Left to right: Vanessa Williamson representing Wild Frontiers, Yvonne Jandles – representing the Victoria Falls Green Fund, Charlene Hewat – CEO Environment Africa and George Mahachi – Area Manager Econet.
The 2017 Econet Victoria Falls Marathon was a great success and every year gets bigger and better from 300 runners in 2006 when it started to over 2500 runners in 2017. Wild Frontiers are the official organizers of this amazing event and every year they have contributed a portion of the race entry fee to charities.
The ELE fence received their first donation from the Victoria Falls Marathon in 2016 and together with donations from well wishers, the funds were used to erect an electric fence around the Vicfalls dumpsite. Despite Victoria Falls being one of the seven natural wonders of the world, sadly it was also a place where elephants were dying from eating plastic mainly from the dumpsite which is situated in an open space where many animals, including elephants used to scavenge.
The ELE fence has been in place for a year and it has been positive to receive reports from local community members commenting on the absence of plastic in the elephant dung. Sadly the habituated mature bull elephant that roams the town of Victoria Falls has recently devised a way to break in and the ELE fence community team spear-headed by Tony Peel have organized Ele Fence night watches and many locals have donated their time to sit at the dumpsite and chase off the elephant with pots, pans and a chilly gun. This is a short term intervention and we are now looking at digging a trench around the dumpsite as well as placing wires that hang outwards at regular intervals of the main electric wire to prevent the elephant entering. Since the wires have been placed, there have been no further elephant entries, but persistence and team efforts will prevail.
Victoria Falls is a unique town as it is situated within a National Park where animals roam freely. The human wildlife conflict is an issue that is constantly being dealt with and the donation from the 2017 Victoria Falls Marathon is going to support a Bee Hive fence project as well as other mitigation measures to prevent elephant entering the town. The bee hive fence was first tried and tested in Kenya by Lucy King, in three local communities bordering National parks and they recorded an 80% success rate.
The Victoria Falls Green Fund has worked with a local charity, Greenline Africa Trust, who works with local rural communities and the beehives have been made by a community Womens group. The hives will be placed between the Zambezi National Park bordering the Mkhosana High Density community. A community group will be trained to run and monitor the project and it is our hope that the bee fence will not only keep out the elephant from the town but will also provide honey for the community. Charlene Hewat, the project coordinator thanked Econet, all the runners, sponsors and the organisers, Wild Frontiers for their support and said she looks forward to seeing the marathon grow in numbers in 2018.
The Victoria Falls Marathon is a unique experience where runners not only see the Victoria Falls from the bridge but also run through the National Park where wild animals roam. Enter and register for the 1st July 2018 Victoria Falls Marathon today www.vicfallsmarathon.com and we look forward to welcoming you to The Victoria Falls.