Surnames/tags: Granite Hills Folklore Tradition
The Matobo Hills are south of Bulawayo. It is an area about 3,000 Kilometers squared. About 400 kilometers squared of that area is made up of Matobo National Park. This park area sits right about in the middle of the area.
Originally, the park area was known as Rhodes Matopos National Park. Later, before the current name, it was Matobo Hills National Park.
The landscape is rugged and filled with a diverse mix of vegitation and animal species. These are sustained by rainfalls that are more abundant than the surrounding areas.
Not much traffic is seen at the park despite it being very easy to get to from both the city of Bulawayo and Hwange National Park.
The geography is made up of a granite base that has distinctive rock landforms that rise up from it. The hills have natural shelters with rock paintings that make up an amazing collection to be seen. These paintings detail everyday life as well as religious beliefs and date back to 13,000 years ago if not more. They prove that people have occupied the area for at least 500,000 years.
Some of the rocks balance on others which defies belief and create an amazing view. These rocks are believed by the Mwari religion hold a power. They see them as the seat of god and spririts of their ancestors. To them, messing with the area would keep their God and the spirits from having a home.
The local community holds it as a strong connection to traditional, social and economic activities by the use of the areas shrines and places through out that are held sacred. These are areas that draw pilgramages. They are where the peoples perform rituals, dance, live for the 3 weeks of the ceremonies and keep their practices and belifes as sacred.
The park is an Intensive Protection Zone. It represents one of four of these areas in the country. That means that there is 24 hour protection provided for the park. 400 of 674 different species of birds, in Zimbabwe, are found in the park. 35 of these species are protected.
Acts that cover the area to keep protection of the land:
Rural Dictrict Council Act (29:13)
Parks and Wildlife Act (20:14)
Natural Resources Board Act (20:13)
National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe Act (25:11)
Stone Age Human occupation provides shelters and drawings to be found later as well as tools made from the granite to aid in hunting, gathering and food preparation.
Early Historical Times More human occupation leaves more hints of life
Pre-Colonial Era (before 1890) In the 1830s, the area provided refuge for ethnic groups such as the Nguni groups fleeing Zululand and the Karanga who are ancesters of the Ndebele groups. These groups account for the diversity and richness found in the area.
Colonial Era (1891-1979) In 1890, Pioneer Column, lead by Cecil Rhodes, raised the Union Jack. This started at Fort Salisbury which is now called Harare. They moved southwest to Matabeland searching for gold. This push caused a war between the European Settlers and ethnic groups such as the Ndebele. The hills and natrual areas provided refuge and played a big role in finding sanctuary.
1926 400 Kilometers squared declared National Park
Post-Colonial Era (1989 to present) The country was called Rhodesia after imperialist Cecil Rhodes. He was a leader of the European settlers. by 1985 he controlled almost all of the diamonds and much of the gold in the world. Three colonial areas in Africa were ruled by him. HIs final resting place is in this area because he loved the scenery. His grave is a super spot to watch the sun set and is marked with a brass plaque. Forts, graves of leaders and remains of settlements still hold significance in the area.
1991 Due to poachers killing rhinos, the government instituted manditory dehorning of the rhinos. This keeps people from killing them for their horns.
2003 Declared a World Heritage site.
Sandy Spruit Dam
Northern Wilderness Area
Grave of Cecil Rhodes
Grave of Starr Jameson
Whovi Wilderness Area
Leopards - the largest concentration of lepoards in Africa are located here.
Rhinos - Zimbabwe's largest concentration of rhinos is another bragging point. Some of the rhinos are black and some white.They are on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora's endangered list.
Sable, Kudu and Eland Antelope - are very available to be seen and make up 3 of 12 different species that have been recorded in the park.
Black Eagles - Highest population in the world
* Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/place/Matopo-Hills
* Matobo Hills - a UNESCO World Heritage Site: www.matoposhills.com
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