A wildlife protection team
Volunteer on the ground for community projects, wildlife protection and other vital activities.

We welcome any individuals sharing the same objectives as us. Contact us for further information.
Catch a glimpse of the wildlife. This is one of the species we aim to save. There are dozens of others that need our protection.

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MARCH 2013


  • Pels Fishing Owl nest found
  • Elephants back in Umfurudzi Park
  • White-faced Ducks and chicks at Hippo Pools dam
  • Many road works needed after heavy rains
  • Fish growing well in dams and ponds

    Hippo Pools

    The rainy season is nearly over. We received only 34mm of rain this month, giving us a total of 844mm for the season. Easter was a very busy weekend and we have resumed canoeing so the clients were enjoying the time on the river.

    We have had great viewing of birdlife, including a newly found Pels Fishing Owl nest. All the White-faced Ducks are now living at the top dam with broods of chicks.

    We have also been monitoring a nesting pair of Collared Sunbirds that have built their nest behind Tamarind Chalet, next to a wasps nest for protection.

    Another 140 trees have been planted around the camp and this will continue, as we are able to supply enough water here.

    We have been trying to install ZESA (electricity) into the camp, but have encountered a few problems on the way. The main issue has been trying to get the ZESA technician here, as he is always busy. The upside is that the transformer is in place and ready to work.

    Kerry Van Leenhof has sent us new designs for the new 6-sleeper A Frame at the Hippo Pools South, (in Garura Section).

    Mazowe River Game Reserve

    Garura Section - The rainy season destroyed the access road from Mutawatawa to Garura so we decided to borrow a JCB from our next-door-neighbours and, with the assistance of our tractor, we have dug drains down the side of the road giving it a better shape, in the hope that the road will endure the next rains.

    I went fishing at Dams 1&2 to see the size of the fish in the dams and managed to catch a number of Nilotica Bream and some Barbel. The Bream were about 5 inches long and the Barbel were about 12 inches long. Should be good fishing in about a year.

    We have been able to resume game drives since the rain slackened off and repairs to the roads were possible. Its always a great outing for the clients as they usually see all the game in the reserve.

    We have had to stop planting trees, as lack of water is now becoming a problem here. Another problem has been that the game has been eating the Moringa trees, so we started planting Acacia Tortilis instead and they seem to be doing very well.

    Clients have been booking the A Frame Chalet and we have made a few changes based on their comments. These have been well received. One of these was putting plants inside the bathroom - they are both aesthetically pleasing and also they reduce echo.

    Nyagande Section - The gold miners coming into the camp at Sunungukai Lodges give us good business during the week.

    One family that normally stays at Hippo Pools booked in at Sunungukai during the Easter period and said they enjoyed themselves as it was quieter.

    There is now a boat with a small motor situated at the camp for clients to go fishing.

    Upgrading continues with the floors of the chalets being lined with glitter stone.

    France's Cave - With the new plans for the cave area having been drawn up, there is a lot of potential to attract clients. Kerry Van Leenhof has sent us designs for this project too.

    Community Support - I was very lucky to have been able to be on site when we made a School-Aid UK delivery of schoolbooks etc to one of the five schools. The kids were very excited to see the amount of boxes with various goods inside.

    Since setting up electricity at the school, Nyagande School has now taken it upon themselves to offer night classes for adults. This is a great opportunity for village, which never had that option in the past.

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    Damien O'Donnel for Iain Jarvis
    Executive Director Wilderness Africa (who is on leave)

    Supported by the Ambuya Foundation Registered Charity no. 1141004 www.Ambuyainaction.org Follow us on Facebook too at www.Facebook.com/Ambuya

    Editor's Bit

    Come to Zimbabwe

    I'm noticing more of the safari company adverts in the UK press are once again including Zimbabwe on their itineraries. I've been here six times since 2010 and have experienced total friendliness, so don't be put off by the inevitable 'worst-case-scenario' newspaper reporting. Come and see for yourself!

    Under the Wilderness Africa umbrella here are now three different places to stay - Hippo Pools with its mature trees and cool lawns, Sunungukai Lodges with authentic but modernised rondavals (mud brick round houses with thatched roofs and intricate beams) and Francis' Cave, a huge limestone cave that defies description.

    As well as these, the Hippo Pools office can put you in touch with many other beautiful places to stay from the amazingly upmarket to the National Parks campsites. Many of these venues are run by conservationists who urgently need tourists to carry on their work - it's a case of use it or lose it.

    Contact Hippo Pools marketing people -Sally Bertinotti at sally@wildernessafrica.co.zw and Jean Nyangoni at jean@wildernessafrica.co.zw I can be contacted at sally@AmbuyaInAction.org

    Sally Plummer

    By Jaison Jamu, Hippo Pools Camp Supervisor

    Hippo Pools

    We had a very wet month, with a total accumulated rainfall of 536mm. On 13 14 January the river flooded up to the edges of the lawns and we removed furniture from nearby chalets to the ones furthest from the river. Mahogany chalet survived the flood however it is even more the best ever river view.One of our clients passed by the rubbish dump on a walk and spotted a Leguaan with its head in a beef tin. The Leguaan wasnt walking since it could not see its way. She brought it to me at the office for rescue. She asked me to give her a hand slowly removing the tin from its head. It was unconscious and tired for about 30 minutes then it went away. The Leguaan is praying for Mrs Kuiper to keep on coming to Hippo Pools because she rescued him, otherwise he could have died of hunger.

    At our main kitchen area, a new area for cooking by fire was built and roofed. A steel Leopard outline was completed to decorate the wall of Marula chalet; different types of stones were put on it to give the leopard its spots. Weeding in the camp is now the major job to be done daily until we overcome them.

    Welding  three windows were made using flat bars and wire mesh. The welder finished making the bridge to the swimming pool.

    Road  after the bad rains we had two guys making or opening drains along Madziwa road up to National Parks turnoff. At the moment they are fixing the drifts by putting more rocks on them. They have already completed opening the drains and will soon complete fixing the drifts and the bad parts of the road.

    Footpaths  slashing was done up to T31 Umfurudzi which is 1½km from Hippo Pools lodge. All footpaths from the Mazowe River going up to the main road were slashed. The red path to the west was slashed 2km to 86 and the other red to Chizinga up to 85, 2km again was slashed. The red to the north to T5 was slashed and the footpaths from 66 to Mazowe were slashed. At the moment the guy using the weed eater machine is re-slashing footpaths around the camp.

    By Simba Chibike, Supervisor


    A wet month, the amount of rainfall received is far more than what was received during both November and December. The river flooded once for about four days, with the water level above the highest point previously recorded. We planted quite a number of trees and the camp was lawned a week ago. As the growth rate for most plants is high, lawn is cut on a weekly basis. The camp grounds are looking good under a green carpet. Planted trees are looking good. There were a lot of births among our animals.

    Fence, Road & Dams

    As the ground is wet some trees are falling over the fence and, at some points, the fence is collapsing. Our team is doing daily inspections and maintenance. Our road, which is the shortest route to Hippo Pools through Mutungagore, is in good state but the mountainside section collapsed at some sites. Blasters are busy on the rocky kopje on point No.9, the worst point. Very soon, work should start on the road, clearing earth on the collapsed sides and removing rubble from the blast site. The two culverts on the bridge are choked up with silt so, as soon as the water level goes down, we will be busy opening them. The bridge itself is in a good state.

    If you would like to see just where Simba is working, look at Google Earth. 17o 09 22.08 S and 31 o 51 08.48 E is marked as Nyagande Primary School. Go north west a short way to find a green tree symbol - this is Sunungukai Lodges(the rondavels are visible) on the bend of the Mazowe River. Immediately to the north of Sunungukai and the school is a massive forested ridge. This is Mutungagore Mountain and Simba is building the road right around the western edge of it, alongside the river. The road then travels north east and joins with an existing road towards Tsokodeka School and Garura Village.  You can see Kutsokodeka School at 17 o 06 26.95 S and 31 o 51 30.03. These are old images - Kutsokodeka is now about twice this size. Ed.


    We have recorded high birth rates amongst the animals. The Blue Wildebeest increased from 10 to 15. The spoors and signs of the Bushbuck show that the birth rate is good. The condition of Zebra, Giraffe, and Eland is at its best. Both Giraffes and other browsers are enjoying their habitat, and we expect more births later this year or early next year. Fresh droppings of Clawless Otter were seen at the bridge (Mutungagore)on the 31 January, indicating of a pair of otters in the area.


    Though not a good birding period, I have managed to enjoy good sightings of some birds, mostly raptors. Little Sparrow Hawk visited the camp twice during the last week. The resident African Goshawk was seen raiding domestic chickens. This was a good encounter. He waited patiently for hours, perched on a branch. Though he was not lucky that day, it was good to watch him try his fortune. Lanner Falcons flew past the camp during the middle of the month. Narina Trogons are in the area now; they are heard calling on daily basis. Not forgetting the Augur Buzzard, which is a raptor of the area.

    By Tadious Ndadziira, Patrol Guide

    In the flood, water birds resorted to small pools and dams in the camp. African Crowned Eagle making display calls. Giant Eagle Owl seen quite often roosting in big Umbrella Thorn tree and also heard calling in the morning. Our special residents are still very easy to find.

    Important Observations

  • Giant Kingfisher - often seen in dams around the camp, especially the main dam, enjoying their daily meals.
  • Malachite Kingfisher - also around at the top dam and sometimes along the swing bridge stream.
  • Little Sparrow Hawk  always at the top dam in the morning and late in the afternoon.
  • Little Grebe stays at the top dam each and every rainy season and might be nesting at the top end of the dam as one identified in breeding plumage.
  • White-faced Duck  were three pairs before the dam flowed over, and now two pairs still there
  • Broad billed Roller-seen perching on power line and could be seen flying across the dam and sitting in Mopani trees.
  • Narina Trogon-the female is a bit tame but calls less than the male. To find the female listen for a whispering call. This trick helped and good photographs of both female and male were taken.
  • Livingstones Flycatcher- now in pairs and breeding. Easy to discover when calling in early mornings at 5am.
  • Giant Eagle Owl a guarantee at Hippo Pools. Roosts in big Umbrella Thorn tree and could also be heard calling during the day.
  • African Goshawk- permanently nesting in the camp and juveniles could be heard making begging calls.
  • African Crowned Eagle-  are making lots of display calls around the camp.
  • Little Sparrowhawk -observed in the camp on a hunt and seen feeding on a Butterfly (Foxy Emperor -Charaxes jasins saturns).
  • Trees

    Tree planting project is still going on with at least 50 plants planted per day. Holes are being dug and filled up with topsoil and then 50gms of Compound D fertilizer. Cow peas and sorghum also being put in. Half moon basins were made around the trees to trap run-off water and nutrients. Weeding in plant stations has started. Generally, all bare patches in the reserve were ripped to plant sorghum and cowpeas.


    The propagation of indigenous trees produced good results. Two nursery gardens are in full operation. Both of them have got thousands of trees. Hippo Pools garden has got 2535 with most of them big enough for planting. 3130 plants are in Garura, but still small. Mulching is done to stop too water being taken in. Filling topsoil in pockets is a daily exercise as lots of seeds are germinating.


    By Leon Van Der Merwe, Supervisor Patrol Scouts


    The beginning of 2013 was very peaceful and progressive. The wildlife and nature for both areas  Hippo Pools and Garura Section of the Mazowe River Game Park - are doing well. We havent received any report about game poaching or fish poaching this month. No tree cutting or any other illegal activities reported this month from the two areas.

    Most of the daily reports from our scouts are very pleasing, being about big herds of game being sighted very near the Hippo Pools camp - Eland, Kudu, Impala, Zebra, Warthog and a few Waterbuck in breeding herds. Only one animal death was reported, a juvenile Kudu taken by a crocodile.

    Garura Section

    In Garura all the animals are fine. Our Bushbuck have dropped a lovely lamb this month. We are being very successful with our fish project in the park: we have relocated five thousand of Tilapia niloticas fingerlings into our two fish ponds and four dams.

    Before this we had thousands of Red Bream and other Bream species. This fish project is giving us a big hope of having Garura as one of the best Bream fishing places in the next few months.

    We have planted up to 2300 trees around the park, as well as big areas of grass along the Mazowe river banks, where we hoping to have an irrigation system working during the dry season of the year.

    We are also very busy working on our dams and roads within this park, continuing to raise dam walls and upgrade their standard of structure, as well as the roads. We will be working very hard to continue rehabilitating the vegetation here, mostly to improve grazing.

    More effort will go into road maintenance to provide good access for game drives throughout the year, even in the rain season. With an irrigation system installed we will be able to continue tree and grass planting year round.

    The campsite and its facilities will be improved and extended.

    Game Sighted in Umfurudzi National Park

    The game mentioned here is only the new observation for this month. A big breeding herd of more than sixteen Eland; the three Waterbuck seen everyday within the camp dropped a calf this month. Warthog has been very uncommon in the park for the past year, but this month we have observed two different herds. One has more than six individuals, the other one is a big herd with piglets with more than ten members. Hippo Count When the River is very high, as it is now, Hippos are very difficult to see and count.

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