SAFARIS in Zimbabwe are among the most affordable in Africa.
At Matobo National Park🐾Wildlife sightings aren’t marred by hoards of other tourists.
Thanks to thick 🌿🌱vegetation and abundant water, the Matobo Hills support a high population of animals and birds.
According to Dambari, a non-profit conservation and research organisation , the last full count of animal species in the Matobo Hills in 2011 totalled 110.
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We’re almost done with the field work for our mammal count project to estimate population sizes of large mammals in Rhodes Matopos National Park (RMNP). So far we’ve accounted for 26 different species either through visual sightings or else by spoor, dung or using our camera traps. (Just to put that number in some context – since 2011 our camera traps have recorded 56 larger mammals and the full count of all mammals including rodents, shrews and bats in RMNP is around 110.) Here is a full list of the species seen so far: African wild cat Banded mongoose Black rhino Brown hyaena Bushbuck Bushpig Common duiker Common reedbuck Eland Giraffe Green (vervet) monkey Grey-footed (Chacma) baboon Hippo Impala Klipspringer Kudu Leopard Meller's mongoose Serval Slender mongoose Spotted hyaena Steenbok Warthog Waterbuck White rhino Zebra #matobo #matobohills #dambari #wildlife #conservation #research #zimbabwe
1. Black and White Rhino
👉The Matobo National Park is home to the country’s largest population of white and black 👌rhino and the game park is designated an Intensive Preservation Zone for their protection💂.
The white rhinos here are one of largest and heaviest land animals in the world.They are endowed with an immense body and large head, a short neck and broad chest.
Females weigh 1,700 kg and males 2,300 kg .The head-and-body length is 3.4–4.5 m and a shoulder height of 160–186 cm.
💥MATOBO is not only one of the world’s geological oddities- it is a birders paradise too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A checklist of over 370 bird species, among them the world’s highest concentration of black eagles🕊 is so impressive for such a small national park. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The vast granite domes, oval-shaped extrusions known as whalebacks, and blocks of broken granite called castle kopjes make #Matobo a perfect habitat for all types of birds. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A trip to the #Matopos as it is sometimes called, will satisfy your hunger to see raptors and bush birds. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We have put together a list of only 5 Bird Species to watch on a visit to the Matobo Hills- just for you!
The Boulder Chat
The Mocking Chat
The Plum Colored Starling
Red Winged Starling
Red Billed Hornbill
YES you read that right. There is a right and wrong way to be a wildlife tourist.
We all love animals. It is in our nature to care for animals.
We want to know more about them.
We even want to interact with them and that’s where our misguided love for wildlife becomes problematic and detremental to the animal.
Riding elephants, walking with lions and taking photos WITH wild animals sounds fun, but in reality, these are unnatural ways of interacting with wildlife.
The truth of the matter is that you need to be wide eyed and alert to unethical behaviour throughout the entire safari industry.
The problem with the so-called ‘intimate’ wildlife encounters.
The major problem with such kinds of ‘intimate’ wildlife encounters is that they sometimes rely heavily on breeding wild animals in captivity without a clear plan for release back into the wild.
At worst, they also rely on inhumane handling of wild animals under the guise of ‘training’ them and making ‘safe’ for human interaction.
How else would you train an elephant without separating it from its mother while it is young and instilling fear in it? How else would you make a lion safe to walk with, pose for a selfie with and touch without declawing, drugging it or simply keeping it in habituation.
Clearly, paying huge sums of money to interact with wild animals in this manner is the wrong way to be a wildlife tourist in our country and anywhere else in the world.
Instead, the right way to be a wildlife tourist is to ensure that your own interaction with wildlife is ethical. Here are three ways.
1. ENSURE that at all times, you are viewing wild animals engaging in natural behaviours in their natural environments.
In the same vein, if you want to see lions, go to Hwange National Park and observe them in the wilderness.
Who knows, you might see a lion hunting for its next meal and that will surely be a much more interesting encounter than taking a selfie with a lion in captivity.
2. LOOK out for red flags
At times, we view animals in places called Wildlife ‘Sanctuaries’ and ‘Orphanages’.
Whilst some of these places are doing a good job to conserve wildlife and protect it, some of them get sloppy and begin to exploit the animals they purport to save.
Your job as a wildlife tourist also is to scrutinise the welfare of wildlife kept in these places.
Question whether or not the environment is appropriate for the animals.Be sure to observe shelter, and check if there is ample space for the animals to live comfortably and rest.
Also observe whether or not they have a secluded place to retreat from crowds.
Observe the appearance of the animals themselves. Are they injured? Are the animals being forced to perform for tourists like giving rides and posing with them.
Most importantly, ask when the animals will be released back into the wild and check if the sanctuary has released any in the past.
A lion cub which has been handled by hundreds of humans can almost never be successfully released into the wild according to Conservation Travel Africa, an organisation dedicated to bridging the gap between wildlife conservation and community development.
3. ACT responsibly
When viewing wildlife in their natural habitat or otherwise, you have to act responsibly so that you do not cause distress to the animals.
For instance, when on Safari, dress appropriately – in khakhis, dark greens and browns so that you blend in with natural environment.
Bheki Jiyane, a tour guide with a Safari operator in the Matopos National Park, advises wildlife tourists to “make very little noise and turn off camera flashes so that your presence is less distressing for the animals.”
Loud and unnatural noises distress wildlife.
The Matobo Hills is not all about famous hills and majestic scenery. It is also a place where eagles dare.
Nearly one third of the world’s 47 eagle species nest in the hills. The black eagle , African fish eagle, crowned eagle, martial eagle and brown snake eagle can all be seen perched conspicuously on trees.
In fact, the highest concentration of black eagles found anywhere in the world is in the Matobo Hills.
These birds of prey hunt and feed on small mammals, fish and reptiles.
They have keen eyesight for detecting their prey at a distance or during flight, strong feet equipped with talons for grasping or killing their catch, and powerful, curved beaks for tearing flesh.
Eagles play a vital ecological role, similar to that of land animals such as cats, which use supreme hunting skills as a means for survival.
Each eagles’ hunting technique reflects habitat. This makes some eagles specialist hunters, pouncing on a specific species of prey, whilst others are more of generalist pouncing on mammals, reptiles and birds in the wild.
Here is a selection of five types of Eagles you are likely to see on a standard game drive in the Matopos National Park.
1. The African Fish Eagle
The African fish eagle can be seen along the waterways and dams of the Matobo Hills.
The fish eagle is a large bird with conspicuous black and white chestnut plumage.
It hunts waterfowl and often pirates food from other birds, using its particularly sharpened scales on its feet that help grip the slippery catch.
This predator may spend just about 10 minutes per day hunting, in order to meet it’s nutritional needs.
2. The African Crowned Eagle
This bird is one of the most ferocious hunters on the African skies. It is common in the wooded valleys of the Matobo area.
With a mass of between 2.5 – 4.5 kg, this bird regularly kills prey heavier than itself. Forest mammals like monkeys and duikers weighing about 25kg and even domestic cats are never safe when this eagle is in the vicinity.
Thanks to its massive talons, this bird , sporting a signature crested head and chestnut underwings is one of the most powerful predators in the Matobo Hills.
3. Black Eagle
This large eagle feeds on rock hyraxes which it captures by flying low on the hillsides of granite mounds in Matobo.
This large eagle feeds on rock hyraxes which it captures by flying low on the hillsides of granite mounds in Matobo.
The rocky, mountainous terrain of the Matobo Hills actually makes this bird thrive.
It is all black excerpt for the white rump, white ‘V’ on back, and bright yellow bill and feet.
4. Martial Eagle
This is Africa’s largest eagle, with a wingspan that may span up to 2.2 metres and a mass of 6kg.
It is widespread throughout the Matobo area and feeds on monitor lizards and guinea fowl. Sometimes, the Martial eagle pounces on mammals up to the size of a small antelope.
In soaring flight, it shows broad, vulture like wings, and white belly that contrasts with otherwise dark underside.
5. Brown Snake Eagle
Snake eagles are drawn to the hills by the reptiles that abound.
The Brown snake eagle is the largest of five types of snake eagles. It is commonly seen perched on bare trees, ready to pounce on mambas and cobras (up to 1,5 metres long ), puff adders, and even lizards.
This eagle, with an owl-like head and piercing yellow eye has thickly scaled legs as protection from the deadly bites of its serpent prey.
Eagles in human culture.
The formidable prowess of birds of prey lend them emblematic status in human culture.
They are national seals and symbols of nations all over the world.
The African fish eagle alone is the national symbol of five nations.
A Safari in the Matobo Hills will turn you into a bird watcher given the number of species that dominate the skies.
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💯 The Matobo Hills are an area of diverse fauna, inhabited by 👉88 mammal species.
Mammals are a warm-blooded vertebrate animal of a class that is distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, females that secrete milk for the nourishment of the young, and (typically) the birth of live young.
Two of the Big 5 game animals, the rhino and leopard can be found in Matobo, 🏹 together with several antelope species including 🦓Kudu, Sable and Klipspringer. It only takes a game drive to see these animals in their natural habitat.
Believe it or not, the Matobo Hills have the world’s highest concentration of the 🐆 leopard, due to the abundance of rock dassies, which make up 50 % of their diet.
The rock dassie, elephant shrew and banded mongoose are among the smaller species of mammals that live in rocky hills and valleys of Matobo also known as the Matopos 🏹. A hike up any of the magnificent granite landforms is likely to lead to a sighting of these smaller mammals.
The best time to visit the Matobo Hills is during The dry season from June to October. Wildlife is easier to spot at that time because vegetation is thinner and animals gather around predictable water sources.
The Matobo Hills cover an area of about 3100 km², of which 424 km² is National Park, 🦓 the remainder being largely communal land and a small proportion of commercial farmland. The game park is 100 km² of beautiful scenery including some amazing balancing rocks and impressive views 💥.
7 Fun Facts That Will Make You Fall In With Love The Dassie
You may know the Dassie (Afrikaans) as a rock hyrax. The dassie may look like a rodent but it isn’t one. It has been reported that this little creature is closely related to elephants.
Dassies are mainly found in the drier and rocky areas of Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa and NorthEast Africa. Matobo Hills and Serengeti in Tanzania are some examples of these areas.
Here are some interesting things about the dassie that will amaze you.
1. The dassie’s upper incisors grow continuously. If you look closely at the image below, you can see the two teeth protruding from its mouth. Since they don’t stop growing, this means those teeth will probably end up looking like tiny tusks. Just like its relatives’.
2. Even though dassies are diurnal, they spend most of this “active” time doing absolutely nothing. A little bit of it is spent looking for food or interacting. Apparently, the dassies will be trying to avoid predators or save their energy.
3. The rock hyrax has an unusually long gestation period. Pretty much like the elephant’s. Its babies, known as pups, are born in summer after around seven to eight months. These pups are usually born around the same summer time each year. Did we also mention that they’re born with their eyes and ears open?
4. Dassies are very sociable creatures. They tend to live in large groups of up to 80 dassies. These often comprise a male dassie being in charge of several females and their pups. These large groups are widely distributed in protected areas.
This is why the dassie is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “least concern”. This means they are highly unlikely to go extinct any time soon. This doesn’t mean that this creature doesn’t have predators to keep a watchful eye on.
5. The rock hyrax has excellent vision which allows it to directly look at the sun. It’s also quite capable of spotting a predator from afar. Some of its predators include eagles, pythons, caracals and leopards. It’s a good thing that this creature has such a special set of eyes. How else would it be able to keep a keen watch on the eagle without damaging its eyes?
The little creatures are also said to eat in a circular formation with their heads pointing towards the outside of the circle. Why they do this? To keep an eye on any of their predators.
6. Dassies love to sunbathe and keep warm a lot. During the night, they often sleep on top of each other and this is known as “heaping“. Their day often starts with catching some sun on the rocks for several hours before they start searching for food. Since these little critters are not fans of the cold or wet weather, they are difficult to spot when the weather is not to their liking.
7. Dassies have short, hoofed legs and a short tail. They have four rounded toes on the front feet while the back feet have three. The toes all have nails. However, the back foot has a long nail which it uses to pick through its fur or scratch itself. This nail is called the grooming claw, unsurprisingly.
The soles of the feet are thick and padded and this helps keep them permanently moist. This moisture helps the dassies to easily climb steep and smooth rocks.
The quickest and easiest way to become a rhino expertFirstly, is a Black Rhino even black? Is a White Rhino well, white?
The answer to both questions is NO.
That’s right! Both species are, in fact, grey with the Black Rhino having a darker shade than the White Rhino.
So, how do you tell the Difference Between a Black and White Rhino?
There are several differences between the two species.
However, the main difference lies in their size, the shape of their lips and what they eat.
The White Rhino is the second largest land mammal after the elephant. Its name is said to have been derived from the Afrikaans word, wyd, which describes the shape of its mouth and means, wide.
The theory goes that the Dutch settlers in South Africa initially called them “wijd mond rhino”, meaning “wide-mouth rhino.” Early English settlers mistranslated the term “wyd” to “white” and hence the name, white rhino while the darker rhino was called the Black Rhino.
The White Rhino is a grazer and its wide and square upper lip is adapted for easier feeding on grasses. If you happen to spot one while on safari, you will notice that it is usually facing downwards so its mouth is always close to the ground when grazing.
Unlike the White Rhino, Black Rhino are browsers and their smaller, hook-shaped lips allow them to grasp prickly shrubs and trees. They are always facing upward so that there is no need to for them to lift their heads when feeding off trees.
And What Is The Difference Between a “Black” and “White” Rhino?
• Black Rhino are slightly smaller and shorter than White Rhino.
• White Rhino have longer foreheads and slightly longer tails than their Black counterparts.
• White Rhino also have bigger heads and longer necks due to the muscles required to support the neck when grazing.
• Again, the hips of a White Rhino are lower than its shoulders and this gives it a sloped shape to its resulting in a sloped shape to their back unlike the black rhinos that have dipped backs.
If you are on safari –
You generally should expect to see White Rhino more often than Black Rhino. There are two reasons for this – the behaviour and quantity of the species.
Firstly, Black Rhino are private, anti-social creatures which spend much of their time in thick vegetation, browsing the twigs and bark from small trees and shrubs.
On the other hand, White Rhino are a bit more sociable and can be found in larger groups. Since they eat grass, you are more likely to see the White Rhino out in open spaces.
Secondly, there are far more White Rhino left than the Black Rhino which are now critically endangered.
Did you know that Matobo National Park is one of the last sanctuaries for the Black and White Rhino?
When you visit us at Matobo Hills Lodge, you can expect to go on game drives where you will get to view these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
An opportunity your grand children may never have.
If you are interested in learning more about the various activities in store for you at Matobo Hills Lodge –