Zimbabwe wildlife

ZIMBABWE WILDLIFE


The secret safari destination

Zimbabwe is complex, there is no doubt about it, and the history of mistreatment of wild animals is no exception. However, as it enters a new era of tourism, it is a vital time to show authorities that wildlife tourism can do much more for GDP than hunting or exporting wild animals for use in zoos and so on. The fact that Zimbabwe has had so many troubled years means that tourism has been thin on the ground. The national parks are still relatively tourist free, and the wildlife viewing is second to none. All year round. Here is some of the wildlife that Zimbabwe is famous for.

Hippos


Mana Pools National Park is the place to go to see these beauties in their element, foraging for fallen albida fruit along the banks of the Zambezi or basking in pools, which are oxbow lakes formed by the river. Taking a wildlife watching ferry or ‘houseboat’ along Lake Kariba (not a speedboat please) – another hippo haven. And, as the planet’s third heaviest land mammal, they are quite a sight.

Lions


The shooting of Cecil the Lion was a tragedy, but we must also remember and celebrate the existence of Zimbabwe’s living lions, such as in Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park and Lake Kariba shores to name a few. There is a big sell on the ‘walking with lions’ business near Victoria Park. Please avoid like the plague and read more about our views on habituating lions and other animals.

African elephants


To gain a real understanding of the elephant populations of Zimbabwe, there is no better book than ’Elephant Dawn’ by Sharon Pincott. She worked tirelessly for 13 years monitoring African elephants, the largest land mammals on the planet, the subspecies here being the savannah elephant that thrives on the country’s open grasslands. The worldwide population is 415,000 according to WWF, and Zimbabwe is home to approximately 82,000, although populations have fallen by 11-70 percent since 2005, depending on the region. Responsible tourism can change everything in this respect.

Seeing wildlife in Zimbabwe


WHAT DOES RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL RECOMMEND?

Debby Oscroft, from our leading supplier in Zimbabwe, Sunway Safaris: “The elephants of Hwange National Park are one of my favourite wildlife experiences in Zimbabwe. Hwange shares a border with Botswana and together the two countries provide an enormous free range for the elephants. The waterholes in Hwange are pumped from boreholes and the congregations of elephants can be quite staggering in the dry season. Mana Pools National Park is an extraordinary wildlife sanctuary in the lower Zambezi River valley, and is the setting for those iconic images of elephants reaching high into the large trees to feed on the pods. It’s also a good area for buffalo and lion sightings and with the Zambezi River as a backdrop it’s a beautiful region to explore.”

“One of my personal favourites is the Lower Zambezi canoeing safari where one has the opportunity to observe the game as the come to drink at the edges of the river, or even elephants swimming. It is both an exciting and an adventurous experience to be had in very few other places in the world.”
“The Matobos National Park is magnificent scenic area, with the famous stacked boulders and granite outcrops creating a labyrinth of wooded valleys, waterholes and open grasslands. It’s a strong hold for Verreaux’s eagles (black eagle, Aquila Verreauxii) and perhaps the best place in Zimbabwe to the see rhino. There is something spiritual about the Matobos, and walking through the bush to track rhino on foot has to be one of the most memorable wildlife experiences in Zimbabwe.”
Photo credits: [Top box: Day Donaldson] [Hippos: Malcolm Macgregor] [Lions: John Culley] [Elephants: Oce Eeco] [Black eagle: Derek Keats]
Written by Catherine Mack
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