Our lodges are part of Zimbabwe's CAMPFIRE project, a community-based natural resource management project aimed at local community involvement in tourism and wildlife conservation. CAMPFIRE is the acronym for Communal Area Management Program for Indigenous Resources. The philosophy underlying the CAMPFIRE project is that people living with natural resources are best placed to manage them and that they should receive direct benefits as an incentive for looking after the resources. The role of Gorges Lodge in Hwange Communal Land’s CAMPFIRE project involves conservation and non-consumptive utilisation of wildlife and other natural resources for the benefit of local communities.
Gorges Lodge is a showpiece for a community-based tourism project. Having been involved with Hwange district’s CAMPFIRE program since 1993, Gorges Lodge is particularly successful in its tourism development due to its proximity to Victoria Falls. Since the inception of CAMPFIRE in Hwange district over US$ 1,600,000.00 has been paid to District Council & local communities through bednight levies, leasing of the land on which the lodge is built, and charges to tourists visiting the local villages, wages and development. The money is used for infrastructure development (classrooms, clinics, water supplies and agriculture), wildlife conservation programmes, and conservation education. Establishment of telephone and electricity to the area has benefited local schools and clinics who have been able to connect to the services.
Communities are actively involved in wildlife conservation through game scouts and village wildlife committees. These local institutions protect wildlife from illegal use. A unique conservation feature around Gorges lodge is the involvement of local people in the conservation of the wide variety of birds of prey found in the Batoka Gorge. These include the rare Taita and Peregrine falcons, Bat hawks and several species of eagle.
A sustainable and long-term revenue-earning venture has been developed through Gorges Lodge for Hwange Rural District. Because of the permanent development and infrastructure, local communities will carry on accruing revenue through tourism long into the future. Finally, involvement of local communities in tourism and conservation has provided an incentive for the people to protect and manage their natural resources.
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