An initiative to support vulnerable children living in wildlife areas has seen over 3000 children benefit, with the Tour de Tuli becoming a fundraising project for this noble cause.
While many people benefit from wildlife resources, it is generally the communities living adjacent to this resource who are living in poverty as their crops and animals are destroyed by wildlife.
In most instances where there is the big five, poverty has been naturalised, while children in these communities never get proper education and basic facilities like good health and recreation facilities.
This is a sad story for Africa as the safari hunting industry continues to grow with no contributions to the well-being of locals, a fulfillment of the Ndebele adage that says, ilifa lezithutha lidliwa ngabahlakaniphileyo, meaning the inheritance of fools is usurped by the wise.
It is against this background that the children in the wilderness initiative covering South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda and Zimbabwe was established.
Founder of the initiative, Janet Wilkinson said over 3000 children have so far benefited in Zimbabwe, with communities in Hwange and Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North and the Maramani in Beitbridge (Matabeleland South) being the beneficiaries.
The programme began in 2001 in Botswana and has grow to cover seven other countries and will continue to expand, says Mrs Wilkinson.
“Tour de Tuli is part of the fundraising initiative for the children in the wilderness and the aim is to assist and support these vulnerable children whose parents are poor but live in wildlife areas so we are changing lives of children,” she said.
The project also includes tertiary education scholarship and youth environmental stewardship.
Communities benefit through the communal areas management programme for indigenous resources (CAMPFIRE), although the actual disbursement and accountability of resources is yet to be audited to evaluate its impact.