After a journey of 17+ hours and 700+ kilometers across Zimbabwe, the first two white rhino to roam Hwange in nearly 20 years are now settling into their new home in the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary bordering the park. The two rhinos, Thuza and Kusasa, were named by two generous donors from a list of options put forward by five community leaders.
Thuza means ”to charge or strike” in Ndebele, alluding to the rhino’s powerful position both physically and metaphorically. Kusasa means “tomorrow” in Ndebele because these rhinos represent a bright future for village children and grandchildren.
This historic translocation is one the most exciting conservation projects in Africa today. Guides (and guests) of the right age can recall that at one time finding white rhino in southern Hwange was almost guaranteed, however the last rhino was seen in the area around 2005. That’s the bad news. The good news is that years of dreaming and then planning have culminated in the return of the first two white rhinos to the Hwange area!
Today, most rhino conservation successes throughout Africa are on private land. Imvelo’s CRCI – Community Rhino Conservation Initiative – represents a massive paradigm shift, placing rhino on community land with the local communities as custodians.
CRCI and the establishment of the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary would not have been possible without a long-standing partnership with the local community, the District Council, National Parks, the Malilangwe Trust, an important network of donors and a host of other organizations. Revenue generated from white rhino tourism fees will go back to the communities to help sustain socio-economic development in the area while simultaneously conserving wildlife.
Some of the wide-ranging and far-reaching benefits of this project include:
- The reintroduction of white rhino to Hwange – a once naturally occurring species.
- The protection of habitats and ecosystems which will facilitate rural development through tourism.
- Strengthening local community-based natural resource management.
- Improving socio-economic development opportunities in the area.
- Discouraging poaching of any and all wildlife.
- Further developing game water supplies and other conservation priorities.
- Growing capacity and resources within our area’s National Parks estate.
- Facilitating biodiversity conservation and research.
- Enhancing visitors’ safari experience and growing the number of visitors to the area.
Fanfare and celebrations are ongoing to celebrate the arrival of Thuza and Kusasa. Expectations have been high among the communities, and the culmination of years of planning and work have been met with joy, hope and excitement.
And now Imvelo’s guests staying at Bomani or Camelthorn will have the opportunity to potentially see the Big 5 – something we have not been able to say since 2005! This is an incredible achievement for Hwange and for future guests to have a meaningful impact on the communities who have taken the leap to be part of this groundbreaking conservation initiative.
Key information on CRCI and how your guests can visit the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary to see the rhino can be downloaded here. The fact sheet lists the conservation entry fee to visit the sanctuary and what the morning or afternoon activity will involve. This will continue to be refined in the coming weeks and months as the rhinos settle in, so bear with the Imvelo team as they embark on a few practice runs and finesse the experience for their valued guests.
You can find more information and the latest updates about this momentous project at www.hwangecommunityrhino.com.