He put a stop to shooting and took active steps to stop poaching on his land, which had been a hunting ground because of the large variety and number of game and developed a large private zoological park. A government gazette issued on 24th February 1928 announced that 14,600 sq km of land was to be established as Wankie Game Reserve. Herbert’s land lay to the north of the Reserve.
He was a determined defender of the Game Reserve against local farmers who urged the Government to exterminate the game and open up the country and he fought continuously for the preservation of African wildlife.
Robins studied many sciences as a hobby and was a Fellow of more than half a dozen societies, including the Royal Astronomical Society, his eccentric manner and interest in scientific instruments earned him a reputation as a recluse. He very much enjoyed his telescope and built a tower on the land and had marked on a square frame all the longitude and latitude markings.
In 1934 fearing that his land would be sold on his death to become a ‘shooting box’, he offered to bequeath it to the Southern Rhodesian Government on condition that it be maintained for all time as a game sanctuary. It is possibly the first game sanctuary, protecting animals from hunting, recorded in Southern Africa if not Africa and was bequeathed by Robins to the country on his death in 1939, with the proviso that it would always remain a game sanctuary.
In his will, HG Robins requested his body be left in the bush to be “consumed by wild animals”. His request was denied by the government and he was buried near Robins Camp where his grave can be seen today.
The tower at the homestead now houses a small museum in memory of Robins and the fascinating collection found at the camp will surely be a highlight of your stay.
“I am what I have been termed…a `recluse,` and do not seek personal publicity… I never leave my ranch unless I am obliged… Nor can I say that I have any keen desire for `company`.”
[Book Excerpt] Hwange National Park: The Forest with a Desert Heart