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Going to the Dogs

An Important Resource in Rhino Conservation

If you’ve never been to Zimbabwe before, you are missing a real treat.  It is one of the most beautiful, enigmatic, diverse and friendly countries in Africa.  We partner with Imvelo Safari Lodges who has four very unique camps in and around Hwange National Park. Imvelo promises the luxury of exclusivity, of remote places, of small intimate camps and unique, authentic interactions with nature and local people. 


Imvelo believes in enriching the lives of those who live around them (as well as guests) by ensuring that the local people and wildlife directly benefit from visitors.  Their program has blossomed into a model for successful community-based ecotourism in Zimbabwe.  One of the most important initiatives for Imvelo is The Community Rhino Conservation Initiative that has re-introduced rhinos to Zimbabwe in a highly secure and sustainable way that will eventually enable the National Park to accommodate a viable population of free roaming black and white rhino.  The initiative established a buffer zone between the Park and the communal lands, to stop wild animals being a burden to communities, from destroying their crops and domestic livestock, while also employing a significant number of community members in the project.


In 1985, Hwange National Park had 100 white rhinos; by the 1990s poaching was rampant.  In 2007, the last white rhino was killed by foreign poachers near Ngamo in the southern part of the Park. 

Communities that do not benefit from conservation often harbor negative attitudes toward wildlife.  The Community Rhino Conservation Initiative places local communities at the heart of the conservation efforts and engages them as rhino custodians, enabling them to reap the Initiative's benefits.  These communities have allocated and entrusted some of their communal grazing land specifically for rhino conservation.  Rhino viewing fees from tourists  generate social and economic returns for local people, with 100% of total funds generated from the rhino going back to the communities.


Intelligent canines are trained to be used as protectors of the rhinos by tracking poachers who threaten the rhino population.  Working under the guidance of specialty handlers in the Anti-Poaching and Wildlife Protection unit, two new members have joined the team.  Whisper and Ragnar, two Belgian Malinois dogs, trained in South Africa, alongside Cobras Community Wildlife Protection scouts Smile and Luther, for 3 months.  Ragnar, who just turned 2, is excitable and full of energy - his specialty is in bite work.  Whisper, a female, is more discrete in her skills, disciplined and alert, with an ability to track that is second to none. While it is has taken significant patience and work getting the dogs and rhinos used to each other , there is now an unbreakble trust bewteen them. Both dogs bring great value to the team as the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative continues to grow. Guests are invited to get to know the dogs, their trainers and their skills in many of the camps we have visited in Kenya, Zimbabwe and in South Africa through a visit with the team and demonstration of their tracking and capture skills.


If you are interested in participating in a demo or learning more about the rhino program

please let us know as we plan your trip and we can arrange a special meeting with these fascinating and talented members of the antipoaching teams. #kusinicollection #imvelosafarilodges

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