Quick Answers About Shangani Sanctuary

“Maintaining a balance between man and nature”

What is the Shangani Sanctuary?

Once completed, the Shangani Sanctuary will be 89,000 hectares of pristine Highveld in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland Province where man and nature can coexist in harmony

Where is it?

The Sanctuary is within the sub-tropics of Southern Africa, in a malaria-free zone, almost in the very centre of Zimbabwe.

What will the Sanctuary achieve?

The Sanctuary will re-establish the harmony that existed between man and nature, in particular the wildlife, prior to the industrialisation of farming and extreme population growth.

Will nature be protected and conserved?

Yes. The land will be utilized for the conservation and proliferation of all indigenous flora and fauna whilst encouraging sustainable agricultural practices.

Will people remain on the land?

Yes. This is a sanctuary, which is unlike a conservancy in that people remain on the land and continue to make a living off the land, but in harmony with nature.

Will the Sanctuary be financially viable?

Yes. The Shangani Sanctuary will become a financially viable commercial enterprise.

Each Sanctuary member will be able to undertake farming activities that will generate a commercial income far in excess of what they produce today.

What about ranching and farming?

Ranching and farming already undertaken by Sanctuary members will continue and be increased according to specified practices to ensure the restoration, maintenance and improvement of natural resources as a holistic system.

What does the Sanctuary look like?

The Shangani Sanctuary “veld” – bush – is unique. “The Highveld” along the central watershed is scenic and undulating, characterised by rolling savannah grasslands, indigenous Miombo woodlands, attractive outcrops of grey granite kopjes and dwalas, vleis (sponge wetlands), seasonal rivers and pools of open water. These headwaters flow north into the Zambesi via the Shangani River and south into the Limpopo via the Insiza and Shangangwe River.

Is the climate moderate?

At an altitude varying from 1 250 to 1 450 metres above sea level, the elevation has a moderating and cooling effect.

Summers are long but not excessively hot – the average high temperature is 29 degrees Celsius.

Winters are cool to cold but short, lasting through May to the end of August – the average temperatures in mid-winter vary from a high of 22 degrees Celsius and an average low of 6 degrees Celsius.

Rainfall is seasonal, typically summer thundershowers, and averages 630 mm per annum.

Who are the promoters?

The two Promoters of the Shangani Sanctuary, Mr Joshua Malinga and Mr Jim Goddard, have independently been managing their land according to sound ecological principles, with impressive results. Both men have come to realise that optimum outcomes cannot be achieved on isolated pockets of land. To fully restore the balance between nature and man’s activities, a much larger area is needed. As a result, several like-minded people have been approached to be included within the proposed 89,000 hectares (89 square kilometres) that will encompass the Shangani Sanctuary.

What is different and special about this Sanctuary?

Unlike conservancies, nature reserves and game reserves the Shangani Sanctuary includes people. The people remain on the land, make a viable living out of it, yet protect, preserve and proliferate the indigenous flora and fauna, and benefit financially from the eco-tourism industry established.

Most areas in Zimbabwe set aside for nature – game reserves and conservancies – are in the “Lowveld” at low altitudes below 1000 metres where summers are extremely hot, rainfall scarce and inconsistent and malaria is a threat. By contrast, the Shangani Sanctuary is on the “Highveld” at medium to high altitudes where the climate is comfortable and there is no malaria.

The Sanctuary’s landscape is pristine and varied, with attractive Brachystegia and Acacia trees, Miombo woodlands, vleis and grasslands, granite kopjes, dwalas and mountains, a variety of wildlife and a great diversity of birds.

The only potentially dangerous animals in the Sanctuary are transitory elephants and leopards. Leopards are shy and secretive, and only pose a threat to people when threatened. Access to the dams where hippo and crocodiles live is restricted to wildlife viewing.

How big is the Sanctuary?

The size of the Shangani Sanctuary will potentially be 89 000 hectares but this will depend on the final number of participants. Interested neighbours on the peripheries of the Sanctuary may well ask to be included.

How many fences?

Only one, 3-metre high, 18-strand game fence is being erected around the perimeter of the Shangani Sanctuary.

When completed, the perimeter fence will be up to 165 kilometres long.

The purpose of this fence is to protect and preserve the natural resources within and keep unauthorised people out.

All existing cattle and game fences for delineating paddocks and boundaries within the Sanctuary will be removed.

A fencing team – for free?

To minimise the donor finance required, one of the Sanctuary members – Pezulu Ranches – is providing two dedicated teams of four men each at no cost to the Sanctuary.

All labour required to manufacture the fence posts and to erect the fence will be provided free of charge by Pezulu.

The only cost to the Sanctuary for the fence will be for the purchase of materials.

What area is already fenced?

The current area fully enclosed by the fence is 4 000 hectares.

To date the Promoters have funded the erection of the fence from their own resources.

What are the material costs of the fence?

To significantly reduce costs, the materials used for the fence poles will not be brought in from outside but sourced locally, namely timber droppers, river sand and pit sand.

How fast can the fence be erected?

The Promoters’ existing fencing team is capable of completing 1 kilometer of fencing each week.

What about fence maintenance?

The maintenance costs of the perimeter game fence, once erected, will be met by the Sanctuary

The maintenance costs of the cleared bush, roads, causeways and fireguards, once established, will be met by the Sanctuary

What other savings are there on the fence?

At their own cost, Pezulu Ranches have and will continue to:

  • Undertake the bush clearing required for the boundary fence and new roads.
  • Construct the roads.
  • Construct causeways at river crossings.
  • Construct fire guards.

What is donor funding needed for?

  • Initial Donor finance – is required for the purchase of fencing materials, which include 8 gauge plain wire, tying wire, components for electrifying specific portions of the fence, and cement for manufacturing the concrete posts.
  • Secondary Donor Finance – will be for the building and furnishing of the 5 camps
  • Tertiary Donor Finance – once the fence is erected and the camps complete, will be for the importation of wildlife species to add new species and increase existing numbers, so improving the present gene pool.
  • Specific funding  – is required for the expansion of Pezulu School to increase primary school numbers, and introduce a senior school.

Fencing in phases? What phases?

Phase 1:   About 18 months

  • 28 000 hectares will be enclosed, 52 kilometres of fencing erected and 20 kilometres of fencing removed.
  • This will increase the present fenced area seven-fold, allowing wildlife access to a vastly increased area.

Phase 2:   About 24 months

  • 26 000 hectares will be enclosed, 87 kilometres of fencing erected and 8 kilometres of fencing removed.
  • The entire central and western limbs of the Sanctuary will be protected.
  • At the end of this phase wildlife will have complete freedom of movement across 54 000 hectares of land.

Phase 3:   About 6 months

  • A further 4000 hectares will be enclosed, 25 kilometres of fencing will be erected, and 6 kilometres of fencing removed.
  • This section of fence will enclose the northern limb of the Sanctuary.

How will nature be conserved?

The secured area within the fence will enable members of the Shangani Sanctuary to actively protect and conserve the natural environment, ecological systems and niche habitats.

Vegetation biomass and biodiversity will increase – this will support greater populations and varieties of wildlife, birds and predators.

Active anti poaching patrols will be funded by the Sanctuary to protect the fauna and flora

What opportunities will the protected area create?

A pristine natural environment will attract eco-tourists keen on eco-adventure activities. Photographic safaris and nature-based adventure activities including game and bird viewing, walking, hiking, rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, horse riding, canoeing, rafting, swimming, boating, fishing and team-building, will be key sources of income for Sanctuary members.

What about the wildlife?

Up to 100 mammal species are to be found within the area to be included in the Shangani Sanctuary.

The African Brown Hyena (on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened) and the African Leopard (on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable) will both benefit from the conservation and protection practices of the Shangani Sanctuary.

Where possible, species of wildlife that have diminished in number will be increased through re-stocking.

Protection of all species of wildlife within the Sanctuary will result in an increase in their populations and diversity.

What species of wildlife are there?

Take a look at the species lists under Our Natural Resources

Will wildlife earn income?

The viability of wildlife will be secured through income from eco-tourism and wildlife sales as well as eco-adventure activities. Daily rates charged for accommodation in the 5 eco-camps and at Jabulani Safari Lodge for photographic safaris and nature-based adventure activities will be key sources of income.

What about the birds?

Up to 300 species of birdlife will live within the area to be included in the Shangani Sanctuary.

Protection of all species of birds will result in an increase in their populations and diversity.

What birds are found in the Sanctuary?

Take a look at the species list under Our Natural Resources

Why should vultures be protected here?

There is a special need to preserve habitats within the Shangani Sanctuary for the benefit of four species of vultures, as they are all endangered – African White-Backed Vulture (Critically Endangered), Lappet-Faced Vulture (Endangered), White-Headed Vulture (Critically Endangered) and Cape Vulture (Critically endangered)

Will the birds bring in an income?

Income from the birdlife within the Sanctuary will be possible through eco-tourism and bird watching safaris. The latter is a form of recreation which is rapidly increasing in popularity throughout the world.

Does the vegetation vary?

The indigenous vegetation within the Sanctuary is unique. The Highveld bush is characterised by undulating savannah grasslands; vleis (sponge wetlands consisting of grass and aquatic vegetation); thickets, groves and forests of Brachystegia (known as Miombo Woodlands) and Acacia trees. Rising above these veld types are grey granite kopjes, dwalas and mountains, a habitat for leopards, bush pigs, hyrax, eagles, vultures, owls, rabbits, hares, mice and a myriad of other creatures who find safety in the craggy features and the big mountain acacia trees.

What are the savannah grasslands?

Within the Shangani Sanctuary, plains of savannah grassland are common, dominated by a variety of sweet and sour grasses, but with interspersed trees (single-standing and in thickets and groves), woody and herbaceous shrubs and other annual, biennial and perennial plants.

What are the benefits of protecting the savannah?

Savannah grasslands protected within the Sanctuary will enable restoration and maintenance of their ecological balance, increased biomass and greater biodiversity.

With conservation and protection, the possibility of domination by undesirable indigenous species and alien invaders will be reduced.

Protected savannah grasslands will increase food availability and food choices for wildlife grazers and browsers (especially plains game), as well as for birds which feed on fruits, seeds, insects, small mammals and reptiles.

Good grass cover will help prevent soil erosion (both sheet and gully erosion).

Grasslands are globally important because they are natural carbon sinks which are an important part of a vital natural process called the carbon cycle.

Healthy, diverse and pristine natural savannah grasslands within the Sanctuary with the attendant wildlife and birdlife will attract eco-tourists.

What are dwalas?

Dwalas are single sheets of grey granite rock rising out of the ground creating small mounds or huge mountains. During the rainy summer season water collects in the soils around their perimeters allowing for a huge diversity of vegetation and large trees to grow with the abundant water source.

What are vleis?

Vleis are wet sponge areas from small single hectare to large 100 hectare areas that are characterised by green grass growth for most of the year and aquatic plants, giving the animals a source of green pasture during the dry winter months.

What will protected vleis achieve?

  • Protected vleis will result in greater vegetation cover. This will minimise water loss through evaporation, and thereby maximise water retention. This is especially important during droughts and seasons of erratic rainfall.
  • Vleis slowly absorb water and release it when necessary. This sponge-like quality allows the vleis to return water to the ground during dry periods.
  • In all seasons, vleis increase groundwater seepage, top up the water table, and thus improve underground water supplies.
  • Vleis facilitate water filtration and purification, reduce water pollution and provide fresh, clean, drinking water for cattle, wildlife, birdlife, and various aquatic species.
  • In heavy rainy seasons vleis absorb increased volumes of water and thereby control flooding by slowing down and controlling the momentum of water draining off the watershed, thus preventing erosion (both gully erosion and sheet erosion). In turn this reduces siltation of the rivers.
  • Vleis provide safe havens and natural habitats for water birds, fish and a variety of other aquatic life as well as providing a niche for wildlife which frequent water habitats, such as waterbuck, reedbuck and warthogs.
  • As the Shangani Sanctuary is located on the central watershed of Zimbabwe, numerous rivers have their headwaters here. Northwards, the small rivers flow into the Shangani River which joins into the Gwayi River, and thence into the Zambezi. To the south, the rivers converge into the Insiza River, and thence flow into the Limpopo River. Fed as they will be by healthy wetland vleis within the Sanctuary the volume of water flowing into the headwaters of these rivers will increase. This will have positive downstream effects.
  • As ‘carbon sinks’ which store carbon for long periods, vleis play a role in preventing worldwide climate change.

Are there woodlands and forests?

Within the Shangani Sanctuary there is a tremendous variety of indigenous trees (both deciduous and evergreen) growing in thickets, groves and forests and as magnificent single-standing specimens. Most common are the msasa trees, which form the Miombo woodlands.

What are the benefits of protecting trees and forests?

  • The protection and conservation of forests within the Shangani Sanctuary will guard against the possibility of desertification.
  • Forests play a part in reducing the incidence of droughts.
  • With the capacity to retain vast amounts of water, trees reduce storm-water flooding in heavy rainy seasons.
  • Tree roots bind the soil, and this reduces run-off, flooding and erosion (both sheet and gully erosion).
  • Forests filter water – the result is clean water.
  • Large areas of trees in woodlands and forests reduce air temperatures, increase oxygen levels, reduce air pollution, limit carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, and play a role in the worldwide initiative to prevent global warming.

How is the land currently used?

The land is currently used for domestic livestock (predominantly cattle ranching) and for the growing of summer dryland crops and small patches used for horticulture.

How will the land be used in the future?

Future land use practices will follow Conservation Farming technology which will ensure economic gains whilst protecting the natural ecology.

What about eco-tourism?

With the mild climate in a malaria-free zone together with the pristine natural environment, the wildlife and the birdlife, and the absence of potentially dangerous game such as lion, buffalo and rhino, visitors will safely be able to experience the Shangani Sanctuary first hand by walking, hiking, mountain biking and climbing freely throughout the area.  Although there are leopards and brown hyenas within the Sanctuary, these animals are shy and reclusive, seldom posing a threat to humans.

Photographic, game viewing, bird watching and hiking safaris will continue to be popular, in addition to outdoor adventure activities.

What is holistic livestock management?

With no internal fencing within the Sanctuary, wildlife will be able to range freely across the full length and breadth of the land without hindrance.

With the removal of fences, the principles of holistic management proposed by the well-known Savory Institute will be adopted. This is a progressive method which has been successfully implemented by the Africa Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM).

  • A key factor of holistic management is the management of livestock to facilitate land restoration. For the past 25 years the ACHM has been restoring land and natural resources in Africa, to improve livelihoods.
  • The method brings livestock together in large herds to graze during the day. At night the animals are kept in safe stockades or kraals/bomas
  • Each herd spends a specified period of time (7 days) in one area before being moved to another area by well-trained herders.
  • The beneficial effect of this high-impact grazing is that the hooves of the animals break up the hard ground so that air and water can penetrate the earth. At the same time, the animals trample old grass, thereby covering the soil, making it less prone to the drying effects of the sun and wind.
  • This hoof-prepared soil is enriched by the dung and urine of the animals. This results in increased seed germination, improved plant growth and the restoration of lost biodiversity and biomass.
  • Grazing by the animals (which is timed to prevent overgrazing) allows adequate time for plants to recover, keeps perennial grasses healthy, and eliminates the need to burn the vegetation and expose the soil.
  • The aim of this strict grazing plan is to improve land health and veld quality, and ensure that both livestock and wildlife have adequate forage all-year round.
  • Cattle numbers and stocking densities are controlled to ensure adequate and sustained grazing and browsing for domestic stock and wildlife.
  • Holistic management is cost effective and nature-based, and it is sustainable because it increases land productivity and carrying capacity.
  • Through holistic management greater prosperity can be achieved without compromising the long term viability of the resource base, or creating dependency on imported technologies.
  • The cattle herds stockaded in kraals at night makes them less prone to attack by predators, resulting in a resolution of the conflict between man and these wild animals. The outcome will be protection for animals such as jackals and leopards.
  • Landowners will ensure that their herds do not stray onto other properties within the Sanctuary.
  • All members of the Shangani Sanctuary will be well supported in their livestock management efforts by the Africa Centre for Holistic Management. Training for holistic management based on the Savory Institute’s system is provided by the ACHM which is located near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

What cash crops are grown?

  • Most of the Sanctuary’s members are engaged in some form of dryland cropping, and a little horticulture. They will be encouraged to continue with these enterprises with technical assistance to introduce Conservation Farming methods. Members will be permitted to erect game-proof fences around their crops to prevent damage by wildlife and cattle.
  • It is important that the people living within the Sanctuary earn a sustainable income off the land. Rather than producing crops on a subsistence level, they will be encouraged to cultivate crops that produce a surplus for sale through Conservation Farming methods.
  • Cash crops currently grown are pecan nuts, potatoes, tomatoes, groundnuts, maize, millets (sorghum for porridge and rapoco for brewing beer) and beans (sugar and indumba).

What is the outgrowers’ scheme for pecan nuts?

  • Added to their existing cropping enterprises, cattle ranching and eco-tourism, a pecan nut outgrowing scheme for Sanctuary members is aimed at enhancing and diversifying each member’s income.
  • Pecan nut trees, using limited amounts of water, have been successfully grown on Pezulu Ranches by one of the promoters of the Shangani Sanctuary.
  • With the professional advice and practical assistance of Pezulu Pecans, members of the Sanctuary will be encouraged to produce pecan nuts on small areas of land using available and adequate water supplies.
  • Participants will each be given 50 pecan nut tree seedlings to maintain and manage.
  • Pezulu Pecans will provide:
    • The trees
    • The inputs of fertilisers and pesticides
    • A watering programme
    • The harvesting of the annual crop
    • The processing, packaging and marketing of the nuts
  • The Pecan Project will generate a cash income for all members of the Sanctuary.
  • Each Sanctuary member has the potential to generate an income of US$6,000.00 per annum, which will supplement their existing income.

Are there any historic sites within the Sanctuary?

Within the Shangani Sanctuary there are historic ruins of great significance. Protected as national monuments, Danan’ombe and Naletale are impressive stone relics of the ancient Torwa and Rozvi civilisations dating back to a time between the 15th and 19th centuries. These sites are well-known and will attract visitors keen on historic tours. Bhila and Regina Ruins are also in close proximity.

Is there scope for research and education?

The Shangani Sanctuary will be a place where zoologists, botanists, biologists, ecologists and naturopaths can undertake research.

The Sanctuary will be an outdoor classroom for school children. At Jabulani Safaris there are already nature walks, educational excursions and field trips focusing on the wildlife, the birds and the vegetation, natural resource management (erosion control and tree-planting), agricultural and livestock production and trips to historical ruins within the Sanctuary.

Will there be protection, management, monitoring and control?

The 3-metre high perimeter game fence together with effective management and monitoring of the Sanctuary will reduce, and hopefully stop, the poaching of wildlife and birds, and prevent snaring, stock theft, random wood cutting, uncontrolled bush fires and the destruction of the natural vegetation.

This will enable the farmers to make a viable living within the Sanctuary’s parameters and will create gainful employment and job opportunities which will reduce the possibility of people turning to illegal or criminal activities.

Professionally trained anti poaching units (APUs) will patrol the Sanctuary on a continuous basis.