Formerly occupied by the San bushmen, the Nhanzwa, and latterly the royal hunting ground for Matabele king, Mzilikazi. The area was finally gazetted for wildlife conservation in 1928 and then called Wankie Game Reserve with the first warden being 22-year-old Ted Davidson. The reserve was created simply because the land was deemed to be unsuitable for agriculture with its poor soils and scarce water supplies. With neighboring Robins Game sanctuary, it become a national park under the National Park Act of 1949. Originally Robins Game sanctuary belonged to H G Robins, a cattle rancher.
Ted Davidson walked across most of this park’s immense area during the years 1928-1929 and discovered that wildlife was almost non existent.   The once teeming population of elephants was estimated to be under 1000, and the black and white rhinoceros had been eliminated. With water being the critical element, Ted Davidson set upon creating over 60 new artificial pans which helped to boost wildlife numbers now able to access drier parts of the park. To this day, water remains a critical factor and is vital to the survival of the park. Thanks to individual organisations such as Friends of Hwange, many of the waterholes are still functioning today.

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