The Mana Pools National Park which is known for its vast open spaces and captivating game viewing is under threat because two mining companies believe that the resources in the area are worth more than the destruction it will cause to mine them.
The mining exploration for Heavy Mineral Sands Deposits in Mana Pools and Chewore game reserve in the Zambezi Valley (along the Rukomechi and Chewore Rivers) has created a growing controversy amongst environmental conservationists and tourist authorities worldwide. The Rukomechi and Chewore Rivers are two major tributaries of the Zambezi River in the Mana Pools National Park and Sapi/Chewore areas, and they are vital to the wildlife and complex eco-system of the Zambezi Valley.
The two mining companies (Habbard Investments and Geo Associates) were issued two licences at the end of 2011 to undertake exploration activities in these rivers. The simple truth is that if these two mining companies go ahead with their exploration, which may involve sandblasting, they WILL destroy the Mana Pools National Park and its surrounding areas. The animals, ecosystem and beauty will be gone – forever. Furthermore, tourism will be affected, and that could severely impact the people and economy of Zimbabwe.
Because Mana Pools is a Natural World Heritage Site, it is widely recognised to have significant conservation interests. As a result, the number of visitors to the park is strictly controlled, and there is an understanding that any activities that could damage the area will not be allowed. But despite the interests and commitments made by the World Heritage Committee, several banks, various stakeholders and many individuals in the private sector, there is growing concern that the conservation goals of the World Heritage Convention regarding the extractives industry are not being met.
Mana Pools is home to herds of elephant and buffalo, hundreds of bird species, wild dogs, and a variety of antelope and predators. They roam freely and in large numbers, making Mana Pools a special destination for many visitors from around the globe. If these companies are allowed to go ahead with mining in Mana Pools, all efforts to maintain this wildlife sanctuary will be lost; the value of its UNESCO status will be meaningless, and untold, long- term damage will occur.
Are the mined resources really worth this type of destruction? We think not.
At this moment the only way forward is to bring awareness and hope that this will be enough to prevent it. There is a Facebook group called ‘Save Mana Pools’ which Jenman African Safaris is now supporting and we hope that you do too, click here: http://www.facebook.com/SaveMana to join this group. The more followers they have the more power they will have to stop the mining!