Issue 2 | 2018

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Issue 2

ZAMBEZI VALLEY: The Carmine Bee-Eater Rescue

One of my favourite birds is the southern carmine bee-eaters. They migrate to Zimbabwe from August to November. When they flock to the trees on the river bank one could be forgiven for thinking Christmas has arrived early; they decorate the trees with their brilliant colours. I was delighted to see their distinctive entrance holes to the tunnels leading to their nests in one of the cliffs on the river’s edge. Incredibly, these beautiful little birds excavate tunnels that extend between one and two metres into the cliff. The nest at the end of each tunnel contains up to five eggs. The colony was busy and noisy, with the red and green birds flying back and forth chirping and twittering – chaos!

BEHIND THE LENS: A Journey of Photographic Opportunity

The next day I rise early to try and beat the traffic heading east towards Mutare. I have another farm to visit in Virginia. Edging slowly down a farm road, I come across a late-blooming Sickle Bush (Dichrostachys cinerea). It has been a long morning; over two hours since Harare and my thermos still contains a cup or so of coffee. Winding down the window I kill the engine, cutting off Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in mid-stride, leaving just the sound of the bush.

FEVER DREAMS: Malarial Memories

On the other side of the piazza a group of musicians play a melancholy melody, very similar to the trumpeting of the hornbills amongst the fever trees down by the river near my camp. I love these scenes; whether in Africa or Europe, they’re busy with excitement yet tranquil in their own way. I can’t help but smile at the thought of one of these cute, plump angels frolicking in the waterhole at Hwange’s Nyamandlovu Platform. The kingfishers and darters would look so out of place perching on their plump shoulders! But I don’t think it would be motivation enough for visitors to toss coins into the water. Besides, it would take a long time to find all the coins in the mud, especially after the elephants and buffalo have frolicked in the cool, black sludge…

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”.

FOOTLOOSE: Sri Lanka – Health, Hospitality and Holidays

My trip took me further south to Galle, a historical city founded in the 16th century. Its World Heritage Site status makes it a popular destination in Sri Lanka. The Dutch fort is the largest European-built in Asia. The Dutch Reformed Church was completed in 1754, with underground tunnels running from the church to the Governor’s House. The British built the Galle Lighthouse, which offers an excellent view of the sea and land around Galle.

The Magic of Trees

THE TREE’S PRAYER ~ anonymous
You who would pass by and raise your hand
against me, harken ere you harm me:
I am the heat of your fire on the cold
winter’s nights, the friendly shade
screening you from the summer sun,
and my fruits are refreshing draughts
quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house,
the board of your table, the bed on
Which you lie and the timber that
builds your boat
I am the handle of your hoe, the door of
your homestead, the wood of your cradle
and the shell of your coffin
I am the gift of God and the friend of man.
You who pass by listen to my prayer –

Applause to Umfurudzi

Umfurudzi has many activities available in the park. Visitors have the choice of having a Parks’ scout accompany you to show you all the wonders, or as in our case, you can try and patiently figure out the poorly made-up map with the help of your spouse. The tranquility of discussing a map with one’s wife in the middle of nowhere could almost be its own attraction; we soon realized there had been new developments with the road system, but the map has yet to be updated.

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.