Haka Game Park Zimbabwe has been declared a Ramsar site along with other six Ramsar sites in Zimbabwe. A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention also known as the Convention on Wetlands. A wetland is an area where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. Wetlands are known as Matoro/mapani in Shone, Amaxhaphozi Ndebele. When an area has been declared a Ramsar site, it has to adhere to the Ramsar Convection strict guidelines. There are over 2 400 Ramsar sites in the world covering 2.5 million square kilometers. Ramsar aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve through wise use and management of those that remain.
Designated Ramsar Protected Wetlands Sites in Zimbabwe.
- Cleveland Dam ( Haka Game Park Zimbabwe)
- Driefontein grasslands.
- Middle Zambezi/Mana Pools
- Lake Chivero
- Monavale Vlei (Harare)
- Chinhoyi Caves
How Human Activity is destroying Wetlands in Zimbabwe
Wetlands are under threat in most countries, worldwide. Human activity is the most dangerous to our natural environment. Our environment is meant to sustain us and we are meant to take care of it accordingly. The problem is humans exploit the environment without thinking of tomorrow. Some of the activities that are destroying wetlands;
- Resource extraction – Deforestation
- Farming activities
- Illegal waste disposal
- Road Construction
- Commercial and Residential Development.
How to take care of Our Ramsar sites.
- Avoid using them for farming activities.
- Remove litter around the wetland.
- Constantly Plant trees.
- Observe the rules for the wetland when you visit for recreational purposes.
The pangolin is one of the under-rated endangered species in Zimbabwe and beyond. The endangered mammal commonly known as Haka and Inkhaka in Ndebele receives more threats in Zimbabwe due to cultural beliefs centered around it. There is a strong need to protect the Haka species before it becomes one of the folktales we tell generations to come. Protecting the Haka (pangolin) was the sole reason why Haka Game Park was established. Across the world, it is recorded as the most trafficked mammal by the African Wildlife Foundation. We have to contribute to the protection of the Haka species.
The average weight of the pangolin is twenty (20) kgs. It is a mammal, although often mistaken as a reptile because of its scales. Their scales make up to 20% of their total body weight. The scales are for defense mechanisms. When in danger, the pangolin rolls up, and the scales perform a cutting motion. When threatened, they can also emit a noxious-smelling acid from their glands, similar to skunks except there is no spraying. The pangolin is a toothless animal, its stomach is responsible for grinding food because of its gizzard-like structure. You might think its long tongue compensates for it is toothless. The tongue is said to be longer than its body. The length of its tongue helps it burrow the insects underground. During the day, the haka remains in its burrow and goes hunting at night.
Cultural beliefs about the pangolin
In Zimbabwe, the haka is believed to be a sacred animal meant to be gifted to chiefs and leaders. It is also believed that its scales, when mixed with bucks from other trees neutralize witchcraft powers and evil spirits. Their scales are made of keratin, which is the same substance that makes up human hair and nails. Some believe the scales have healing properties. It is said that the pangolin scales can heal cancer asthma amongst other things. This, however, has not been scientifically or medically proven to be correct. All these theories have contributed to the endangerment of the species.
How Can you help in Keeping the Pangolin safe?
The first step towards change is raising awareness. When people are conscious of their decisions they are likely to make better choices. Raise awareness by educating about this endangered species in schools. If we don’t take initiative in educating the younger generation, the myths about the mammal will be passed on from generation to generation and it will become extinct. Let us engage our communities in raising awareness and protecting the haka species.
World Pangolin Day 16 February