I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences in the African bush but one of my most memorable to date was tracking white rhino on foot in Zimbabwe’s Matobo National Park in September.
Zimbabwe was off the tourist chart for a number of years and this has made conservation challenging for many Zimbabwean’s working in the national parks or on private land. I got to hear first-hand of these challenges from John Burton, Chairman of the Matobo Rhino Trust and our guide during our time in the Matopos.
The breathtakingly beautiful Matopos Hills are located 45 minutes from Bulawayo. San Bushmen who lived here 2000 years ago have left nearly 3,000 rock art sites and Cecil John Rhodes is buried at the spot he called ‘World View’. But Matobo National Park is very special for another reason – it is home to the last viable populations of white and black rhino in Zimbabwe’s National Parks and as John is quick to point out, tourism is key to the Rhino’s survival in this area.
Travelling with Sunway Safaris, the money from our stay and our morning game walk flows directly back to supporting conservation efforts here. Money from tourism and donations has been instrumental in supporting the erection of the Whovi Game Fence and other efforts to assist the Zimbabwe National Parks in the protection of Rhino in the Matopos.
On our walk we tracked and spent time observing four white rhino, a mother and her older calf and two males. The males were challenging one another as the female was coming into season. You can only walk with white rhinos, black rhino have a completely different temperament are cannot be safely observed from the ground.
The Matobo Rhino Trust put together this Christmas Message which also includes some great footage of the Rhino tracking experience including my group. (The back of my head appears in at 2 minutes 44 seconds)
2016 is the year of the Rhino. If you are interested in finding out more about Rhino Conservation in Zimbabwe or would like to make a donation visit www.rhodesmatopos.com or The Matobo Rhino Protection Initiative on Facebook.
If you would like to know more about walking with white rhinos or travelling in Zimbabwe, please contact me.