Are hippos carnivorous? Over New Year at Nyamandlovu pan in Hwange we watched a kudu cow take to the water to evade wild dogs.
crocodile immediately struck, but was chased off swiftly by two hippos which commandeered the antelope, thrashing it in and out of the water. I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for this astonishing behaviour, but it was one of numerous memorable wildlife sightings we’ve had over a lifetime of visiting this park. On each visit the game viewing seems even better than the last, but more encouraging than that, there’s a positive vibe in the air at Hwange.
New lodges are opening; operators are working closely with each other and the National Parks authority; there are extensive research programmes and a long-term management plan that looks well considered. Wildlife numbers are on the increase.
Hwange is one of three of Africa’s great wildlife parks featured in this issue, along with the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia and our cover star, Kenya’s Masai Mara. In each of these parks the dramas of the natural world play out on a daily basis. Their mesmerising scenes fascinate all who are privileged to witness them. And, as with Hwange, the Lower Zambezi and the Mara each give us reason to feel optimistic at a time when Africa’s wildlife is under so much pressure.
In Zambia an impressive collaboration between the National Parks authority, various private tourism partners, and NGOs such as African Wildlife Foundation is producing tangible results. Sue Watt’s article outlines the fine work of Conservation Lower Zambezi, and shows what can be achieved when all stakeholders pull together in a positive spirit.
There are now many conservancies working very effectively across Africa, but nowhere is this model employed on such a large scale as in the lands fringing the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The approach taken there shows how even the continent’s largest and most heavily-visited wildlife sanctuaries can be protected in the face of rapidly expanding human populations.
The strategies, and successes, in each of these regions point the way for others to follow, and they give hope that long-term solutions can be found. Of course, it all depends on tourism: without visitors, none of this will succeed. You, our valued readers, are their biggest asset. We hope the stories told in these pages will inspire you to venture forth and join in the action. And who knows what extraordinary sightings you might be able to witness?
Craig Rix, Editor