In early June, seven adventurous Indagare members joined me on our first Impact trip to Zimbabwe. We chose Zim, as locals call it, for our first Impact Journey of 2023 because of the ground-breaking conservation work being done in the country. Award-winning photographers and filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert have begun the largest translocation of animals in history in the north of the country. They are using the lessons learned from their Rhinos Without Borders project, which successfully moved endangered rhinos in South Africa to Botswana, on an ambitious new initiative to transfer elephants from the overpopulated Savé Concession in southern Zimbabwe up to the former hunting concession that they have leased for photographic safaris. The Sapi Concession, bordered to the north by the Zambezi river and to the west by Mana Pools National Park, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that now encompasses more than a million and a half acres of protected wildlife area.
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We moved from Sapi to Linkwasha Camp in Hwange National Park, one of the oldest in Africa, and ended our trip at Mpala Jena Camp in the Victoria Falls National Park. Everywhere our days consisted of spectacular wildlife encounters, as well as talks with scientists, wildlife veterinarians, rangers and monitors who spoke of the human-wildlife conflict crisis in sub Saharan Africa—but also shared hopeful signs: It was discovered that one of the translocated elephants at Sapi was pregnant. A lion expert in Hwange shared the innovative ways that the Long Shields Lion Guardians are spreading conservation principles throughout their local communities.
As of 2023, Indagare operates as a 100-percent net carbon neutral company—and this includes all of our Insider Journeys, which are covered by our carbon-offsetting initiatives. Additionally, our Impact trips also fund our Indagare Impact Fund, which supports important community, culture and conservation projects. In Zimbabwe, we support the Long Shield Lion Guardians, which is based in the region surrounding Hwange National Park, spanning nearly 4,000 square miles of land and protecting 10 prides of lions, while providing economic opportunities for residents (read more about the project here). Additionally, this trip also supported Project ReWild Zambezi. Sapi was a former hunting concession that had seen its wildlife decimated over the years. In 2017, Great Plains Conservation took over the reserve to conserve and protect the land as a photographic safari destination. Sapi struggles with underpopulation of wildlife, making it the prime location to welcome a massive relocation effort, to save animals who are overpopulating the Savé Valley Conservancy. Project ReWild Zambezi, which will relocate 3,000 animals across Zimbabwe, including 400 elephants and species like lions, buffalo, impala, zebras, painted dogs, eland, and more, is one of the largest wildlife relocations in Southern Africa’s history and is Great Plains’ most ambitious project to-date. Its success or failure contains lessons for conservation prospects all over the world.
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Why it matters? In the words of Great Plains: “For reasons beyond their choosing, thousands of wild animals find themselves behind the fences of reserves in Zimbabwe that cannot sustain them. We are choosing to stand and help. Once released in the Sapi Reserve, the animals will be free to roam into the wider 1.6 million acres of the wider Zambezi Valley. Great Plains is raising approximately $5.5 million to translocate these 3,000 animals and to develop basic infrastructure to support comprehensive, on-going wildlife monitoring and anti-poaching in Sapi beyond 2023. We are engaging local stakeholders and developing a well-rounded, inclusive plan to including wildlife monitoring, employment, research and educational opportunities for surrounding communities including locally recruited anti-poaching teams and female rangers to oversee natural resource monitoring. We are working closely with wildlife veterinarians and game capture experts and ZimParks staff, rangers and ecologists to ensure the success of the effort and the safety of the animals.” Our trip–and our stay at Tembo Plains—contributed to these efforts, and we will continue to highlight and promote Great Plains work on this project.
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