The Bubye Valley Conservancy Team
The captain of this team, and general manager of the Bubye Valley Conservancy, Blondie has been in wildlife most of his life. He started his career as a Ranger for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, living in some of the most beautiful areas in the country, and gaining an appreciation for the potential benefits of meaningful research (as conducted by legends Clive Swanepoel and Dave Cummings). After Parks, Blondie then started working on what was the beef production empire of Zimbabwe, Lemco Ranch (later to become the Bubye Valley Conservancy), where a part of his job involved problem animal control. Maybe this is what drives Blondie’s passion for conservation today – taking a personal interest in the predator research, as well as the rhino monitoring, anti-poaching, and rehabilitation. Blondie is hugely respected in the wildlife industry, and is not scared to tackle the big issues.
Predator Research Team
Matt is the senior researcher at BVC. In 2010, he worked for WildCRU in Hwange National Park as a volunteer pilot and field assistant before going to Stellenbosch University where he completed his honours degree in Conservation Ecology. His final year thesis focused on wild dog denning behaviour in Save Valley Conservancy in eastern Zimbabwe. In 2015 Matt was awarded The Beit Trust Scholarship to pursue a DPhil in Zoology at the University of Oxford. Matt’s research focuses on lion behavioural ecology using cutting edge analytical methods and technology.
Mention grew up in Kariba in northern Zimbabwe, and joined the team in 2017. He works in the ecology house and is the research assistant during annual surveys. His roles include game spotting, record keeping and general assistance during activities such as lion collaring.
Rhino Anti-Poaching Team
Adam joined the BVC anti-poaching team in March 2016. He grew up surrounded by wildlife on his family's farm in the Limpopo Valley, and has always been passionate about wildlife conservation. The ever-increasing pressure on wildlife in Zimbabwe and growing human-wildlife conflict has made him determined to protect and ensure the continued survival of his charges at BVC. Adam speaks Vhenda, Indebele and Shona, which he puts to good use working to promote wildlife conservation in the communities surrounding BVC.
Often described as charismatic and sarcastically witty , Dirk joined the BVC anti-poaching team in 2018 after six years serving in the Royal Marines. Dirk runs the BVC recruit training programmes, ensuring that new scouts are prepared for life as anti-poaching rangers.
Orphan Rhino Rehabilitation
Katrina Leathem is the rhino lady of Bubye, having successfully hand-raised and rewilded 13 orphan rhinos to date, and currently raising Sabi and Squirt (orphans 14 and 15). In fact, orphans from all over the country have been nurtured by Katrina, such is her reputation. Taking a practical approach, Katrina has never given in to the temptation to raise rhinos in her house – keeping them in a specially designed massive outdoor enclosure in the Conservancy; where they are not overly in contact with humans, but surrounded by the sounds and smells of the bush in which they will soon fend for themselves. Three times a day Katrina prepares gallons of a specially formulated milk for the orphans that keeps them in great condition, and which they love and anticipate – excitedly making the characteristic chirping sound of their species the closer it gets to feeding time. Katrina is passionate about all animals, and other species she has raised include eland, nyala and zebra – not to mention her constant company of 3 golden labradors!
Though an awesome job, Tendai takes caring for the orphan rhino calves very seriously! At dawn he has gathered the calves into the feeding bay, and lined them up in their own pecking-order. He gives each calf their bottles of milk simultaneously, carefully controlling the rate of flow so that they all finish simultaneously. After milk, the horse-cubes are dished out, and Tendai sets about clearing up all the browse he cut the previous afternoon and carefully positioned around the rhino pen. More milk and horse-cubes are served at noon, and the rhinos get a hosing down – before inevitably diving into their mud-bath in case they actually got clean! Tendai spends the afternoon carefully selecting vegetation for the orphans to learn to feed on. Evening bottles and a run around signals the end of another day in Africa – but not for Tendai who has a pile of bottles still to clean. (The goats were brought in as company for Sabi when he was orphaned by poachers at only a few days old).
Rhino Monitoring – Lowveld Rhino Trust
Australian-born Natasha Anderson came to Zimbabwe in 1996 as a volunteer worker after completing a Master of Environmental Studies degree at the University of Melbourne. Her initial work focused on natural resource management and education projects in the rural communities immediately north of BVC. Post 2000 she became involved with the Lowveld Rhino Trust helping to monitor rhinos living in areas impacted by the land reform program. These, and other seriously threatened rhinos, became the founders of the BVC black rhino population which has grown to become the third largest in the world. On the ground LRT provides independent rhino monitoring and management which, in addition to ear notching individuals for identification, includes emergency treatment of injuries and translocating vulnerable rhinos. Though based in BVC Natasha also coordinates the rhino monitoring and management in the Save Valley Conservancy.
Terrance & Corrina Wardley
Terrance and Corrina Wardley moved to Towla Headquaters in the Feb 2014. Here Corrina took over the HR and Wages together with the management of Procurement, Administration, Food Beverage and Accomodation services. Corrina finds great satisfaction in the annual training event of all our Chefs, Waiters and Bedroom Hands, ensuring a pleasant stay in any of our nine camps. In her spare time writing poetry for children, with a vision of creating a future for our wildlife, both great and small, in our beautiful country Zimbabwe.
From mechanics and farming to wildlife management, Terrance has finally achieved his life long dream. You will often find him doing his paperwork before even the birds wake up, just so that he can be out where he loves to be - in the bush! He has a capable maintenance team ensuring the smooth running of the Towla Section.
This amazing, now very old man, Tina Ndou, has been working on what is now called BVC, which was originally Liebig's Cattle Ranch, then renamed Lemco, since 1947 !!! He is not exactly sure of his age, or what age he was when he was first employed on Liebigs, but he says that it was when he first got facial hair, so probably around 14 or 15 years ?
He is still working here, an astounding 70 years later. This must be some sort of record and puts him at around 85 years old - he has certainly seen many changes in his lifetime ! He now looks after a 7km stretch of the BVC game fence, which he not only walks and checks every day, but also clears a 1m strip so no grass etc. touches the electrics on the fence...that is a 14km stint every day.
When he was asked if he would like to go on retirement and take a well earned break, he was actually affronted, and asked what we thought he would do all day ...accolades to this wonderful old gentleman.
Peter is not directly involved with either lion research or rhino anti-poaching… But he was so put out that his friend Oliver Makweja had his photo up on the website and he didn’t – even though Peter has been working for the Bubye Valley Conservancy much longer than Oliver has and, in fact, longer than most of the other managers – that we eventually relented when he sent us this picture with the assurance that he is much better looking than Oliver, and would improve the aesthetics of this page! In all seriousness, Peter works in the Bubye Valley Conservancy’s Bulwayo office, where he handles the accounts and payments for the materials and equipment that keeps the research and anti-poaching operational and his good nature and willingness is highly appreciated by all.