Black Rhino Conservation in Zimbabwe
The Zambezi Society has played an active role in black rhinoceros conservation in Zimbabwe since 1985. We are a member of the National Rhino Steering Committee where we focus our conservation activities on a very important population of black rhino in Matusadona National Park.
We implement our rhino conservation activities in Matusadona National Park by:
- Assisting with the monitoring and protection of the rhino population
- Providing material and logistical support to assist the Park’s anti-poaching unit
- Collaborating with other organizations involved in rhino conservation to ensure resources are used to best effect
We depend entirely on project funding and public support to finance our work. Your contribution to our WILDLIFE FUND would enable us to continue our support for this vulnerable, endangered species. Donate to our WILDLIFE FUND now!
Below is a brief summary of the Zambezi Society’s work in Rhino Conservation
The Rhino Survival Campaign/Black Rhino conservation (1985-present)
The Zambezi Society initiated the Rhino Survival Campaign which drew worldwide attention to the plight of the black rhinoceros which was in danger of extinction in Southern Africa, and to raise funds for an Emergency Black Rhinoceros Action Plan.
Rhino dehorning 1990-1992 The Society was heavily involved in raising funds and providing voluntary help and practical support to the Department of National Parks and the Veterinary Services for an emergency programme to remove the horns from the country’s fast-diminishing black rhino population.
Black rhino protection (1992-present)
Four Black Rhino Intensive Protection Zones were created in Zimbabwe in 1992. Since then, the Society has channeled millions of dollars into black rhinoceros protection, providing equipment, supplies and T&S to National Parks’ stations and staff for anti-poaching operations.
Black rhino support and breeding programme (1998-2002)
The Society in collaboration with the Zimbabwean Veterinary Services Department and the Department of National Parks launched a carefully-structured programme of research and veterinary support for the future long-term management of black rhino in the Matusadona National Park Intensive Protection Zone. The research programme included the establishment and running of a Black Rhino Breeding and Reintroduction Facility at the Tashinga headquarters of the Matusadona National Park Intensive Protection Zone. About a dozen black rhino were reared and released into the wild through this programme. They are now themselves breeding successful in the Park. A good deal of the funding in support of this breeding programme was raised locally by a Junior girls school in Harare – Chisipite Junior School as well as by the Zambezi Society’s UK branch.
Black rhino monitoring programme (2003-present)
After a two incidents in 2002 in which black rhino were poached in the Matusadona National Park Intensive Protection Zone, the Zambezi Society shifted its support focus away from the breeding and re-introduction programme and concentrated on protection and monitoring of the existing population as its highest priority. The Society established a long-term programme of intensive monitoring and recording of the black rhino in the Matusadona, employing experienced trackers who work with the National Park’s scouts to strengthen anti-poaching activities and gather research data which informs a regional black rhino conservation project. The funding for this programme was boosted from 2006 by the long term support of Save the Rhino International.
In August 1996, the Society carried out a successful 6-day operation during which eight black rhino were ear-notched or fitted with tracking mechanisms to assist with their monitoring and protection. In 2007, Society volunteers assisted National Parks staff in a 4-day “waterhole watch” exercise to search for rhino in the previously unmonitored mountain areas of the Matusadona National Park. The data gathered helped inform the Society’s rhino monitoring project.
New rhinos born in the wild (2007-2011)
At least three of the female rhinos introduced into the Matusadona National Park through the breeding programme successfully produced young in the wild. Their offspring which survived and are still breeding in their turn, the latest calves being born in 2011.
Rhino Emergency (2010-2011)
In 2010, in the face of a huge upsurge in rhino poaching in Southern Africa, it was feared that the Matusadona animals were at risk. An emergency operation to dehorn & ear-notch the black rhino in the Park took place in July 2011 and revealed that, as feared, the Matusadona black rhino population has been considerably reduced in recent years. Investigations are underway. In the meantime, Park rangers have undertaken intensive anti-poaching training and the protection and monitoring efforts of the Black Rhino Intensive Protection Zone are being focused on a considerably reduced area of the Park in order to protect the few remaining animals. The Zambezi Society continues to support these efforts.