The Save’ Valley Conservancy is one of the largest private game reserves in Africa. Located in the southeastern low veld of Zimbabwe, bordering on the Save River on its eastern side, the Conservancy comprises 750,000 acres of diverse wildlife habitat. Visitors to the Save Valley Conservancy (SVC) have the opportunity to see most all of Southern African game species, including the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino). The SVC is home to one of Africa’s largest populations of black and white rhino, and to a healthy population of rare African Painted Dogs. Both of these critically endangered species are carefully monitored and protected within the Conservancy. Over three hundred species of birds can also be found in the Conservancy during the year, including many raptors.
The SVC consists of privately owned, Government owned, and community owned properties that are aligned under a constitution to manage animal populations on a landscape scale. Individual properties operate tourist lodges that offer different types of accommodations in varied ecological settings.
The Conservancy is a vast and varied natural landscape. Unlike some game reserves where animals are confined to smaller spaces and well habituated to humans, the animals in the Conservancy are wild. This sometimes makes them harder to photograph, but finding them and observing their behavior is truly an adventure. The SVC is not a destination for people who measure the success of their safari by completing a checklist of animal sightings. There are no zebra painted busses in the SVC and no competition between photographers at leopard or lion kills. Lodges are small and have thousands of private areas around them which limit access and create exclusive game viewing experiences.
A brief Introduction & History of the Save Valley Conservancy.
Partners in conservation
Information on key people in the Save Valley Conservancy community and
Photo Gallery of the Save Valley Conservancy.
Important contact information for the Save Valley Conservancy community.
The Save Valley Conservancy was formed as a result of the coming together of a number of circumstances. The first was that an epic drought brought an end to cattle ranching and agricultural endeavour in the area and with it, the realisation that wildlife was the only viable future for the area. This dove tailed perfectly with the arrival of the first Black Rhino which had been moved from the Zambezi Valley where they were being poached to extinction.
A few enormous ranches were subdivided and sold in lots. These attracted local, regional and international investors; all keen to be a part of the new conservation vision that officially became the Save Valley Conservancy in 1991 when the constitution was signed by all parties.
All internal fences were removed from an area totalling 3,442km2 and a 350 km double perimeter fence was constructed. Approximately 4,000 animals of 14 species were reintroduced, including elephants in the largest translocation of that species ever undertaken.
As a result of the size of the area and the enormous habitat diversity contained therein the conservation of the full range of indigenous mammals was possible and the ecological value of the area is considerably greater than that of most game ranching areas in southern Africa (most of which are fenced into small compartments). Wildlife populations increased rapidly, including those of several threatened and endangered species, and SVC developed into a conservation area of global significance. For example, SVC now contains a viable population of critically endangered black rhinoceroses, a healthy number of endangered African wild dogs, a rapidly growing population of African lions and significant populations of other threatened species, such as southern ground hornbills; lappet faced vultures; elephants; cheetahs; and white rhinos.
Plans to involve surrounding communities in the conservancy were initiated early on with the formation of the Save Valley Conservancy Community Trust.
During the Government of Zimbabwe’s fast track land ‘reform’ programme in2000-2001, approximately 33% of SVC was settled by subsistence farmers and ~80 km of perimeter fencing was removed in the process. The government has since made the decision to retain conservancies for wildlife production, but the partial settlement of SVC remains for now, resulting in a mosaic of human habitation and wildlife habitat. This mosaic creates conditions conducive to intense human-wildlife conflict, illegal hunting and habitat destruction: essentially, a microcosm of the key conservation threats facing wildlife in Africa.
Save Valley Conservancy
Phone: +263 (0) 772 305 702