The Great Tuskers of Matusadona


Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe is one of the few places in the world where great numbers of wild elephants still roam.

The 404 square-mile wilderness on the adjacent to Lake Kariba forms part of a remarkable Tusker gene pool that is linked to Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools and Hwange National Park.

Bordering the Lake on the Zimbabwean side, the area takes its name from the local Matuzviadonha Hills – a stunning combination of flat plains and rugged mountain country. “Matuzviadonha’ means “Falling Dung” in Venda, which is said to be a description of the dung balls that litter the mountain-side from the elephants struggling their way up the slopes.

Before the lake was filled in 1963 (the largest man-made lake by volume in the world), the area was a thriving wilderness with very little access. When the water rose, various ecological changes took place and some nutritious grasses thrived on the shoreline, attracting big mammals such as elephant and buffalo and impala, and along with them, the predators came.

Elephants on the lush banks of Kariba. Photo by Tim Featherby

The area is also largely inaccessible, with a rugged mountain range on one side and the lake on the other, so in the past Matusadona has been relatively free from poachers. But as human pressure from surrounding areas intensifies, the wildlife of Matusadona is increasingly being targeted.

To combat the poaching surge, local tourism organisations and NGO’s are teaming up to protect its last-remaining elephant icons.

Tim Featherby, the owner and operator one of Lake Kariba’s top safari cruisers, Matusadona, is aware of the threats to wildlife in the park and local fish stocks, and donates a percentage of all charter cruises directly to the Matusadona Anti Poaching Project (MAPP), a key organization working to protect the wildlife in the Park and —> Read More