U.S. Donation Kicks Off Landmine Clearing In One of the Largest Conversations Areas Worldwide
Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Government, a new project to demine 7 million square meters of land is now underway. Included in the land being cleared is the world’s largest contiguous wildlife area.
The landmines were laid 4 decades ago during the Zimbabwe Liberation War by the Rhodesian Army and their removal will help to protect some of the world’s most endangered species, including elephants, pangolins, and lions that all live within the wildlife corridor that spans South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
The Dutch Organization APOPO (Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Production Development) has begun working with Zimbabwean Government to clear the densely packed minefield which includes the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. It is projected that the efforts to clear this land will support the re-opening of eco-tourism opportunities in Zimbabwe.
The U.S. Government’s grant allows APOPO to protect the animals in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor as well as the surrounding human populations and their livestock. APOPO hopes to declare Zimbabwe landmine free by 2025.
APOPO is known around the world for training African giant pouched rats to detect landlines over the last 20 years. In Zimbabwe however they are utilizing manual deminers to tackle this densely packed minefield.
The Dutch organization has already cleared over 45,000 square meters and estimates it will destroy close to 15,300 landmines. Thousands of people live in incredibly close proximity to these landmines and have limited access to water, grazing areas for livestock, and roads for travel and trade.
The clearing of this broad area will not only bring about habitable land for Zimbabwe’s poorest communities, but also help to protect some of the world’s most beloved species and provide Zimbabwe with ample economic opportunity.