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The Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy (MBRC) was set up by Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust Conservancy and Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe, and local farmers who joined together in the late 1980s. Each farmer took down internal game fences and made monthly contributions to the cost of antipoaching activities and protection of the Black Rhino and all other wildlife and the natural environment. They also set up the Sebakwe Conservation and Education Centre.

Location and contact details

Web site: www.blackrhino.org, http://www.blackrhino.org/nmidlands_conservancy_game.htm https://www.facebook.com/MidlandsBlackRhinoConservancy?ref=stream.

Officers:

  • Chairman MBRC - Mr. Gary Killilea
  • Conservator - Mr. Dave Strydom

The Farms in the trust area:

  • Bemthree
  • Borrowdale
  • Chinyika
  • Chomgai
  • Circle G
  • Dunlop
  • East Range
  • Kavija
  • Mahamara
  • Mananswa
  • Mazuri
  • Mopani Park
  • Moreena
  • Pavlova
  • Pitscottie

And Sebakwe National Park [1]

History

The Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust Conservancy encloses 62 000 hectares, made up of 12 properties. Within this area the Trust protects five black Rhino from all forms of poaching which includes snaring, poisoning and poachers who come in with weapons. They were the only Conservancy with no Rhino poached for nearly 6 years, until sadly in December 2013 the oldest bull Tsaka was poached and his horns chopped out. The rhino are Tangarira (46 year old male) Tendai (11 year old female) Rhonda (11 year old male) Ranzi (7 year old female) and Tafara (2 year old female).
The team of 10 Monitors, highly trained trackers, from first light every day pick up the rhino spoor and follow their tracks and stay with them for the entire day until last light. The Monitors may also come across wildlife poachers on the property, who they follow up and arrest with the assistance of National Parks Rangers and the police wherever possible. On a daily basis whilst tracking the rhino they come across and uplift snares that are set to entrap our wildlife.
The main deterrent to the poaching of the rhino is to dehorn them and then send out a message to all the villagers, schools and community that our rhino have no horns. The Trust last did this in 2010, and are raising funds to dehorn again.
Pride is taken on work done educating and keeping the surrounding Community in the picture, as far as the rhino and wildlife are concerned. Feedback from their neighbours is received, especially where the Trustees and their team help the community financially with the building of schools and putting in boreholes. They are kept in the know about the importance of looking after, not only the rhino, but the wildlife as well, which is their inheritance to pass on to their children and future generations. With the help of these villagers on two occasions, rhino gangs were intercepted and arrests were made which can only be done with good communication and the assistance of the local community. [2]

This land is generally bush areas that are managed to provide grazing for cattle and wildlife. The rhino are not the only animals to be found in the conservancy and share this bush with water buck, kudu, eland, impala, duiker, steenbok, aardwolf, bushbuck, bush pig. Recent introductions have been giraffe, roan antelope, sable, zebra, tsessebe and young elephant.

Further Reading

A report in April 2013 describes the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy Trust (MBRC).
The area consists of 63 000 ha of bush and farmland bounded by the Munyati River on the northern boundary and the Sebakwe River on the southern boundary with Lake Sebakwe and its Recreational Park in the middle. It is located 50kms north east of Kwe Kwe. As well as black rhino a small herd of elephant, pride of lions, a healthy population of leopard and sable and a good cross-section of plains game including kudu, impala, eland, giraffe and zebra are on the conservancy. A group of twelve farms joined together in the late 1980s to form the Conservancy - each farmer taking down internal game fences and making monthly contributions to the cost of anti-poaching activities and protection of the Black Rhino, all other wildlife and the natural environment. With only a few black rhino in the MBRC it was the intention over the next few years to build up the herd to a sustainable breeding nucleus. Since inception the Conservancy has had the continued support of the UK-based Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust.
The Sebakwe Conservation and Education Centre was also developed, located on the southern boundary of the Conservancy. It plays a significant role in wildlife education and community development. Through skilled wildlife and environmental officers it provides courses and practical knowledge on fauna and flora to visiting schools and other educational establishments. Over the past five years community development projects have been undertaken including the construction new schools, drilling of boreholes and the development of health centres and clinics, as well as self-help projects such as bee-keeping. Medical goods, learning materials (books and writing pads) school furnishings and clothes have also been provided as part of community development by the Conservancy. These community development projects have raised awareness among surrounding communities leading to reduced poaching and environmental degradation.
On 18 February, a rhino was born on the Conservancy. [1]

In September 2015, Tangarira, “one of our top bulls”, was poached at Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy. The body was found in thick bush by the Monitors tracking first thing in the morning. The bull, 26, was due to be dehorned a week before the killing but the operation had to be postponed. The timing of the killing has raised suspicions that it may have been an inside job. Six people have been arrested. The organisation had until this incident held a proud record of having had no rhinos poached in six years. Zimbabwe has fewer than 500 black rhino and around 300 white rhino. [3]

In August 2019, it was reported that the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy has been and is still suffering from the effects of mining in the area. There has been some support, however there was initially land degradation for prospecting. Shut downs of late, have led to loss of jobs, and no reclamation efforts having been done to previously cleared bush.
In 2005, the conservancy had a total of 63 rhinos, up from the original 20 translocated into the interior of the Midlands province to protect the endangered species from the Zambezi Valley owing to the incessant poaching along the Zambian border. From that towering success story, the conservancy unfortunately only has six rhinos left.
African Chrome Fields (ACF), a South African chrome-mining company worked in the area. At its peak, it employed 1 800 people, bringing obvious benefits, and the mining company injected financial support towards the conservation efforts of the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy, ACF manager Leon Richardson said. The problem was the clearing of huge tracts of land for mining, which led to the displacement of many animals, environmental degradation and the irrecoverable destruction of animal habitat. The Black Rhino conservator, Brilliant Chibura, acknowledged the financial support provided and submitted that without it, the conservancy “would be in trouble”. However, he bemoaned the non-redeemable destruction of the wildlife habitat which is threatening animal and bird life in the conservancy.

[4]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy – Zimbabwe, African Indaba, Published: April 2013, Volume 11-2, Retrieved: 13 May 2020
  2. Sebakwe Recreational Park, Zim Field Guide, Retrieved: 11 May 2020
  3. Black rhino poached in central Zimbabwe, News 24, Published: 14 September 2015, Retrieved: 13 May 2020
  4. Mining and agric activities threaten wildlife, Newsday, Published: August 2019, Retrieved: 13 May 2020