Stuart Johnston, the chairman of the Matableland Branch of Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ, formerly known as the wildlife society of Zimbabwe) came up with the idea recently to form a ‘Friends of Robins’ support group among WEZ members.
Robins Camp in the north west of Hwange National Park is the remote and least visited parts of Hwange National Park. Those who love the area know that it’s a hidden gem, but as most of the park’s visitors gravitate to the areas around Main Camp and Sinamatella Camp those areas tend to attract most of the funding and work to improve infrastructure and water supply for Hwange’s game.
The Friends of Robins was set up to provide a source of funding directly to worthwhile projects in the Robins Area, which stretches to the Botswana Border. The first project was to lay a new pipeline from the pump and borehole near Detema Dam to the Dam itself. Detema is probably the best area to see wildlife in the Robins area and is regularly visited by hers of up to 1000 buffalo, lion, hundreds of elephant each day, and all of Hwange’s plains game species. African Wild Dog are regularly seen at the dam, as are roan and sable antelope.
Detema, like other waterholes in the park, recently benefitted from the installation of a state of the art solar pump at its borehole. However, the 1.5 kilometres of piping from the pump to the dam is severely encrusted with lime which means that only a trickle of water is reaching the pan. This year the area of water in the dam was tiny, although it still supported an amazing array of wildlife.
The Friends of Robins’ first fundraiser was held on the night after the annual Hwange Game Count. The 24-hour game count, southern Africa’s longest continually running game census, takes part over the last full moon of the dry season every year, from midday to midday. Volunteer members of WEZ take part, staying out in the bush overnight at various dams, hides and natural water points.
A raffle and auction were held at the fundraiser, and the Friends of Robins were very grateful to be able to offer a night for two people at Elephant’s Eye lodge. Bidding was fierce for the Elephant’s Eye prize, which attracted the highest single bid for any item on the auction. The money raised for this and other items exceeded what was needed to replace the pipe to Detema Dam so will now be earmarked for other projects specifically in the Robins Area.
Australian author Tony Park, a WEZ member and Friend of Robins who writes novels set in Africa (his book, The Hunter, is partially set at Elephant’s Eye) auctioned off the naming rights for three fictitious characters in his 14th novel, due out next year.
“Our first Friends of Robins fundraiser was incredibly successful, thanks in no small part to the generosity of Garth Jenman from Jenman Safaris, the owners of Elephant’s Eye. Garth is a big supporter of Hwange National Park and we thank him and his team,” Tony Said.
The winning bidder on the night was a local Zimbabwean man.