A horse-ride in the woods

horse_ridingWhat started as a boring day in the chilly and noisy streets of Harares high density suburb Glen View was magically turned into one of the best days I spent with my young sister, Nyasha. (Pictured: Riding through Mukuvisi Woodlands.)

It only took a horse-ride into the Mukuvisi Woodlands to brighten our spirits. The Mukuvisi Woodlands Wildlife and Environment Centre is a 263 hectare woodland preserve. A peaceful little heaven to a variety of Zimbabwe’s indigenous flora and fauna. It is also home to zebra, impala, giraffe, wildebeest, tsessebe, eland and crocodile.

Located 5km from Harare city centre, Mukuvisi Woodlands aims to promote and strengthen sustainable environmental management through education programmes.

According to the Wildlife and Environment centres chairman since November 2000, Simon Pitt, Mukuvisi is a unique place we hope to persuade the next generation to preserve.

Not only is it unique in having such beautiful nature, the friendly manner in which the staff members and the wild animals conduct themselves was second to none.

Riding on the back of my horse, Boyden, with my young sister on Challenger, it made me think there was nothing more captivating on earth like horse-riding.

We passed zebras, impalas, giraffes and wildebeest with our sociable and humorous guide, Chris Matonhodze, explaining it is easy to get close to an animal when you are on one.

There are two families of Zebras here, Matonhodze explained. Zebras bear every year and they will be pregnant for 12 months. When the young ones are born they stay with their family for about two years, before being snatched by a male to hide it somewhere away from the protective brothers. When its pregnant, the male zebra can successfully claim it to be its wife.

Riding past the impalas, we watched this small and beautiful group of animals grazing.

This is a group of female impalas that is headed by one male, Matonhodze said. One male takes charge of all these females and helps them reproduce. When those small ones start to grow horns, thats when they can easily be identified as males. The head then chases them away to the group of bachelors that live separately away from the herd. Later, the bachelor comes and fights the head of the female group and, if it wins, it then takes over all the women and children.

It was exciting for us watching the wildebeest running away from us in fear. Their name is actually ironic, said Matonhodze. We felt wild in a nice way, interacting with animals but fearing nothing as we rambled through their back yard.

As Pitt hoped the woods would be preserved by the next generation, he also told me with regret that some Epworth residents had resorted to invading into the Mukuvisi woodlands to cut down trees for firewood.

That has been our challenge, but this year the problem of these poachers seems to have increased due to electricity power cuts in the country, said Pitt. Just last week we had 200m of electric fence stolen. We hope to get financial assistance from the corporate world so that we will be able to continue getting supplementary food for the animals in the woods.

Post published in: Zimbabwe Sports News

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