The Bubye River Conservancy (BRC) has got to be one of the greatest and most successful wildlife conservation programs in Africa. Years ago, in the mid 90’s, Charles Davy had the vision and guts, and with the aid of international investors, to take what was an old cattle ranch called Liebigs Ranching, get rid of the cattle, erect a 240km double game fence around the 350,000 hectare property, and develop it into one of the finest game areas in Zimbabwe.
The BRC is typical lowveld, with a wide variety of landscapes and vegetation. The Ripple Creek section has beautiful kopjes, with roads winding between them. Here are klipspringer, kudu and the black eagles. The rest of the conservancy is mainly flat, with rocky outcrops. It is intersected by typical African sand rivers, with reedbeds and pools in the sand. There are several impressive big dams, with good bass fishing, and fantastic bird life. Scattered around the property are nine well-constructed, luxury camps, primarily for hunting clients. One really gets that “bushveld” feeling here!!
Today, the BRC has about 14,000 zebra. 12,000 wildebeest, countless thousands of impala, several thousand each of waterbuck, buffalo, giraffe, eland, and kudu, plus populations of elephant, nyala, sable, bushbuck, klipspringer, etc. It has a large predator population – lions (apparently more lions then Hwange National Park), leopard, wild dogs and both hyena species. It also has the largest Black Rhino population in Zimbabwe, which is increasing yearly, and a good population of white rhino.
The BRC has been managed from its inception by Blondie Leathem, an old Parks veteran, and it stands as a shining example of how to manage a large conservation area. Water is well spread over the conservancy, from rivers such as the Bubye to large dams, and to a unique piped water system with evenly dispersed troughs which work on an innovative pressure gauge/ball valve system to keep the troughs full at all times. This wide spread of water also gives a wide spread of game.
Anti-poaching is obviously a high priority and is very well organized. When one considers the area to be protected, the boundaries to be patrolled and the limited staff, the success of the APU and the failure of the poachers is remarkable. No doubt more will try, but they are faced by a highly motivated anti-poaching unit, ably led by Norman English the ex-warden of Sinamatella. (Source: Bhejane Trust November 2014 Newsletter).
Author: Trevor Lane