The Zambezi National Park, adjacent to Victoria Falls, is 55,000 hectares in extent, with over 30km of Zambezi River frontage. The park is effectively divided into two sections, with the road from Victoria Falls to Botswana as the dividing line. These sections are the Zambezi River section – has the river and associated floodplains, – and the Chamabonda Vlei (pronounced “flay”) section – the southern area, which has a long open grassy plain amidst the vast teak woodland.
Bhejane Trust has been active in the Chamabonda Vlei for over seven years, as prior to this the area had been neglected for many years with no functioning water points, subject to heavy poaching, and with no one going into the area. Bhejane Trusts efforts to restore the area have proved to be very successful, with the wildlife populations rebounding, and there is now a return of both locals residents and tourists to the area.
Completed Projects by Bhejane Trust
a) Water points – there were originally three water points along the Chamabonda Vlei, which, by 2011 had not been pumped for many years. Bhejane initially revived two of the three water points with diesel engines, and in 2014 they secured funding to drill two more boreholes (replacing one that had collapsed), and installed four solar water pump units. In 2015 Bhejane Trust drilled and equipped two more boreholes, one supplementing an existing pan and one to a new pan. We now have six functioning solar powered pumps supplementing five pans.
c) has put in a new road network linked into the old network in the western area, so as to improve the game viewing experience. Also graveled and graded sections of the main access road to make it all-weather
d) Instituted a mowing program on the vlei, to give a green bite for game. Grass is mowed and bailed in return for maintenance work carried out by the contractor in the park.
e) has undertaken controlled burning programs in conjunction with Parks, and assisted on wild fire control.
f) assisted parks on patrol deployments, on ranger requirements for patrols, and operates a rewards system for rangers successful in their duties in combating poaching.
Projects to be Undertaken by Bhejane Trust
a) Water points – To drill and equip another borehole at Andre’s Pan, to supplement an existing water point that is under severe elephant pressure.
b) To drill and equip another borehole at No 3 Pan which will supplement this existing water point that is under severe elephant pressure during the dry season
c) Roads – to continue repairs to make the main road all-weather, to grade existing roads and to expand the road network where required
d) Tourism – to maintain the hide and overnight camp facilities at No 3. We are also building two new game viewing hides at Timots Pan (No 2) and Thomson’s Pan (No 4) in 2016 which will be available for overnight viewing and to improve the whole experience when in the Park
e) management – to continue mowing program on vlei, and to combine this with a rotational burning program, to ensure the vitality of the vlei. This is tied in to the overall Parks Matetsi program.
f) To continue to assist Parks in all aspects where possible, including anti-poaching, roads, fire, etc.
Research projects to be undertaken by Bhejane Trust
a) To ascertain the status of the Sable Antelope in Park
b) To undertake a hippo count along the Zambezi from Kazungula to Victoria Falls, to assess their status and protection requirements. We have a drone coming to assist in this survey.
c) Southern Africa Bird Atlas Program – to compile a bird atlas for the area
d) Vegetation and fire mapping program
e) Game population survey – road strip counts, 24 hour water point counts
f) Fixed point photography for vegetation surveys
g) Vulture and raptor breeding survey
h) Seasonal movements of buffalo, elephant in the local area
i) small cats survey – species and distribution