Great Plains Foundation Launches ‘Rewild Zambezi’ Rewilding Initiative in Zimbabwe
June 2022…// The Great Plains Foundation, the conservation and community charity founded by Great Plains’ founders and National Geographic Explorers-At-Large, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, is delighted to announce a new rewilding initiative in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley.
Project Rewild Zambezi will see almost 3,000 animals relocated from Zimbabwe’s Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC) to Great Plains’ 280,000-acre private Sapi Reserve, located at the heart of the UNESCO world heritage site, including Mana Pools and Great Plain’s newest camp Tembo Plains. A combination of overpopulation at Source (SVC) due to years of drought and underpopulation at Target (Sapi Reserve) has led Great Plains to advance plans to restore, rewild and protect this essential ecosystem.
When the opportunity presented itself for animals to be relocated to the Sapi Reserve, Great Plains Foundation CEO Dereck Joubert felt he and the team had no choice but to step in:
“When I was approached to assist the Savé Valley Conservancy with what they deem is an overpopulation of wildlife, I knew that this was something we HAD to do. Here at Great Plains, we strongly believe that with wildlife in decline across the globe, we must do what we can to protect and enhance biodiversity, and we are thrilled that we can offer this precious wildlife a safe, thriving and plentiful new home at Sapi. And now, with the launch of our new Tembo Plains Camp, our guests can witness, and contribute to, this incredible project.”
An initial $5.5 million investment, the consignment of animals, includes 400 elephants and iconic species like lions, buffalo, impala, zebras, painted dogs, eland, and more. Once released in the Sapi Reserve (with wildebeest and giraffe into other regions of Zimbabwe,) the animals will be free to roam into the broader 1.6 million acres of the UNESCO site.
Great Plains is working on expanding its ranger operations in Sapi at the same time to protect this influx of wildlife, prevent human-wildlife conflict, and support broader wildlife monitoring and anti-poaching in the Zambezi Valley. This includes training, supplies, and equipment for the ZimParks rangers, including recruiting an additional 12-25 female wildlife monitors from communities surrounding Sapi. The Project will also have a state-of-the-art control room, camera traps (working with Oxford University,) and improved road and radio networks. Under Dereck and Beverly Joubert’s leadership and project managers Dr Sven Bourquin and Michele Hofmeyer, Great Plains’ Sustainability Manager, we anticipate this will be a landmark moment for conservation in the country.