After the Serengeti National Park in East Africa, Hwange National Park is the tenth largest National Park in sub-Saharan Africa. At 14651 km2, it is the largest national park in Zimbabwe. It is situated in the north west of Zimbabwe, in near proximity to the planet’s largest waterfalls - the iconic World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Victoria Falls. Hwange National Park is part of the Greater Kavango Zambezi Trans Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
Due to the park’s large size, it protects a considerable diversity of fauna and flora. Over a 100 species of mammal have been recorded including the ‘Big 5’, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and critically endangered rhinoceros.
It is a bird lover’s paradise, with over 400 species recorded including several “specials” such as Bradfield’s Hornbill, African Pitta and over 50 raptors.
Hwange has two main seasons – wet and dry, which offer very different experiences. Visiting in the dry season (July-October) guarantees spectacular wildlife sightings which gather around waterholes to slake their thirst from the parched land. In November, when the rains finally come, the expectant fauna and flora soak up the deluge of rain produced by magnificent thunderstorms. The parched, dry, dusty land quickly turns into a green paradise, where young are born, and new life abounds.
The first recorded inhabitants of the Hwange area were the San Bushmen, who were displaced by the Nhanzwa Tribe. The name ‘Hwange’ is derived from the Nhanzwa chief, Hwange Rosumbani. King Mzilikazi, the Ndebele king, used the area for hunting in the 19th century.
In November 1926, history records that Major W.J Boggie, a member of the Legislative Assembly , introduced a motion, ‘That the Government take into consideration at the earliest possible date the advisability of proclaiming a game reserve’. The general manager of Hwange Colliery Company, Mr Thompson, supported the idea that the Victoria Falls, the wildlife and the Zimbabwe Ruins were the country’s greatest tourism assets.
Henceforth, the area west of the Ngamo railway siding to the Botswana border was established as Wankie Game Reserve in September 1928 and a National Park in 1930, with the first warden being Ted Davison.