Or How to see Hwange and wildlife on the cheap (campsite fees are normally something like
$100/site/nite nowadays- not cheap). This was posted on a 4wd newsletter, but I am sure
they would welcome a few yanks on this endeavour. I drove and bush camped in the '90's
some of the Western tracks. It is remote and really wild. During all the days I was driving
those little used tracks, I didn't see one tourist and only one anti-poaching patrol -
kinda surprised them. But saw lots of wildlife.
Greg Rasmussen, the Research Director of Painted Dog Conservation, Jane Hunt of the Lion
Research Unit and Bongani Ndlovu, Wildlife Officer at Hwange National Park HQ have jointly
requested the assistance of our club.
The successful opening of the Middle Jesse Road in Mana Pools last year has lead to our club
being approached by the organizations above and the objective would be to open up tracks in the
west of Hwange National Park.
Both the research organizations need to be able to travel to the western boundary of the park to
locate and monitor animals. The Parks would like to be able to access the areas by vehicle as
part of their anti-poaching patrols. It is also hoped that once a disused track has been opened,
there will be a few hardy tourists (or 4x4 club members) willing to venture away from the
‘racetrack’ nearer Main Camp in future.
Due to years of poor funding, low tourist numbers and other challenges, many of the tracks in the
West of the Park have only been driven once or twice in the past decade. Brush re-growth,
fallen trees, long grass and erosion by weather or animals has erased any clear designated
tracks in many places. The first challenge for our club will be to locate and plot where we think
the track is by using old maps, satellite imagery and some pre expedition scouting. Once we are
in the park and on the trail the work will involve navigating the correct route; making as many
kilometers of track visible and passable, in the time we have.
There is 420km of track needing to be located and opened. The conservation projects will
already have been to some areas before we arrive in July. The general outline of the project will
be the same regardless of which particular section of track we work on.
Mitswiri, Shakawankie, Cement, Tamafupa areas are the likely place we will work. It is a long way
for most of our members to travel just getting to Hwange NP. The area where we intend to work is
then over half a day from Main Camp. For any meaningful amount of work to be done we are
going to need a core of people who can commit to a minimum 5 day expedition but I would hope
that several of us could set aside a week and allow 2 more solid days of work at the coalface.
We are targeting the dates of 5 – 9 July for this project. If you would like to join us please
contact Pat Gill (see above). This will give the committee an idea of the numbers we need to
organize for. It is possible we will be given a waiver on both entry and camping fees by Parks.
We have already been assured we will be able to camp in the remote areas where we will be
doing the work.
It goes without saying that this is an incredible opportunity for us to a good deed. It is also a
fantastic chance to visit a remote section of Zimbabwe, with good friends and be able to camp in
an extremely wild area not normally allowed. Each vehicle would need to be totally self sufficient
in fuel, food and camping equipment but there will be drinking water supplied to the expedition by
Friends of Hwange. While not everyone can use a chainsaw or winch there will be work for ALL
who can join this event. Vehicles need to be driven at walking speed while someone walks ahead
with GPS or badza, meals cooked, small bushes slashed down, holes filled in with spades etc –
even a small contribution will add up to a lot done at the end of the day. If you have them please
bring along your own chain saws, etc.