The first ever Matusadona Wildlife Survey - volunteers needed!

15 July 2015

The Matusadona National Park is a stunning wilderness areas in the North of Zimbabwe, on the shores of Lake Kariba - the natural boundary which forms part of the long water border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The meaning of the original name “Matuzviadonha” is “falling dung” - which was probably a comment on the sight of elephants dropping dung balls as they struggled up the hills. 

Matusadona boasts a unique combination of pristine and rugged wilderness, together with the water frontage of Lake Kariba. It is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered Black Rhino and is has a very large concentration of wild lions. Accessible only by boat and air, its remote location has kept visitors and traffic low, but the area is very dear to the hearts of all Zimbabweans. 

Many of the animals rescued during Operation Noah when Lake Kariba was filling (following the construction of the Kariba Dam) were released into Matusadona area, which now holds strong populations of most mammals occurring in the Zambezi Valley including lions, buffalo, elephants, zebra and most other plains game. Some of Zimbabwe's largest "tusker" elephants have been spotted in the Matusadona area.

Why is a wildlife survey needed?

In recent years there has been an increase in the game populations in the Matusadona and Kariba areas and there is a dire need to begin documenting the wildlife trends to support ongoing and new research projects in the region. There are no records on wildlife numbers, locations, movements and territories, which makes it very difficult to know the extent of poaching activity and what is required to better protect the animals.

The Matusadona Wildlife Survey Team have conducted an aerial survey of the region in preparation for the official count, and now have a good idea of the required positions on both water and land. The photographs show what an amazing park Matusadona is.

Teams will be split between land and water over this two day, one night, 24 hour survey. The water crews will be based on houseboats which will move along the shore of the lake, monitoring activity on the shoreline. Land teams will be spread across the bush along springs, by perennial pans and in riverine areas, accompanied by a guide, tracker and anti-poaching ranger. Teams will both be responsible for monitoring nocturnal as well as daytime visitors. There will also be a number of aerial surveys conducted by microlight to undertake road mapping, animal movements and a survey of the remotest areas of the Park.

The two-day count will give a valuable base to gauge the current game populations. This will immediately allow National Parks and its partner private organisations to make management decisions within the Park and provide a valuable source of information for anti-poaching units in and around Matusadona. We hope that the survey will also put the Matusadona area back on the map as a key tourist area in Zimbabwe, with its abundance of game plus fantastic fishing and birding.

  

How can volunteers get involved?

The team which runs the Anti-Poaching & Wildlife Management Programme are responsible for organising the logistics of the Matusadona Wildlife Survey, and are in need of volunteers to support their efforts. Volunteers who join the Programme before 31st July will get involved with this one-off amazing opportunity and impact the future of conservation in this much-loved, remote and stunning area of Zimbabwe.

If you are interested in joining the Programme and the Game Count, please do get in touch using our contact form or email us on info@conservationtravelafrica.org.

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