Rhino Field Project

Another challenging week in Zimbabwe's tourism industry has left operators scrambling to find permits to import food for their accommodation venues. There is no clear outline of what is required, no precise government directive and no set protocol of what is needed to operate.

This in turn creates a grey area and historically grey areas are endemic to bribery and corruption as individuals try anything possible to simply survive. It is no longer about turning a good profit, survival is now every business’ key objective.

It is then a welcome relief to find a non-profit organisation committed to wildlife preservation. The Zambezi Society has given priority to field research into Zimbabwe‘s dwindling rhino population. Formed in 1982, the Zambezi Society is the only conservation group focusing solely on the Zambezi river basin. It is a membership-based non-profit organisation with an operational base in Zimbabwe and an associate organisation in Mozambique. Its international partners include Fauna and Flora International, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Save the Rhino International and The World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The Zambezi Society provides financial and practical support for Protected Areas and National Parks in the
Zambezi River basin. They manage a range of wildlife and wilderness conservation and community resource management projects in the Zambezi basin region. Special focus is on protecting and monitoring black rhinoceros, elephant and carnivore populations and establishing training in wilderness awareness and management for custodians of Zambezi wild areas.

Through their continued efforts they increase public awareness about issues affecting the
Zambezi river and its basin, by disseminating information through research, publications, the media and our membership. They also lobby or advocate against unsuitable development initiatives and promote good river basin planning based on sound scientific information. With the tide of development on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls organisations such as the Zambezi Society play a crucial role in creating awareness on influences that impact our wildlife heritage. The Zambezi Society Field Officer in the Matusadona National Park Black Rhino Intensive Protection Zone reports that two of the black rhinos previously hand-reared and released into the wild have given birth to calves this season. Madonna has had her second calf (named CHISI, in recognition of 20 years of fund-raising for rhino conservation by the staff and girls of Chisipite Junior School in Harare); and Mvura has had her first. The Zambezi Society has asked the girls of Chisipite Junior to name Mvura’s new calf. As part of The Zambezi Society’s 25th year celebrations, the Society is offering its members and their friends a unique wilderness and wildlife opportunity. The Society has been asked by the Parks and Wildlife Authority to assist them with an extremely important conservation task: to estimate the black rhino population in the mountains of the Matusadona National Park Intensive Protection Zone. They are organising an intensive, and carefully-focused waterhole count in the Zambezi escarpment mountains above the Matusadona floodplain during the week 11th-19th August 2007. They have mapped 35 water points which need monitoring for a minimum of 3-4 days. Although it will be of interest to monitor all wildlife coming to drink, they are looking specifically for signs of black rhino – sightings, spoor, middens etc. Currently teams of 3-4 people are needed to assist who: • can get themselves into the Matusadona in a 4 x 4 • can provide all fuel and food etc. • can be completely self-sufficient • can camp in the bush for at least four days or more • are prepared to hike in rugged terrain (in some cases waterholes may be far from tracks) • can recognise black rhino signs when they see them • have a sense of adventure and an understanding of the wild

Each team will need to be accompanied by an armed Professional Hunter (who can be one of the team) or a National Parks Scout (who will be seconded to each team). Anyone interest must please contact The Zambezi Society via their website www.zamsoc.org or call +263 (0)4 747002. You will be making a difference and supporting a very worthy initiative.

[email protected]


(Photos courtesy of Dana Allen).

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