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People handing over a check for wildlife conservation, Econet
Vanessa Williamson representing Wild Frontiers, Yvonne Jandles – representing the Victoria Falls Green Fund, Charlene Hewat – CEO Environment Africa and George Mahachi – Area Manager Econet ©Victoria Falls Marathon

Media release by Victoria Falls Marathon

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 organisers of this amazing event and every year they have contributed a portion of the race entry fee to charities.

The ELE Fence project 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 Victoria Falls 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 scavenge.

The ELE Fence has been in place for a year and has received positive feedback from local community members, commenting on the absence of plastic in the elephant dung. Sadly, however, the habituated, mature bull elephant that roams the town of Victoria Falls has devised a way to break in. The ELE Fence community team, spearheaded by Tony Peel, organised 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 from entering.

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 Beehive Fence project as well as other mitigation measures to prevent elephants entering the town. The beehive 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 women’s 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 elephants but will also provide honey for the community. Charlene Hewat, the project coordinator thanked Econet, all the runners, sponsors, organisers, and 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. Next year’s race will be on 1st July.

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