Protecting the Park's wildlife and landscapes

Our Conservation Story

At more than 5000 square kilometres, Gonarezhou National Park is Zimbabwe’s second largest park. The Gonarezhou wilderness plays home to a rich diversity of wildlife and plant species hosting several unique, threatened and range-limited species.

Gonarezhou Conservation Trust – A Conservation Partnership

Through our scientific services (research) and resource protection teams Gonarezhou Conservation Trust strives to conserve the Gonarezhou ecosystem, restore its biodiversity, and protect vital habitats that can be sustained for future generations. Our vision for sustainable conservation is that habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem services can be restored, protected and continue to flourish for the benefit of both people and the planet.

The Trust has committed to a continuous journey of improvement toward achieving holistic conservation for the Gonarezhou landscape, balancing the protection and understanding of our natural resources with the needs and challenges of the people that live around the Park.

Our Ecosystems
Ecological Research
Resource Protection

Our Ecosystems – Gonarezhou

The Gonarezhou landscape is a place of diverse natural beauty, from the stunningly rugged geography to the tranquillity of the aquatic systems that flow through the Park.  One of the most essential components of being able to conserve these ecosystems is to understand them, both in terms of their elements and how they relate to each other.

Understanding the inter-connectedness of the flora, fauna and their ecosystems


The distribution of vegetation types in Gonarezhou is primarily determined by its underlying geology.

The bulk of the central part of the Park is covered by lightly undulating Cretaceous sedimentary deposits known as the Malvernia Beds. This area is largely dominated by pacthes of mature Gibourtia (false mopane) woodlands, mixed scrublands of Mopane, Combretum and Strychnos sp. as well as distinct patches of Androstahcys (ironwood) and miombo woodland (Brachystegia spiciformis, B. tamarindoides subsp. torrei and Julbernardia globiflora). To the north and south there are sizeable occurrences of basalt and intermediate acid intrusive rocks dominated by Mopane woodlands and mixed-Combretum woodland and interspersed with patches of open to wooded grasslands. The small portions of alluvium along the major rivers through the park host impressive alluvial woodlands dominated in parts by stands of Combretum (Leadwood), Cordyla (Wild Mango) and Xanthoceris (Nyala Berry). Some unique and isolated patches of Ilala Palm forest and hydromorphic grasslands are found near the junction of the Save and Runde Rivers, and a unique stand of giant Iroko trees are found in the Nyahungwe area below the mighty Chilojo Cliffs.

In total, over 493 plant species comprising 333 woody species and 160 herbaceous species, are currently known to occur in Gonarezhou.


Apart from being “the place of elephants”, Gonarezhou is home to a rich diversity of species with several unique and range-limited species.  The Park is home to the “Big 5” and over 450 species of birds, 89 large mammal species, 61 small mammals, over 50 fish species, 116 reptile species and 34 amphibian species. Of these species, some 15 are classified as vulnerable, six as endangered and five as critically endangered species.

The Park is well known for its large elephant population (+/- 10,000), being a stronghold for the endangered wild dog and lappet-faced vulture, and being the extended home of the near-endemic Turquoise Killifish.  Gonarezhou has once again become home to the critically endangered black rhino after the reintroduction of a viable population of individuals in 2021 after nearly 27 years of being absent from the Park.


GNP receives a mean annual rainfall of about 466 mm, which falls almost exclusively between November and March.  Three climatic seasons are recognised, which are: the hot-wet season (November to April), the cool-dry season (May to August) and the hot-dry season (September to October).

The Park experiences short dry winters between May and July, with temperatures dropping as low as single figures in rare instances but days comfortably around 25°C.  The hot season which runs from November to April, is generally dominated by warm, balmy nights and daytime temperatures regularly reaching the mid to high 30 °C, only being broken by spells of rainfall and thunderstorms.  The rest of the months are generally hot and dry, impacted occasionally by cold fronts bringing fine rain and cool winds, sometimes for days at a time.