January 2016 – Wilderness Safaris is pleased to share the results of the 2015 annual game count in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, which indicate that the waterholes in Wilderness’ private concessions attract significant numbers of the park’s wildlife. The collaborative exercise, under the auspices of Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ), aims to map out and understand the population trends of Hwange’s diverse animal species, as well as provide critical information for conservation and management purposes.
“This is an outstanding testament to our conservation of the area over an extended period of time,” says Ron Goatley, MD of Wilderness Safaris Zimbabwe, “as we have continuously provided water and a safe haven for animals despite the harder economic times in the country. Overall, the high concentrations of game present in our concessions show that our commitment has reaped tremendous benefits for the wildlife in our care.”
Initiated in 1972, the waterhole count takes place every year with the help of Wilderness Safaris staff, as well as local and international volunteers. A 24-hour count takes place during full moon, with observers placed at all the waterholes throughout the park. It is done specifically in the dry season, since this is the time that most game go to the waterholes to drink, as the seasonal pans dry out.
Statistics of the past eight years indicate that significant numbers of Hwange’s game – for example: 32% of the park’s elephant population, 31% of buffalo, and a whopping 85% of the wildebeest population – can be found in Wilderness Safaris concessions in the dry season. Moreover, large numbers of uncommon or rare antelope such as sable (50%), eland (75%) and even roan (24%) were seen at the Wilderness waterholes at this time.
Since 2002, Wilderness Safaris has been responsible for 17 of Hwange’s 57 boreholes, ensuring that they pump 24 hours a day in the dry season. Aside from drilling for water and supplying the Lister engines, maintenance includes daily refuelling, full oil and filter changes every 50 hours and repair or replacement of aging machines.
“Our team is completely committed and works daily on the boreholes. While the work is hard, we feel that our efforts are worthwhile, especially in the current drought conditions, as this keeps the water flowing – and the animals coming, as the game count has proven,” adds Goatley.
View the Wilderness Safaris blog for more information on Hwange’s borehole maintenance.
Far left and right: Wilderness Safaris conservation team maintaining waterholes daily; Middle: Waterhole in concession