Mongoose rewilding - banded mongooses reintroduced to Imire

Rewilding is not just about the relocation of large, iconic species, it’s also about restoring our natural ecosystems by reintroducing any native animals back to where they belong - the wild. 

In an effort to restore the banded mongoose population at Imire,  a joint operation between Imire and The Aspinall Foundation saw the relocation to Zimbabwe of a group of 12 mongooses from Wild and Free, a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa. 

The new arrivals consist of seven males and five females, some of whom are pregnant. After spending a week in an acclimatisation area at Imire, the mongooses have been released into the wider conservancy. Their natural curiosity is incredible to watch and we await the birth of the babies with excitement! Chiwawe is a habitat perfectly suited for mongoose survival, with thick bush and abundant food sources.

Mongooses play an important role in the ecosystem as they consume grubs, insects and fruits, which aids in seed dispersal. They are also a valuable food source for Imire’s birds of prey. 

Mongoose Rewilding - South Africa to Zimbabwe

The mongooses were all rescued and hand-raised at Wild and Free. Each has a tale of hardship that brought them to the centre. Some were removed from their mothers with the intention of being kept as pets and some were confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade. The trade-in of exotic animals poses a significant threat to the well-being of countless species, including these charming creatures.

One of the extraordinary rescues, who was affectionately named "Blondie," has a fascinating story. Blondie is a female mongoose who was part of a group of mongooses discovered at OR Tambo Airport. We strongly suspect they climbed into a car engine, inadvertently ending up at the airport. Unfortunately, only one of them was captured, and that was Blondie. Her story serves as a reminder of the extraordinary journeys these mongooses have taken to find a safe haven in our care.

Their successful arrival at Imire is the culmination of a year of hard work by the staff at Wild and Free, The Aspinall Foundation, our team at Imire and the vets at who provided invaluable help during the relocation operation.

Deirdre Joubert of Wild and Free said, “This has been over a year of sleepless nights and many tears, bite wounds and laughter, but I will do it all over again. This has been the greatest success in my entire life. These are seriously some special animals, and they have crawled very deep into my heart ❤️. I am extremely honoured to be part of this project to rehome them back into the wild where they belong WILD AND FREE. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen.”

These are feelings we all share and we are deeply honoured and excited to be part of this conservation success story.

Photo credits: Maddie Turner: Instagram @maddieturner

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Imire is home to three elephants, 17 rhinos (eight white and nine black) and two herds of cape buffalos. In addition, we are also home to populations of giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, sable and a plethora of other plains game and bird species.

As an Imire rhino conservation volunteer, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work hands-on with rhinos, elephants and cheetah, side-by-side with conservation experts and within local communities. Rhino conservation volunteers play a key role in protecting Africa’s wildlife, and also develop deep intercultural understanding, through working in our vibrant community alongside friendly and like-minded people.

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