Cecil Kop Nature Reserve


The 1500ha Reserve is in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and it includes a wide variety of vegetation types including Brachystegia woodlands, evergreen forests, montane grasslands and vleis. It provides protection for many species found in the Eastern Highlands, notably samango monkeys, sun squirrels, Gurney's sugarbirds, red-faced crimsonwings and grey waxbills. Bushbuck and protected Blue Duiker are also indigenous to the area.

Mike Hitschmann, co-founder,  was instrumental in securing the 99 year lease of the full 1500 hectares from the City of Mutare in 1993 under Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe.

The reserve, was home to a vast number of species, including orphaned Elephant, White Rhino, Giraffe, Sable, Eland, Wildebeest, Kudu, Nyala, Impala, Blue Duiker, Pangolins and

many others.

In 2006, Mike Hitschmann was imprisoned on trumped up charges by the Zimbabwean Regime due to his public opposition to the Regime. While imprisoned, the reserve was taken over by certain individuals with the wrong motives.

Over the next 5 years or so the reserve was run into the ground by these people, the wildlife was almost entirely poached out, buildings & roads were left to rot and decay and the entire fence of the reserve was stolen allowing the elephants to wander freely into peoples properties.

In 2012, after his release, Mike Hitschmann & a few others that he reached out to, succeeded in removing these people and took over the reserve. The new team was confronted with yet another nasty surprise of thousands of USD owing in unpaid electricity, telephone & water bills which had to be settled.

These costs, along with wages and day to day running

costs meant that there were no funds to begin re-fencing.

Zenwe Input To Date

Fencing Material

We received a donation of fencing material enough to fence-up half the Reserve.

The materials included:

  • rolls of wire

  • fencing poles

  • insulators

  • energizers

  • solar panels


Firefighting unit

The Challenges:

Wild fires have consistently threatened the Reserve over the years,

and we have never been adequately equipped to be able to fight



While prevention methods such as fire breaks and controlled burns

greatly reduce:

a) the chances of wild fires breaching our defenses or

b) reducing their impact by minimizing the amount of fuel available to such fires;


sometimes we experience fires as a result of arson

These wildfires as a result of arson have significantly increased due to the newly "developed" housing stands on the boundary of the Reserve.


From the donations we received we managed to purchase a portable 600 litre Davey twin stage fire fighting unit plus 6 fire beaters

Snake Enclosure


Mike Hitschmann, co-founder of ZENWE Trust, has been involved with wild animal rescue for the past 40 years.

While him &ZENWE trust team have been called to rescue a variety of wild animals - including Tree Civet, Nile Monitor plus a variety of plains game, the vast majority of "call outs" have been inevitably for snakes.



The Challenges:

Worldwide, thanks to either religion, culture, superstition or a combination of all three, most people are petrified of snakes, and Africa with its strong cultural beliefs in spirits and witchcraft is no exception! ZENWE Trust has tried to achieve a number of things over time - firstly the rescue of snakes from human habitats (and therefore protecting the snakes from either death or mutilation), secondly assisting the people calling for the snakes removal, but thirdly and just as importantly trying to educate people, and particularly the youth, on important issues such as snake identification and how to minimize the likelihood of venomous snakes frequenting residential areas.


Snakes rescued have always been released into the 1500 hectare Cecil Kop Nature Reserve.


The Project: 

With the objective of educating people more about snakes, ZENWE Trust opted to construct an educational display of snakes for visitors to Cecil Kop Nature Reserve was . Although not all snakes adapt well to captivity, one magnificent specimen of an Egyptian Cobra (approx 2,2m male) has adapted well. With the assistance from donors a spacious and comfortable enclosure was created for this cobra.


The enclosure is 3x3m2 and has a pond with a waterfall (as cobra’s can spend a bit of time in the water), plus a heated and shaded area for the snake to take shelter in.

Pythons being protected species in the country and with their high call-outs, a python enclosure was also constructed so that the public would see what pythons look like. The enclosure was also constructed to give the rescued pythons a temporary home where their health is monitored before being released into the bush. 

Cecil Kop Nature Reserve Staff Wellbeing

The Challenges:

The wildlife rangers at Cecil Kop Nature Reserve are living in poor conditions. Their cabin walls are full of holes and  the roofs also leak during rains. There is only one ablution facility room that is shared between the male and female staff whose structures are also dilapidated. The staff is also paid very little due to the financial constraints faced by the employer organization WEZ. From 2015 they haven't had proper protective working gear i.e hiking boots, gumboots for the rainy season, raincoats, uniforms. These challenges have highly affected the progress and pace of their work. The lack of uniform, patrolling in tattered clothes has resulted in their authority being undermined and their presence being challenged. On 26 September 2017 The Foreman was stabbed by a wood-poacher along his right arm, sustaining a long and deep cut that required 12stitches.

It is however important to note that regardless of these challenges the guys and the whole team have stood strong, loyal and determined to make the Reserve great again.

The Uniform Project:

ZENWE Trust believes that true and practical essence of conservation begins from the well-being of those who work on the ground day in and day out to protect this wildlife. Through fundraising activities ZENWE Trust managed to buy uniforms the staff working at Cecil Kop Nature Reserve.