PROJECT REWILD ZAMBEZI
There is a place in Africa where the piles of bones are soon to be replaced with living wildlife!
There has been a steady recovery of wildlife numbers since we started working in Zimbabwe’s Sapi Reserve five years ago. The influx of animals from concessions all around, and Mana Pools itself, has been encouraging. Lions have arrived, leopards settled down, buffalo, elephant, eland and zebras have been stable and even increasing in the region.
Then I got a call…
In a whirlwind of discussions, negotiations, stakeholder consultancies, government discussions and endorsement, we have very quickly moved to agreement and permissions for our next large project at Great Plains.
During the Rhinos Without Borders project, where we gifted the people of Botswana scores of rhinos, we learned about relocations in a safe and stress-free way. We developed teams, expertise, and relationships with vets and wildlife moving experts.
But nothing could prepare us fully for this next project because nobody has attempted this at the same scale and scope.
Project Rewild Zambezi is about to move nearly 3,000 animals, including 400 elephants, from the Savé Valley Conservancy, which is experiencing a wildlife overpopulation beyond what can reasonably be managed, into Great Plains’ private concession Sapi, located east of Mana Pools in the north of Zimbabwe.
The Sapi Reserve forms the centrepiece of over 1.6 million acre UNESCO site. We fully expect their dispersal throughout this ecosystem.
Project ReWild Zambezi will facilitate additional anti-poaching training to secure the area, conduct surveys and promote science in association with Washington State University and local Zimbabwe universities with a team of local students. In addition, we are starting a range of associated projects alongside this, including our Great Plains Women Rangers recruitment initiative. We are also beginning community involvement programs, outreach, and bursaries associated with wildlife conservation translocations.
The relocation project begins in June this year and will run for two years. There will be consistent assessments on the impact on resident populations, adapting rates of new releases, the impacts on vegetation, migration, and the effects of human interactions.
We aim to develop a blueprint for the best, stress-free mass move of wildlife across multiple species for future relocations across Africa. As usual, in Great Plains, this will be on a copyleft basis (where we share everything), not a copyright one.
I would like this to become an industry-wide effort, an example of where anyone and everyone can help and own it alongside us. Now is not the time for egos and logos, but a time to do what we all can to heal the planet. Project Rewild Zambezi is an excellent example of what we can do collectively.
Please take a look at our video and short brochure on the project and let us know if you have any ideas for us to fund this or make it even better.