic, social and cultural resource.