The Matobo Hills are one of four high-altitude, high-runoff catchment areas for the Limpopo River.  The Umzingwane catchment, of which the Matobo Hills are a major component, contributes about one litre in every eight in the Limpopo River (surface water only).  Since many major rivers of the Umzingwane catchment rise in the Matobo Hills, conserving the wetlands of the Hills is a major priority.

Along with other stakeholders, Dambari Wildlife Trust is working towards improving the conservation and rehabilitation of degraded wetlands in the Matobo Hills.  We have hosted two stakeholder workshops so far in 2017 to investigate ways to improve wetland health whilst supporting human livelihoods.  Dambari will assist a technical committee, spearheaded by Matobo Conservation Society, to gather information in order to get the Matobo wetlands inscribed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.

Other stakeholders involved in this initiative include Matobo Conservation Society, USAID Resilim, Zimbabwe Humanitarian Livelihoods and Development Trust, Zimbabwe Environmental Management Agency, local government, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Zimbabwe National Museums and Monuments.

Invasive Alien Plants

A major threat to biodiversity globally is the spread of invasive organisms.  In the Matobo Hills, several alien plant species have become established and are negatively affecting human-inhabited and natural areas.  Chief among these is Lantana camara, which suppresses the growth of other vegetation and is toxic to livestock (particularly animals that have not previously encountered it).  Several cacti (e.g. Cylindropuntia spp.) are also gaining a foothold, and naturalised eucalyptus trees are invading watercourses.

Whilst some communities have developed initiatives to remove Lantana camara, the scale of the problem is great.  In fact, four of Zimbabwe’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Great Zimbabwe, Khami, Matobo Hills and Victoria Falls) are seriously affected by this weed.  Plans are currently in motion to host a “weeds workshop” in Bulawayo, to develop a strategy to control invasive plants.  Dambari, Matobo Conservation Society and the Institute of Development Studies at the National University of Science and Technology will co-host this important event.