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Elephant research in the 4,703km2 Chizarira/Chirisa/Chete Protected Area complex in Northern Zimbabwe


The Chizarira Protected Area complex administered by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is 4,703km2 in extent and is situated in the north of Zimbabwe.

Some parts of the complex are situated on the Zambezi Valley floor (part of the down-faulted African Rift Valley) and partly on the Zambezi Escarpment which rises 600 meters above the valley floor. 

The area has four of the Big Five wildlife species (lions, leopards, buffalo and elephant) as well as a good mix of mammals (water-buck, duiker, zebra, bushbuck, eland, kudu, reedbuck, warthog, impala, klipspringer, sable) and a variety of smaller carnivores (spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, genet cat, civet cats and African wild cats).

For more than 30 years no in-depth work has been carried out in this area so that Protected Area managers do not know the status and numbers of the wildlife that occur in the area.

The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPLMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 11th January 2017 to carry out various research projects, and a research permit was issued to study elephant.   An in depth study is already underway on lions, and monitoring projects will soon be underway on reedbuck and vegetation changes.

In order to investigate the status, population structure, movements and core areas of the elephant population and also to ascertain the threats facing them, ALERT in partnership with ZPWMA have initiated an elephant study.  One satellite/VHF collar has already been obtained and the first elephant will be collared in July this year.  We are looking for four more collars.

Cost of 1 collar is USD5,081

Cost of 4 collars is USD20,324

Who benefits?

  1. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority does not have the resources to carry out this work and will benefit from our involvement.  Rangers can be deployed where elephants are located in order to protect them. The park ecologist has expressed his desire to carry out an MSc on this study and ALERT is happy to assist our partners with further studies and more important information for the management of the park
  2. Surrounding communities will benefit. A warning can be sent to protect their crops if collared elephants are heading out of the park.
  3. Elephant conservation will benefit.

The long impact? 

The elephant is classified as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Link here:

Despite their vulnerable status, their present population status and numbers are not known in the Protected Area.  This study will provide this important information and allow sound conservation strategies to be put in place by park managers.

ALERT Project

Camera traps to use on a reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) census in the 4,703km2

Where? Chizarira/Chirisa/Chete Protected Area complex in Northern Zimbabwe

Reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) are a medium-sized antelope that lives in grassed areas and along with wet areas with good grass cover.  In the Chizarira Protected Area (P.A.) complex, wildfires sweep through the savanna annually destroying grassland habitat.  In addition, as a result of fire creating bare areas, some of the wet areas in the Protected Area are slowly drying up.

Whilst reedbuck are not considered endangered, continent-wide, they are in danger of becoming extinct in the Chizarira complex.

In order to assess the population status of this species in the P.A. ALERT has initiated a reedbuck monitoring and research project in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

At least 20 camera traps are needed to initiate the research.  One camera trap that captures good quality night-time images costs between USD300 and USD350.


20 camera traps @ USD300 each = USD6,000


Sponsor one camera trap, get pictures (not sure if that is feasible??)

Who will benefit?

  1. ZPWMA will benefit as they do not have the resources to carry out this important monitoring.
  2. Park managers will benefit, they will have population numbers and status of reedbuck and will be able to manage the population and the negative forces (fire, drying wet areas, poaching) using empirical data.

Long term impact

  1. Ensuring the long-term conservation of this species and their habitat.

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