Zimbabwe national park reintroducing black rhinos to tourist destination
by John Ditima, special to eTN
The Gonarezhou National Park (GNP) in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo Province will reintroduce a maximum of 30 black rhinos in 2020. The animals will be sourced from other national parks in Zimbabwe such as Malilangwe Trust, Bubye Valley Conservancy, and Save Conservancy.
The philosophy of the park’s tourism is to tread as softly on this landscape as possible, while fully immersing oneself in the experience of being in this vast wild space. Visitors are asked to respect the spirit of the Gonarezhou, and the main activities on offer in the park include game viewing from vehicles and limited walking.
GNP is managed by the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT), a new model for protected area management drawn up between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS).
GCT said security in GNP has attained such a level that a rhino reintroduction project has become feasible.
“Manpower levels are at an all-time high, with more than 90 patrols deployed in the park per month, all monitored in real-time through a park-wide digital radio network.
“Law enforcement monitoring is being done through data collection by ranger patrols which are inputted into the Park’s SMART database, which has been fully operational since 2014 and allows for a clear understanding of the trends in the nature and spatial distribution of threat and the effectiveness and coverage of ranger patrols.
“GCT makes use of two aircraft to monitor and support ranger patrols, execute aerial patrols as well as undertake bi-annual wildlife surveys.”
It says to prevent the rhinos from straying into neighboring Mozambique, a low 3-strand electric fence will be erected around the rhino sanctuary that will allow for movement (under or over) for most other species.
Gonarezhou is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), which also includes South Africa’s Kruger National Park and Mozambique’s Gaza National Park. GLTP is home to more than 500 species of birds, 147 species of mammals, at least 116 species of reptiles, 34 species of frogs, and 49 species of fish.