Zimbabwe is located in central southern Africa, bordered by Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana and has an area 150,760 square miles. Populated by just over 12 million people, mostly from the Shona and Ndebele tribal groups, the country is slightly larger than Montana and contains an astounding array of wildlife species and diverse habitats.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe's largest national park, covering nearly 6,000 square miles in the north-west of the country. This former royal hunting ground of Ndebele chiefs is the proposed study area for “Painting the Painted Dogs” and has recorded an impressive 107 animal species and over 400 species of birds. Hwange National Park is largely unfenced, allowing the free movement of game into adjacent forest reserves and neighboring Botswana. The park is home to an Elephant herd numbered at more than 30,000, all the African big cats and a huge variety of rare species including the Brown Hyaena, Sable and Roan Antelopes, Lappetfaced Vulture and Stanley's Bustard. Northern areas of the park contain Teak and Commiphora (corkwood) woodlands while the southern two-thirds of the park consist of Kalahari scrubland.
The World Heritage site of Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (“the Smoke that Thunders”) is situated on the border with Zambia, 2 hours drive north-west of Hwange National Park. A mile wide and 300 feet deep, the falls are an awe-inspiring sight. Victoria Falls town will be visited on a regular basis to send updates.
Lake Kariba resulted from the damming of the Zambezi River in 1958. Starvation Island, at the northern end of the lake near Matusadona National Park, earned its name because resident antelope struggle to find sufficient food during the dry season. Painted Dog Conservation Project (PDC) uses the island to rehabilitate injured dogs prior to their release in protected areas on the mainland. A visit will be planned if PDC has dogs located on the island during the expedition.