The fires have begun!! Parks and Bhejane staff have been fighting fires in the Sinamatella area for five days and nights before getting them under control. I fear this is the beginning and we will see more this season!
The Sinamatella area is defined by its hilly and rugged rocky landscape, interspersed with mopani woodland and vleis (grassland). Sinamatella has fantastic game viewing with high densities of wildlife, especially elephant and buffalo, and was once a stronghold for the black rhino in the region, though these have been decimated by poaching, with only a few animals remaining. Sinamatella was declared an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) for the protection of the rhino
We have had a permanent base at Sinamatella since 2010, where we have devoted our time to helping the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority with rhino monitoring, game water and deployments.
a) Game Water Points – As of 2016, Bhejane Trust has installed 13 permanent game water points in the Sinamatella sector, with a variety of power units – 8 solar, 2 windmills, 2 hybrid solar/diesel pumps, and one off mains electricity – and has recently drilled 2 new boreholes in the Sinamatella area to supplement existing water supplies. The pumps now operated by Bhejane Trust include Shumba 1, Shumba Windmill, Inyantue Thors, Inyantue Dam, Masuma, Bumboosi South, Baobab, Mashambo, Sinamatella Windmill, Tshompani Windmill and Tshompani Solar.
a) Game Water – Bhejane Trust maintains the pumps it has in operation at Sinamatella, repairing any problems or damage caused by elephants to other factors. Although the solar pumps do not require diesel to be placed in them continually, they still require ongoing maintenance to ensure they are pumping at full capacity. We intend to install solar pumps at the new boreholes just drilled – Masuma dam ( to supplement existing system) and Lukosi River – an exciting new pan.
b) Rhino Monitoring – When Bhejane Trust first arrived at Sinamatella, one of its main purposes was to assist Parks with the monitoring and protection of the remaining black rhino in the area. Although we spend much more of our time on game water at present, we plan to keep on assisting Parks with monitoring this critically endangered species.
c) Assisting Parks in Management – As sections of Sinamatella are very remote and difficult to access, Bhejane Trust assists Parks with deployments of rangers in remote areas where due to lack of resources, Parks are not always able to access. Bhejane Trust also assists Parks with most aspects of the management operations of the Park
d) Southern Africa Bird Atlas Program – Since working at Sinamatella, Bhejane Trust has been continually adding to the Southern African Bird Atlas Program in the region and created a large database of bird species in the region.
Projects to be Undertaken
a) Rhino – Sinamatella currently has a very small and unviable population of black rhino, which are dispersed over a very large area. Bhejane Trust has submitted a proposal to ZPWMA for the creation of a fenced black rhino protection zone to consolidate and protect the species to allow it to recover.
Bhejane Trust (“Bhejane” is the local Ndebele name for Black Rhino) is a Zimbabwe registered non profit trust, established in 2010 by two Zimbabwean conservationists, Trevor Lane and Stephen Long. The trust was initially established for the monitoring of the Black Rhino population in the Sinamatella area of Hwange National Park in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Authority of Zimbabwe, and the SAVE the African Rhino Foundation of Australia.
Stephen Long at Sinamatella with a recently donated land rover
Stephen then based up at Sinamatella and commenced the monitoring program. However, Stephen soon found that he was having to assist Parks in many facets of their operations, not only the rhino monitoring. He ended up helping on ranger deployments, anti-poaching, carrying diesel to pumps, fixing pumps, installing donated solar pump units, Parks staff welfare, helping provide for tourist camp sites, and a host of other duties, as Parks had the enthusiasm and ability, but not the vehicles and equipment to undertake these tasks.
The operations of the Trust were then extended to the Zambezi National Park, close to the renowned Victoria Falls, where Trevor has been instrumental in reviving the Chamabonda Vlei section of the Park, by resuscitating old boreholes, drilling new ones, installing solar pumping units and restoring pans after many years of no pumping. He is also assisting Parks on road development, fire management and controlled burning programs, anti-poaching, monitoring game populations, and other aspects of restoring this park to its former status.
Bhejane Trust has recently expanded its conservation programs to include the Kazuma Pan National Park and the Robins area of Hwange National Park, where we have assisted with the installation of pumps and the restoration of game water supplies, and with tourism infrastructure, including refurbishing hides, with road development and with mapping.
Bhejane Trust has thus evolved to an entity which is assisting National Parks in many aspects of the management of the Parks estate in north western Matabeleland, plus facilitating anti-poaching and deployments, research work, staff welfare, and a host of missions, as well as the original Rhino monitoring. Bhejane Trust relies on donor funding to undertake it’s operations.
Much of Bhejane Trust funding comes from a volunteer, or Field Assistance, program, which makes it possible for conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts to join up with the Bhejane team, and enjoy this rare and exciting opportunity to experience the real Africa of vast, remote places, and to actively assist in the conservation and survival of the magnificent wild animals which inhabit this wilderness.