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What this year's drought means for CRCI and for the scouts

Photo taken by Monique de Beer in September 2023

The 2023-2024 rainy season in and around Hwange National Park has been disastrous; the area has received less than half the necessary rainfall to alleviate high temperatures, satisfy thirsty soils and vegetation, and replenish natural watering holes. This poor rainy season will have significant and dire impacts on people and wildlife in the's how it will affect CRCI's rhino Thuza and Kusasa and the Cobras Community Wildlife Protection scouts in charge of their protection, and what Imvelo Safari Lodges and the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative are doing about it.

The drought and the scouts

Like all villagers in this area, the scouts will feel even greater pressure to feed their families this year. With little rain, growing food in the villages has been essentially impossible and while their salaries will allow them to buy food, it is also likely prices will skyrocket and many foods will become unavailable due to high demands and meagre production. Feeding domestic livestock will also be a problem and it will be costly to buy feed for cattle, donkeys and goats. They worry about their children and how they will grow healthy and are grateful to initiatives that support nutritious and plentiful school meals and irrigated community gardens like those spearheaded by Imvelo and the Water4Wildlife Trust. We are also working hard to provide more pumped water for both people and domestic livestock and are so appreciative of support towards our drilling boreholes programme.

The drought and the rhinos

The lack of rain and high temperatures throughout the 2023-2024 rainy season has and will continue to impact the rhinos behaviours' and eating habits. The CRCI team and scouts may need to supplementary feed the rhinos, which is not only an added cost but also a logistical consideration, and continue thorough monitoring of rhino behaviour to avoid any other impacts. Continued habitat management and scrub clearing promotes vegetation growth and the CRCI team is carrying out research into grazing patterns and grass availability to optimise food available for Thuza and Kusasa, as well as other animals in the sanctuary. Pumping water to provide water, pans and wallowing spots for rhinos will have to be more intensive this dry season, as will all of Imvelo's and the Trust's efforts to pump water for wildlife in and around Hwange National Park.

The scouts and CRCI team are equipped to push through this dry season; unfortunately this is not the case for all community members in the area and additional support to improve water and food security will be fundamental. Find out how you can support this work here

Top pictures from January 2023, which had not enough, but at least a bit more rain.

For more information about the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative, contact us here


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