Your society sadly reports that a black rhino was poached from the Whovi Game Reserve side of the Matopos National Park in the second week of August.  This follows a three-year period free of poaching incidents and is under investigation by ZPWMA staff.


ZNPWM have advised that they intend to commercialize various parts of their operations.  Whilst we believe that Parks will retain control of the estate, certain sections shall be leased out for exclusive use of the lessee.  This practice has proven successful in Hwange National Park, but we have reservations that this is appropriate for a National Park such as the Matopos.  By notice on Friday 23rd August two sites for exclusive photographic use were identified in the Matobo National Park, namely Mesilume Dam and Toghwana Dam.  Neither the MCS nor the Matobo Hills World Heritage Committee were advised in advance.  Your committee has engaged with various stakeholders to discuss this matter and are seeking legal advice on how this would operate under the National Parks Act, the Rhodes Estate Act, the Rhodes Will and the National Monuments Act.  Does the leasing of Toghwana Dam preclude visits to Inange Cave? Does the Mesilume lease close the road to Nswatugi Cave? How will this impact on access for research groups such as the Black Eagle Survey or Dambari’s Conservation Across Boundaries? How will existing registered tour operators’ function? But we also acknowledge that without fresh funding Parks ate simply unable to maintain fences, roads and other facilities.  This is the dilemma in which we find ourselves.  We are also very concerned that this type of lease may be expanded to community sites, such as Gordon Park.  We hope to be able to report back in future.


With acknowledgement to Nesia Mhaka, the Herald

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) is set to be restructured, with its commercial asset’s division being separated from other operations to unlock potential and attract investors.

As part of the process, the entity will get an equivalent of US$11,9 million for capitalisation, while its $21,5 million debt will be restructured.

This was resolved by Cabinet on Tuesday.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists during a post-Cabinet briefing that the turnaround strategy primarily targeted to address the management and operational challenges at ZimParks.

“Cabinet considered a proposal by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Professor Mthuli Ncube) on reforms for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks),” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

The proposed ZimParks turnaround strategy principally seeks to address the prevailing state of poor corporate governance, operational ineffectiveness and the sub-optimal utilisation of the resources under ZimParks.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet resolved that the commercial division be hived off to a special purpose vehicle to unlock the value in the commercial assets owned by ZimParks through joint venture arrangements with private sector partners.

Cabinet also resolved that an initial capital investment equivalent to US$11,9 million be injected towards the acquisition of modern anti-poaching equipment, support equipment, operational vehicles, support for national parks management activities and maintenance of infrastructure.

Further, the $21,5 million debt owed by ZimParks will be restructured to allow it more time to pay it off, while the necessary legislative review should be undertaken to, among others, ensure the balance between the need to guarantee wildlife protection and to provide for other competing land uses.


Date                                         8th September 2019

Venue                                      Matopos Brachystegia Forests, Zhi Zhi Dam

Meet                                        08:15am, Cresta Churchill Hotel

Travel                                       All Vehicles but trucks recommended.

Details                                      Provide own chairs, tables, meals and drinks.  Don’t forget your hat, sunblock

It’s that time of the year when the Brachystegia burst into their spring colours, and for a few short weeks, the hillsides of the eastern Matopos become awash with a variety of colours.  We hope to visit at just the right time – but the trees work to their own timetable!

We will travel down the Old Gwanda Road to south of the Matopo Mission, where we will turn off and go cross country to Zhi Zhi dam. There are plenty of Brachystegia in the area and it is a beautiful area.

The Old Gwanda Road is rough as it leaves Bulawayo, and thereafter corrugated so we recommend using side-tracks when they are available. After the Mission the road is in very good condition. We would suggest allowing a return journey of approximately 150km’s.

Depending on the time, we may have Meg Coates-Palgrave with us, and hope to make a final determination on the mystery Brachystegia found in the eastern Matopos.  It all promises to be another fascinating outing.


After much consideration to the economic climate, we selected an area not too far from Bulawayo for our field trip in early August.  The day was forecast to be cold, and so we decided to start a little later – as it was, the day proved to be a perfect late winter’s day, and in no way impacted on the field trip.  And so, armed with papers and records, vague descriptions and folk lore we set out to find the site where Hendrick Potgieter met his old adversary, King Mzilikazi, somewhere near Ntaba Nyama.  As always, our arrival was marked with tea, but then in a break with tradition, we had our talk, this time presented by Rob Burrett.  Alternating between references, and between Afrikaans and English he recounted the events of 1849, when at or near our location the battle occurred.

“By all accounts Potgieter spend the night with 200 men on the hill Ntaba Nyama – one look at the hill showed that was patently not possible! And so, we set off on our walk, and around the corner a second flatter dwala appeared.  The ascent was easy, and the summit would comfortably have hosted 200 horses and their riders.  An inspection of the site convinced us that this dwala, promptly named Ndaleka’s hill, in the shadow of Ntaba Nyama must have been the site where Potgieter slept that cold lonely night.

In the well-watered valley below the captured cattle were kept, and the Mpede and Griqua’s would have camped close by.  In the morning it was all over – The Ndebele swept in and massacred all the folk in the valley, and recovered the cattle, wisely avoiding the armed men on the summit.  But Potgieter had no choice now but to retreat, and so in this one historic moment, the future of the Kingdom of the Amandebele was secured, and the Matopos did not form part of the Northern Transvaal!

Some six years later the two forces agreed on the Limpopo river forming their common boundary – an arrangement that exists to this day.”

Thereafter, a smaller party went ahead and climbed Ntaba Nyama, enjoying the unusual views of the Matopos from this northerly vantage point.

The picnic lunch was followed by the group splitting into two – those going directly home, and those who travelled on to climb Ntaba Mhlope.  A lovely climb, with once again rewarding views from the summit.

And so, our field trip came to an end.  A fascinating area, some lovely kopjes and definitely worth another visit in the future.


These are the special trees that occur naturally only in the Matobo Hills

Crotalaria macrocarpa E. Mey. subsp. matopoensis Polhill

Gymnosporia matoboensis Jordaan Matobo Hills and surrounding areas

Indigastrum parviflorum (Wight & Arn.) Schrire subsp. parviflorum var. crispidulum (J.B. Gillett) Schrire

Lobelia lobate E. Wimm

Polygala westii Exell

Triaspis dumeticola Launert

Turraea fischeri Gürke subsp. eylesii (Baker F.) Styles & F. White

Xerophyta seinei Behnke, K. Kramer & E. Hummel

Also, with the name “Matopensis” but not endemic

Barleria matopensis S. Moore – Zimbabwe Zambia and Mozambique

Strychnos matopensis S. Moore – Zambia and Mozambique


This book has been published by the MCS to celebrate our 25th Anniversary

The book is on sale at the Natural History Museum, or contact the MCS on  Selling price US$30 (sorry, only real money)


As expected, there has been no rain since our last newsletter. The early forecast just released reads

“Zimbabwe and much of the region, which saw the lowest rainfall in 40 years this year, will receive normal to below normal rains in the coming season, a regional forecast released on Friday says. Normal rains in southern Africa are expected in the coming months of October, November and December, the 23rd Southern African Regional Climate Forum (SARCOF-23) projected after a meeting of regional meteorologists in Luanda.”



Day Visitors LocalsRTGS$ 20.00
Accommodated LocalsRTGS$   9.00
Day Visitors SADCUS$ 12.00
Accommodated SADCUS$   6.00
Day Visitors InternationalUS$ 15.00
Accommodated InternationalUS$   8.00


Saloon, pick up and 4-wheel-drive vehiclesRTGS$ 10.00
Minibuses up to 25 seatsRTGS$ 20.00
TrailersRTGS$ 10.00
CaravanRTGS$ 10.00
Buses/ Lorries (school)RTGS$ 25.00
Buses/ Lorries otherRTGS$ 30.00


Local – CommunityRTGS$   5.00
Local – ZimbabweanRTGS$ 20.00
InternationalUS$ 10.00


LocalRTGS$ 15.00
InternationalUS$   5.00


Playing Tennis for 2 personsRTGS$   50
Playing Tennis for 4 personsRTGS$ 100
Court use for non-tennis games for 4 hoursRTGS$ 250
FunctionsRTGS$ 500

CONFERENCING (Conference Room, projector and projector screen only)

Half DayRTGS$ 300.00
Full DayRTGS$ 600.00


RTGS$ 200 Full dayUS$ 70 Full day
RTGS$ 100 Half dayUS$ 35 Half day
RTGS$ 60 per 2 hoursUS$ 20 per 2 hours


RTGS$ 75 per guide per hour

(min 3 and max 6 person)

US$ 25 per guide per hour

(min 3 and max 6 person)

RTGS$ 45 per guide per hour

(less than 3 persons)

US$ 30 per guide per hour

(less than 3 persons)


With acknowledgment to Columbus Mavhunga, June 26, 2019

ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe says its practice of dehorning rhinos is bearing fruit, as it has kept poachers at bay and allowed the rhino population to gradually increase.

Matobo Park — about 500 kilometres southwest of Harare — is home to both the endangered black rhino and the threatened southern white rhino.

Elusive as they are today, rhinos are on the increase in Matobo, in part because of a policy to protectively remove their horns.

Poachers kill the animals to obtain the horn, which in traditional Chinese medicine is believed to have healing powers, although there is little evidence to support this.

Verity Bowman is director of Dambari Wildlife Trust, a wildlife conservation research organization, one of the NGOs taking part in anti-rhino poaching efforts with the government.

“The dehorning, of course, removes the incentive to poachers and increases the risk, for a low reward.  And in small populations, we feel it is the way to go, and it has made a big difference to Matopo National Park by having all animals dehorned,” Bowman said.

Priscah Mupfumira, Zimbabwe’s environment, tourism and wildlife minister, told delegates at the just-ended African Union (AU) United Nations (UN) Wildlife Economy Summit that her country is winning the anti-poaching war.

“I am happy to report the number of poachers in Zimbabwe and in KAZA region has drastically reduced.  We have good conservation programs to make sure that we look after our wild animals,” Mupfumira said.

Conservationists dehorn rhinos in 2016 at Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe, as part of efforts to turn away poachers.  (VOA/C.  Mavhunga)

Along with dehorning rhinos, Zimbabwe ensures that national park rangers have adequate camping equipment, cameras and GPS to patrol the parks and watch out for poachers.

But Bowman says it is not easy to stop the poaching of rhinos.

“Protection of rhinos is a very complicated affair, as you probably are aware, and there are a number of strategies which are in place,” Bowman said.

Zimbabwean officials keep the actual number of rhinos in the national parks a secret, to ensure poachers remain in the dark.

The strategies all help ensure that future generations will see rhinos in the national parks — not just in zoos.


Acknowledgment to Kuda Chideme, June 30, 2019

A government agency was used to siphon thousands of dollars to finance weddings and political rallies during former president Robert Mugabe’s reign, an audit has revealed.

Auditor-General Mildred Shiri exposed the rot at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), which she said happened between 2015 and 2016, in her latest audit report detailing abuse of funds and inefficiencies at state institutions.

ZTA made numerous “donations” as well as unauthorised contributions to political rallies believed to be for the ruling Zanu PF.

In 2014 ZTA “donated” $50 000 at weddings, 10 tonnes of maize seed and 50 Singer sewing machines.

Some expenditure is only categorised as “constituency rally sponsorship”.

During the period under review, former ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke’s wife Betty, a former model, campaigned and secured a parliamentary seat as legislator for Kuwadzana on a Zanu PF ticket.

In the report, Chiri also makes note of an undisclosed amount referenced as a donation to an unnamed High Court judge.

In 2015 the authority spent some $4 000 on cell phone bills under the line item “ministry-related expenses”.

“The authority also spent $35 868 in 2013, $154 174 in 2014 and $189 880 in 2015 that was not budgeted for on ministry-related expenses.

“The expenditure is related to repair of (Tourism) ministry vehicles, fuel and traveling costs of ministry officials.”

Another $10 000 was spent on office furniture but categorised as social responsibility.

The then Tourism deputy minister Anastasia Ndlovu also received $5 000 in holiday expenses.

A trip to Berlin, Germany, gobbled some $8 000 in travelling and subsistence expenses which was not budgeted for.

Several motor vehicles, including a Mercedes Benz S600 valued at $13 333 and a Mercedes Benz S350 with a carrying amount of $134 000, were acquired by the authority but were registered in the names of third parties.

The audit report also notes that the ZTA board led lavish lifestyles and awarded themselves outrageous fees and perks without ministerial authority.
This was all despite the authority’s poor financial capacity.

In 2015 the authority incurred a deficit of $796 000 from $969 000 in the previous year.

As a result, ZTA’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by $2,3 million indicating a material risk to the authority’s ability to continue operating as a going concern.

For instance, executive directors awarded themselves a monthly fuel allocation of $2 000.

That is equivalent to 1 316 litres of fuel per month, which is enough to cover an average of 13 158km.

An interest-free loan of $20 000 was advanced to one of the board members without the minister’s approval, compromising the oversight role of the board.  The loan was repaid over three years.

“There were expenses incurred in 2013, 2014 and 2015 financial years, which did not appear to be in line with the authority’s business and they were also not budgeted for,” reads part of the report.

Meanwhile, Kaseke spent his 13-year stay at the institution without a valid contract of employment.

The audit report says Kaseke’s employment was only affected by a letter from the chief secretary to Cabinet Misheck Sibanda when he was reassigned from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe in 2006.

No other contract was entered into between Kaseke and the authority, posing a   risk to the ZTA as there was no basis for legal recourse in case of disputes.

“There was no contract of employment for the chief executive.  The reference point of the conditions of service for the chief executive was his contract of employment with his previous employer,” reads the report.

Throughout his “tenure”, Kaseke, a confrontational figure who was known for berating his staff in public, went on to become the face of the country’s tourism sector which served as a feeding trough for high-ranking officials.


With acknowledgement to The Herald, May 02 – The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has started implementing its five-year strategic plan that is expected to stimulate revenue and culminate in the declaration of a dividend to Government.  The authority is running on a five-year strategic plan hinged on Government’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), in line with President Mnangagwa’s call for the country to leverage on low hanging fruits and stimulate economic growth.  While tourists’ arrivals have been on the increase since the coming in of the new dispensation in November 2017 resulting in record arrivals in 2018, tourism receipts remain subdued largely due to the lack of adequate tourism infrastructure.


July 7, 2019 Source: Zimparks on the recovery path | Sunday Mail (Local News), Sunday Mail Reporter

THE new team at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has managed to transform the organisation, which was previously dogged by transparent issues and allegations of poor corporate governance, into a reformed entity, Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube has said.

In a performance review report dated 10 June 2019, Prof Ncube said there have been positive reforms since August 2017.

The previous board and management, he said, had failed to successfully run the organisation.

“However, the efforts of the new management (led by director-general Mr Fulton Mangwanya), at the helm since August 2017, and interim board have changed a lot of governance issues that were undermining activities and operations at Zimparks,” said Prof Ncube.

He said Zimparks was fighting sophisticated poaching syndicates, thus the company required more resources to achieve intended goals.

Zimparks spokesman Mr Tinashe Farawo said the new team has managed to reduce elephant poaching from 400 elephants in 2015 to only 12 in 2018 through joint patrols in national parks and awareness campaigns.

The authority, Mr Farawo added, had also managed to clear the salaries’ backlog that was inherited from the old administration.

“When Mr Mangwanya joined the authority in 2017, employees had gone for seven months without salaries and it was cleared.  To date, almost every station has a vehicle which is improving law enforcement and patrols to protect our animals,” he said.

However, Prof Ncube noted that lack of resources was negatively affecting anti-poaching activities.

He said, “Inadequate resources have undermined the capacity of the authority to effectively respond to all such threats and curb poaching of many wildlife species, including elephants, rhino and trafficking of wildlife.

“Resource constraints to modernise national parks equipment has left the authority facing challenges related to obsolescence of critical maintenance equipment, compromising anti-poaching initiatives.

“Challenges bedevilling Zimparks pose serious threat to sustainable natural resources management and wildlife conservation, fundamental to the survival of the environmental ecosystem; hence, the need for urgent Government and other stakeholders’ interventions.”

Treasury recently injected $11 million to bankroll Zimparks’ commercial unit.


The Herald, July 15 – Government has committed to bring efficient to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) by commercialising the entity.  The move to restructure ZimParks is part of a broader Government strategy to reform numerous parastatals and state enterprises that have been operating inefficiently and as such have been a drain on the fiscus.  The authority manages one of the largest estates in the country, about 5 million hectares of land or 13 percent of Zimbabwe’s total land area.


As we go into the warmer months, and the snakes emerge from hibernation, the following story is a worthwhile reminder of the potential risks.

South African Labour Court Judge Anton Steenkamp, 57, has died after being bitten by a black mamba – one of the fastest and most venomous snakes in Africa – while on holiday in Zambia.

“We are devastated.  No words.  What an incredible man.  His wife, Catherine, is still on her own in Zambia.  They were touring Africa.  We as a family were very, very proud of him” relative Ruby Steenkamp told South Africa’s News24 site.

South African newspaper columnist Max du Preez paid tribute to Judge Steenkamp, describing him as a “clever, kind, progressive man of great integrity”.


With acknowledgement to Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI, 26 April 2019

Traditional leaders in Chiredzi have lamented the rampant logging of trees which they say is leading to the extinction of Mopane worms, a popular traditional delicacy in the Lowveld.

The leaders called on Government and the Environmental Management Agency to clamp down on wanton cutting down of trees, warning that some parts of Chiredzi, Zaka and Bikita could become deserts unless something is done to avert the catastrophe.

Speaking during an all stakeholders meeting here recently, Chief Romwe (Mr Clemence Madzingo) expressed alarm at the rate of deforestation in his area and surrounding communities.

He lamented the near extinction of Mopane worms which were both a delicacy and a source of income for hard-pressed villagers in parts of Bikita, Zaka and Chiredzi.

“We used to harvest tonnes of Mopane worms every year here (Chiredzi), but all this is now history,” he said.  “The rate at which trees are being converted into charcoal and the actual logging of trees for firewood is slowly turning this district into a desert.”

Chief Romwe said there was need for a holistic approach towards addressing the plight of rural communities by coming up with sustainable projects.

“Surely, we have to view this issue with an open mind,” he said.  “The villagers are not destroying the environment for fun, they are hungry, that is why they are selling firewood and charcoal.

“This, however, is not sustainable; we want the Government and other relevant arms of the State to help the communities to start income-generating projects.


Exotic diseases carried by the invasive Indian myna bird could help it establish itself over native Australian wildlife, new research has found.  Australian wildlife has long been struggling with the introduced species, known to chase away native wildlife and steal nesting spots.

But a new study has discovered the birds could pose a threat beyond the tussle for territory — by spreading the avian malaria parasite the study looked at more than 260 mynas caught across south-east Queensland, together with published data on more than 3,000 mynas and native birds across the region.

Griffith University PhD researcher Nicholas Clark said up to 40 per cent of the pest species carry the parasite in south-east Queensland.  “We did find that mynas in Australia carry a very broad range of malaria parasites and they carry a much higher prevalence of malaria than most native Australian birds,” he said.

“We suspected that they were able to carry a lot of strains of malaria.  They might gain an advantage over native birds in Australia that aren’t used to carrying that many strains.”


 SAYS US AGENCY, 18 July 2019

The world experienced its hottest June on record last month, with an average temperature worldwide of 61.6F (16.4C), according to new data.  The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average global temperature was 1.7F warmer than the 20th Century average.  The heat was most notable in parts of Europe, Russia, Canada and South America, it said.

The NOAA report was released as the US prepares for a “dangerous heatwave”.  The National Weather Service has warned that tens of millions of people will be affected by excessive heat in the coming days, with temperatures expected to reach up to 110F (43.3C).

In its latest monthly global climate report, the NOAA said the heat in June had brought Antarctic sea ice coverage to a record low.  Nine of the 10 hottest Junes on its 1880-2019 record have occurred in the past nine years, it said.  Last month beat June 2016 to be named the hottest.

Nasa and other groups also reached the same conclusion last month.  Scientists have warned that record-setting temperatures will continue as a result of climate change.  “Earth is running a fever that won’t break thanks to climate change,” climatologist Kathie Dello told the Associated Press news agency.  “This won’t be the last record warm summer month that we will see.”


With acknowledgement to The Herald July 29,2019; Nesia Mhaka Herald Reporter

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has increased its awareness campaigns as it seeks to control veld fires during the 2019 fire season.

Last year, a 6,2 percent reduction in the hectarage destroyed by veld fires was realised.

EMA has increased awareness programmes and implemented fire management projects in communities at risk such as fireguard construction and fire risk prediction using Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

This year’s fire season is running under the theme, “Protect the environment: Life and property — Prevent veld fires”.

EMA environmental education and publicity manager Mrs Amkela Sidange told The Herald yesterday: “Fires need to be controlled nationwide to ensure the sustainable utilisation of natural resources and the protection of the environment.

“The environmental and socio-economic costs associated with veld fires have significantly affected the economic growth potential of this country.”

EMA has also trained people in fighting veld fires.

Last year, the country recorded 1 595 veld fires, which devoured about 1,2 million hectares of land.

Mrs Sidange urged local authorities ensure that land within their jurisdiction was protected from veld fires by putting in place appropriate fire prevention measures.

“Veld fire management calls for acts of responsibility by everyone; as it can take just a single fire to destroy large tracts of land, property and even lives if due precaution is not taken.

“The agency is also calling upon traditional leaders to ensure communities within their jurisdiction are educated on fire management and also apply punitive measures through their traditional courts to those who start fires,” said Mrs Sidange.

She added that as the country approaches the fire season, EMA will prosecute all landowners that fail to put in place standard fireguards to protect their properties.

People who started veld fires, those who failed to put out fires and those who failed to report fires within seven days would be prosecuted.


8th September 2019                    Springtime Trees in the Matopos

13th – 15th September 2019         Matopos Classic MTB

24th November  2019                 Annual General Meeting



Subscriptions for the year 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020 fall due on 30 September 2019.  Please ensure that your subs for 2019 are up to date.  There has been no increase in rates.

US$ 20             Individual/Family

US$100            Corporate

The AGM resolved that from 2019 we will accept only US$ but will accept Zimbabwe Dollars at the bank rate on the day of payment.  We would prefer the former if you are able to pay in US$.  If you need any information, please contact the Chairman on


You are reminded that the Society has a stock of fleece sleeveless jackets, in olive green with orange MCS logo.  They are ideal for the cool mornings and evenings.  These are available at $20 each.  We still have stocks of hats and caps (at $10 each).  CD’s are also available.


The website for the Society has been updated, so make some time to visit the site.  Contributions are welcome.  We have also revamped our Facebook page “Matobo Conservation Society”.  We continue to update our Facebook page; we welcome any contributions from Members.  Go to “Matobo Conservation Society” on Facebook, and “like” the page to ensure you get regular updates.  Over 1,000 people are following us on Facebook.

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