223 Zebra Translocated to Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park is home to impressive wildlife and scenery, and unfortunately like many other game parks, faces rampant poaching. The area used to be under the protection of the Matusadona Anti Poaching Project (MAPP) in collaboration with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), but since 2019, anti-poaching activities and management of the park is now done by African Parks - an international "non-profit conservation organization that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities" (African Parks).

During the 1980's, Matusadona park hosted an impressive number of zebra. However, these numbers have declined so much over the years that an aerial count of Zebra in 2020 revealed there were only 36 over the valley floor. To address this dire situation, African Parks and ZimParks have worked together to organise and successfully relocate 223 zebra from the Bubye Valley Conservancy - a private conservation area in the southern part of Zimbabwe.

The zebra translocation project, which took place in September 2021, is important not just for visitors to Matusadona and Kariba to see zebra, but also to correct the balance of wildlife and plantlife in the area. While the zebra population would recover on it's own, the imbalance needs to be addressed right now, because it affects predator species whose numbers have also been falling over the years. So with the bulking up of the zebra, the predator populations can begin recovery. There will be more translocations in the near future.

The translocation was carried out over the course of three weeks, transporting 20-30 animals every two to three days by trucks from Bubye Valley Conservancy. The first 100 were released into the south of the park and the remaining 130 were released onto the valley floor, after they were transferred from trucks to a purpose modified ferry across the lake to Matusadona in a complex and ground breaking first. “This translocation showed how together with our Government partners and fellow conservation operators in Zimbabwe, we have been able to relocate these incredible animals to even the most inaccessible areas. While the move was not without difficulty, the tenacity and resolve of the teams and partners involved demonstrated what is possible”, said Rob Reid, Matusadona National Park’s Park Manager.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, said "The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is making a tremendous effort to revitalize Matusadona and prioritize protection of this incredibly valuable natural asset, and we are honoured to be helping Zimbabwe to achieve this vision for the benefit of the entire nation."

We look forward to seeing more amazing work from ZimParks, African Parks and their partners in the management and protection of Zimbabwe's national parks and wildlife.

Content and picture for this article from African Parks

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