Our story and what it means for our area
Imvelo Safari Lodges is driving one of the most exciting conservation projects in Africa today, and this in the face of a pandemic which has seriously affected our business. Guides (and guests) of the right age can recall that at one time finding white rhino in southern Hwange was almost guaranteed. The last was seen in our area around 2005. That’s the bad news. The good news is that years of dreaming and then planning will soon culminate in the return of the first two white rhinos to Hwange area.
The vision is huge and it calls for an equally huge commitment and investment. The first critical objective was to provide the security which will ensure a safe sanctuary for the new arrivals as they adapt and settle in their new environment.
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 local communities as custodians. Imvelo Safari Lodges, given its strong links to the community, is well placed to rise to the challenge of this initiative.
Preparatory to launching CRCI, we established the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary with highly trained and well-equipped rangers – best known as our Cobras Community Wildlife Protection Unit. The Cobras are locally recruited and selected for exceptional physical fitness, stamina, strength and mental aptitude. Recently, Imvelo guests have had the privilege of spending time with the Cobras, some even joining them on early morning runs through the wilderness as well as seeing their drills and training practice.
CRCI and the establishment of the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary would not have been possible without a strong and 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 organisations. Revenue generated from white rhino tourism fees will go back to the communities engaged, to help sustain socio-economic development in the area while simultaneously conserving wildlife.
"Our Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect example of community-based conservation; local villages have given up prime grazing land for rhino conservation and re-introduction. This kind of conservation support from the community is unprecedented!"
Mark Butcher, Imvelo Managing Director
Community development and conservation do not often go hand-in-hand, but if they can successfully be aligned, it will create a meaningful and sustainable method of ensuring wildlife conservation.
Some of the wide-ranging and far-reaching benefits of this project include:
The re-introduction of white rhino to Hwange – a once naturally occurring species.
The protection of habitats and ecosystems which will facilitate rural development though 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.
Contact us for more information about the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative and watch this space later this week as we share stories and pictures of the rhino capture in Malilangwe and you get the first images of our two rhino bulls that will be coming to their new home soon in Southern Hwange!
Credit to Aaron Gekoski for some of the imagery.