World heritage site in Zimbabwe targeted for oil exploration

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One of Africa’s premier wildlife areas has been targeted for oil exploration.

Shalom Mining has applied to explore for oil and gas in Mana Pools, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, according to a notice in the Zimbabwean Government Gazette.

Mana Pools lies on the southern bank of the Zambezi River that serves as the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The river braids across a flood plain, attracting wildlife and serving as the site of a number of luxury lodges that charge $1 000 a night. The heritage site covers 676 600 hectares, spanning the Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari areas.

“On the banks of the Zambezi, great cliffs overhang the river and the floodplains,” Unesco says, describing the site. “The area is home to a remarkable concentration of wild animals, including elephants, buffalo, leopards and cheetahs.”

Shalom has applied for an exploration license over an area of 130 000 hectares and any objections will need to be lodged by 19 May, the Mining Affairs Board said in the notice.

Shalom is a Zimbabwean company, Pfungwa Kunaka, chairman of the board, said, without giving further detail.