The Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie National Park ), with 14,651 km ², the largest National Park in Zimbabwe. The park is located in the west of the country in the foothills of the Kalahari to the border with Botswana 200 km northwest of the city of Bulawayo. The park, in which a dense animal population lives, is one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the country. He is part of the Kavango - Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.
The area is said to have served in the 19th century as a stately hunting grounds for the king Mzilikazi. Already in 1928, the area was found to be wildlife reserve by the British colonial administration under protection. In 1930 he was awarded the status of a national park. Named the National Park after a local tribal leader.
Abiotic environmental factors
The National Park is located in the transition region of the Kalahari desert in the southwest to more humid savannas in the Northeast. The altitude ranges from 938 meters to 1152 meters. About two- thirds of the area is occupied by sand soils, which are divided by fixed dunes and dry fallen, extending to the southwest river valleys. Under the Sand is a hardpan layer. In the north the soils of a pending bedrock arose, this part drained to the north and the Zambesi.
The annual rainfall is about 655 mm, decreasing to the southwest. The rain falls mainly during the months of November to March. The waters are often only temporary, it accumulates in salt. The hottest temperatures will be reached before the rainy season, in October. June and July are the coldest months, occasional light frost can occur.
Vegetation and Flora
The vegetation changes analogous to precipitation from arid southwest to wooded north-east. On the dry, hardened by hardpan sandy soils there is grassland with individual camel thorn acacia (Acacia erioloba ). The East is covered dense at higher trees, they Baikiaea plurijuga, Baikiaea africana, Guibourtia coleosperma and Pterocarpus angolensis find. In the understory grow Terminalia sericea, Combretum and Acacia species. In the north, with better water and soil conditions, mopane forest grows with Mopane ( Colophospermum mopane ), Combretum and Commiphora species.
In the park there are populations of African elephants (Loxodonta africana), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer ), giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), Burchell's zebra (Equus burchelli ), hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius), desert warthog ( Phacochoerus aethiopicus ), a large number of antelope, including wildebeest, greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros ), impala (Aepyceros melampus ) and sable antelope ( Hippotragus niger). Other local mammals include lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus ), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus ), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus ) and two hyena species.
Existing bird species depending on the season finches ( Estrildidae ) KGirlitze ( Serinus ), pigeons ( Columbidae ), collar Francolin ( Francolinus francolinus ), guinea fowl ( Numididae ), sandgrouse ( Pteroclididae ) and starlings ( Sturnidae ) during the dry season. During the rainy season, cuckoos ( Cuculidae ), swallows ( Hirundinidae ), sailors hold ( Apodidae ), flycatchers ( Muscicapidae ), Nightjar ( Caprimulgus ), Nile geese ( Alopochen aegyptiacus ), Rotschnabelenten (Anas erythrorhyncha ) and bump gloss geese ( Sarkidiornis melanotos ) on there.
Existing raptors are jugglers (terathopius Ecaudatus ) and Lappet-faced Vulture ( Torgos tracheliotus ) Bengalgeier (Gyps bengalensis ), Vulture ( Gyps coprotheres ), wool -headed Vulture ( Trigonoceps occipital ) and cap Vulture ( Necrosyrtes monachus).
To obtain the livestock during the dry season, 62 artificial water sources were drilled. Migratory movements of animals in the humid northeast, the Gwayi River are interrupted by settlements. In addition, the park is fenced to curb the transmission of foot-and -mouth disease.
The stock of elephants was estimated in 1930 at 2,000 to 4,000 animals. By 1985, the number had increased to 12,000 to 14,000 animals. In 2006, the estimates 30,000 to 40,000 elephants. The population is also supported by the artificial water points in dry years, the mortality rate increases significantly, however. Local cause the elephants changes and disturbances of the vegetation.