2018 is turning out to be another successful year for Nakavango Conservation Programme, with the help of our eager volunteers. Their efforts are focused on conservation and community work, making a difference both on and off the reserve. But it’s not all work and no play – unforgettable moments with new, like-minded friends and thrilling wildlife encounters are all part of daily life here!
Arrival of Animals
Earlier in the year, we welcomed a new black rhino calf, Pahedu (meaning ‘one of us’ or ‘among us’). Until recently, we hadn’t had many chances to see the little one, with its protective mom keeping it away from inquisitive visitors. But the pair have started venturing out more often, with mom introducing Pahedu to the world, and giving guests and volunteers some precious opportunities to view them.
We’re being treated to some great sightings of elephants too, which have entered our Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve from the bordering Zambezi National Park. We are pleased to have them as they naturally prune the vegetation. They have also presented an excellent opportunity for our volunteers who are learning how to track animals on foot through the bush, and going out twice weekly to look for and follow spoor and other signs.
We are ready to move some of our black rhino to other reserves to allow them to breed more. Thanks to the protection of our IAPF anti-poaching team and a favourable reserve habitat, our black rhino population has grown significantly over the past few years. Their thriving has seen an improvement in the ecology of the reserve, with them having filled an important ecological niche.
Consistent road maintenance is necessary due to heavy rains. The Nakavango team and volunteers do road clearing and repairs, rock packing, and drainage system checks on a weekly basis to ensure the roadways remain accessible to safari vehicles and the anti-poaching team, especially during the wet season.
We germinate seeds of indigenous trees in our nursery and our volunteers then pant the saplings around the reserve. The aim of this project is to rehabilitate our environment that was once the site of an elephant programme. One of the species we are reintroducing is the acacia, which is effective in preventing soil erosion and improving soil fertility through nitrogen fixing. As part of caring for our land, our volunteers also assist with removing alien plants, which displace native vegetation.
Setting Camera Traps
With the help of our IAPF anti-poaching team, we have set up camera traps to better monitor animals on the reserve. This allows us to add to our wildlife list elusive or nocturnal animals that we don’t regularly encounter. We are also able to monitor animals’ movements, track individuals, and estimate the size of species’ populations.
Our conservation efforts do not start and stop on the reserve, but also extends to our local communities. We help to make their people aware of the benefits for them of preserving natural resources, and work with them to uplift their communities so they can fully participate.
Our main focus has been on Masuwe Primary School, and we visit weekly to assists with various tasks, like planting and tending their vegetable garden and orchard. We are planning to repaint the classrooms and bring in new dustbins to prevent littering, too. Masuwe is surrounded by reserve, and our team and volunteers also pick up rubbish, which is harmful to the wildlife, en route to and around the school.
It’s Not All Work
Hard work bears the fruit of special experiences on the reserve. Our volunteers enjoy evening game drives with sundowners, bush dinners, stargazing, and camping nights. These activities allow them to take time out while taking in the atmosphere of the African bush with new friends around a warm fire. Volunteers are also encouraged to explore the area, braving Victoria Falls infamous adrenaline activities.
Words by: Griffiths Mpuche