Docile but Deadly
Stage One: Victoria Falls to Binga
Using a scouting camera
Your secret eyes in the bushveld
Venomous hunters of the night
Hunting the toughest in Zambia
Looking good in the bushveld
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contents 4 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
8 Mauser’s 7mm
Docile but Deadly
14 BorderLine Walk
Stage One: Victoria Falls to Binga
38 Using a scouting camera
Your secret eyes in the bushveld
Venomous hunters of the night
58 Buff Tuff
Hunting the toughest in Zambia
70 Safari Fashion
Looking good in the bushveld
92 African Bush Cuisine 95 True North
A True Father
6 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
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SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 7
Mauser’s 7mm Docile but Deadly
8 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
eveloped in 1892 the 7x57 (or 7mm Mauser) was initially used in a limited number of Model 1892 Mausers. The following year Mauser introduced an improved bolt-action rifle in the same calibre which was officially adopted by the Spanish military. Other countries followed suit and when the South African Boer republics realised that war with Britain was inevitable in the late 1890s they imported 50 000 7x57 Mausers. Three Mauser versions were used during the Anglo-Boer War: the long-barrelled fullstock model made in Berlin by Ludwig Loewe & Co and DWM; a 7lb carbine with an overall length of 37.5 inches; and thirdly the so-called Plezier Mauser (directly translated Plezier means pleasure). This was a beautiful sporter with an octagonal barrel and a stock with a pistol grip. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 9
Mauserâ€™s 7mm is deadly on large antelope such as gemsbuck if the hunter does his bit.
Bronte II 008 - The 7x57 is all a hunter needs for general bushveld hunting
10 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
Plezier Mausers with shorter round barrels and hair triggers were also available. Free State burghers could order these rifles through their local magistrate for the princely sum of £5.
Cape, this time using a custom-made ghost-ring sight on the 7mm. In that open country it took me days to get within 100m of a herd of springbuck and when I did the little Mauser worked to perfection... And so I can go on.
Herr Mauser’s rifles and the 7x57 cartridge, which launched a 173gr roundnose bullet at about 2300fps, not only served the Boers well, they also impressed the English to such an extent that they became popular in Britain and its game-rich colonies after the war. In 1907 John Rigby & Co created their own version of the 7x57 by reducing the bullet weight to 140gr, increasing the velocity to 2800fps and calling it the .275 Rigby High Velocity. When chambered in Rigby rifles the cartridge was generally referred to as the .275 Rigby and the English rifles were sighted for the 140gr bullet. However, hunters could order rifles with two rear sight blades - for the E-Tip - The 7x57 140 and 173gr cartridge (left) loads respeccompared to a tively. German .30-06. Although 7mm and English not as versatile as .275 rounds were the ‘06, the 7mm interchangeable Mauser will not let because the case the hunter down dimensions were exactly the same.
The above could have been done with any calibre launching a 140gr or heavier bullet at approximately 2500fps but the little 7mm cartridge has that mystical “something”... an aura that makes hunters pause and think and dream. By now you have probably gathered that I am a 7x57 enthusiast, but unlike those who make exaggerated claims for their favourite calibres I fully except that the 7x57 is not a “wonder” cartridge. It does not have the .270 Win’s flat trajectory or the .30-06’s punch. The adage “it kills far better than its paper ballistics suggest it should”, applies to all mild cartridges which employ heavy-for-calibre bullets with high sectional densities. The 6.5x55 and the 9.3x62 are examples that come to mind.
My semi-custom 7mm Mauser, built on a 1939 wartime action is no showpiece but I just love its trim lines, the dark walnut and the way it comes up to my shoulder. And, almost every time I handle the little rifle, memories flood my brain... I pulled off the best running shot of my life with it - on a jackal at over 200m. Of course it was a fluke but the lavish praise of my father, who was with me, made me walk tall for the rest of the day. My first Rowland Ward blesbuck, a huge ram that I had ambushed in a dry pan, was killed with the Mauser and a 140gr Sierra bullet. Five years later I shot an ancient gemsbuck bull in the same pan, this time with a 175gr Nosler Partition bullet. A particular kudu bull comes to mind, flattened early one morning in a dry riverbed near Maltahöhe in Namibia. We had been hunting for almost a week and all I had to show for it was a warthog. It was cold and the sand crunched under our boots as we headed up the dry riverbed that appeared to hold no life. Suddenly he was there... a grey statue, looking at us, regal and aloof. Moments later when I knelt beside him there was no joy, just a sudden choking feeling of loss. Two years ago a hunted the barren Moordenaars Karoo (Murderers Karoo) north of Laingsburg in the Western
Karamojo Bell is often credited for immortalizing the 7x57/.275 Rigby but I think the old Boers made this calibre popular long before Bell used it on elephant and they were perhaps responsible for the mystique that surrounds the 7mm. In the 1890s most South African hunters and farmers were using Martinis and some even soldiered on with old breech/muzzle loader Westley Richards rifles which used percussion caps and paper cartridges (consisting of a lead ball and black powder wrapped in special ‘cartridge’ paper). The Martini, also using black powder fired a 480gr, .450-calibre bullet at a sedate 1350fps. It was deadly at short range - even on buffalo and elephant - but its lack of speed and rainbow-like trajectory made accurate shooting difficult at longer ranges. It also kicked like a mule. Enter the 7x57 and the Mauser 1896 rifle. The Boers, used to the Martini’s big lead slug, trundling along at 1000+fps, found the 7mm’s 173gr ‘solid’ at 2296fps something awesome - its flat trajectory (compared to the Martini’s) and good penetration astounded and delighted. The cupro-nickel, steel-clad bullet could punch a neat hole through a ploughshare at 75 paces whereas the Martini’s bullet made only a shallow dent. On game the 7mm solids were equally impressive. Another feather in the 7x57’s cap was its accuracy. It simply ran rings around the old Martini and its light recoil induced better marksmanship. The SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 11
smokeless 7mm also did not betray its user’s position in battle and for hunters there was no need to ‘run around the smoke’ to see whether the bullet has found its mark. Mausers could hold five rounds in the magazine and the ammunition was so light that burghers could carry two bandoliers of 60 cartridges each. Having earned its wings on the battlefield, the 7x57’s future was secured. Pleased with this new ‘wonder’ cartridge, hunters naturally embellished on the truth when they gathered around campfires. By the time Rigby introduced the high-velocity expanding bullet, the superb Model 98 Mauser had been adopted and its many positive features together with Bell’s stories and embellishments further fuelled the 7x57’s fame. That is until some fools tried using it on dangerous game but used the 140gr expanding bullet instead of the 173gr solid. The development of more efficient smokeless powders opened a new world to cartridge designers and by 1930 small-bore cartridges had been developed that could push bullets beyond 3000fps. Suddenly the 7x57 was just another slowcoach. Over the years many Magnums, Ultra Magnums and Short Magnums followed as the use of high-quality telescopic sights extended the hunter’s effective shooting range. No wonder many predicted that the 7x57 and other mild calibres would soon be obsolete. But, surprise... surprise, this old warhorse is still going
took uthor A 7 5 x57. te II 0 Bron with his 7 s pace
12 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
strong. All the faster small-bores, including the new Short Magnums come at a price. Rifles and ammunition are more expensive and while the ammunition and reloading components might be readily available in the United States they are not in South Africa. Fast calibres are louder, recoil more and are heavier on barrels. Owners of Magnums often tell you that can download to 7x57 ballistics but I have yet to meet one who actually does. Last but not least, most fast magnum-type calibres represent overkill for general antelope hunting. Some reason that the magnum’s extra power is necessary because game is getting wilder and limited hunting time often ‘forces’ the hunter to take shots at ranges beyond the capabilities of the 7x57. Agreed, in open country longer shots are the norm and those who prefer (and are capable of) taking head or neck shots need flat-shooting calibres. The 7x57 is probably not for them but a 130 grainer at 2800 to 2900fps or a 140gr lead pill leaving the muzzle at 2800fps shoots pretty flat out to 250m. And laser rangefinders nowadays make things much easier. If you know how far the animal is and you are familiar with your calibre’s trajectory (as all hunters should be) pulling off “fancy” shots aren’t that difficult. Although deadly with lightweight, premium-grade bullets the 7x57 really shines when loaded with 160 to 175gr bullets and used at ranges under 200m. The most important reason why I strongly recommend the 7x57 is its user-friendly nature. I come into contact with very many hunters and the most common shooting ‘problem’ they have is, in essence, recoil or admitting that they have a recoil problem. When shooting off sandbags from a bench many manage to hide their flinch but ask them to use a practical field position and you will soon see the difference. Most people shoot better with light recoiling calibres, period. There is another advantage for those who carry their rifles more than they shoot them. The 7mm’s inherent light recoil means that this cartridge can be chambered in trim, lightweight rifles. Bullet failure at short bushveld ranges and meat damage are other factors why the 7x57 is preferable for certain types of hunting. High-velocity, small-bores need premium-grade bullets to prevent bullet failure which can cause shallow, non-lethal wounds. Visiting trophy hunters do not care about meat damage but those of us who shoot for the pot want to save as much meat as possible. Head or neck shots are not always possible and when body shots are taken a bullet that hits with a striking velocity of 2400fps or more causes horrific damage. With the 7x57, loaded with 175gr bullet you do not have that problem. To conclude: The 7x57 is as relevant today as it was way back in 1892. On a recent hunt I shot an impala at about 60m, a warthog at 100 and just a few weeks earlier my youngest son took a gemsbuck at under 100 and I shot a blesbuck at 173m. All were Koos Barnard is one-shot kills. Before you an ex-professional buy your first (or next) rifle, hunter and a full time gun writer, stop and think - the 7x57 having published might be all the gun you hundreds of arneed. And, most importantly, you will actually enjoy shooting with it.
ticles. He was born in Namibia and has been a keen hunter since his youth.
SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 13
14 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
Stage One: Victoria Falls to Binga A
fter numerous delays, we finally left Victoria Falls on July 21st. As it happened, our departure was somewhat uninspiring, given that we left from the goods train station and followed the railway line from town. No motivational sights of mighty Mosi-oa-tunya for Jephita and I – it was simply tea and bread beside a pile of coal in a grimy trainyard for us. We had visited the Falls a couple of days before, and we could obviously hear its roar and see its spray from the train-yard, but in all honesty the famed waterfall was far from our minds that morning. What dominated our thoughts wholly were the three thousand + kilometers which lay ahead, with the first ten or so being of particular concern. We knew the going was going to be trying from the word go and this knowledge had been forcefully compounded a few days prior to D-day, when we had set off from the Falls proper on a reconnaissance patrol, sticking as close to the river as possible. We achieved six or seven kilometers that day and covered some truly daunting terrain before heading back to town. The result of that excursion was the shucking of much suddenly superfluous equipment, clothing and food, and a strategy rethink – it was decided we would follow the railway line from town and cut across the bush to the river through more manageable country. Alas, we naïve fellows did not realize that it would be many a mile before we came across anything remotely close to manageable country flanking the Zambezi River. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 15
The Zambezi gouges its way through rugged country below the Falls
Our plan of angling our way onto the Zambezi soon came unstuck and we found ourselves totally flummoxed by mighty gorges, as we had during the trial run. The only path open to us was away from the river, and that just wasn’t supposed to be the plan! Around and about we bumbled and stumbled, over hard, rock-strewn ground, circumventing impassable ravines and then trying to work our way to the river, only to be bounced off it almost immediately, if we even got there.
Desperation By late-morning, a degree of frustration was beginning to set in. Already? On the first morning? Yep. Garmin informed us that we were about five kilometers from the Falls, and it had taken us the entire morning to get there. And there was we knew not where, Garmin or no Garmin. The frustration only intensified when, after some more zigzagging about, we came to a game fence. Game fence? Now this was bewildering – we 16 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
were under the impression we would be walking directly into Hwange communal land from Victoria Falls town. Walking north-east along the game fence soon brought us to a lofty cliff-top overlooking the Zambezi a hundred meters below, and so we had no option but to follow it south, away from the river, towards the main Victoria Falls road. God, this really wasn’t the plan! The last thing I wanted was to set off on the Borderline walk along the main road. I never realized at that stage how much certain plans and perceptions would change in the weeks to come. I wonder how much they will change in the weeks and months ahead. We trudged along the game fence for an hour or so, through gullies and over rocky rises, and then we encountered a gamescout patrol, walking the far side of the fence. A conversation ensued and we told them who we were, what we were doing and why we were perplexed. The scouts worked for the game-fenced wilderness area and were friendly and helpful. They told us that the area used to be a minefield during the war and had been rehabilitated to wildlife since.
After taking a look at our permit from the director general of National Parks, the senior scout raised his boss, Mr Roger Parry, on the radio. Roger said he was not far off and would be with us shortly, which he was. After a brief delay during which I explained our situation and Roger asked a few questions, we were on our way again, given the go ahead to walk through the wilderness area. Roger and his scouts were most accommodating, unlocking a nearby gate for us to enter the area and filling us in on the way forward. One of the scouts accompanied us for a few kilometers, leaving us somewhere on the banks of the Masuwe River, about five kilometers from its incorporation into the Zambezi.
Ominous occurrences A couple of fairly ominous occurrences took place as we worked our way down the Masuwe. Although I am not overly keen to record them, I understand that it is my duty. We were walking through a small mopani forest when Jephita hissed something which I heard as ‘nzou’ (elephant). The fact that I had been lecturing Jeph about keeping his eyes open for elephants only minutes before (when am I not?) may have been why I ‘misheard’, but in any case I side-stepped left, looking to the right for the ‘elephant’ in the same motion, tripped over a stump and went down heavily. As I neared earth, I saw the blurry shape of a buffalo bull blundering off through the scrub, and then thud, oooomph! My word, but this backpack is heavy! Fortunately it was an old ‘dagga boy’ and not an elephant cow with calf at heel, or the Borderline Walk may well have come to an inglorious end right there! With Jephita trying his utmost not to openly smirk, we continued on our way down the wending course of the Masuwe. The next incident took place at lunch-time. As I sat cross-legged in the shade of a leafy tree, gnawing on some bread and slurping hot tea, a bug somehow found its way into my shorts and into the danger zone. Bland lunch over, we were soon up and away, though I did not make it far, as the most excruciating pain began emanating from the area between my legs. My rucksack hit the deck in a flash – satellite phone, laptop, GPS, etc with it – and I began leaping around like a mad person. Leaping around and clutching crotch. Jephita just stood there, dumbstruck. Somehow I managed to get to a water bottle, and then I leapt around like a mad man who had wet himself. After a few minutes of intense pain, the burning eased to
dull throbbing. At that point, I espied on the ground the bug I am certain was responsible. It looked exactly like a common ladybug but was entirely grey. I did not kill it, not knowing for certain whether it was guilty or not. I wouldn’t have anyway… Honestly… With Jephita now putting a more concerted effort into not openly smirking, we set off down the Masuwe again.
Gorges We knew we were getting close to the river when we saw the gorges. Gorges, gorges everywhere and no plan to get to the river. Whilst we stood there gaping at the terrain before us, from relatively flat and elevated ground a few hundred meters off, we saw a gamescout patrol approaching from the direction of the Zambezi. They had been informed about us and offered to act as guides, pointing out that where we were headed there was nowhere to go but back. We accepted their offer with alacrity and were soon headed on a course that shifted us gradually from the river, before cutting back towards it a few kilometers beyond. After an hour or so, progressing steadily over fairly undemanding ground, we came to gorge 11.
Into the abyss Gorge 11 is a terrifying spectacle for the overloaded, inexperienced, overweight and unfit backpacker. By the look on Jephita’s dial, it was obvious that it is also fairly intimidating to backpackers who are encumbered by only inexperience and load. I argued with the gamescouts about there being a path there, and they laughed, assuring me that there was indeed a path and that they would help me down it. As I was saying about changing perceptions – I have long had visions of carrying my load around this country completely unassisted, but that notion was dismissed on the afternoon of the first day. As totally petrified as I was of descending that almost sheer incline which terminated in jagged rock below, I fast agreed to assistance and held a gamescout’s wrist in a vice-like grip the whole way down. I don’t know how we got down because I never looked there, but we did eventually, with me slipping and sliding most of the way and using my backpack as a buffer. Yes, with the laptop, sat-phone, GPS, etc…. That descent was terrifying – with each step, slip or slide, I felt I would lose my footing and plunge to my death. We crossed the gorge no further than three hundred meters from the Zambezi River, and anySEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 17
one who has been to this spot (directly opposite the whitewater rafters’ drop-off point for gorge 11) will understand what I am on about. Although climbing the opposite bank was also no simple undertaking, it is that crazy descent I will remember.
easterly route until we got to the fence and subsequently the track to Chisuma. We were close to the river throughout – between one and two kilometers – and several times we walked down to it. Each time we were confronted by menacing gorges.
It is debatable whether I would have tackled that obstacle without a backpack before the start of the Borderline Walk. The results of crossing gorge 11 were that it did nothing to help allay my extreme fear of heights, and I decided my backpack was still far too heavy, giving the kindly gamescouts some of my kit.
We covered twenty odd kilometers on the second day and camped in a most spectacular spot, overlooking yet another immense gorge, about a kilometer from the village of Chisuma. Whilst we were setting up camp, a small group of kids arrived and began cavorting about on the very edge of the abyss. Their leaping from rock to rock so close to certain death caused me more than mere consternation, but when I voiced my concern they giggled at the foolish white man, informing me that they played there daily. As a result of both their dangerous tomfoolery and my lethargy, I offered them biscuits in return for collecting wood and water. That did the trick, but only until the chores were done and the biscuits had changed hands, then they went straight back to the brink!
We slept that night on hard ground at the whitewater rafters’ drop off point for gorge 11, close to the brink of that impressive spectacle. Dinner and accommodation were a far cry from the comfort of Russell Caldecott’s Utimate Lodge in Victoria Falls, but that thought only registered for a moment and then consciousness was erased by absolute exhaustion. The first day of the Borderline Walk drained me to an extent I have not experienced in many years, and for the first time in many years I did not dream about anything at all. I know that if I had dreamt that night, I would have dreamt of colossal gorges which threatened to engulf me in an instant, as I stood tiny and insignificant on the edge of their might. Shortly after dawn the following morning, whilst we were packing up camp and getting ready to move out, a truck came revving up a road I didn’t realize was there. The truck belonged to a rafting company and was carrying guides and rafting kit. The guides informed us that the gorges got no less and no less intimidating for many miles, and that they didn’t think we would be able to walk on the river much before the Matetsi River, about seventy kilometers downstream. I silently scoffed and would remember that scoffing in days to come. The guides advised us to follow the road they came in on, and a few kilometers up the drag we would come to the wilderness area’s eastern boundary. They said we should follow the fence north (back towards the river), and in time we would come across a bush track that would lead us to Chisuma, a village situated almost on the banks of the Zambezi. We thanked the guides, departed and took most of their advice. What we didn’t do was follow the road to the game fence – we cut through the bush and came to the fence after about five kilometers. Walking south and then north again just didn’t make sense, and Jephita (the two-legged GPS) kept us on an unwavering 18 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
My nerves couldn’t stand it for long and at sunset I sent them packing. I wonder how long they would have gone on for. Probably all night! At the village of Chisuma, we were informed that the police support unit was currently very active in the area, combating armed Zambian stock-thieves and poachers. We were advised to report our presence at their base at Kasakili, a village about thirty kilometers away, close to Batoka Gorge. This information, coupled with the knowledge that the river was just a continuous series of gorges for many a mile to come, brought about the decision to follow the road to Kasakili. Our intention was to inform the police of our presence, get their permission to go down to Batoka, and then find a route closer to the river from there. Wishful thinking, but we had no clue at that stage. I will always associate that slog to Kasakili with extreme agony, as it was early on in the day when my feet began breaking out in blisters. On and on I hobbled as the blisters multiplied and the pain intensified, and it seemed to me that we would never reach our destination. What a relief it was whenever we took a break! One of those breaks came about when we met some fellows who wanted to sell us a pot, which we needed. Theirs was a second-hand pot and the starting price was US$35! Jephita knocked them down to US$6, but we ended up not concluding the deal as nobody
A fantastic spectacle
had any change. Scoundrels, but likeable ones and we had a laugh with them on the roadside. When I asked how they could have tried to sell us the pot for $35 and eventually agree to $6, they said I could hardly blame them for trying!
Kasakili We eventually got to the Kasakili/Batoka Gorge turnoff late that evening. By then I was in a terrible state. Jephita patiently led me in as I shuffled along at a snail’s pace. As the sun set and we crossed a small rivulet, we saw some elephants through the scrub, on a ridge to our left. Jephita suggested we hurry it along a little as the elephants were coming down to drink. I will not write what I said but it was said at volume ten! We stayed at the Kasakili support unit base for three nights and two days (as I gave my burning feet a rest), and were treated cordially by both the policemen and the locals. Two youths arrived at the base the morning after our arrival, bearing milk and vege-
tables and refusing payment. I argued but they were insistent, saying they were well pleased we were visiting their village and that they had never sold a drop of milk in their lives so didn’t know the price! During the late afternoon of the second day at Kasakili, I left my shoes at camp and did a little scouting about the village, speaking to some of the locals and taking pictures. Kasakili is a scenic little place populated by fine folk and we were made to feel most welcome there.
Batoka Gorge Although my blisters were far from healed, I decided my feet were in good enough shape to make it to Batoka Gorge on day six. The plan was to make our way to Batoka and then cut a trail from there as close to the river as possible. Bad idea, as we were to discover – the terrain below Batoka is as intimidating as that below the Falls. Once we finally reached Batoka at midday and did a little scouting about, we realized that we had no option but to retrace our steps back SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 19
We come across a bushbuck caught in a snare
Not that way fool!
After the buck turned on me - ‘Jephita, hold on to this ungrateful creature!’
20 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
Removing the wire
Hardly a look of gratitude
The Sebungwe mouth.
The Lokola close to the mouth - as the water recedes, the land is cultivated, hence the crop guardâ€™s platform SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 21
to tamer terrain. We camped somewhere in the bush that night, east of Kasakili, between the river and the border road, and were up and away early the following morning. Our intention was to maintain a northeasterly direction and cut the border road at some point close to the Matetsi/Zambezi junction, although our route actually brought us to the road twenty kilometers shy of the Matetsi, at a village called Lombora. Here we were hosted by first-rate people – the Siziba Family – who shared their fire with us and allowed us to pitch our tent in their yard.
Matetsi River We made an early start on day eight and arrived at the Matetsi River in the afternoon, camping not far from its union with the Zambezi. We managed to have a good scrub in the Matetsi and it felt fine to go to bed clean ��� our last effective wash had been at Kasakili police base. The next day we walked down to the Zambezi River through the hills and were at Deka Drum by Midday. Deka Drum is so named because at one time a mystery drummer perplexed the community by beating his drums throughout the night from a nearby island. Nobody ever discovered the identity of the drummer, but he no longer beats his drums. Maybe he has moved on, to another area or another world. Truth told, Deka Drum is looking tired, and this was made even more apparent a couple of days later, when we arrived at the Msuna Fishing camp, twenty kilometers downstream.
Msuma Fishing Camp It is like chalk and cheese – whilst Deka is looking tired, Msuna is fresh, like an oasis. We arrived at Msuna in the evening and asked permission to pitch our tent. Lo and behold, we were offered a free chalet and all kinds of help and advice. Our clothes were washed, we managed to charge our camera, sat phone, etc, and we were given free fish and vegetables. I certainly didn’t mind being back in the lap of luxury! How fabulous it felt to sleep on a mattress once more! We were hosted by the chairman of Msuna, Larry Cumming, and his wife Judy, and Dean and Sonja Todd – splendid folk and gracious hosts who are blessed to stay in such a serene place. Msuna was way too comfortable to spend less than two days there, and so we did just that. Having made an arrangement with Larry to get us across the river Gwaii on his speedboat, we set off at lunchtime on day thirteen to rendezvous with him later that afternoon. It is about seven or eight kilometers to the Gwaii from Msuna and we arrived in plenty of time, 22 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
even managing to have a quick brew up before our lift arrived. Larry and co dropped us on a hillside on the east bank of the Gwaii about an hour before sundown, and before pitching tent we got a taster of what to expect the following day. The country surrounding the river Gwaii is extremely rugged and if one is not going up then they are going down, over hard rock and through tearing thorn. We struck camp at dawn the next day, having an idea of what was in store and wanting to cover as much ground as possible as early as possible. I cannot remember exactly how many ranges and valleys we crossed over and through that day, but it must have been about seven or eight of each. We walked parallel to the Zambezi, about two kilometers from it for the most part, though at times we inadvertently veered into it. I am glad we did veer into it, because the views the river provides along this stretch (the lower end of Devil’s Gorge) are magnificent. We bedded down that evening a few kilometers from where the Zambezi enters Kariba Dam. Absolutely drained, we fell into deep slumber.
The Kariba Lake Two weeks after leaving Victoria Falls, we arrived at the furthest point on Kariba from the dam wall, after cutting across forestry land from our last camp on the upper Zambezi. Although we did observe some stale spoor in that area – buffalo, elephant, kudu – we lifted a number of snares and saw no game. Materializing from the bush and obviously looking a little wild, we surprised two fishermen in a boat setting their nets in a secluded little bay. Once we assured them we were not Zambian poachers and after a little negotiating, they agreed to ferry us across the Mlibizi River mouth in exchange for a packet of fishing hooks. The fishermen said we should meet them in a couple of hours at a point closer to the river mouth as they still had work to do. Thanking them, we made off, rounding the bay and walking the shoreline. Not fifteen minutes later, we came upon a bushbuck ram caught in a snare. The ram had not been ensnared for too long, as it still had a fair amount of energy and went into frenzy as we approached, battering and suffocating itself in the process. Knowing full well the reputation of injured/cornered bushbuck, I approached cautiously, chose the moment and seized it by the horns. Once I had loosened the wire, I felt the animal relax a little and it wasn’t long before I had the snare off. Pulling the buck from the thicket in which it had been trapped, I pushed it from me to set it on its way. But
the bushbuck had another plan and it turned about and leapt into the dam, entangling itself in weed and struggling to keep its head above the surface. There was nothing for it but to initiate phase two of operation bushbuck, and so into the dam I went and again took hold of the ram’s horns, all the while hoping that the croc would go for the animal and not the human!
Sebungwe mouth We crossed the Sebungwe mouth in a sound but overloaded little boat that took in some water due to wind and wave. It was actually a little hair-raising at times and I prayed we wouldn’t end up in the drink, our equipment foremost in my mind. I have been terrified about something happening to our equipment from the onset – I know that that would mean an indefinite delay to the journey. Anyway, it probably wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, and we did cross the Sebungwe without mishap, camping in a mopani glade close to Sebungwe village that night. After supper and tea, as we were fading off into oblivion, I told Jephita that we would be in Binga the following day. The grunted response suggested doubt – a hard haul separates the Sebungwe River from Binga.
Soon I had the buck on dry land and on its feet. Trying the same method as before, I pushed it away from me towards the bush, this time instructing it to ‘go bushbuck, you are free.’ Once again, the bushbuck had a different plan and it turned on me, dropping its horns and charging from close range. Fortunately, I turned my back at the last instant and received only a minor flesh wound in the well-padded area where my left buttock meets my left thigh. The outcome could have been very different, however, had the bushbuck not been so exhausted and had it been a full frontal. Jephita eventually managed to convince Just about to begin braking down to the Sebungwe the bushbuck that it was indeed free, and it walked off slowly into the bush. I hope it survives in that area but I doubt it. The fishermen rowed us across the Mlibizi mouth late that afternoon and we spent the next two nights in Mlibizi itself, as guests of the National Parks personal based there.
Mlibizi From Mlibizi we walked through an area known as Mangane, camped somewhere close to the Kariba shoreline and reached the Sebungwe River mouth just before noon the following day. The Sebungwe mouth is a most impressive spectacle and I was disappointed that the midday photos I took were so poor, as was the case with the Batoka Gorge shots, Oh well, I guess one can’t be everywhere at the right time. What surprises me about both Batoka and the Sebungwe mouth is that there is nothing at either place but poor rural communities. The Sebungwe, specifically, could be the most amazing holiday/fishing destination, if somebody had the wherewithal to set it up.
We maintained a decent pace over easygoing terrain the next day, covering the twenty kilometers to Lokola village by lunchtime. The entire village turned out to meet us and a prolonged photo session took place. We were introduced to the village headman, Makson, and he was most interested to hear about our journey and what we hoped to achieve by completing it. After chatting for a time, Makson invited us for lunch at his home on Lokola Island. He said that his sons could row us across the Lokola after we had eaten, and would drop us at a point about ten kilometers from Binga. We accepted his kind offers with thanks and were soon on our way across the Lokola to the island, in a much sturdier vessel than that we had used to cross the Sebungwe.
Lokola Island On Lokola Island we got to meet Makson’s very extended family (his brother has six wives and thirty children), and enjoyed one of the finest meals I have ever had – fresh bream split in half, liberally salted and grilled for a few minutes either side on hot coals, SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 23
One of the places where the Lokola joins Kariba
A channel of the Lokola about 2 kilometers from the mouth 24 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
Jephita offloads his gear on Lokola Island
with sorghum sadza. How we ate that day! Over lunch, Makson told me a little about the Tonga people and culture which I found interesting. The Zimbabwean Tonga do not consider themselves Zimbabweans at all, but Zambian, and they do not consider the Zimbabwean side of the river to be in Zimbabwe, but in Zambia. The reason for this is that all of the Tonga tribe’s ancestors are buried on the Zambian side, and the damming of the river has torn the tribe in two. There may as well be no boundary between the two countries in the Sebungwe/Lokola/Binga areas, because people cross over freely all the time, visiting relatives and visiting their ancestral homes. There are even married couples who live on opposite sides of the river! And that was another thing Makson told me – the Tonga never, ever refer to Kariba as a dam or lake or even Kariba, it is always the river. It always has been the river and it always will be the river. Observing how we dipped our sadza into the gravy before popping it into our mouths, Makson declared that we were doing it all wrong and that we should kuvwisisya musinzu – understand the soup.He then went on to show us how one understands the soup, balling a lump of sadza and creating a small indenta-
tion by pressing his thumb into it, then dipping it into the gravy with a scooping motion, filling the indentation and popping the morsel into his mouth. That, Makson explained, was how one understands the soup. I have been understanding all the ‘soup’ I have come across since and will continue to do so. Somehow, when one understands the soup, it tastes so much better. Two of Makson’s energetic sons rowed us across the Lokola later that afternoon, dropping us on the far bank at sundown.
Binga We walked into Binga after 10 p.m. that night, and after announcing our arrival to the drowsy duty officer, pitched our tent in the grounds of the Binga police station. We had been on the road for nineteen days and had been walking for fifteen of those. I am putting the finishing touches to this article at Tashinga Parks post in Matusadona National Park, about twenty days from Binga and not too far from Kariba town now. After a pointless and frustrating delay in Binga (bumbling bureaucracy), we finally got on the road (shoreline) again on August 23rd. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 25
Help us stop those poaching bastards. Donate quickly and securely with PayPal
The BorderLine Walk is in support of antipoaching efforts for Black Rhino in the SavĂ¨ Valley. Initiated by Hunters for Zimbabwe, the walk will be 3066 kilometers long: 813 kilometers along the Botswana border, 797 km. along Zambia, 225 km. along South Africa, and finally 1231 km. along the Mozambique border. The BorderLine Walk will be widely covered by the media and progress will be published on the African Expedition Magazine and tracked on Google Earth.
The BorderLine walk will support anti-poaching efforts to prevent this from happening again: a young black rhino caught in a poacherâ€™s snare. This baby died a few days after this photograph was taken. 26 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
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Then there was Sijarira forest land, Chete safari area, Sinamwenda, Sengwa, the Omay, Sibilobilo, Chalala, Bumi Hills and Matusadona National Park. We have seen more wildlife in the fifteen kilometers separating Chalala and Matusadona than we did in the hundreds of kilometers between Victoria Falls and Chalala, and it makes a pleasant change. The Borderline Walk has already been the experience of a lifetime and we have only completed about 10% of the journey â€“ I know that there is so much more to come. We have met many fine people, made heaps of new friends and seen some spectacular sights. Quite simply, we are having a blast. The adventure continues in the next issue of the African Expedition magazine in which I will be reporting on the Binga/Kariba stage. David Hulme is a Zimbabwean writer and professional wanderer who spends most of his time searching for new stories and country, never staying too long in any one place.â€™ SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 27
Support Hunters for Zimbabwe by buying David Hulme’s great new book, Shangaan Song. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to support the BorderLine Walk – a foot journey of approximately three thousand kilometers along Zimbabwe’s border. The BorderLine Walk is an initiative aimed at raising awareness for Hunters for Zimbabwe, an organization whose primary objective is the advancement of Zimbabwean people and wildlife.
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Jimmy Anne Jimmyand on the dayWhittall I found him
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Hardwear for the bush
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Your secret eyes in the bushveld
echnology can be put to good use when scouting a hunting area. A very useful tool is a scouting camera of which there are a variety of makes on the market. Hunters nowadays in the hurly-burly rat race of what we call life have one thing in short supply of which in bygone days there was an ample supply of and that is the precious commodity of time. In yesteryear, hunting was not a pastime it was a way of life and hunters were very familiar with the areas they hunted in as they lived in them. When you live in a place you get to know it well. You know its different moods, how it changes from season to season and what creatures inhabit it. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 39
We watch the elephant from behind a termite mound
The scouting camera. 40 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
You also become familiar with natural rhythms and patterns – where animals can be found at different times of the day or night, when they drink where they take shelter and where they establish home ranges. When your permanent job requires that you are mostly office or city bound, your occasional hunts are confined to a couple of days every now and again and you do not have the time to familiarize yourself with an area or to scout it out to find out what animals occur there or to establish their patterns of movement. Most of your hunt can be wasted just looking for something worthwhile shooting and before you know it the time you have so eagerly waited for passes and you find yourself heading home again. This is where a scouting camera can be very useful. You can find a likely looking spot such as an active game path, put the camera up and leave it to be collected at some later time. It will then take a photographic record of any animal passing that way as well as the date and time. Well it all sounds OK but does it actually work? A friend loaned me a scouting camera and after having Suddenly there was read through the an urgent whisper in instructions which were pretty straight my ear – one word forward I headed only: “Elephant!” off into the bush to put it to the test. I decided to set it up at a waterhole not too far from my house that is frequented by a large variety of game. My wife and I headed down to the waterhole and I decided on a spot that I thought would be a good place to set up the camera. I started by trimming off some small branches so that the lens and infrared sensor would not be obstructed. Suddenly there was an urgent whisper in my ear – one word only: “Elephant!” I had been so absorbed with what I was doing that I had not noticed four elephants coming down to drink. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 41
Setting up the camera. Wiring it to a tree is a good precaution but in areas where hyaena occurs it would be a good idea to put it higher up beyond their reach
Cleve Cheney holds a bachelor of science degree in zoology and a masterâ€™s degree in animal physiology. He is a wilderness trail leader, rated field guide instructor and the author of many leading articles on the subjects of tracking, guiding, bowhunting and survival. Cleve has unrivalled experience in wildlife management, game capture and hunting, both with bow and rifle. 42 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
They were not more than about 40m away when my wife spotted them. We beat a hasty retreat and flattened ourselves behind a termite mound a short distance from where the elephant stopped to drink We enjoyed the sighting but as the elephant appeared to be in no hurry to move off we backed away for another 30m or so and I taped and wired the camera to a convenient tree next to what appeared to be a well used game path. I thought it expedient to wire the camera to the tree in case a baboon took an active interest in it and decided to carry it off.
and of course what time it passed that way which is helpful in establishing movement patterns. Figures 7-9 show some more examples, recorded by my friend who loaned me the camera, on a recent nyala hunt. The camera is activated by a movement sensor and by an infra red beam at night. It does not have a flash as this “spooks” animals and sends them running. Daylight photos are in colour and nighttime photos in black and white.
This can be a very useful tool as up to 800 images can be recorded on the memory card in warm weather and In hindsight I should have set it up higher than what up to 500 during very cold weather. The drain on the I did as it would be battery is very low so a likely object for a the camera can be left hyaena to chew on. in situ for quite extendA buffalo passes by just before midnight. Fortunately it survived ed periods. and when I returned The camera can also two days later it was be used to record the still where I left it. I presence of different was interested to see types of species – if anything had been especially those that recorded. Sure enough are nocturnally active when I pressed the and are seldom seen. “Image” button it This camera would indicated that eleven therefore have useful photographs had been applications in taking recorded. I hurried off inventories on reserves home and plugged the and game ranches. camera into my comI also think it could puter and sure enough be put to use in antithere they were. One poaching operations. or two were of my wife and myself putting the camera up, there were a On bowhunting farms where animals are shot from number of photographs of impala all recorded during hides these cameras could be put into place to not daylight hours and one of a buffalo in the early hours only establish the patterns of movements of animals of the morning. but can also record what animals are shot by hunters. The quality of the images is not photograph quality (3 Megapixels by day and 1.3 at night) but is more than Well, generally I am impressed and I look forward to adequate to establish what animal it is, trophy size experimenting with this device. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 43
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Venomous hunters of the
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ou have had a long, hard night in your African tented camp with your PH drinking Jack Daniels and gorging on Impala steaks. In the chilly pre-dawn, you wake up in your tent and begin to put on your boots for the dayâ€™s hunt. A searing pain shoots up your leg and you cry out in agony. You have made one of the most common mistakes of visiting hunters. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 49
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Scorpions are active at night and are extremely numerous in the African bush.
pinchers. Venom is injected by stinging or squirting venom at the eyes of the perceived threat.
They can be easily seen at night using a black light (remember Saturday Night Fever when you still frequented the discos?) The glow is due to the presence of fluorescent chemicals in the cuticle. The principal fluorescent component is now known to be beta-Carboline. A hand-held UV lamp has long been a standard tool for nocturnal field surveys of these animals. However, a glow will only be produced in adult specimens as the substances in the skin required to produce the glow are not found in adolescents.
Scorpions are common throughout southern Africa. Parabuthus sp. is found throughout the region except on the highveld and eastern seaboard. The venom is a potentially lethal neurotoxin which causes an extremely painful local reaction within one. Use ice packs and tight crepe bandage to immobolise whole limb. Treat with specific antivenom. Do not use morphine and derivatives. Buthotus is restricted to sandy hot and arid areas in the north of the region.
How to prevent being stung
20 -50mm. Bright green, orange or orange-green with black markings. No stridulatory patches or abdominal keels. Fast moving.
●● Wear protective footwear - especially at night. ●● Be careful when lifting rocks and logs ●● Watch out when collecting firewood ●● Do not handle scorpions with bare hands ●● When camping try not to sleep directly on the ground ●● Shake out footwear, clothing and bedding to evict nasties ●● Learn how to distinguish a highly venomous scorpion from a harmless ones ●● Some scorpions can squirt venom into the eyes of attackers from a bout 1m away
Scorpion Families 1. Scorpionidae A relatively harmless species with large pincers and slender tail. It is mildly toxic and produces stinging pain in a mild local reaction which may persist for 1520 minutes. No antivenom or treatment is required. Up to 100mm, Varies from olive to yellow, brown or almost black. Large pincers and slender tail Treatment Mildly toxic venom. Produces stinging pain in a mild local reaction which may persist for 15-20 minutes. No antivenom or treatment is necessary
2. Buthidae Potentially lethal envenomations are possible by species of the buthid genera. They have thick tails and slender
Treatment Very painful local reaction which may spread. Effects of venom lasts at least 3 hours. Use ice packs. No antivenom required. Do not use morphine and derivatives Butotus 30 -70mm. Medium-sized yellow scorpions with pincers, thick tails, characteristic black keels on carapace just behind head and three black keels down length of abdomen. Treatment Use ice packs and tight crepe bandage to immobilize whole limb. Treat with specific antivenom. Never use morphine and derivatives for pain. Parabuthus 60 -150mm.Large yellow, brown or black scorpions with slender pincers, thick tail and stridulatory areas on the first and second tail segments Treatment Use ice packs and tight crepe bandage to immobilize whole limb. Treat with specific antivenom. Never use morphine and derivatives for pain.
General Many victims of scorpion stings see the scorpion that has stung them and its crushed remains often accompany them to hospital after the victim’s vengeance has been had. Unless there are obvious SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 51
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systemic signs, antivenom therapy is contraindicated. An ice-pack should be applied to relieve the pain and retard the onset of systemic signs. Immobilization of the limb involved with tight crepe bandages and splints to impede the spread of venom via the lymphatic system is advised. Under no circumstances should morphine or any of its derivatives be administered to reduce pain as these compounds act synergistically with the venom and greatly increase the chances of death. The specific antivenom should be used to treat patients with systemic signs.
Symptoms The severity of envenomation depends on various factors such as the health and age of the victim, the sting site and species, size and degree of agitation of the scorpion. Persons with heart or respiratory problems will be at greater risk. Some or all of the following sings and symptoms may result. ●● Immediate and intense, burning pain at the sting site that lasts about 30 minutes. Mild inflammation may be present, with the sting mark not always visible ●● Signs and symptoms only develop after 30 minutes and sometimes only after 4 to 12 hours, increasing in severity over the following 24 hours. The pain can be local as well as far removed from sting site with abdominal cramps ●● Abnormal sensitivity, including a burning sensation and pins and needles usually in the hands, feet, face and scalp ●● Excessive sensitivity of the skin to clothing and bedding with the patient even increased sensitivity to noise ●● Lack of muscle coordination with a stiff legged or drunken walking action. ●● Involuntary movements, tremors and muscle weakness. ●● Increased pulse rate of 100 to 150 bpm for Parabuthus granulatus and below 55 bpm for Parabuthus transvaalicus ●● Raised blood pressure in Parabuthus granulatus. Normal in children but raised in some adults in Parabuthus transvaalicus cases. ●● Difficulty in swallowing especially with ParabuSEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 53
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thus transvaalicus. Excessive salivation
case of severe systemic envenomation
●● Difficulty speaking
●● Antihistamine and steroids only to be administered in cases of allergic reaction to antivenom. In the event of hypersensitivity to the ingestion or injection of a substance, which must always be anticipated, administer adrenaline
●● Excessive perspiration in Parabuthus transvaalicus cases ●● Headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea ●● Droopy eyelids ●● Restlessness and anxiety is a prominent feature seen in children with Parabuthus granulatus. Hyperactivity and infants crying for unexplained reason. Restlessness, particularly in children, should be a warning of potentially life-threatening complications ●● Urine retention ●● Respiratory distress is a major complication and can result in death
Treatment Patients with systemic signs and symptoms should be kept under observation for 48 hours before discharge. All other scorpion stings result in painful local signs which can be relieved by means of an icepack applied as soon as possible after envenomation.
●● Atropine may be administered in cases of confirmed Parabuthus transvaalicus envenomation to control excessive secretions ●● Intravenous administration of 10 ml of 10% calcium gluconate IV over 10 to 20 minutes may provide relief from pain and cramp, but is only effective for 20 to 30 minutes. ●● Administer a tetanus toxoid to prevent infection ●● Envenomation of the eyes must be flushed with water or any bland fluid (milk, urine). In severe cases antivenom can be diluted 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 with water Do not: ●● Do not use traditional remedies such as incisions, suction, tourniquet or the application of ointments. ●● Do not use alcohol as it will only mask any symptoms.
The severity of scorpion stings are affected by the amount of venom injected which varies from one sting to the next, the size of the specimen, the species involved and the body mass of the patient.
●● Do not administer antivenom if no signs or symptoms of severe envenomation presents itself.
Envenomations are characterized by an intense burning pain at the site of the sting after which systemic signs and symptoms develop which may be as follows: barely perceptible oedema and erythema at the sting bite, sweating, drooling, restlessness, confusion, nausea or vomiting, abdominal or chest pains, muscular twitching, numbness, convulsions and impaired breathing.
●● Do not administer atropine to reduce salivation in the case of Parabuthus granulatus stings as it may lead to unopposed adrenergic reaction.
Do’s: ●● First aid treatment is the application of a cold compress, if the hyperaesthesia will allow and an analgesic (Asprin, Paracetamol) to relieve pain and transport to a hospital
●● Do not administer spider or snake antivenom.
●● Do not administer barbiturates, opiates, morphine or morphine derivatives as this could greatly increase convulsions and cause respiratory distress. Antivenom is produced by the South African Institute for Medical Research (SAIMR) in Johannesburg  489 9000. Information courtesy of
●● Monitor cardiac and respiratory functions and treat as required ●● Patient with systemic symptoms, especially children and the elderly must be hospitalized for 24 to 48 hours ●● Immobilize and clean wound ●● Antivenom must only be administered in the
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Hunting the toughe
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Ted Schnack Jr.
est in Zambia
he Big Five. The toughest of gangs in the toughest of neighbourhoods. The primal world of raw Africa. Well deserved reputations for their ability to bite, stomp, crush, squish, gore, trample, run over, slash, rip and claw literally the living daylights out of you. Simba and Chui are the designed killers of the Big Five and killing to live is the name of their game. Cloaked in bush camo and built for bloody business, lean and mean explosive bundles of quick-twitch muscle fibres, sinew and tendons. Armed with a wicked array of fangs and claws it all comes together for perfect deadly packages of stealth, sizzling quickness and reflexes. And don’t be fooled by the ambling dim witted nature of Mr. Rhino. Pea-brained and at a couple of tons of armoured hulk, a flesh and blood battering ram an angry Rhino likens to a two year old throwing a temper tantrum at the wheel of a cement mixer. Elephants are the brains in the bunch and at seven tons if the jumbo brawn behind that brain get pissed off there will be hell to pay. Super-sized and smart with a stomp to end all stomps the worlds largest land animal is surely not one to be trifled with. Tough guys, all of them. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 59
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But the verdict is in. Buffs are considered by most to be the toughest of the tough. Baddest of the bad. Brutes built for battle. A beaten and battered hide covers three quarters of a ton of gristle and brawn. Helmeted with bosses and horns forged of pig iron and Arizona asphalt sweeping low and turning up into brutal gutting hooks that look to have been hand hammered by the Grim Reaper himself. Ears hang in tattered scars, mouths in a foul grimace of disgust framing black eyes with the glare of an axe murderer. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. When those smouldering black embers gaze upon man that soul becomes a dark and hateful place.
Black Death and Bad attitude. Buff had been a lifelong daydream that seemed to be reserved for those with deeper pockets than mine. To a boyhood dreamer with a wanderlust crippled by the distance I could pedal my Stingray bicycle and yearly hunting trips with Dad in the family station wagon. The gritty tales of danger, death and razor edged African adventure put a deep hook in me. Some dreamed of climbing Everest, being a Rock Star or playing in the Big Leagues. I wanted to hunt Africa. Hunt Buff. The “I think I can pull this off” finally came together in Kosovo where I was in charge of a group of cops from all over the world. I always knew high dollar hunts were out of the question for my shallow pockets and wondered if guys in Africa simply went hunting like back home in Colorado. Yobe, one of my best men, gifted with a million dollar smile and a Police Commander from Zambia told me of a fellow tribe member who was a hunter. After a bit of communication it looked like it was a go. It was going to be nothing fancy for sure. Sounded like it was going to be a gang of guys and a Landcrusier packed with gear. Right up my alley. After arriving in Lusaka, a string of sleepless nights, a few hot and sweaty days in the burnt diesel clatter and confusion of town I was feeling a bit murky. One afternoon my “I think I need to sit down”, quickly turned into a “I think I’m gonna puke” to feeling like I was gonna pass out which I did shortly after sitting on the curb. I hadn’t passed out since I was a kid and was understandably concerned. After a day of indecision of the wisdom of heading deep into the wild bush of Africa where my imagination had me spastic and delirious sprawled across a dirt floor, foaming at the mouth and lathered in sweat. Visions of a loin clothed rattle shaking doc in a jerky dance spitting fresh hyena blood on me to scare out
the evil. That little voice that told me a year in Baghdad, job choices where half my pay is in hazard-danger bonuses and long solo wilderness trips were bad ideas was chattering away. Feeling a bit better and weighing the risk of becoming vulture chow than think the rest of my life I was hours away from hunting Buff and had played it safe. We were off. I was all in. One of the local merchants was going to outfit the trip. My first impression was spot on. A grinning snake oil salesman with an overly friendly handshake and a don’t worry answer to every question. The Land Cruiser and gear looked beat and tired. The promise of a 375 HH ended up being a 300 WinMag. An Elk Gun. Although skeptical, I was assured by all many a Buff had hit the dirt courtesy of the 300 Win-Mag. The gun looked to be solid; it was the loose spin on the vintage 3x9 scope that worried me. Trying to pick up a Buff full of hell fire in a thundering charge in a scope that had switched from three to nine power would liken to looking through the front door peep hole and shoot a pick-axe wielding madman trying to smash his way in. The well worn box of bullets looked as if they had been kicking around the back of a Land Cruiser for a decade or so. I opened the box and a few lead tips of the tarnished mismatched 180 grain copper jacketed rounds were smashed and misshapen. I thought of some of the lengthy articles I had read about the merits of monster rounds the size of ballpark franks and discussion of solids, foot pounds of energy and velocities of bone breaking slugs. I wondered if Teddy R’s “walk softly and carry a big stick”, was inspired by one of his African hunts for dangerous game. It made perfect sense to me. I was going to be walking softly for sure, the big stick, well, I had thought about bringing my bow and whatever punch these old bullets packed had to be more than a flying razor blade.
Ambush killers Buffs have a legendary ability to take a beating and keep coming in a land where legend is not spoken of lightly. Legend of “dead on their feet” with pulverized hearts and flattened lungs, absorbing barrages of the heaviest of bullets. That last bitter defiant, “I’m dying and I’m taking you with me” kamikaze blitz. But like all good ring savvy sluggers, it’s not quite that simple. Buffs are clever and have a deadly bag of tricks. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 61
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Known to circle unpredictably when wounded setting their trap in the thickest thorns and foulest of bush, likely down-wind where your scared stink will betray your approach. Lying in wait with one thing on their mind. To kill you. They move in bursts of deep thick power which deceptively might look muscle-bound and slow. Careful: it is an illusion. Sure, Buff lack the nimble footwork and flashing speed of the Big Cats. But don’t be fooled, they can sprint to 35 mph. Considering Carl Lewis topped out at about 23 mph, and I’m no Carl Lewis, leading to the chilly reality that in a blink a snot slinging rage of hooves and horns could turn yours truly into a stew of splintered bone, blood, gore and dirt. Brains, brawn and heart. The toughest, smartest and most deadly African muscle around is being flexed by big Buffs. Our gang consisted of Uncle Briss, Ennis and Toby, my local connections and a few barefooted hired hands. Briss was the long-time hunter, sort of the leader of the bunch and a veteran of dozens and dozens of Buffs. His repeated advice was to “Break them down”, on the first shot - adding that if you don’t you will have to deal with a 20 litre adrenaline surge. I joked back: “me or him?” As we left the sweaty clatter of town behind the African bush laid before us. Adventure awaited. The air became rich, smooth, warm, clean and smelled of life. As we travelled deeper into the bush the centuries quickly fell away. Scraggly chickens pecked about a few scattered villages of mud, straw and dried sticks. Bright eyed barefoot kids played with handmade toys, quick with a smile and wave. Women at work were wrapped in bright joyful colours and in the fields stick straight boys tended goats with rods and well thrown stones.
Humans became rare wanderers as wildness ruled the land. As we made our long journey the sun was finishing its work and settling across the low hills. There was a raw energy in that setting sun I had never felt before. That beating solar heart cast a golden web of life across the land. The glint of rivers through the trees, blood red dirt and the thick bush were woven together by God’s hand in a timeless breathtaking vibration of life. Lean and clear eyed Fabien would be our bush guide. A notorious poacher from the old days who had turned from the dark to the light was now the area’s assigned hunter. A timeless soul with a velvet smooth voice of melted chocolate from a lifetime of whispering in the company of dangerous game. Sliding his fingers down the oiled wood of his Bruno 375 HH simply saying “This is a strong gun.” I sensed I was in good hands. Fabien said we would look for groups of bulls or loners. Dugga boys. Pugnacious gangs of rouge outcasts or lone drifters. There is no such thing as the Golden years for old bulls. Spending the best years of their lives running hoss on the herds taking on all comers. They lose a step, get a little creak in the joints, maybe wounded defending the herd and what’s the thanks they get? Banished to a lonely loveless life wandering the bush alone or hooking up with a few other betrayed cranky complainers. Before leaving for Africa I ran across an internet clip of an old bull being taken by a pride of lions. It took them two hours to break him down and kill him. Think about that. Any one of those lions could turn you or I into a bag of Cheetos in seconds and it took six of them two hours. On the 1-10 toughness scale that’s a solid 16.
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Taking the buff Wandering the bush for days, an impala and Puku in the bag, it happened quickly. There….Ngati… this way! Fabian’s smooth voice took a quick keen edge as he made a sharp tug at my sleeve. In a short stepped trot we ran ahead. In a low hiss “There.” About 50 yards away in shadowy hollow I could see the grey shoulder, hulking back and horn sweep of a bull in a tangle of thorns and branches. “Break his back….sit him down”.
The moment of truth As hunters, there are moments seared deep into our minds. Your scope filled with a full curl ram, full draw on a rut-crazed herd bull deep in the wilderness, the low woof of a grizzly at twilight with a pack full of moose meat, your first pheasant. Moments that change us. The moment I had waited for my whole life was here. My gun was up and down two or three times, clearly seeing the Buff with my naked eye. But the cheap scope turned the Buff standing in the tattered shadows into a grey blur. With an added urgency Fabien kept whispering “Shoot! Shoot now!….Break his back…Sit him down…he won’t wait”. I saw a small yellow leaf hanging where I thought his spine was aimed at the leaf and fired. There was a crash of running animals and the bush was dead quiet. Fabien ran ahead in sweeping circle; I followed in a stiff run. There he was, head slung low in a tangle of bush. All thoughts of diagrams and wisdom of precise bullet placements were gone, my mind was on instinct. The cross hairs locked on the sweet spot behind the front shoulder I had been shooting at my whole life. K-Boom! The bull simply turned and was gone. Fabien ran ahead. I was committed to his lead. Fabien slowed cautiously, whispering “He will try and trick us look for us following his blood, we’ll circle ahead, we’ll fool him, come.”
We looped ahead another fifty yards, there he was, broadside in an angry stare. Fabien hissed “He is giving you a proper shot. Sit him down.” I dropped to kneeling; let the breath sigh out of my lungs. The frantic last few minutes seemed to pause. The cross hairs settled in. The surprise recoil of a good shot and he simply turned, dropped over a small ridge and was gone. I have taken my share of big game and when hit they show some sign of the bullet impact. No flinch, no stagger, no shudder, no knee buckle. Nothing. Was it the gun? Was it the Buffs tough makeup? Had I missed? I was a cop for ten years and cops have nightmares that at the moment of life threatening truth their bullets just fall out the end of their guns. I was getting that sick feeling of wonder. Fabien was off again in a fast trot. The ground had been a mudflat during the rainy season was now filled with foot deep elephant’s tracks the size of waste paper baskets now sun scorched and rock hard. It all was happening quick and was turning into a running adrenaline dump of thorns, Buff and slinging brass. After a stumbling run across this ankle-breaking flat we had to cross the ditch. Over the top of the ridge somewhere was an almost surely wounded bull. It was an unavoidable choke point, the fatal funnel I knew of as a cop. If he doubled back and decided to come over the top in an angry avalanche he would be on us before we knew it. Cautiously cresting out of the ditch there he was about 40 paces away down on his side with his crap- crusted rump facing our way. He had taken a beating that was clear. Like a downed boxer who had taken a flurry of haymakers he was trying to get his feet back under him to get back in the fight. I did some quick math; three shots would leave me one in the pipe and one in the clip. Still didn’t seem he had SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 65
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seen us or was going to make the count. One more shot would either be lights out for him or a wake-up call from hell. He was down and out. For me there are moments of fascination when I first approach and touch a downed animal. To feel, touch and smell its wildness for the first time. He was a beast. I was in awe of his sheer size. But it was some of the small details that caught my eye. Clues of its life, dried mud from the last wallow, chunks out of it bosses, sand, sap and bark smashed into the crevasses of its horns. Deep wrinkles of wisdom, ripped ears, scars and scabs testament to the toughest of animals in the toughest of worlds. The Win-Mag had done its job. Double-tap in the sweet spot you could place your hand over. The first “yellow leaf” shot whereabouts unknown. 500 grains of this or that would not have done a number on his lungs and heart any better than that 300 had. Just took a few minutes for the Buff to realize he was dead on his feet. Those few minutes can turn into a dance with death and makes Buff hunting the legend it is. I am not the first Africa has called to with the dream of adventure. That call has made its siren song to those with incurable wanderlust for hundreds of years. Africa moves hearts and passions with the lightness of life to its sometimes Heart of Darkness. As the crowded bus rattled down the dusty ruts on the long trip back to Lusaka and my flight home, I knew the call of Africa would echo and call again. Until then my daydreams will be filled with warm sun and warmer smiles, the haunting moan of a lion on a moonlit night and the chance to once again meet Black Death deep in the tangled bush.
Ted Schnack is an avid rifle- and bow hunter. He spent a decade in the police force and is currently an International Police Command Staff instructor. SEPTEMBER 2009 AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE | 67
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Looking good in the bushveld
frica is all over the runways this year – designers like Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan are unleashing their inner Indiana Jones and using the safari theme as a source of inspiration. If however, you live and work in the bush, a pair of leopard print stilettos won’t get you far – in fact, it might get you killed. Here’s the lowdown on what works, what doesn’t and why.
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A century ago, the great outdoors and professions associated with it was almost exclusively male – the Karen Blixens and Dianne Fosseys of this world were few and far between. Thankfully things have changed. Game ranging, hunting, wildlife rehabilitation, lodge management – women are everywhere and with them, the safari clothing industry is evolving slowly but surely. No self respecting woman wants to be seen ill-fitting men’s cast-offs. Our bodies are different and what you wear should reflect this. If done right, the outdoor look is timeless, lends itself to a certain amount of dressing up or down and above all, is practical. What you choose to wear depends hugely on what your planned activities are, but a few rules apply no matter what: Choose clothes specifically designed for women – it’ll fit better and be more comfortable. Materials used should be durable and practical. Go for cotton or easy-to-dry, hardy and lightweight Quantec. Earth tones work best. Drawing attention to yourself in the African bush is not necessarily a good thing - the more you blend in, the better the likelihood of getting close to animals. Become a lightweight. Arriving at a game farm with an eight-piece set of matching luggage will not endear you to anyone. Choose clothes that can double up for both day and evening wear. Consider the elements. The scorching midday sun makes way for chilly sunset drives and evenings. A waterproof, fleece-lined jacket can be a lifesaver and long pants with detachable legs or button tabs for rolling the legs up, work well. Remember your wide-brimmed bush hat – a baseball cap will not provide adequate protection against the onslaught of the African sun. There’s no substitute for quality. Clothes worn in the great outdoors need to be able to withstand a certain amount of bashing. Unless you’re on a walking safari, there’s no need for heavy boots. Light, comfortable shoes or sandals work best. Big no-no’s ●● Excessive or flashy jewellery ●● Bright, attention-grabbing colours ●● Impractical shoes ●● Synthetic materials 72 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
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A short history of safari clothes First sported by turn of the 20th century AngloAfrican adventurers, safari wear has always been engineered for durability and practicality. Traditionally made from lightweight, khakicoloured cotton with pockets and epaulettes, its mainstream popularity was given a boost in the 1950s by Ernest Hemingway. Roger Moore’s James Bond donned a safari jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker and Octopussy as did J R Ewing in the 80s soap opera Dallas. It is however, generally accepted that the original safari suit is hopelessly outdated and best suited to period dramas and fancy dress parties. Actresses like Rachel Weisz in The Mummy has helped tremendously in elevating the look to total babedom and Hollywood’s love affair with safari clothes endures.
Dressing it up The safari look not only works in the bush, but is the ideal office or leisure wear for women on the go. Team up your outfit with matching accessories (wooden bangles and beads, belts, animal-print scarves or dainty leather sandals), but make sure you don’t overdo it. The Supply Company was established in 1989 and manufactures a full range of outdoor clothes and accessories. It proudly supplies to many South African safari operators and lodges. To view its full range, go to www.supplyco.co.za or visit one of the company’s outlets.
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2010 Calendar CLICK HERE
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For easy and hassle-free gun permits or go to www.vipgunpermits.com
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Your African hunting safari is a unique experience. Now you can document your hunt day by day and revisit those exciting times for years to come. 31 Full days of journaling space with vital information: ●● safari clothing ●● personal item checklists ●● health and first aid ●● mammal identification information with photographs, tracks, dung and SCI and Rowland Ward qualification minimums.
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Know how to administer CPR. Deal with dangerous animals up close. Identify and treat bites from snakes, spiders and scorpions. Know the right emergency numbers to dial in an emergency – it’s all there. A must-have item for every serious hunter. Sturdy PlastiCoil binding for durability and easy opening, 110 pages, 6.0 x 9.0 in. Full color covers and cream interior printed in black and white.
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African Bush Cuisine
Trout with Cointreau and Almonds served with al dente vegetables Grab your collapsible flyfishing pole and catch a couple of good-sized trout. ●● Gut the trout but leave the head on ●● Flavour some flour with salt and roll the trout in it ●● Get a big, solid pan and heat olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in it ●● Fry the trout slowly on both sides until golden brown. Take care not to overcook it. Sauce and garnish ●● Use a new pan (no oil or anything else) and fry some sliced almonds until golden brown ●● Remove the almonds and add a tablespoon of butter to the pan ●● It may break your heart, but use about half a glass of Cointreau and add it to the pan. Light the concoction and enjoy the adulation of your impressed guests as the alcohol burns away. ●● Add a cup of cream ●● Thicken with flour to taste ●● Spoon on top of the trout and garnish with the almonds Al dente veggies ●● Slice some mushrooms, green pepper, onions, cucurbits and cherry tomatoes into thick strips and chunks ●● Put olive oil and and some garlic in a wok and heat ●● Fry the veggies over high heat - but not too much, they must still be crunchy ●● Garnish with orange, lemon or grapefruit ●● Enjoy! 92 | AFRICAN EXPEDITION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2009
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True North A True Father Jesus kept coming back to this central issue, over and over, driving at it in his teachings, his parables, his penetrating questions. If you look again, through the lens that most of us feel fundamentally fatherless, I think you’ll find it very close indeed to the center of Jesus’ mission. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matt. 7:9–10 NIV).
Well? We rush ahead to the rest of the passage, but I think Jesus is asking us a real question and he wants a real answer. I expect he paused here, his penetrating, compassionate eyes scanning the listeners before him. Well? I hesitate. I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t, and apart from the exceptionally wicked man, I can’t think of any decent father—even if he is self absorbed— who would do such a thing. Jesus continues, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (v. 11 NIV). He is trying to speak to our deepest doubt about the universe. Look at the birds of the air. Consider the lilies in the field. Are you not much more valuable to your true Father than they? (Matt 6:26, 28). Hmmm. I’m not sure how to answer. I mean, of course, there’s the “right” answer. And then there is the wound in our hearts toward fatherhood, and there is also the way our lives have gone. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matt. 18:12 NIV). Yet another question, pressing into the submerged fears in our hearts, another question wanting another answer. Well? Wouldn’t he? “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (vv. 13–14 NIV). Wherever you are in your ability to believe it at this moment in your life, at least you can see what Jesus is driving at. You have a good Father. He is better than you thought. He cares. He really does. He’s kind and generous. He’s out for your best.
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