“Have we forgotten that wilderness is not a place, but a pattern of soul where every tree, every bird and beast is a soul maker? Have we forgotten that wilderness is not a place but a moving feast of stars, footprints, scales and beginnings”?
Dr Ian McCallum, Ecological Intelligence
Poetry reminds us of the delicate nature of the ecosystem, and the vital need to ensure its protection. In a conscientious and ethical approach to conservation, our words are a powerful tool to spread awareness – giving nature a chance, by giving it a voice. Taking this a step further, we look to and revere operations that turn voice into action, implementing the necessary tools for success.
One of these incredible initiatives is The Bhejane Trust, based in Victoria Falls. Originally created under the encouragement of Nicholas Duncan of the Save The African Rhino Foundation, solely concentrating on monitoring the Black Rhino population in the Sinimatella area of Hwange National Park, the project has since grown. Trevor Lane and Stephen Long were the founding members of Bhejane Trust and remain dedicated and passionate advocates of the cause. They both realised the landscapes and its wildlife needed a lot more assistance in order to thrive, and their commitment to conservation came to the rescue.
The project operates into the Zambezi National Park, Kazuma Pan National Park, the Deka Safari Area and the Robins and Sinamatella areas of Hwange National Park. A recent interview with Trevore Lane explained and expanded on our knowledge of the Trust, gifting us insight to both its challenges and success, and visions for the future.
“Initially we concentrated on monitoring Rhino but then we found that we had to help National Parks with most of the field operations, and thus expanded our mandate. To date we have installed and operate 48 waterhole pumps, supplying over one million liters of water a day for wildlife. We remain to operate an active Rhino Monitoring and Protection Unit at Sinamatella.
The Trusts assists National Parks with deployments and anti-poaching, fire protection and control burning, rations as well as transport. We undertake research into giraffe populations, bird atlases, land reclamation, game counts and survey, plus the rehabilitating tourist facilities such as campsites and hides, and anything else which needs to be done!” Trevor Lane
Conservation is a multi-faceted game, extending beyond the borders of our national parks, to the lives of the wildlife warriors on the frontline, and the livelihood of our communities. Operators such as Hideaways have a responsibility to spread awareness, to create a culture of pride and respect, protecting our environment for generations to come. This too is the shared aim of The Bhejane Trust; working with local authorities to educate, empower and sustain the lives of both people and wildlife.
There is a volunteer program that includes data collection, wildlife monitoring, infrastructure development, vegetation mapping, fire management programs and more. It is a 14-day program for those interested in learning about sustainable conservation, working with both Bhejane Trust and National Parks. It has existed since the inception of the trust, and revolves around spreading awareness as well as skills. The program only takes 6 volunteers at a time; intimate and focused time in the bush for people willing to get their hands dirty!
Goals for 2022 include:
- In all areas to assist Parks on road maintenance, fire protection programs, deployments, ongoing research, patrol rations and kit, etc
- To drill and equip a further 5 boreholes
- To double the size of our rhino monitoring unit
- To set up a Reaction Unit along the Zambezi Unit to counter Zambian incursions
- To sort out hides/campsites in all areas to separate out campers from day-trippers
- Refurbishment of camp/hide facilities
- Opening new roads in Kazuma, Robins, and Sinamatella
The greatest challenge for Bhejane is funding. A constant necessity to the wishlist of conservation, the Trust approaches various sources to sponsor various projects. Long-term projects require long-term finance, however not always easily found. Private and corporate donors have come to the rescue, as well as wildlife NGOs, maintaining water pumps, roads, staff salaries, anti-poaching and other activities. If you wish to get involved and contribute to the ongoing operations of Bhejane Trust, you may find more information here.
We at Nantwich Lodge, Hideaways, would like to extend our gratitude to the wildlife warriors of Bhejane Trust; their dedication and commitment to our wild spaces an inspiration to the area, and country as a whole. We will be contributing toward the cause through our Grow Africa program in the near future, supporting and sustaining the long-term conservation of our wilderness.