Please join DSC in congratulating Mark Haldane with Zambeze Delta Safaris (ZDS) as the 2022 Outfitter of the Year. DSC is proud to present Haldane with the award at the Thursday night banquet during the 40th Annual DSC Convention.
With an impeccable and well-earned reputation in the hunting industry, Haldane has established a hunting operation that should be the envy of anyone in the business. Haldane is a DSC Life Member, a longtime exhibitor at the annual Convention and Sporting Expo and a consistent DSC donor. He is also a DSC Foundation supporter.
Richard T. Cheatham, executive director of the DSC Foundation, says, “Mark and his team strive to manage and enhance habitat using practices like burns at the end of the dry season. Mark has invited researchers to study bird and insect populations and is currently in the middle of a leopard study. Mark’s concession is the very definition of wild Africa, and he works hard to maintain that.”
Haldane started ZDS in central Mozambique in the early 1990s, when the country was still reeling from the effects of a prolonged civil war. That conflict left wildlife populations decimated. Haldane assumed control over Coutada 11, and conducted populations surveys that verified the perilous state of affairs. When he began, there were fewer than 1,200 cape buffalo. Today the number exceeds 26,000 and is growing at a rate that far exceeds the total number of buffalo he found when he arrived.
Haldane runs a robust anti-poaching program that includes a team (many of whom are former poachers) equipped with motorcycles for rapid search and deployment supported by helicopter patrols. Haldane and his son Dustan are licensed helicopter pilots, and he currently uses three helicopters to aid and assist in anti-poaching efforts. Haldane also collars and tracks various species to monitor movements as part of his efforts to stay one step ahead of poachers.
“I am very proud to say that my efforts over the last two and a half decades have led to a landscape that today boasts the largest variety of species and number of wildlife in a sedentary (non-migratory) environment anywhere on the continent of Africa,” Haldane said. “On the outfitting front, what began all those years ago with a season that was considered full with just eight hunters has expanded to the point that we are able to support almost 70 hunters a year. Our high percentage of returning hunters makes me feel like we are indeed doing it right.”
In partnership with the Cabela Family Foundation, Haldane took part in the 24 Lions project, which involved the massive task of reintroducing 24 lions from South Africa to Coutada 11 where they had been virtually eliminated.
Haldane has recently announced a project similar to the 24 Lions project, but this time focused on the reintroduction of cheetahs to the Zambeze Delta ecosystem again, in conjunction with the Cabela Family Foundation.
“All of these efforts have given rise to a full complement of scientists ranging from Mozambican interns to our own PHD who resides in the area, and a professor and doctor who oversee the research and use the results to inform our conservation actions,” Haldane said.
Fully understanding the importance of encouragement and education, Haldane offers eco-forays for non-hunting guests. Haldane has encouraged local youths to participate in the beekeeping operation, and each year invites additional youths for a summer internship where they participate in all aspects of running the outfit.
“Mark is a genuinely good man and is surrounded by amazing staff who reflect his values and ideals,” Cheatham says. “His dedication to wildlife and his passion for hunting are second to none.”