Hwange and the hungry rangers 1

Hwange and the hungry rangers

Wild Dog Conservation ProjectSource: Go Magazine
Jenny wants to take me to the Painted Dog Conservation Project (Zimbabwe),  which is an organisation that works to protect African wild dogs. Inside their building (it’s got an amazing thatched dome) there is a child-friendly display where you can learn more about wild dogs. You can see the project is well funded – computers hum happily in the offices.

Le rehabilitation centre is directly behind the offices, where eight wild dogs are resident at the moment.

The wild dogs are from three different families, so they are kept in different camps. Angela and John are the tamest of the lot (but not that tame – you’d better stay on the right side of the fence!) and will live out their lives here.

Jenny has organised for us to stay with the researchers for the night. Even though we’re outside the park, we see lots of game. At one waterhole, a herd of buffalo; at another, four raptor species.

Painted Dog Conservation CentreWhen we drive into Parc national Hwange, Zimbabwe the next morning, it’s cloudy and cool. We don’t get to see the massive herds of elephant for which Hwange is famous. The rains have already started here, so the game is scattered and not concentrated around the waterholes.

We see enough of a variety, though: buffalo, elephant, lion, giraffe, hippo, impala, kudu, waterbuck, warthog, zebra, mongoose, duiker, dassie, steenbok, squirrel and a single regal roan antelope. We also tick off 80 bird species during our short drive.

After a dull stretch, Alida suddenly shouts excitedly. Two lionesses have just run across the road, with a small herd of buffalo in pursuit. Yes, the buffalo are chasing the lions!

We stop to see what’s going on, but the bush is very thick. There are calves with the buffalo, so maybe the lions tried their luck and then the buffalo turned on them. The buffalo are now moving away from the lions. After a while the lions start following them again, but when the buffalo turn to face them, they skulk away and melt into the bush, gone. Wow.

We pull in at the Shumba picnic site for lunch, where we meet Trust Mudimba and Mixture Donga. They look after the windmill, as Shumba is an important waterhole (currently it harbours three grumpy hippos).

Trust and Mixture live here while on duty, in a small building fenced in so poorly that it won’t keep even a sheep out, or in. Just the other night they were visited by the local pride of lions, one of which ate a bar of soap off the window sill while they lay inside, terrified.

Things are not well at Shumba. Trust and Mixture have been on duty for 37 days straight, with no relief coming even though the main camp is only 71km away and Sinamatella (where we’re heading) 37km the other way. We can’t take them with us; the Patrol is too full…

Source: Go Magazine http://www.gomag.co.za/home

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