The Vancouver Sun
October 28, 2000
WEDZA, Zimbabwe - The Mugabe government on Friday added to its
farmland-reallocation program a cattle ranch that is home to successful
breeding program for the endangered black rhinoceros.
''If they do take it over, there will no animals any more,'' said
John Travers, 47, who runs the park. ''They would all be snared
and poached. The rhino project would cease to exist. It would be
the end of everything here.''
Among the mostly white- owned 2,295 properties so far identified
for resettlement by blacks are the most highly developed agricultural
estates in the country, schools, hospitals, missions, already resettled
farms, a huge state-owned fuel-storage-tank facility and large chunks
of wildlife conservancies in semi-desert incapable of sustaining
anything except hardy game. But even among these, the absurdity
of setting aside the Imire game farm for subsistence agriculture
Imire's rhino were collected in 1986 to rescue the few score survivors
of the relentless poaching of the world's largest wild population
of black rhino.
Animal scientists had scorned the plans of Norman Travers, John's
father, to breed rhino alongside cattle on his farm, believing the
environment was ''completely unsuitable.''
Rhinos have a gestation period of 15 months, and in the wild mate
again only after three years, when the calf leaves its mother. The
Imire program doubled the rate of reproduction by weaning the calves
at three months, removing them from their mothers and hand- rearing
So far six calves have been successfully returned to a specially
protected rhino zone in the Zambezi Valley.