Zimbabwe’s Natural Heritage
As many rhino populations in Africa dwindle due to relentless persecution by armed gangs of poachers, rhino population strong-holds such as the Bubye Valley Conservancy are coming under increasing pressure.
We lost 29 rhinos in 2016 and 39 rhinos in 2015 – compared with 11 in 2014, and 5 in 2013..
About anti-poaching at BVC
Bubye Valley Conservancy is guarded by a team of scouts who patrol day and night to protect it's rhino population. They work to detect even the smallest sign of illegal entry into the conservancy and to apprehend any person suspected of poaching activity. Scouts are trained to react quickly to any sign of a poacher having breached the fence and if possible, to intercept them before a rhino has been targeted. Highly determined scouts with exceptional tracking abilities as well as assistance from the canine anti-poaching unit means BVC's anti-poaching team presents a formidable barrier between poacher and rhino. The anti-poaching team also works closely with Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Authority in the fight against poaching.
The team's duties are not restricted to just inside the conservancy, for a large part of conservation involves working with surrounding communities to encourage an interest in protecting Zimbabwe's wildlife. BVC believes that outreach programmes are essential for the future of the conservancy's rhino population, and is actively involved in education initiatives as well as the development of infrastructure such as school blocks and water wells in areas just outside the conservancy. Most communities develop a great enthusiasm for their country's wildlife and are eager to participate in helping in the fight against illegal poaching.
The Cost of Conservation
It is important to remember that having rhinos on private land is no longer to the advantage of the landowner . . .
Black and white rhinos are endangered species that require substantial resources to protect, without the advantage of generating an income due to the limited tourism industry in Zimbabwe.
Since accepting the responsibility for black rhinos, the Bubye Valley Conservancy has had to drastically increase the size of its anti-poaching force, and will continue to do so as poaching pressure increases. Not only was more personnel required, but they also had to be trained to deal with a whole new level of poacher; not the subsistance level snaring they were used to – but professional killers armed with automatic weapons. More vehicles were required, as was a specialised radio communication system, kit, weapons, and a full-time experienced anti-poaching manager to run and lead the team. We are very grateful to organisations such as The Beit Trust and The Lowveld Rhino Trust, as well as many of clients and friends (see our 'Thanks' page) for stepping up and donating much needed equipment and funds. The annual running costs of the anti-poaching operation however, still amount to upwards of US$ 300,000 per annum, none of this money being generated by the rhinos themselves.
But there is Hope...
Bubye Valley Conservancy is determined to help keep this (IUCN category one) population of Black Rhinoceros from reaching a negative growth rate. One of our future aims is to contribute to restocking rhino suitable areas, which is vital for the successful repopulation of the species in Zimbabwe. The black rhino population on the conservancy holds important genetic lines which are greatly valuable for the future genetic diversity of the species.
The Bubye Valley Anti-Poaching team safeguards a huge variety of other indigenous african species and habitats across the conservancy. Ivory, bush meat and other poaching forms have been eliminated due to anti-rhino poaching stance.
With 3 740 square kilometres of habitat for the Rhino population to expand into, a tenacious anti-poaching team and support from 'friends' of the conservancy, we have every hope that the population will increase it's growth rate. (Roughly 8% Black & White Rhino growth rate at the end of 2016).
Anti-Poaching scouts at work on Bubye Valley Conservancy