The Sinamatella Black Rhino

North West Matabeleland, incorporating Hwange National Park and the Zambezi National Park, was traditionally home to both Black and White Rhino. The Black Rhino lived in the rugged hills and bush in what is now the Sinamatella and Robins sectors of Hwange, and were recorded on the basalts of the Zambezi River basin above the Victoria Falls, while the White Rhino was widespread on the flat open Kalahari forest areas predominating this region, noted by F C Selous in numbers on the Dete Vlei in the late 1800’s. However, human influence in the early twentieth century through settlement, agriculture, and unsustainable hunting caused the rhino to be all but wiped out.
 
In the 1980’s, white rhino were reintroduced to Hwange from the Matopos National Park. These White Rhino have unfortunately since been wiped out in Hwange National Park.
In response to severe poaching pressure on the Black Rhino population in the lower Zambezi Valley, an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) was declared in the Sinamatella area where maximum protection and security could be offered, into which were relocated rhinos captured in the Zambezi Valley.
 
The Black Rhino population in the IPZ was at about 90 animals fifteen to twenty years ago, but the unfortunately poaching over the last decade saw their numbers reduced to a population of under 10 today. These rhino are dispersed over about 2000 square kilometres of rugged bush, making monitoring difficult.
Our original photo of a Black Rhino in Sinamatella

Rhino Monitoring and Protection Unit

In 2018 we established the Rhino Monitoring and Protection Unit (RMPU), ably led by Nick Long, and which comprised a small team of Bhejane rhino monitors with selected Parks rangers. This team was highly motivated and very mobile, and their mission was to establish how many rhino existed in the Sinamatella area, their ranges, and to try and ensure their protection.
  The team soon established there were more rhino than originally thought, but found they were increasingly involved in anti-poaching, especially in the neighbouring Deka Safari Area, in their efforts to look after the rhino. The team proved adept at the anti-poaching, and soon stopped the illegal charcoal burning on the Park boundary, stopped the fish poaching and were responsible for nearly all the arrest of poachers on 2019.
With the success of the team, combined with the poaching pressures, it was soon apparent that we needed at least another team on the ground, and this second team was formed in late 2020.
A big thanks to Dr Mark Bristow, and Hunters and Guides for funding our RMPU
 

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