Ep. 92 Show Notes | Bringing Rhinos Back to Hwange with Mark ‘Butch’ Butcher

What is Episode 92 all about?

Today is a very special day for conservation. It’s World Rhino Day, and I guarantee you that most stories you hear will be tragic, depressing, and defeating. While it is important to be fully aware about the tragedies our rhinos have faced, today, I want to bring you a different story. A story of hope, determination, and perseverance.

In this episode, we’re sitting down with Mark Butcher, more commonly known as Butch, the founder and Managing Director of Imvelo Safaris in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Butch began his career in the early 80s as a ranger for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management in Hwange National Park, but instead of it being a dream job prancing through the bush, Butch quickly realized that his work mostly entailed killing “pest” animals and putting local people in jail for hunting bushmeat within park boundaries. The conflict didn’t slow after he ended his career as a ranger and became a Provincial Wildlife Officer for Zimbabwe’s Forestry Commission. During his time working for the government, he watched a wave of highly trained poachers come into the country and kill all of Zimbabwe’s rhinos. He knew there had to be a better solution for both protecting wildlife and providing livelihoods to the people living closest to the park. That’s when Imvelo Safaris was born. 

Imvelo is a true conservation tourism company that’s fully committed to meeting the needs of the local community and native wildlife. Since its inception in 1996, Imvelo has become a leader in community-based tourism throughout southern Africa. Butch’s vision and dedication reached new heights in May of this year. After five years of planning, two male Southern White rhinos were reintroduced to the Hwange ecosystem on community lands outside of the park through the Community Rhino Conservation Initiative. 

Butch and I have a marvelous conversation about his time as a ranger, how he discovered ecotourism as a way to empower the communities surrounding the park while protecting wildlife, what it was like watching the last rhino being shot in his country, and why he took on the massive project of safely and sustainably bringing rhinos back to Hwange.

In addition to today’s conversation, we have two exciting ways that you can support rhino conservation! First, if you’d like to visit the two rhinos being safely managed by Imvelo and the community, my work, The Wild Source, has put together a special itinerary that you can book to go see these rockstar rhinos in person while also having a fantastic safari experience. Zimbabwe Rhino Conservation Safari

Second, we’re launching a fun t-shirt campaign for rhinos in partnership with the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund! The shirt was designed by the incredibly talented Weiyena Wei and proceeds from now until October 1st, 2022 will be donated to KACF for their numerous rhino conservation projects. After October 1st, the shirt will continue to be live in the Rewildology store on the website and a portion of every sale will be donated to KACF. Shop now!

I couldn’t be more excited for this campaign and I’d love for you all to come with me to see the rhinos at Imvelo while wearing your rhino shirt! How freaking fun does that sound?

One last announcement before we get to the conversation – I promise I’m almost done. Butch refers to several maps and images that might make more sense to see as you listen, and so I’ve timestamped each image in the show notes. If you’d like to watch Butch explain the visuals as we chat, then check out this episode on Rewildology’s YouTube channel.

Alright, everyone. Here is my super inspiring conversation with Butch.

Listen to this episode.

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Ep. 90 | Coexisting with Europe’s Large Carnivores with John Linnell, PhD
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Watch this episode on YouTube.

Butch in the Field + Imvelo’s Rhinos

Images Discussed During the Episode

Image #1 – [42:49]

Image #2 – [45:04]

Image #3 – [46:24]

Image #4 – [52:50]

Image #5 – [52:55]

Image #6 – [1:00:07]

Image #7 – [1:00:26]

Image #7 – [1:02:37]

Imvelo Safaris

Community Rhino Conservation Initiative (CRCI)


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