By Tendai Chara
Driving towards Kezi from Bulawayo can be a rare spectacle filled with pleasure. After only a few kilometres from the country’s second biggest city, large herds of grazing livestock are usually seen munching grass as they seem unfazed by the noise emanating from the many vehicles from the busy highway.
Further down the road, the landscape becomes particularly spectacular with valleys that are surrounded by both huge and small granite outcrops. Balancing rocks hang precariously as if they might fall off any time.
It is in this vast conservation area that the Matopos National Park, a World Heritage site which is rich in both history and culture, is located.
Intertwined with this beautiful scenery is the abundant wildlife. From the squirrel to the giraffe to the endangered black rhino, the park is pregnant with a variety of reptiles, birds and several animal species.
The park is home to the zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, eland, reedbuck, impala and sable among other animals. Apart from the popular game drives, the historical tours and the rock paintings, visitors can also visit the grave of Cecil John Rhodes.
Shangani Memorial, which chronicles the often bloody historical conflicts between the white colonial settlers and the Ndebele people, is situated some few kilometres from the highway.
To the visitors, the area surrounding the Matopos National Park is a haven of tranquillity and beauty. However, it is in these serene environs and many other animal conservancies across the country that vicious “wars” to save the rhino from extinction are being fought.
Officers from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management, villagers living in areas surrounding the park and tourism and conservation organisations are engaged in a bitter struggle to stop poaching activities and save the endangered rhino from extinction.
There are growing concerns that if the rhinos are not protected, they will, like the pre-historic dinosaurs, soon become extinct. During the past five years, there has been an alarming increase in rhino poaching which is threatening the existence of the animal species. More....