Welcome to Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve – with over 5,600 square miles teeming with tens of thousands of elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, African wild dogs, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, wooly brown hyenas and over one hundred other different species of animals and four hundred species of birds. Embark on your journey to Hwange Game Reserve on our Rivers & Rails of Africa sailings.
Protecting Zimbabwe’s Wildlife
Founded in 1928, all of Zimbabwe’s endangered species and protected animals are found in this one park. Over twenty thousand elephants roam through this wildlife haven, among large prides of buffalo, zebra and lions and one of the world’s largest populations of the African wild dog (native to Sub-Saharan Africa, it is also known as the African hunting dog or African painted dog). The population of the Cape wild dogs (also native to Africa) is also thought to be one of the larger surviving populations, rivaling that of Kruger National Park and Selous Game Reserve. Leopards, cheetahs, sable and roan antelopes, wildebeest, impala and spotted hyenas are also often spotted here. The gemsbok antelope and wild and woolly brown hyena roam through the park as well; it is the only protected area where these animals occur in reasonable numbers.
In such a massive landscape, scenery and vegetation vary widely – dense teak forests, granite hills and valleys of mopane woodlands in the north give way to the sub-tropical thorn and sand flat desert scrub of the Kalahari region.
Bird lovers flock to the park too, particularly in the wetter seasons between November and April. Migratory birds from Europe and Northern Africa are present during this time while resident birds can often be seen nesting and in their colorful breeding plumage. Sightings of the long red-beaked Bradfield’s hornbill, the pigeon-sized Burchell’s sandgrouse, the large spur-winged goose, the robust rufous-naped lark and red-billed spurfowl are always exciting and fairly common. And during the migrant season, the bronze-winged courser (sometimes known as the violet-tipped courser) is also plentiful. The usually ground dwelling kori bustard, Africa’s largest flying bird, is also seen here. The male kori bustard is thought to be the heaviest living animal capable of flight.
Some other birds that may be seen at the Hwange Game Reserve: the African golden oriole, African skimmer, Allen’s gallinule, Arnot’s chat, black-headed oriole, black-winged pratincole, collared pratincole, Egyptian vulture, Goliath heron, lesser moorhen, purple gallinule (sometimes known as the yellow-legged gallinule), southern ground hornbill, southern pied babbler, Taita falcon – and the rare Yellow Morph Crimson-breasted Shrike.
Optimizing the Land
Once home to the nomadic San bushmen who lived off the land, the wildlife reserve was created as it was unsuitable for agriculture. Scarce water supply continues to be an issue and so strategically placed artificial waterholes have been created to boost wildlife.
Visit the Hwange Game Reserve during our Rivers & Rails of Africa itinerary.