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.
Results Of The Matobo Hills Quiz
We ran a quiz testing your knowledge of the Matobo National Park. The Matobo Hills quiz was a huge success. Nearly 450 of you responded within the 48-hour time-frame for the competition.
Interestingly enough, no one managed to get 100% of the questions correct. Still, congratulations to the winner, Shylet Moyo.
If you haven’t taken the fun & interactive quiz yet, you can take it here – Matobo Hills Quiz
Q1: When did Matobo National Park become a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
More than half of you got the first question right!
Matobo National Park was designated World Heritage Site status in 2003.
This is due to the its cultural, aesthetic, and historical significance.
Q2: What is the wettest month of the year in the Matobo Hills?
Nearly 70% of the respondents answered correctly. January is the wettest month of the year.
Zimbabwe generally has fantastic weather. The days can get very hot (30-35 C), especially October through to December.
The nights get cold during winter, with July being the coldest.
Zimbabwe’s rainy season starts from November and runs through until April. Between December and February, the average rainfall is usually over 100mm.
Q3: Which of these caves is Silozwane Cave in the Matobo Hills?
Again, most of the respondents got the answer right.
Silozwane Cave contains some of Africa’s most magnificent rock paintings.
These paintings depict the way of life of the painters – the San. They are between 1500 and approximately 10000 years old.
The paintings range from delicate wildlife sketches to gritty re-enactments of hunting.
Those of you who chose the ice cave – c’mon, pick up your Matobo fact game!
Q4: True or False. The White Rhino has pointed lips which allow it to easily grasp shrubs.
An exact 60/40 split but…two thirds of the respondents got it wrong.
The White Rhino is the wide lipped rhino. Its square lips allow it to easily graze grass.
It’s the Black Rhino which has pointed lips. They enable it to easily grasp shrubs and small twigs (browse).
Read about the differences between these two species here.
Q5: How far is the Matobo Hills from the city of Bulawayo?
Of the lot who completed the Matobo Hills Quiz, 384 were correct.
Matobo Hills is located some 34kms to the South of Bulawayo. This is the distance to the entrance gate.
You will travel another 17km to reach Matobo Hills Lodge.
Q6: Who was buried on top of the Malindidzimu Mountain at Matobo National Park?
Almost everyone (93.1%) got the answer to the question right.
Cecil J. Rhodes requested to be buried on the sacred hill. He used to visit this Hill which he called, “World’s View”.
Cecil wanted his grave covered with a plain brass plate. The grave draws many from far and wide to the natural landscape.
Q7: Matobo National Park was named in which of the following Lists?
Nearly two thirds of you (65.6%) knew the answer to the question.
Matobo National Park was named in the 2018 World Monuments Watch List. It shares this international airplay with 24 others sites around the world.
The List highlights the threats faced by the heritage sites. It also calls on society to act accordingly and help preserve them.
Q8: Matobo National Park has the world’s highest concentration of which bird?
A little over 50% of the respondents got this one right.
Matobo National Park has the world’s highest concentration of the Black Eagle. The Black Eagle is a bird of prey and it can grow to 70 – 80 cm in length.
This nest-predator feeds on mammals, birds and eggs. It’s curved claws and wide gape allow it pick up eggs from nests.
The Black Eagle can be easily spotted by its large size, dark colour and unusually slow flight.
Q9: When was Matobo National Park established?
Over two thirds of the respondents knew the answer to the question.
Matobo National Park was established in 1926. This makes it the oldest National Parks in Zimbabwe.
The Park is home to diverse fauna and flora. Some of its Hills are believed to be sacred.
Age-old rituals continue to take place there. Many, from Zimbabwe and beyond, converge to the Matobo shrines to pray for rain.
Q10: True of False. A White Rhino is a grazer.
Interestingly enough, 85% of the respondents knew that the White Rhino is a grazer.
As mentioned above, its wide lips help it when feeding on the grass.
Those who knew this should have been able to also know that Q6 was false. Q6 implied that the Rhino is a browser with pointed lips.
Q11: Which one of these caves is not found at Matobo National Park?
This question was fairly easy and 355 respondents got it right.
Lascaux is not found at Matobo National Park.
It is located in the Dordogne region of southwestern France. Lascaux is estimated to be over 17,000 years old.
Lascaux is home to paintings consisting primarily of large animals.
The cave is believed to have been discovered by 4 teenagers on 1940. It was opened to the public in 1948.
However, by 1955, carbon dioxide and heat had damaged the rock art. Thus, the cave was closed to the public in 1963.
Q12: Elephants do not live in the Matobo Hills. Which of the following animals are not found in the Matobo National Park?
Nearly 60% of the respondents of the Matobo Hills Quiz got the answer right.
Lions are not found in the Matobo region but ancient cave paintings suggest they once roamed the area.
Zimbabwe has a relatively large population of lions. Hwange National Park is the biggest game reserve in the country and is said to be home to about 5oo lions.
There have been instances where lions broam freely in the communities.
According to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, there were 59 lion attacks in 2017. None of these attacks were in the Matobo Hills.
Q13: Matobo National Park is a World Heritage Site. Which of the following Zimbabwean sites is not a World Heritage Site?
Of the 447 respondents, 179 got the answer right. The Chinoyi Caves ARE NOT a World Heritage Site.
There are 5 sites in Zimbabwe which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Mana Pools National Park (1984)
- Great Zimbabwe (1986)
- Khami Ruins (1986)
- Victoria Falls (1989) and
- Matobo National Park (2003)
Q14: True of False. Matobo National Park is 1 of 8 Heritage Sites chosen to receive a grant by the World Monuments Watch.
Most of the respondents of the Matobo Hills Quiz got the last question right. As mentioned earlier, the Park is on the 2108 World Monuments Watch List.
It’s also a recipient of the US$1 million donated by the Watch. The funds are meant to aid efforts to preserve the selected sites.
The other sites are
- Potager Du Roi, a historic kitchen garden in Versailles, France. It was created more than 300 years ago.
- Grand Theater, Prince Kung’s Mansion in Beijing, China. It’s the only imperial mansion theater only to the public.
- Amatrice, a small town in Italy. Parts of it were destroyed by an earthquake in 2016.
- Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium in Japan. The building was used for sporting events until its roof began to leak.
- Tebaida Leonesa in Leon, Spain. The area faces negative impact of increasing tourism.
- Blackpool Piers in England. The piers are threatened by rising sea levels.
- Monte Albán Archaeological Site in Mexico. The site contains hieroglyphics known to have existed since the sixth century.
Hands down, a Zimbabwe safari is probably one of the best trips anyone can take. There is so much to do, so much to see and a lot to learn.
Undeniably, a safari is as exciting as it is educational. ONLY IF, you remember to adhere by certain rules.
RULE 1: When on safari, your safety matters. ALWAYS.
“No-matter how glorious the sight of animals may be, NEVER forget that they are wild animals.”
They may be quietly going about their business but they are still wild.
If these animals feel threatened in any way, they will not shy away from reacting. While their reaction may be not be very aggressive, a push out of the way by a huge animal like an elephant is likely to hurt you.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of oneness with nature and its inhabitants.
RULE 2: NEVER walk around camp at night on your own.
You never know who is watching.
“That walk under the stars might be the next best thing after a hearty meal but don’t do it. Especially if your safari camp is not fenced.”
Animals have better eyesight than you do. Thus, they’ll spot you a lot sooner than you will spot them.
RULE 3: Sometimes, you just need to turn that cellphone off.
Or your iPod.
It might not even be a good idea to bring it on a game drive. Imagine others wanting to enjoy the experience of being in the wild only to be distracted by ringing phones and you chattering away over them?
Luckily, network reception is often bad in the camps. So, there’s less chance of this happening.
Besides, you’re in the bush.
“Why would you want to ruin your safari experience with music and phone calls?”
RULE 4: There are other guests on safari. Respect them.
Respect their need to enjoy, safely explore and learn.
You’re going to see animals you’ve only ever seen on the television. Naturally, excitement is going to kick in and you may want to make sure everyone else in the vehicle has seen the animals.
Still, try to rein in the adrenaline rush and be as quiet as you ought to be. Yelling or making any loud noises may scare the animals away. If they leave the area, that only ruins the game viewing experience.
Mind you, scaring the animals away is only the least dangerous thing that can happen when you startle them with your noise.
If another person may be taking a video, do not make noise. You don’t want to stop them from getting good footage without any interference from human noises.
“Noise may distract your safari guide, who needs to be mindful of the surroundings and the animals.”
RULE 5: When on safari, leave no trace of your presence
Seriously, no littering or leaving any marks on historical monuments. Nobody needs to know “you were here”. Even Beyonce would not get away with leaving her mark.
Remember, when you’re on safari, you’re in a delicate environment which is easily damaged.
“Respect the environment; respect its inhabitants. Be a responsible tourist.”
You should take all of your garbage with you when you leave and never leave any (non biodegradable) plastic on the ground; an animal may eat it and choke.
If you bring something in, make sure you bring it out with you. Your guide is not your trash collector. Carelessness of off-roading can lead to erosion and destruction of the habitat.
RULE 6: If you’re thinking of wearing your animal print, PLEASE DON’T.
Leave those cheetah prints at home, Jo.
Let’s just leave the animal print to the animals, shall we?
Instead, how about you bring comfortable clothes made out of natural fibers? You’ll be grateful for this in the hot temperatures.
You might also want to avoid any brightly coloured or white clothing which will make it easy fr animals to spot you with their keen sense of sight.
Opt for khaki, green or brown coloured clothing which will help you blend in with the environment.
RULE 7: Your guide is there to protect you. Listen to them.
It doesn’t matter how much more knowledgeable you may be.
“Your guide is there to ensure that you and others have a safe and memorable safari experience.”
Never ask your tour guide to go off the pathway. They know the routes which they are allowed to access and will always aim to get the best sighting for you.
Your guide is likely to be from the local community. Thus, it is important that you respect their culture and beliefs. Be aware of derogatory statements and do not act condescendingly towards your guide.
The guide is highly trained and very passionate. They are there to share their love for the bush with you.
RULE 8: Turn your camera shutter off.
Don’t work with your camera or do such things as editing photos while on a game drive.
The constant digital beeping will most probably irritate others. It also disturbs the natural sounds of the environment. Just leave the editing and fidgeting with your gadget when you’re back at camp where any camera sounds will not be much of a distraction.
If you’re running out of room and you have to get rid of some shots, mute your camera. In fact, always ensure that your camera shutter is off.
RULE 9: DO NOT get out of the car unless told to do so by the guide.
Do that and you run the risk of satisfying a hungry animal’s appetite.
After all, you are on their turf.
“Never get out of your car without asking your safari guide/driver if it is safe to do so.”
No matter how tempting it may be to get that perfect photo of you with that wide lipped rhino … don’t do it.
This is what happens when people fail to understand that the wildlife is wild. If you’re dying to take a leak, let your driver know. He’ll find a SAFE spot so you can run behind and “check the tire pressure” *wink wink*
If you would like any information about booking your safari with us, please send us an email to email@example.com
Matobo national Park is located around 34kms to the South of the city of Bulawayo. This green park was established in 1926 and is also the oldest national park in Zimbabwe.
Matobo National Park teems with diverse plant, bird and animal species. It has over 200 tree species including mountain acacia, wild pear, paper bark tree and fig tree. The park also has many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 grass species.
Matobo National Park is an enthralling gallery of balancing rocks which formed over 3 billion years of erosion. Truly, this landscape is unique in the remarkable range of African scenery and experiences it provides.
Did you also know?
Matobo National Park has the world’s highest concentration of the Black eagle. AND leopards too. The dense population of leopards is because of the abundant dassies which, reportedly, make up 50 per cent of their diet.
Other bird species that can be found at the Park include the fish eagle, martial eagle, francolin, secretary bird, weavers, pied crow and Egyptian geese.
In addition, it is one of the last sanctuaries for the Black and White Rhino. In Southern Africa!
If you visit the reserve, and we hope you will, you are more likely to see White Rhino than Black Rhino. The reason? White Rhino is more social and can be found grazing in open areas. However, the Black Rhino is more private and spends its time browsing twigs in thick vegetation.
By the way, do you know how to tell the two species apart? If you need help identifying the differences, read our blog on those differences here.
Besides the Rhino, other animals you can expect to see at Matobo National Park include giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and sometimes, leopard.
Matobo National Park in the International Spotlight
This Rhino sanctuary is a World Heritage Site. UNESCO bestowed this title upon it in 2003. This is due to the its cultural, aesthetic, and historical significance.
Matobo National Park shares this significant title with –
- The mighty Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world,
- Khami Ruins – the second largest stone monument in the nation,
- The arresting Mana Pools – a picturesque setting for avid photographers and
- Great Zimbabwe, also listed in the 2016 World Monuments Watch List.
Matobo National Park is also listed in the 2018 World Monuments Watch List.
This list contains 25 sites in over 30 territories and it highlights “their challenges, opportunities, and the communities that cherish them”.
The World Monuments Watch List is a call to action meant to preserve these sites.
Matobo National Park is also one of the eight sites on that List selected to receive a grant by the World Monuments Fund. These funds will be directed towards efforts to preserve the landscape.
You might be wondering,
Where Does the Name “Matobo” National Park Come From?
History has it that the Karanga people referred to the Matobo region as “madombo” meaning stones.
The distinct appearance of the rolling Matobo hills was the reason behind the area’s name.
The founder and leader of the Ndebele nation, King Mzilikazi, is said to have named the balancing rocks “matobo”, a Ndebele term meaning “bald heads”.
More Fun Facts on Matobo National Park
Matobo National Park is a recreational park. This means travelers are free to walk around and explore the scenic reserve.
The park is rich in historical and cultural aspects. Thus, it is an excellent spot for educational trips for schools, colleges and universities.
For thousands of years, Matobo National Park was home to the artistic San or Bushmen people. Caves in which they sought shelter bear evidence of the way of living of these hunter-gatherers.
These caves, such as Silozwane and Nswatugi, contain some of the world’s most remarkable rock paintings.
Matobo Hills – a Sacred Landscape
Unsurprisingly, Matobo National Park has long been regarded as a place of great spiritual importance. Some of the largest granite domes are sacred mountains.
It has long been held that they must not be pointed at for fear of causing disrespect to the spirits that occupy them.
Before the beginning of each rainy season and in times of drought, people from throughout Zimbabwe and beyond come to the Matobo shrines to pray for rain.
Indeed, there is so much about this sacred park that unsurprisingly, draws many – near and far – to it.
For more information on Matobo National Park, click here –
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 –
Today is World Environment Day.
This year the theme is “Beat Plastic Pollution” and official commemorations are taking place in India.
The Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi, took to twitter and wrote:
“Greetings on #WorldEnvironmentDay. Together, let us ensure that our future generations live in a clean and green planet, in harmony with nature.”
Matobo Hills Lodge joins the global community in celebrating World Environment Day.
We understand the destructive impact of plastic on the environment.
Therefore, we actively encourage our guests to responsibly dispose of their non-biodegradable rubbish.
We remain committed to spreading awareness of responsible tourism.
Graffiti Ruining Historical Monuments
Matobo National Park is home to several caves such as Silozwane and Nswatugi.
These caves contain rock paintings which have been tainted by illicit markings made by tourists.
There have been instances of people scribbling on or scratching the walls thus defacing the rock art.
The increasing defacement of the art, which has a cultural and religious bearing, is a cause for much concern.
3 Reasons Why We Discourage Graffiti
Firstly, defacement of these rock paintings is illegal.
It diminishes the value of our natural landscapes which draw many to the heritage sites.
These sites are tangible and sacred proof of our development as humans and our interaction with the environment.
Again, leaving graffiti on rock art destroys its aesthetic value.
Graffiti ruins the experience for other tourists who travel to see the art and learn about the history of the painters.
Can The Markings Be Removed?
But, some types of graffiti can be removed following specific procedures and using specific chemicals, though not easily.
However and unfortunately –
Some, like scratches, are permanent and cause irreparable damage.
This is why, on this World Environment Day, we discourage scribbling graffiti on our historical monuments.
What You Also Need To Know On This World Environment Day
Since 2003, Matobo National Park has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is due to its geographical, cultural, and historical significance.
The natural landscape, which was once home to the San people, contains some of the world’s most magnificent caves and rock paintings.
These rock paintings depict the way of living of the hunter-gatherer people and are between 1500 and 10000 years old.
Did you also know that Matobo National Park has one of the highest concentrations of such rock paintings?
In Southern Africa!
There are several different caves in the nature reserve and these include the Pomongwe and Inanke cave.
If you are boarded close to some caves, you will get to hike directly to them.
Otherwise, caves further from you will require a game drive and short hike.
The caves are also subjected to erosion due to temperature changes and contact with weather elements like water.
Though this tends to make the paintings hard to understand, they are still in a relatively good state.
Unlike vandalism –
Erosion does not pose a huge threat to the preservation of the rock art.
It is part of the natural connection between the paintings and the rocks.
Measures need to be put in place to discourage graffiti which poses a threat to the conservation efforts of concerned stakeholders.
When you visit us, one of the activities you can do is visiting the caves and learning about the rock art.
For more information on all the other activities in store for you, click HERE
Matobo Hills is Listed in the 2018 World Monuments Watch
Wondering why it is listed in the World Monuments Watch (WMF)?
This natural landscape is threatened by several factors including deforestation.
That is the reason why.
The World Monuments Fund announced the List on 15 October 2017.
The WMF is a private nonprofit organization founded in 1965.
The founders were concerned about the accelerating destruction of important artistic treasures.
These treasures are found throughout the world.
What is the purpose of the World Monuments Fund List?
This list contains 25 sites in more than various countries and territories.
These sites are facing various dangers such as .
- Human conflict.
- Natural disasters.
- Climate change.
All these pose a threat to the conservation of the heritage sites.
The World Monuments Watch List is announced twice a year.
It intends to protect our collective history and preserve our memory of it.
It also aims to strengthen social bonds of the different generations.
How does it do this?
The List gives these treasured sites and their challenges international airplay.
It identifies opportunities for local communities to collaborate with other stakeholders.
These include preservation agencies, governments and corporate sponsors.
All of them are interested in conserving our cultural and natural sites.
So far, the program has issued a call to action for around 814 sites.
What WMF CEO Has to Say About the List
Joshua David, President and CEO of WMF says,
“By building an international coalition,
the World Monuments Watch protects both the sites and the shared history they embody.
We may be best known for the excellence of our conservation practices,
but the human impacts of our work ultimately mean the most.
Sites like the 25 on the 2018 Watch are where we come together as citizens of the world.
We are prompted to renew our commitments to justice, culture, peace, and understanding.”
What threats are Matobo Hills facing?
Matobo Hills, known for its granite rock formations, is on the 2018 WMF watch list.
The park is under stress from various activities.
These include deforestation, grazing, graffiti and damaging fires caused by human activities.
Population growth along with scarce natural resources is leading to its degradation.
Deforestation also threatens the rock paintings.
Their protective barriers, trees, are slowly disappearing.
The delicate paintings are left exposed to damaging weather conditions.
They are also more vulnerable to fire damage.
How Matobo Hills Lodge is helping to preserve Matobo Hills
Matobo Hills Lodge understands the importance of preserving our heritage sites.
Their preservation is tied to the successful continuity of our business.
Conservation, environmental consciousness, and responsible tourism are central to our operations.
Every month, we have a pick-litter day at our Lodge.
Our Manager, Grey Nyama, oversees this.
We hope that our efforts will help conserve Matobo Hills.