Celebrate a landmark conservation milestone with Imvelo Safari Lodges

The Cobras anti poaching unit Bomani Lodge Hwange Zimbabwe Aaron Gekoski
Celebrate a landmark conservation milestone with Imvelo Safari Lodges 3

 Zimbabwe’s flagship Hwange National Park, remains one of the most pristine and exclusive parks in Africa today. Our Hidden Gems there, Imvelo Safari Lodges are celebrating a landmark anniversary for rhino conservation this month. It has been more than a quarter of a century since white rhino roamed the Ngamo Plains region of Hwange National Park, but now they are back, thanks to the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative. The month of May sees us celebrate a year since Thuza and Kusasa arrived in Hwange and it’s heartwarming to hear how well these two beautiful rhino are doing.

We chatted to Hannah Tranter, the Community and Conservation Project Manager for Imvelo Safari Lodges, about this important milestone and what it has meant to the communities and our guests to experience the Big5 while with the Imvelo camps. Guest feedback has been amazing with both Bomani Tented Lodge and Camelthorn Lodge guests able to experience Thuza and Kusasa up close and personal. Camelthorn is located inside the rhino sanctuary, so seeing these two gentle giants is virtually guaranteed!

“Our ethos is about connecting people with nature and having our guests able to learn more about these incredible creatures has been a wonderful experience,” explains Hannah.  The local communities have truly driven this project forward, giving up grazing land for the sanctuary and welcoming the rhino into their lives. It’s a big area that’s very much a wilderness, as Hannah explains. “Thanks to the communities we get to experience our rhino in their natural habitat.”

Imvelo Safari Lodges Rhino in their new home July 2022 1 credit Logan Carter
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 “The rhino scouts all come from the local community and have  been with us every step of the way on this project,” says Hannah. “Employment and education have been ongoing with enormous interest from the community in meeting their ‘neighbours’ especially where school groups have been concerned. More than 500 children have experienced the rhinos over the last year and more communities along Hwange’s boundary want to get involved and give up grazing land to the sanctuary,” adds Hannah. Part of the fees paid by guests visiting the rhinos go directly to the local community and this income stream has been invested in the local community clinic. “So our rhinos are helping to improve local healthcare,” says Hannah. “How amazing is that?”
The long-term plan is to bring more rhino into the sanctuary and extend the buffer area along the boundary that forms the sanctuary. “It’s an ambitious project and we’re taking our time to ensure it evolves naturally and keeps pace with what the communities want,” says Hannah. “We want to do it properly and sustainably and eventually have a breeding population. To find out more visit the Hwange Community Rhino Project here: https://www.hwangecommunityrhino.com and come and visit Bomani Tented Lodge and Camelthorn Lodge to directly contribute to this amazing vision for the future.

Thuza and Kusasa  have brought a huge amount of excitement in their first year of being here and most importantly have given the white rhino hope for a future in Hwange.

Hannah Tranter and myself sit down and talk in awe about how the first year of having white rhino back in Hwange and on community land has been and the impact it has had on the local people, our guests and the wonderful fact that now two of Imvelo Safari Lodges are Big 5 camps ( the only 2 in the whole of Hwange National Park). It is one of the largest conversation projects in Africa today and there is a big vision ahead too! Watch here for all the incredible experiences guests are having and how our two young boys are doing in their new home, Hwange National Park.

Image credits: Imvelo Safari Lodges.



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Thank You

Thank you to Imvelo Safari Lodges, Mark Butcher, Hauke Dressler, Logan Carter, Duncan Watson, Amy Olivier, Brendan Judge, Will Whitford, Gemma Catlin, Victoria Falls River Lodge, Golden Africa Safaris, David Dugmore for their incredible imagery. For any information on these photographers please contact Africa Hidden Gems.