As Wilderness Safaris’ Community Liaison Officer in the Zambezi region, Shuvanayi Taruvinga is instrumental in co-ordinating the company’s community relations and joint efforts with its non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness (CITW), in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Born in the cotton farming town of Kadoma, Zimbabwe, Shuvanayi’s parents were Salvation Army pastors and she travelled around the country with them throughout her youth. She developed a passion for people from an early age, and took a keen interest in the cultures of Zimbabwe, including learning the languages. Community work was a key part of her parents’ roles, and it became second nature to Shuvanayi.
With her passion for her country, its people, and its cultures, Shuvanayi set out on a career in tourism. She studied Tour Guiding and Guest Relationship Management with the University of Zimbabwe, before moving onto Environmental Education Training Development Practices (EETDP) with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), before finally studying Community Development with the Atlantic International University.
In 2011, Shuvanayi joined Wilderness Safaris as a Travel Consultant, but took on a more operational role in 2013, as a Tours and Transfers Co-ordinator for Wilderness Safaris Zambezi’s touring division. She joined CITW in 2015, re-joining Wilderness Safaris operations team as Community Liaison Officer for the Zambezi region in July 2021. She now plays a vital role in ensuring that all Wilderness Safaris Zambezi’s community development and engagements activities run smoothly, working closely with the CITW team to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of children in Africa. In this way, CITW and Wilderness Safaris hope to inspire the next generation of leaders to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future.
Over the course of the last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted schools in the country, and many community members lost their tourism-related livelihoods, the CITW team facilitated Wilderness Safaris’ Conservation Heroes COVID-Relief Project, distributing 170 tons of food and essential supplies to 17 000 vulnerable community members. As normal activity slowly starts to resume, Shuvanayi hopes to continue supporting projects that develop sustainable communities that are fully engaged, by leading locally appropriate, culturally relevant and ethically sound initiatives.
“We can positively impact the world if we all do what we can in our communities”, explains Shuvanayi, “Humankind should have a vested interest in the environment in which we live because the heritage we enjoy today is borrowed from future generations. It is up to us to treasure it, and look after it for them”.