Sarah Todd

Baboon and Tortoise

As Tortoise was returning home after a day spent foraging for food he came across Baboon.
"Greetings, Tortoise!” Baboon grinned. “How was your day? Did you find food today?”
'No,' replied Tortoise sadly. "Very little food and I’m hungry."
Baboon burst out laughing, and jumped up and down with excitement.

MBARE: Harare’s Inner Kingdom

“We’ll meet at the entrance to Pioneer Cemetery,” Nyati Tours’ managing director DJ confirmed. An odd meeting place perhaps, but in hindsight the perfect point to start a tour of a place steeped in history.

The following morning DJ introduced us to Garikayi Makuyah, founder of Harare City Tours. Garikayi has a Bachelor of Social Science, Sociology and Psychology degree, and while working as a project co-ordinator in South Africa, he realised how tourism had unlocked and supported communities living in places like Soweto. He returned home and started Harare City Tours in 2008. Ten years later the company is going strong and provides freelance employment for a number of Mbare’s residents.

CONSERVATION: The Return of the Black Rhino

Hemmersbach Rhino Force has been operating in Zimbabwe for just over a year. Founder Ralph Koczwara came to Zimbabwe in December 2016, after hearing about Chirundu Safari Lodge’s Carl van der Riet’s dream of stopping poaching in the Hurungwe area of the Zambezi Valley. Hemmersbach Rhino Force is already established as the most effective conservation army in South Africa, operating on game reserves and farms around the Kruger National Park. With the use of military-style tactics and modern technology their teams work to prevent the slaughter of rhinos by taking action against poaching and poachers as well as exposing and confronting other illegal activities in the bush.

BUSHLIFE SUPPORT UNIT: Making a Difference

The rangers have little sympathy towards armed elephant poachers: “In the rhino wars of the 1980s over 200 rangers were shot by poachers, so the policy is shoot first. Five poachers have been shot dead in the last two years, and several have been wounded and arrested. In many instances operations are carried out in conjunction with the police and the border control people, so arrested poachers are dealt with by the police and the courts. Since we have been supporting Parks in their efforts we have assisted in 85 arrests, resulting in those poachers being handing down a total of over 750 years of sentences”.

LAKE SEBAKWE: The Heart of Zimbabwe

The highlight of my visit was the opportunity to track a wild black rhino. Once home to over sixty of these iconic animals, today there are just six rhino left in MRC. Two of these modern day unicorns are from the original group. During daylight hours each rhino has an entourage of four armed rhino scouts; three from the conservancy accompanied by one ZNPWMA guard. The scouts are in radio contact with other conservancy members and farm scouts, providing updates on the rhinos’ locations.

Lessons for a Hippopotamus Child

Last month, friends invited us to spend a few days on a houseboat on Lake Kariba. Our captain took us across the tranquil waters of the world’s largest man-made lake (by volume) to Palm Bay. In addition to a few elephants, a number of crocodiles and many impala we found ourselves parked near a pod of hippo. To our delight we saw a few heads poking out of the water with small spaces between their ears… there were babies in this hippo pod!

MIDNIGHT AT BHENJI WEIR

Several friends have related the story about Gonarezhou’s elephant herds converging on Bhenji Weir every year on the night of the September full moon. Every single person says it is a unique, fantastic occurrence, so last year a group of us headed to Zimbabwe’s second largest national park to experience it for ourselves. The September 2016 full moon was also a lunar eclipse, and I wondered if this would add mysticism to the legend of Bhenji Weir…

TWALA: LIFE IN HARMONY

Originally intended as a sanctuary for wildlife animals, Twala has expanded to include domestic animals. Sheep, goats and pigs mingle with a variety of domestic fowl, including chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. The sanctuary works closely with the local community, educating and assisting people with their animals. Every week up to forty dogs are sterilised, fifty are vaccinated and treatment is carried out on sick and injured dogs – for free. All “patients” receive a free meal of chicken and porridge.