We hear from our partners in Zimbabwe at the Rhino and Elephant conservation project…
The Zimbabwe Rhino and Elephant Conservation project is all about deep connections: between animals, people and communities. It’s about living close to our conscience; sharing, caring and breathing the same breath as nature.
At the project’s base in eastern Zimbabwe, the animals live in harmony with each other, cared for by the local family team and volunteers who travel with Real Gap every year.
The relationships between the animals themselves are extraordinary and seeing the way they care for each other so tenderly is an incredible experience. One of our favourite examples of this is little Tatenda, the black rhino calf who was orphaned and who went on to become best of friends with Poggle the warthog.
Nzhou the elephant, matriarch to a herd of buffalo, is another fantastic example of the care these animals give each other – but also the humans who care for them. Eye witnesses were stunned to see the extraordinary behavior of this gentle giant Nzhou as she protected her handler from an aggressive buffalo bull.
They are a close knit family at the project – the handlers, rhinos and the elephants. Mac, the 38 year old bull, is a brilliant tracker who helps to find the white rhino when they have gone too far afield. Toto, a quiet, courageous elephant has a deep connection with people who have disabilities. The team is able to witness remarkable happenings on a daily basis as they are in such a privileged position as their caretakers.
Where in the world is anyone able to share such sacred moments with black and white rhino.
These endangered animals, close to extinction, must be cherished and protected, this project does exactly that. The fantastic team plays a big role in the surrounding communities too and 2010 saw 3780 children mostly from the rural areas having this golden opportunity to share in the heritage of Zimbabwe.
This volunteer programme with Real Gap also works within the schools, teaching sports, permaculture conservation and helping out in the classrooms. As part of the programme, the team in Zimbabwe has built a new classroom for the primary school children and now hold an annual football and netball tournament in memory of the tragic loss rhino in the area in 2007, a constant reminder of how fragile the local heritage is.
The team and volunteers visit the rural areas with the elephant, bringing wildlife back into their homelands where once the animals were in abundance and roamed freely.
Trekking some 150kms, sharing adventures around the elders camp fires, in areas where the elephant is a totem to so many, yet never seen. The Zimbabwe Rhino and Elephant Conservation project is an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity to those people who go out and experience it for themselves.
Truly remarkable moments.
You can experience these remarkable moments for yourself with Real Gap’s Zimbabwe Rhino and Elephant Conservation project. We also have other wildlife projects around the world – take a look via the website or give one of our travel advisors a call on 01892 516 164.