Key to our Conservation Across Boundaries being a long term success is to ensure the Matobo Hills remains a healthy ecosystem. The region is rich in both topographical and biotic diversity, and the  Rhodes Matopos National Park is an important refuge for wildlife within a larger human-dominated landscape. In order to manage wildlife optimally in this park it is important to understand the distribution of resources and to evaluate the state of habitats with an emphasis on vegetation and environmental health. It is also important to identify areas at risk – either through human activities or natural events such as invasive plant encroachment, erosion or flooding.

This work is also carried out in response to community concerns about the availability of natural resources. Dambari Wildlife Trust has facilitated workshops in several Wards bordering the park. A wide range of ecosystem goods are utilised by local communities for medicinal and traditional purposes, food and domestic use, livestock production, construction and income generation. Many beneficial ecosystem goods, such as thatching grass, woody plants and medicinal flora and fauna, were reported to be declining and harvest levels were high. Communities expressed concern about human-wildlife conflicts, particularly with crop-raiding animals and livestock predators. Environmental degradation was identified in some areas, with siltation of water bodies and invasion of rangelands and croplands by invasive weeds.

To ensure an up-to-date understanding of the health of the region in 2019 Dambari Wildlife Trust joined forces with the scientific services staff of Rhodes Matopos National Park to undertake a habitat assessment. Over May and June 2019 each major zone of the Park was surveyed using rapid assessment techniques.

The data gathered is being used to generate a refined vegetation/habitat map for the Park, a report on areas of concern (e.g., invasive alien plants, erosion, extensive livestock encroachment, or illegal human activities such as wood poaching), and recommendations for habitat management to increase wildlife numbers. This work has been key to designing and implementing our Wetlands & Weeds Projects.

In addition to these habitat management projects, Dambari Wildlife Trust’s research on the movement and grazing patterns of large herbivores throughout the region not only builds our knowledge of the individual species but also helps manage any conflicts associated with large herbivores competing for resources with livestock from communities bordering the park.

As with many other countries on the African continent the international, illegal wildlife trade has implications for the monitoring and security of wildlife in the park. Dambari Wildlife Trust is active in the training and development of parks personnel and also in rhino conservation efforts, including dehorning, micro-chipping and ear notching for tracking and identification purposes.

At Dambari Wildlife Trust we know it is critical to strengthen the relationship between community and the natural world, most importantly in our local region. To this end we have been running a Schools Biodiversity Monitoring Project for nearly a decade and we also support the tertiary education of young people from the local region and Zimbabwe who want a career in conservation.

Large Herbivore Research

Rhino Conservation

Education & Outreach