The non-profit African Parks, which manages more than a dozen parks across Africa, has joined with Zimbabwe Wildlife to oversee the heavily poached Matusadona National Park on Lake Kariba, what has been called the country’s most neglected park, the conservation body announced.

matusadona national park zimbabwe kariba elephants
Matusadona National Park. Photo: Matusadona FB page.

“This spectacular park is fraught with challenges but under African Parks’ careful management in collaboration with Zimparks, and their strong history of conservation excellence, Matusadona has the potential to become Zimbabwe’s premier elephant and black rhino sanctuary once again,” African Parks said in a statement on the weekend.

Prince Harry has been president of African Parks since 2017, and the more than 11 million hectares under its care range from Akagera in Rwanda to Liwonde in Malawi to Zakouma in Chad. The conservation body signed a 20-year management contract with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife on 1 November for the 1,470 square kilometre park, which is bordered by two rivers and Lake Kariba, and was proclaimed in 1975.

The park once supported the highest density of lion in Africa

African Parks said that Matusadona at one point supported the highest density of lion in Africa and was a stronghold for both African elephant and black rhino. Although poaching significantly decreased these species, it believed the park had the potential to support large populations once again. One of its prime features is its bird population, and 240 species have been identified in the park. Lion, buffalo, elephant, waterbuck and impala also are found in the park.

“The lush landscape, consisting of undulating hills that quickly descend to abruptly flat grasslands, forms important habitat for a large diversity of savannah and woodland species,” African Parks said. “The lake’s shoreline is guarded by a kilometre-wide, iconic drowned forest, and when combined along with the parks unique vegetation, offers considerable and unique tourism potential through game viewing, fishing and other lake and park activities.”