Page 1

The .220

Swift

Just a

few seconds more old chap

Something old with something new

Tracking a wounded elephant

Trolling Dynamics

Turn your boat into a fish magnet

Delta Overland

Botswana trip report

The

Palanca Report

Make a Plan

Make a small stove from aluminum cans


contents 2 | Volume 5 Issue 3


8 The .220 Swift Something old with something new

16 Just a few seconds more old chap Tracking a wounded elephant

29 Delta Overland Botswana trip report

45 Trolling Dynamics Turn your boat into a fish magnet

52 The Palanca Report 70 African hunters of yesteryear The Maneating lions of Tsavo

96 Make a Plan Make a small stove from aluminum cans

100 True North The Final Act of Self-Centeredness

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AFRICAN

Published by Safari Media Africa Editors United States of America Editor: Alan Bunn editorusa@africanxmag.com Associate editor: Galen Geer ggeer@africanxmag.com Europe Hans Jochen Wild editoreurope@africanxmag.com Africa Southern Africa: Mitch Mitchell editorafrica@africanxmag.com Central Africa: Cam Crieg cam@africanxmag.com Financial Thea Mitchell Layout & Design Xtasis Media and Digital Wind Advertising and Marketing South Africa: T. Mitchell adssa@africanxmag.com Phone +27 13-7125246 Fax 0866104466 USA: Alan Bunn adsusa@africanxmag.com (706) 2762608 African Expedition Magazine is an independent bimonthly publication promoting fair, sustainable hunting, a protected environment and adventure sports in Africa. The African Expedition Magazine is published by Safari Media Africa

Disclaimer While all precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of advice and information provided, the Proprietor, Publisher, Editor, or Writers cannot accept responsibility for any damages, inconvenience or injury whatsoever that may result from incorrect information. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher or its agents. African Expedition Magazine assumes no responsibility to return graphics unsolicited editorial, or other material. All rights in unsolicited editorial, letters, emails, graphics and other material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and material will be subject to African Expedition Magazine’s unrestricted right to edit and editorial comment. All material and/or editorial in African Expedition is the property of African Expedition and/or the various contributors. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the Publisher.,

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The .220 Swift

Something old with something new

8 | Volume 5 Issue 3


T

he .220 Swift and I have somewhat of a parallel history. We both came out of the mid 1930s. I was born just one year before it was introduced, and we both had to grow up in the years of the depression. I did not hear much about the Swift, as it was called, until I started to do some varmint shooting in the early 1950s. What I did hear was not necessarily good news. During these early years the Swift had been badly abused by a hostile press and plagued with ammunition and components that were not equal to the capacity of this cartridge.

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Just before I went into the service in 1953, the Swift had already been labeled as a barrel burner which could not hit the broad side of a barn after firing five shots in a row. Everyone claimed you had to clean the barrel after every 10 shots of so, and that after four or five hundred rounds of full power loads the barrel was ready to be replaced. Looking down the barrel of a .220 Swift that had been fired a couple of hundred rounds was like looking down an old sewer pipe and accuracy was no longer a real part of the equation. The throats and leades took a real beating in those days, and most barrels were black for the first half-inch or so out of the throats. The .22-250 was the darling of the 50s, and I have to admit that it was my favorite during my first years of ground squirrel shooting after my return to civilian life. The wheels of time slowly turned; new cartridges came on the market, newer barrel materials were developed and most importantly; new powders became available along with better products for firearm maintenance and barrel cleaning. The whole realm of consumer products and concepts within the shooting sports moved a hundred years forward into the 21st century. Throughout all this time the .220 Swift sort of sat there on the sidelines, never really forgotten, but not really wanted in the company of its more modern siblings. I also grew a bit older and started to realize that some of these older items and concepts within the firearms field still had some real potential; or at least a lot of nostalgia. Two years ago, I stopped over at one of the local gun shops and the proprietor, out of respect for my age, mentioned that he had one of the older model 70 rifles, which I might appreciate or at least still recognize. At that time, his racks were filled with what I call black guns and plastic semi-automatic pistols. He went back into his storeroom and brought out two Pre 64 model 70 rifles that had seen better days. The first was a 1957 production model that had been rebarreled into a heavy target configuration. The second was a Pre 64 Model 70 standard grade .220 Swift manufactured in 1952. This gun had all the image of the early 1950s, a low comb stock and the rich red Winchester wood finish that was the hallmark of the Pre 64 Winchesters. Unfortunately, the years had been especially hard on this gun. Someone had screwed on a leather cheek piece with some large wood screws and the barrel was black from one end to the other. The proprietor

wanted to dump these relics as soon as possible and quoted a price that was less then the cost of the actions alone. After giving the offer all of five seconds to sink in‌ out came my credit card and we started doing the transfer paper work. California has a 10 day holding period before you can take delivery of a long gun. I took this time to contact Brownell’s and placed an order for their early Winchester stock refinishing kit. I also ordered some black lacquer sticks that I would melt into the holes left from the wood screws, there was no way to make these holes disappear, so the idea was to make them accentuate the plain grain of the factory stock. The stock was a real challenging project, but came out as good as new and the lacquered holes now look like original knot holes in the wood and give the stock a higher grade appearance then the original plain factory wood ever did. The low comb on this original scope gave me the idea of mounting a Leupold VX3L 6x20x56 as low as possible with Leupold QD rings and bases. This scope now sits almost as low as the original open sights and works well with the lower comb. The small cutout feature on the bottom of the objective lens is different from most scopes, but really looks ultra modern on this rifle and moves it into a new century. Originally, I had almost written off the barrel on this .220 Swift, luckily I felt that it was a sacrilege to lose a factory-marked barrel from this period. The store proprietor could not release the gun to me during this ten day period, but did let me clean the barrel while it was in his shop. The first step was to soak the interior of the barrel with Slip 2000 Carbon fouling cleaner. Every couple of hours for the first day I ran a dry patch down the barrel followed by a wet patch. At the end of the day, I pushed five of six clean patches down the barrel from breach to muzzle. The first couple of patches were almost unrecognizable as being made of cloth, because they were so full of crude. This was repeated for another two or so days. At the end of this procedure, the barrel started to show some marked signs of improvement and I started to become hopeful of at least saving the barrel to be at least shootable. After four days of using the Carbon fouling cleaner, I started using Western Powder Montana Xtreme Copper Killer. A brass brush also entered the picture at this time. My procedure for this cleaning step, was to run an Copper Killer soaked patch down the barrel, let it soak for an hour or so and then follow with a couple of clean dry patches. Then proceed with a couple of strokes with the brush, again use three Volume 5 Issue 3 | 11


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or four clean patches and finish with a wet patch of Copper Killer to soak for another hour. I really was in no hurry, because I could not take possession of the gun for those ten days. Somewhere about the sixth day or so, the barrel was starting to look pretty good. The rifling looked sharp and the leades looked good to my eyes. Then, I shot ten rounds of cast lead bullets into the bullet shop’s testing barrel for each of the four days remaining on the hold, and each time cleaned the barrel with Gun-Werkz Bore Cleaner. By now the barrel looked like new and the store owner wanted to know if I was interested in putting the gun back on his rack and pick up a couple of hundred bucks for my efforts. No way was that going to happen, until I found out how the rifle was going to shoot. My first five rounds of full 55-grain Sierra spitzers went into less then an inch… and this rifle immediately became a keeper. The store owner later admitted that the original gun owner had never used this gun very often, because he only shot accurate guns and this .220 had developed very bad fouling after only a hundred rounds or so, making it impossible to keep the barrel clean enough to shoot it for any length of time. After that eye opening experience, I started to look closer at the .220 Swift’s history and think over some of the bad vibes that had been such a part of its heritage. Back in the 50s, about the only cleaning products commonly available were Hoppes #9; which is a good product and one that I still use a lot of, or surplus GI bore cleaner. Fortunately, we now have a multitude of cleaning products especially formulated to eliminate the problems of powder fouling, along with carbon and brass build up. My favorite powder for the last few years for the ‘hot .22s’ has been Hodgdon’s Varget. During the post World War II years, Hi-Vel #2 was a common powder for the .220 Swift reloaders, but Varget has eliminated most of the problems that the Swift was plagued with using these older propellants. I was now completely caught up in the ‘hot rod mysticism’ of the .220 Swift, and placed it on an equal accuracy level with my .22-250, and possibly a little better as to how fast I could drive the 55-grain Sierra bullet. Now, all I had to do was wait for Hodgdon to incorporate their latest Carbon Fouling Eraser technology into a Varget clone and I would really be a happy camper. Now that I was basically satisfied, something had to enter the equation to mess things up. Science and technology is able to steadily move forward. What progress is able to accomplish, our members in gov-

ernment can twist aside. California has now incorporated a lead free ban in certain areas of the state, and is moving forward on banning the use of lead ammunition throughout the state. Something new and outside of the envelope to mess up a winning combination. Luckily, Barnes Bullet Company has come into the picture. Barnes is one of the leaders in lead free technology and has developed a line of lead free bullets which will shoot as well as conventional lead bullets, with the additional feature of outstanding performance on game. Randy Brooks has really worked hard in this area and deserves his sterling reputation as a bullet maker and innovator. The .22 caliber bullets have always been a challenge in both conventional lead and non-lead technology. The smaller the projectile, the more gremlins are able to step in to cloud the picture. Barnes introduced their Varmint Grenade Bullet a couple of years ago in a 50-grain projectile. This bullet has a powdered tin and copper core impacted into a copper jacket. This bullet was longer then a conventional lead core bullet of the same weight and I, along with others, had problems getting it to shoot in the hot .22s that we were using. Last week the folks at Barnes sent me some of their latest 36-Grain .224 bullets #22436 to try out. I was a little skeptical, since I remembered my experiences with the 50-grain Varmint Grenade bullets. I was not really optimistic on what I would be able to accomplish with a bullet that weighed less then the 40-grain bullets I was using in the .22 Hornet. Also, I was not thrilled with the idea of redoing a lot of load development and the fact that some loading components are getting hard to locate. Truthfully, I believe my mind set was a little distorted from my experiences with the heavier Varmint Grenade bullet. Therefore, I just opened the Barnes loading manual to the .220 Swift sections and found a load that matched the powder I had on hand. Luckily, they had a load using 42 grains of Hodgdon Varget with this bullet and claimed a velocity of 4391 fps. My experience has been that most solid lead free bullets shot the best, and have the least pressure problems, when they are seated to give a good amount of jump before engaging the rifling. Conventional lead core bullets often need to be seated into the leades to obtain the maximum in accuracy performance. Since these new bullets were similar to the 50-grain Varmint Grenade in construction, and more like conventional lead bullet construction, I decided to seat the bullet to 0.005 inch past the leade Volume 5 Issue 3 | 13


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and let the closing of the bolt do the final seating of the bullet. I dropped the powder charge down to 41 grains to allow for this hard seat. I made up and fired a number of test loads to bring the powder charge safely up to the level I wanted to try, and then shot my first five shot group with this load. These first five shots went into a group one quarter of an inch lower then my normal 55-grain loading and the five shots measured less then .700 of an inch. Most importantly, it grouped into a nice round cluster. Five groups later and I was sold on this new Barnes bullet. The average velocity was 4390 fps‌ one foot per second less than listed in the loading manual and one less grain of powder. I believe the hard seating made up for the reduction in powder; since it shot so well and there were no signs of high pressure. This combination of a shorter 36-grain bullet which will stabilize in a 1 in 14 inch twist‌ and travel at 4390

fps sounds like the answer to a screeching 400 yard prairie dog outfit. I can only imagine what the effects of this bullet will be on a prairie dog. We have come a long way in the last 50 years and today’s components and maintenance equipment have made it into a world where we can keep whatever guns we have shooting for a long, long time. This old .220 Swift is now over 60 years old and is just now awakening to its real potential. As a side note, I tried this same load in a second .220 Swift, which has a one in eight inch twist, and the two shots I fired did not even reach the 100 yard target. But as they say, that is another story for another day. I should also give credit to the boys at Magnetospeed for coming up with a chronograph that is so easy to set up and use, I can take velocity readings any time I am at the range.

Leo Grizzaffi is a lifelong hunter and veteran of many African safaris. Author and reloading expert, his specialty is the care and feeding of big bore double rifles, however he also dabbles with the little calibers. Leo resides in California, where being a lawyer and judge in the City of Los Angeles sometimes interferes with his busy hunting and reloading schedule. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 15


Just a few se

old chap

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econds more Tracking a wounded elephant Rory Young

I

squatted down to get a better look, the pack on my back swaying me slightly off-balance. I placed the butt of my rifle down on the ground to steady myself and a large drop of sweat plopped into the red, powdery dust. The elephant tracks were several days old. It didn’t really matter that much that they weren’t fresh enough to follow, because I wasn’t really looking to find their owner. I had been looking for fresher spoor when something odd had caught my eye. It was a drag mark. This was neither the usual scuff mark that was made just before the foot was placed, rather than after or as it was lifted in the case of men for example. Nor was it the often seen, playful doodling of a trunk in the dust, such as a laid back chap might make as he wandered down to the water to drink. This showed a harsh, continuous line on the ground from the last track left by the front right foot to the current track left by the same foot. It was obviously a front foot because the track was round in shape, rather than oblong which would have indicated a rear foot. I could tell which direction the elephant was travelling because of the five toe-nail marks left by the front feet and the four toe-nail marks left by the rear ones. Actually, the left front had four toe-nails. The elephant had lost one, which is not at all an uncommon find with older bulls. I noted this along with other individual “labels”, in case I needed to follow him or recognise his tracks at a later time. I knew it was his right foot for a reason, which also told the direction he was travelling… wearing on the sole. The “pad” of an elephant’s foot is covered in a network of fissures, which show in the track as raised lines. The thick pad expands as the elephant places his foot, putting his weight onto it, and

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Photo

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contracts as he lifts his foot, taking his weight off it. This sole wears with age just like one of our shoes. However, whilst humans can be both ‘over and under’ pronators, elephants are strictly underpronators, so the pad always wears on the outer side and, just like a human, at the rear of the foot. The wearing was on the outside, taking into account the direction of travel, so it was his right foot. Judging by the amount of wear and the depth of the fissures in his feet, it was obvious that the bull was relatively old; the older the animal, the more the wearing of the pad at the rear. I say old bull because the same fissures were very raised on the large track; females have finer and shallower fissures in their smaller feet, so they were not raised in the track. Sometimes it is necessary to compare the depth of the fissures at hand with a mental image of a male and females tracks of the same size, but in this case it was obviously male, as the tracks were simply too large for a female. Next, I turned my attention to the size. The bull was roughly 2.75 metres at the shoulder. Easier to determine than one might imagine, because the height of an elephant at the shoulder is around two and a half times the circumference of the front track. In this case, the track of this bull’s front foot was around a hundred and ten centimetres. This was not huge, but relatively large for the Mutusadona or the Omay, where I was now squatting. The bulls here are on average thirty centimetres shorter at the shoulder than those in Hwange in the West of Zimbabwe, and even shorter still than the incredibly tall elephants from the deserts of Namibia. However, although they are small, they have proportionally long, thin tusks. Beautiful to see but weightwise disappointing for trophy hunters. Although they look impressive, they tend to weigh as much as a relatively short but chunky tusk from the West. Many an apprentice professional hunter, from the Hwange area, had come short by over-estimating the weight of these elephants’ tusks. The size was another indicator of age and combining the size, wearing, and fissure on the feet I reckoned he was about thirty-five to forty years old. Then, I noticed something strange. The bull had been running. There was distance between the front and rear tracks. When an elephant walks normally, his rear foot will be placed roughly half-way over the front track. In other words, the put their back foot down where their front foot was, the back one going down as the front one is lifted away; on the left and

right side respectively. When an elephant speeds up, the gait changes incrementally up to a fast amble. This is reflected in the tracks by a spacing between the front and rear tracks; from overlapping, to just touching, to a small gap, and eventually a large gap when at full speed. An elephant walks at around seven kilometres per hour and reaches a top speed, doing the fast amble I mentioned before, as they can’t trot, canter, or gallop due to their incredible weight. This was a strange combination because the bull was both moving relatively fast and dragging his front foot; sort of a fast limping-run. Dragging his foot either meant an old disability, such as some healed wound at best, or some recent injury at worst. And, if he was trying to get away fast whilst in pain, he was very frightened and this would be for a reason. There were no other elephant tracks anywhere nearby. I thought about my recent walk to this point. Not only had I seen no other elephant tracks, but I had seen no predator’s tracks from the time of the bull’s tracks either. Other than the usual plains game, such as impala and waterbuck, the only other tracks from around the same time were from local fishermen, who had stopped and eaten on the shoreline. I thought about it, his tracks were about the same age. The bull’s tracks had the same contrast, with the drizzle marks around it, as the fishermen’s, so had been created at the time of the light rain we had had three days earlier. I had another look round; the bull had been feeding in the thick Mopani and had rushed away from the direction of the lake, where the fishermen had disembarked from their boat. This was very unusual because the bulls in this area tended to hang around the same location and were used to people, so why did he bolt when he came across people? It was starting to look like his bad leg and people were connected. I suspected his injury had recently been caused by man. There was no blood. In the case of elephants this is nothing unusual. Their skin is so thick that it will seal a wound quickly and completely. This unfortunately means that the wound doesn’t drain and hence infection is rapid. I re-assessed. A 2.75m tall bull, probably in his late thirties or early forties, moving as fast as he could go, away from fishermen who had stopped on the lake-shore; I strongly suspected he had been wounded either by poachers or bad news hunters who had not reported the incident. It was time to call it in. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 19


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I headed back to Musango where I was freelancing at the time. I was mostly doing walking safaris in the Matusadona National Park on the other side of the Ume River from where I had just found the elephant tracks. The area where the bull had been was part of Gache-Gache Rural Council’s CAMPFIRE Project. CAMPFIRE, or Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources, was an initiative to reintroduce and develop wildlife in the traditional or communal farming areas. Concessions were allocated and tendered out for both photographic and hunting safaris. Musango, Bumi Hills, and Katete Lodges were all within the photographic safaris area. Hunting areas were not too far South from where we were, but the operators were professionals and I found it hard to imagine them not reporting a wounded bull. Steve, the owner of Musungo, radioed the National Parks Warden at Tashinga, the headquarters of Matusadona National Park. At that time the warden was Zef, an older, experienced, and no-bullshit officer with many years under his belt. I got along well with him, especially since my proficiency exam a couple of years earlier, when I had had an interesting time, running into the middle of a herd of buffalos with him, and on his say so, shooting an old “dagga boy”. It turned out we both had the same attitude towards dealing with difficult situations involving dangerous game, but that is another story. Zef told Steve over the radio, “Wellensky or Young can shoot it in the Park if they find it has crossed over. Otherwise, let me know if council is a problem and I will contact them”. Colin Wellensky was an ex-Parks PH, with many years experience, and was doing freelance walking safaris at Musango as well. Steve then radioed Gache-Gache Rural Council based at Siakobvu. They advised us that they would send the scout, who was responsible for the immediate area, to join us. Also that Colin and I should “check it out”, and determine whether or not the elephant needed shooting, and if so, report back to them for the go-ahead. A full day went by before the scout turned up. He was nervous and cocky, and would not look us in the eye. Although his behaviour was a bit odd, we did not think much of it, as we were more interested in getting going, since the spoor was now four days

old. Furthermore, for the most part, the scouts were hand-working and dedicated as a rule, and so deserved the benefit of the doubt. Colin and I grabbed plenty of water and set off for the spot I had last seen the elephant’s spoor. Although the tracks were now four days old, we followed them on the principle that he was probably not going to be able to move far, and we would probably cut fresher tracks sooner or later. After tracking him till the end of the day, it was clear that he was slowing down rapidly. Even more serious was the drops of stinking liquid that lay on the tracks. Clearly, a very infected wound was suppurating. When an elephant’s wound reached that stage, it was almost certain that sepsis would also have spread throughout his system. Something else I noticed at this point. His droppings contained hardly anything other than the Mopani we were moving through, not the normal healthy variety of foods needed to supply him with the nutrients necessary to sustain him. The outside of the dung was almost black with a varnish-like quality. This indicated very high levels of tannin. Mopani and other trees pump tannin into their leaves when browsed upon, and also message other trees downwind to do the same. For this reason an animal has to keep moving or the leaves will become bitter. Grasses do something similar with arsenic. So, an elephant unable to move is going to get very high levels of tannin and arsenic in what he eats, in addition to a lack of necessary variety. Together with the infected wound, this would ultimately cause a slow and painful death. As this point, we had reached close to the Kariba Lake shore, so we decided to head back to Musango via a boat pick-up, rather than sleep on the tracks. On the boat trip back to camp, we discussed the situation. We had no doubt that he was deteriorating extremely fast. He was also heading towards a fishing village. We could not let him near people as he was now potentially deadly to man. We had noticed this bull did not have anything wrong with the base of his foot, because where he did put his foot down, obviously gingerly, it looked normal. We both suspected some other problem with his leg, and that was a bullet wound. That evening, Colin heard that he had to head out for some reason or other. There was a Learner Professional Hunter in camp, apprenticed to Steve who needed dangerous game experience, so I agreed that I would let him shoot or back up. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 21


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That evening a concerned couple asked me if we couldn’t bring in a vet to help. They even offered to pay for this. We explained that infection spread so fast in such situations that a vet would be able to do nothing for him. Just as importantly, the amount of money necessary to bring in a vet to dart and treat the elephant could be used to save many more elephants and rhinos through anti-poaching and other activities. They immediately offered to donate the equivalent amount to anti-poaching and other activities. I was very impressed with their generosity and concern for our wildlife. They were Americans, and I have had further occasion to admire Americans for these selfless traits. Lastly, the wildlife shared the area with people and had been reintroduced for mutual benefit; the locals benefitted financially from photographic and hunting safaris, and the animals would be free to roam where they had before. That meant people lived and worked in the same area, and no chances could be taken with the communities’ lives and property. In this case, it was not only a kindness to the elephant to euthanize him, it was also a duty to the local people We set out the next morning whilst it was still dark and arrived on the shoreline where we had departed the day before. Our council scout was waiting. He had fallen behind often the day before and we had not waited for him. He contributed nothing and still seemed jumpy. There was no love lost between us. He had his radio with him and a .458, but I made it clear he was to keep the radio off and the weapon unloaded. When focusing on a serious and dangerous task, you need to be focused, calm, and aware. Some fellow constantly fidgeting and fussing behind you does not help in any way, and is more of a nuisance than a help. We set off, and very soon crossed fresher spoor from the same bull. We followed for most of the morning. By midday, the spoor was as fresh as could be. He was now hardly covering any ground at all. We needed to end his suffering as quickly and efficiently as possible. We were very close to a fishing village and a person could easily bumble into him by accident. They would not stand a chance. Even though the bull could not walk properly because of pain, and was so weak he was hardly moving, the sight of a person would trigger a surge of

adrenalin through his body that would cover the pain and give him the energy to kill. At this point we crossed the road dirt road that went from near Musango to Bumi Hills. I decided to stop and rest, as I knew we would be doing the final approach very soon. I looked at Craig and realised that he was wound up as tight as a spring. The excitement was buzzing through him. This was the first dangerous game he had shot and I realised he was a likely candidate for a bout of buck-fever, so I told myself to keep this in mind and instructed him to get ready. We chatted briefly about dos and don’ts and other bits and pieces, and I checked his weapon and ammunition carefully. Then, I told the game scout to stay well back and we got back on the tracks. Within a couple of minutes, we were in short, but dense, Mopani and couldn’t see further than our noses… but I heard the bull rumble. We were next to a tree much larger than the rest, so I handed my rifle to Craig and started climbing. Half way up I had a good view of the bull who was only sixty metres away. He was upwind from us standing next to a large Mopani with one foot off the ground. Even from that distance I could see how his leg was grotesquely swollen. The tree he was under stood in a small clearing and I could see that we would have a clear shot from the edge of the clearing but that it was only twenty meters from the bull. I climbed back down and headed back to the road, used the scout’s radio to speak to HQ and confirmed we were putting him down. We began the approach carefully and about 40m from the bull I stopped and checked on Craig. He was so tense he was shaking and was breathing way too fast. I told him we were going back. He asked why and I answered, “I need a smoke”. His jaw dropped and he went red in the face, then he followed me back to the road. By the time we got there he had cooled down. Getting his mind off the hunt and getting him pissed off with me instead had worked and he was now pretty calm. I decided we should go back and get it done and that this time he would probably be okay. Just then, a Bumi Hills game drive vehicle came along at high speed and pulled up next to us in a cloud of dust. Two Learners climbed out with weapons, all talking at the top of their voices, as is polite amongst Mashonas. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 23


They had heard from our scout’s radio chatter that we had found the bull and had requested permission from Council to also back-up. They announced this as though it were an instruction for me. So, of course, I answered no. There was silence. I explained to them that I was conducting the hunt, and therefore it was my decision. Furthermore, I was the only man present with a full license, and I would not sign the letters they would need if they wanted the experience to count towards their exams, so they could all f-off. Without a letter, they could not claim an animal hunted, backed-up or even accompanied. Then, I got onto the radio to Council and let fly. Council apologised and explained that one of the learners had over five years’ experience and had been chosen by a Pro Guide based at Bumi Hills who was known to me. By this stage, the learners attitude had changed remarkably, and they were standing humbly, hat in hand. So I agreed that one could back-up. But first, I laid down the law and explained exactly how the approach would be done, making clear that they were not to shoot unless I gave the go-ahead. We moved out, and approached the point we had reached previously. There was no clear shot from there, so we would have to move quite a bit closer. I checked on Craig and saw that he was breathing smoothly, and was focused rather than tense. Then, I signalled to the other chap to join us. He did well and I relaxed somewhat. I whispered to them, that we would move up another twenty metres to the edge of the clearing, and when I gave the signal Craig should shoot. Once he had fired, the other chap should fire the back-up shot. Then, I made clear that if the bull did not go down, because of the close proximity, I would deal with it. It would be too close to take any chances. He could easily kill us all from that close in a matter of a few seconds. We approached to the point twenty metres further on. The bull was dozing. His misery was obvious. Yet despite the agony of his condition, I knew his will to live would be a deadly force if treated lightly. “Just a few more seconds old chap and your suffering will be over”, I thought.

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I turned to Craig, slipping my own weapon off safety as I did so, and signalled to him to shoot when he was ready. Craig fired, slightly too far back to be a heart shot, but not a bad shot. I was a common mistake with an elephant exactly side-on. However, I had no doubt the bull would drop soon, but soon would not be good enough. The other chap’s back-up shot was terrible, straight through the guts. These two shots had both happened within a second of each other. Within another second the bull screamed and turned on us, immediately veering from the tree into a full speed change at us. A head shot on elephant is best described as “between the ears”. If you imagine a stick between the earholes then you are spot on. Even better is to have a “3D” knowledge of where the brain is situated. Most importantly at short distance, aside from shot placement, is focusing on nothing but getting it done. At about fifteen metres as he was lifting his trunk to smash us, just a few steps for an elephant, I shot him through the brain. The bull crashed to the ground as only as head-shot can make happen. Then, I walked back to Craig, who was clearly wondering what had happened. I explained that his shot was slightly too far back but still a kill-shot. However, not enough for us to have been safe waiting for the full effect of his shot to work! I looked around for the other learner. He was nowhere to be seen. We eventually found him up the same tree I had earlier climbed looking for the bull. Then, out of nowhere, people started appearing. In no time, there were dozens of people armed with knives, axes, and machetes ready to get stuck into the elephant. These situations can get nasty, as people got out of hand and start fighting over more protein that they usually see in a year. People get hurt, so we organised leaders who would portion out

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the meat and clobber anyone who stepped out of line. Finally, I had a look at the elephant’s leg. The knee and most of the leg was badly swollen and full of pus. There was a small entry-wound in the knee. Obviously, some bastard had shot him in the leg and not finished the job. The question was whether it was a poacher or hunter. There was no exit wound so Craig and I got to work extracting the bullet. At the same time we noticed the scout pacing around us, clearly a bag of nerves. We located the bullet and it turned out to be a .458. The scout carried a .458 and was responsible for this area. However, so did most hunters. Then, he snatched the bullet out of my hand, insisting that it had to go to Council, who would in turn hand it over to the police. Now, I was really suspicious. I tried to insist that I hand it to the police directly, but knew that I was wasting my time; I had no legal authority whilst he was on his turf. That evening, when we returned to camp, we immediately got hold of council on the radio. They explained that unfortunately the bullet had been “lost” in transit to Siakobvu by the same scout. I ground my teeth with the sheer frustration. That evening, I thought over the day’s events whilst sipping a Scotch by the campfire. The bull’s tusks were both over sixty pounds apiece. This animal would have brought in a lot of sorely needed funds into the area for both the local people and the wildlife… if hunted properly. I was glad to have ended the bull’s suffering, and was pleased that Craig was a step closer to his full license and now had an elephant under his belt. I kept my face and body calm and still for the clients also enjoying the campfire, but inside I was boiling with anger at the attitude of a man who could wound an animal and then callously condemn it to a lingering and painful death. I looked down at my clenched fist and sighed.


Based in Zambia, Rory Young has spent almost 25 years working in Central and Southern Africa in wildlife and forestry management as a professional safari guide, ranger, manager and owner. He now alternates between guiding, training safari and wildlife personnel and writing from home, which also allows him time with his Dutch wife Marjet and their two young children. He has done a lot of problem animal control of African dangerous game and passed the tough Zimbabwean Professional Hunter proficiency. He now only hunts problem animals or for the pot. He is a strong proponent of ethical hunting. Rory writes a regular blog at http:// youngrory.wordpress.com/

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Delta

Overland Botswana trip report

Ryan Beeton

T

hree families took a popular overlanding trip to the Okavango Delta from South Africa. This is a long distance trip to one of the last wild places of Africa, a trip you will never forget. Our staff has made this trip a few times, and it is easy and safe to do for overseas visitors. This day-by-day report will help you plan yours ...

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Back Row: Piers, Carolyn, Sarah, Kyle, Mark, Kate, Adam, Liam, Ryan Front Row: Emma, Erin, Gill, Keira

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Pre packing 18 April 2013

Day Two: Kwanokeng to Nata Lodge

The families taking the trip were the Beetons in a Land Cruiser Prado 150 V with a with Conquest trailer, the La Trobes & Sanfords in Land Cruiser Prado 120 VX with Conquest Trailer and the Sanfords in a Pajero Double Cab pickup.

We left the lodge with the aim of getting to Phalapye to collect meat and have breakfast – yip, Wimpy again.

Our Conquest Trailers were rented from Jannie at Kubu 4 x 4. Not enough can be said about Jannie’s gracious demeanor and big friendly smile. He was brilliant and extremely accommodating. We collected our trailers and had a thorough briefing from Jannie, and Jannie got down and dirty under the vehicles cable tying the trailer power leads to our car batteries for charging while on the road. With trailers in tow, we arrived home and packed with gusto until midnight.

Day One A cold front greeted us all on Friday morning. The Sandfords arrived at our home to pack their double cab and much reshuffling was done in our trailer – with the last 20 minutes in torrential rain. A change of clothes and we were on our way. What a way to start! At 10h30 we rolled out of Johannesburg and our first stop was at the Wimpy in Mokopane. The going was easy and we eventually cleared the weather at Baltimore, 30 minutes before the border crossing. We breezed through the border at Martins Drift and pitched the tents for our children to sleep in – as the lodge only had 3 available safari tents for the adults when we booked (Though upon arrival it seems most were empty). The tents were pretty average as far as accommodation goes. A great first braai with good meat, cold beer & camaraderie saw the night through. We did comment that we would need to be a whole lot more organized when we were around wild animals as it was chaos. We hit the sack at 10 30 PM and I remarked that there was not a cloud in the sky. Famous last words. While sleeping in the safari tent the heavens opened up at about 2 am with a spectacular downpour, thunder and lightning. The children were drenched and came to our tent with the giggles At least they saw it in a good light! Sunrise brought the extent of the downpour home. The bottom of the tent had a small pond in it, and the campgrounds were water logged. One of the girls remarked, “No need to drive to the Okavango Delta – it came to us ”

20 minutes down the road we came across an accident scene – never nice to witness. A car veered of the road and the driver was trapped behind the wheel. We could not drive on and stopped to assist. It was amazing to see how many people began stopping – from all walks of life. A gathering of souls with a common goal of helping those in need. All worked in cohesion and in minutes he man was freed. A bakkie had been on standby as the transport vehicle. Legs were ripped off 2 office chairs to make a makeshift bed, we donated a pillow and a blanket, and the husband and wife were whisked off towards Phalapye – 10 minutes down the road the ambulance and fire truck from Phalapye were assisting the injured – so all in all a good result, and one that we felt good about stopping to assist. Mike from Sandys Butcher was an absolute gem What a gentleman and true to his word, our meat was frozen, vacuum packed and ready on arrival. His credit card machine was on the blink and despite only just meeting us, insisted we pay him on the way back. We did scrounge together some Pula between us and this was not necessary. The rooms at Nata Lodge were awesome, as was the meal. Sadly the Bush Babies were lost in the recent fire and are not around the dining area anymore. A hearty meal and a few beers and we hit the sack to awake early the next morning to visit the Pans and see the few flamingos that were present. The water was too high to have good flamingo viewing, though it was still great to see a few and be out on the pans. Avocets, White Pelican, Spoonbills, Herons and Flamingos were in view while we had coffee on the pans. Breakfast at the lodge was exceptional and we then drove the 3 hours to Maun and arrived at The Island Safari Lodge. The road is good, with some animal activity on it - Donkeys, Cows and goats. This is Africa after all! After checking into the rooms, we gathered at the bar for lunch and sent final emails and had an internet fix before setting off to the wilderness. Some of the youngsters rented canoes and went for a nervous paddle upstream – I find it incredible how the staff told them not to worry about crocs or hippos as there are none in the area? Don’t think they told this to the crocs, as two weeks prior to our arrival a young Volume 5 Issue 3 | 31


Carolyn, S

arah, Mark

& Gill on th

e Pans

e

Camp S

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mi

ge, More

rd Brid t up at 3


lady was taken by a large croc a few hundred meters away. I am not sure if this is the norm here, but the bar area had several local “ladies of the night” looming around. They inevitably landed up with a few foreigners and set off on a sundowner cruise armed with tequila. They left in high spirits, returned high on spirits and then a fight broke out between two foreigners with swearing, punching and furniture being thrown at each other. After some blood flowed, the security guards arrived in uniform and hand cuffed the perpetrators escorting them kicking and screaming out of the pub, with the ladies in tow. Sad to witness, and hopefully the owners of this lodge rid the general area of this scum as it does not bode well for visiting families and if this is the case in future, will definitely give this place a wide berth.

Day Four The morning was spent running around paying park fees, filling up with Diesel and water at Rileys Garage (well stocked auto store here), getting blocks of ice and doing the final odd things before setting off for Moremi. We bought Firewood along the way – many opportunities along the way, even up to Shorobe. The road to South Gate was very easy going. We signed in and were assured by the Ranger that the road was easy and “No need to deflate your tires”. The La Trobes got stuck in thick sand – which was easily recovered with a snatch cable. After deflating the tires on all vehicles to 1.2 Bar no one got stuck in Moremi again. Mark’s rented Conquest suffered the first mechanical failure of the trip with the bolt holding the right shock absorber to the chassis shearing off.

Days 4-6: Third Bridge We set up camp, which took us a leisurely hour (first time) and spent the afternoon in the camp. We had booked campsite 1 & 2, but opted to stay at 2 for the better shade and the closer walk to the ablutions. The ablutions were in great condition with piping hot water and were kept clean throughout the day. For some reason, there was no lights in this one, but not a train smash. The teenagers were on withdrawal systems without TV, Internet or BBM – but they would shortly get over this much to our joy We set out every morning and every afternoon on

game drives and had average viewing for this part of the world. The maps we had were pretty average – the Veronica Roodt maps. They did not cover most of the roads and should be used as a guide only. There are several new loops and one or two dry roads that are not detailed on this map. When planning to do a loop for a game drive, it is often to find out exactly where you are. We did get lost a few times and had to back track – but the area is so beautiful that it was not worrying in the least. On the Mboma loop we were treated to a tranquil elephant sighting with these animals walking into the water for a morning drink. Spending close to half an hour with them in close proximity to the car and having them relaxed in the water was very special to witness. Having the sighting all to yourself is what makes Botswana worth the effort. Far from the maddening crowds, time almost stands still if you allow yourself to just be in the moment, and let all your concerns slip away for a few days. We explored the pools around 2nd and 1st bridge and left no stone unturned in our search for predators. What a beautiful area. We had no luck at all on our game drives around 3rd Bridge with cats – we did see good birds and beautiful wide open solitude. Crowned Cranes, Saddle Billed Storks, White Pelicans, Herons, Spoonbills, Teals, Black Winged Stilts all present in most of the pools. We had a special sighting of 12 Black Egrets that were marching forward with the sun behind them hunting for fish under the cover of their wings. No one in our party had heard or seen of these birds, so for them to witness this spectacle for a good 20 minutes was special. One particular night, nature called and I chose not to drive to the ablutions but to use the nearest tree – while doing my scan with the torch I saw two sets of lioness eyes lying in front of the nearby ablutions. When I returned with the binos to get a better look, only one set of eyes were there, so I chose to retreat very hastily to the tent. In the morning we saw tracks of two lioness and 2 males that were all around the campsite. We followed them out of the camp and did every conceivable loop to locate them, but they disappeared into the tall grass – and this was at 6 15 am. The males teased us with their roars every night, but we could not locate these beasts After 3 days of game drives we were despondent that we had no cat sightings as yet We did chat to Operators in the area and they were also battling. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 33


Wild Dogs were seen – on the Bodamatau Loop which we tried to see without success. Despite warnings from the forum and other experienced campers, the Hyaenas at 3rd Bridge were not a problem at all. We saw them every night when we drove to the ablutions and saw their tracks around the campsite in the mornings – however they did not pester us at all and we had no issues with them. As for the baboons – we did not see any in camp and the Xomae staff were active in searching the campsites for them. They assured us that they chase them away and keep them out of camp to the best of their abilities. The staff were great, friendly and assisted us with locating a spare bolt for the suspension on the conquest trailer for the shock absorber. Their briefing upon arrival was professional and they explained the dangers of walking around after dark and the do’s and don’ts of bush camping.

Days 7-9: Xaxanaka We booked campsite 4 & 5. Good campsites, but quite small. It was not conducive to use both so we squeezed onto number 5 – with the wheels of the trailers on the road (though this road is not used by the rest of the campers as it traverses between camp sites and not off the main road in the camp site that branches off to each site. After setting up (30 mins this time) in full view of one of the camp staff, we were approached by this lady who insisted that we move as we were on the road. I don’t have the patience to tolerate these kind of conversations that inevitably lead to the back handed shuffle – Piers Sanford took the task and after 20 minutes and a few cokes the layout of the site was deemed to be fine and we carried on. Campsites 7, 8, 9 and 10 looked good. Hippos did make use of the main road to traverse the camping grounds in search of fodder. We chose to stay in camp and make a poitjie. There is something about sitting around burning coals, having a few beers staring at the poijtjie pot that is incredibly peaceful and fulfilling. The kids were in their element – playing cards and 30 Seconds and having conversation. Amazing what happens when technology is removed – and so great to see. We were assured by the ranger at reception that it would be impossible to leave Xaxanaka without seeing a leopard. So with this info we were excited to see our spotted cat. The area around Xaxanaka is scenically impressive – tall Mopane Forests, pools 34 | Volume 5 Issue 3

and open spaces. My daughter told me in earnest that fairies definitely live here. The area certainly It looked suitable for a leopard. Elephants were feeding on the Mopane and the family herds were relaxed. We enjoyed many sightings of elephant in this area, with some particular gentle giants being fully habituated to vehicles – as relaxed as the animals at Mana Pools. We had a wonderful moment with one bull who chose to feed off the mopane almost overhead our vehicle – our girls were peering into his open mouth as he fed a meter away from our car. On our 2nd day at Xaxanaka we chose to go for a sunset cruise. I could not resist popping out to see an ele or 2 so went for a short game drive at 3pm down to Jessie’s Pools. We had made the safari operators our friends and one stopped to tell me that we should visit Old No 9 as there were 2 male lions seen there this morning. It was 7 km’s away, so I thought we would push to go see them. We found the males were lying on the side of the road and I marked the GPS to return the next morning, as I was sure they would be here with the full bellies they had. It was interesting to see that these lions had almost cropped/shaven manes – I had seen a lion like this 10 years ago on the Mboma Loop. It must be a localized adaptation – possibly for the wetter season when a long mane may be cumbersome in water and/or rain? With lions now seen and our duck broken, I shot back to camp just in time to make the scheduled 17:00 departure. The boat trip was everything we heard it to be. We booked Lilly – a 16 seater and a real bargain at Pula 666.00 per hour. We did advise them to make it Pula 667.00 for Karma……. Seeing the Delta from the boat was incredible – it gave a different perspective to the sandy domain that we had been camping on for 5 nights. Tall grass, islands, lagoons, channels, game spread out, shallow and deep channels – the variety in a short space was surreal. The late afternoon sky became a canvas with different tones being painted across its vast expanse. Gin and Tonics flowed, kids laughed and had fun being out of the car. It is a great break from the norm and I can highly recommend doing this. The sunset was spectacular and there is a pink glow that envelopes the horizon after the sun sets that is particular endemic to the Okavango Delta that needs to be experienced. With the GPS marked, and the assurance that they


Relaxed Bull feeding a meter away from the car

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One of the male Lions – our first cat sighting

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would be there, I got the team up early to leave at 06h00 excited to see their first lions of the trip.

La Trobes set off back home. We waited until 5-30pm and they got active as we were about to leave.

Along the way we stopped at Jessie’s Pools to watch a giant elephant have his morning drink. Even with the promise of lions, we chose to share 30 minutes with him – with hippos grunting in the background and the sun coming up there was no place in the world where I would rather have been.

The pups begged the Alpha Male and Female for food, there were skirmishes and excited chatter amongst them and then they took off on the brisk trot that they maintain. We excitedly followed them and managed to loop in front ofthem several times to get the proverbial walk/run past with all 14 dogs trotting right past the car in single file.

We set off to find our cats and 3 km’s before the mark, we found them lying in the golden sunlight of morning right next to the road. They gave us a good show by walking up the road and eventually settling around Jessie’s Pool for the day. After spending a good hour with the king of beasts we chose to drive to Fourth Bridge on a loop. A good decision it turned out to be as the 14 Wild Dogs were lying in some bushes just off the road on the road back to 3rd Bridge and close to 4th Bridge. The heat of the day was starting to come through by 10h30 so we chose to leave the sleeping dogs and return later. The Sandfords had never seen Wild Dogs before and spent some extra time with them - they were rewarded with better sightings of them and 4 ventured up to their car out of curiosity. My experience with dogs is that you need to be around when they decide to get up & go, as when it happens, it happens quickly. I did not want to miss them getting active so set out at 3pm to catch them. They had moved from their previous position and we soon relocated them. They were fast asleep – I assured our team to remain patient, but by 5-00 pm the

Piers & Adam chose to remain in our vehicle and they were treated to one of the greatest wild dog sightings I have ever seen. The dogs were relaxed and very inquisitive - walking right up to the car and gazing curiously into our eyes. The dogs ran more than 5km and all the way to 3’d bridge. We were forced to leave them as we were pushed for time to make Xaxanaka - they were about to cross into the camp (which we heard they did do from campers the following morning]. It was interesting to see how they all bunched up against each other staring at the water that they had to cross to get onto the bridge. There was no doubt that I would not make it back to camp in time - Piers wisely was the calming voice who persuaded me to take it easy, slowly and on the main track back to camp, and what will be will be. We saw many elephants in the road; all relaxed with our slow approach and dimmed lights. We got back to camp 25 minutes late (not recommended] but safe and without incident. We reported to the ranger’s residence near the airstrip to alert them, but they were nonplussed and thanked us for letting them know. What a welcomed relief of attitude. After an action packed day of game driving with great sightings, we had a few celebratory lagers around the camp fire and were visited by a hippo who came pretty close to our perimeter tent - much to the shock ofour girls!l!

Days 10-11: Savuti With a long day ahead of us, we left early for Savuti via Khwai. After 11km’s from the Xaxanaka airfield, we bade farewell to the Sandfords who had commitments to get back to in Johannesburg. It was a special time spent with special friends and we missed them for the rest of our trip. The drive to Khwai was non eventful with little game being seen. Chatting to local safari guides in the area at Khwai, it is evident that this area is a great game viewing area with Wild Dog, Leopard and Lion being sighted regularly throughout April. This morning lions Volume 5 Issue 3 | 37


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had killed a Red Lechwe outside the local village. Seasonally I guess that Khwai would be better than Xaxanaka and 3rd Bridge during April & May.

tors stopping by to drink from the channel. There was a bold hyena in the camp that did venture between the trailers when the lights went out.

We were worried about the water crossing here that we had to drive through to go to Savuti- we drove up to it and it looked deep and was about 30 metres long. Then we noticed that no tracks had gone through it - and we followed tracks that went East of the crossing - to a newly formed road with a shallow crossing that was a breeze. The road to Mbabe Gate was easy - hard roads with little thick sand.

In the morning we set off for a game drive and went past Pump Pan - the pan was filled with wildebeest and impala. We circled to Harveys Pans where the sun rose and silhouetted some giraffe. We then set off for Bushman Paintings on Kudu Hills to seek out a Leopard that was there the previous day with an Impala Kill in a Combretum - we found a lioness on the impala kill she had stolen from the leopard -getting closer.

Once in the park, we were advised to do the Sand Ridge road as the Marsh road was dry, but very bumpy with deep ruts from previous vehicles and elephant footprints. The Sandridge road is aptly named – thick long stretches of deep sand. The Prados performed nicely without ever needing low range despite the weight of the heavy trailers. 150 Km’s through game reserves and sand is a long way and we arrived at 15:30, checked in - where we were told 2 male lions were chasing elephants through the camp for the previous two nights - and set up camp at paradise. Paradise was by far the nicest campsite we had camped at so far. All sites at Savuti have thick dark sand. I wonder why these companies who manage the sites don’t lay a 4m x 4m concrete slab to keep one of out the thick sand it would be a welcome reprieve to get out of the sand after a hot shower. No matter how many times you shower, its only minutes and you are sandy again. We were getting better at this and set up camp within 20 minutes. We chose to chill in camp and enjoy the view of the river and the large bull elephant drinking in front of our site. As we sat down with a beer and looked out across the channel, 2 wild dogs came trotting through the bush. They locked eyes onto a female Kudu drinking opposite cV4 and chased her across the channel, through cv4, cv3 past the ablutions, past the entrance to the camp, across the staff soccer field and into the bush! What excitement for the first few minutes in a new camp! 10 people excitedly crushed each other getting into one of the cars. We drove out after the dogs but they were too fast; and the staff playing soccer pointed into the bush were the dogs and the kudu disappeared. We defrosted our last meat portion from Sandys Butchery - the National Lu na had kept this frozen for 7 full days!!! What an amazing deep freeze/fridge. We had a good dinner while scanning the surrounding bush for animals. We had regular Elephant visi-

It was interesting to see how many elephant carcasses scattered the pans. The lions had clearly become masters at killing elephant in this area - as per the National Geographic Documentary shot at Khwai and Savuti some years ago. We had heard about a male lion at hippo pools and another one at Marabou Pan. We chose to drive down to Marabou Pan and found his tracks leading North and East. As we were close, we stopped at the pan for coffee. They have great “stretching points” at the pans, where one can alight from your vehicle within a confined open area. More elephant bones scattered the pan and a jackal surveyed the area. A big herd of wildebeest made their way to drink at the pan. A good coffee stop. We followed the male lion tracks back to the intersection and easily where we found him under a camel thorn tree surrounded by safari vehicles and his brother in the shade of some nearby combretum This boy was clearly well fed as he struggled to walk when he sauntered off to join his brother. We heard from the And Beyond safari driver about a leopard that was in the campsite 2l- earlier this morning and made our way to this site across the channel, which was easily crossed. At Kishana Crossing we found pools that were drying up that had baby catfish trapped in them. Yellow Billed Storks, White Pelicans, Spoonbills, Sacred Ibis and Juvenile Fish Eagles were gorging themselves on these morsels. We followed the Channel back to Camp, spending time with an old bull elephant that was ending his realm on the planet. His ears were drooping and he was blind in his left eye. He had a calm demeanor as he drank from the channel and then quietly left to feed. We did not find a leopard and went to relax at camp for the day, only to come out at 15h30 for a brief game drive around the hills to retry for leopard - with no luck. We did see a herd of 500+ Buffalo scattered Volume 5 Issue 3 | 39


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across the grassland north of the marsh, which was good to see provisions running low so we baked bread and had jaffles for dinner - much to the delight of the kids! The crew decided to sleep in for the last morning and forgo the game drive with departure set for 09h00. I don’t miss game drives easily - so packed as much away as I could to ensure Gill and the kids only had to pack the RTT away. Kyle was desperate to see a leopard and opted to join me for a 06h00 departure for a last sortie. Setting of with good intentions always sets the tone for a good drive - 10 seconds into our drive we came across a young leopard walking along the campsite road to the ablutions. We watched him walk towards the ablutions, and then he froze as he saw campers walking out of their cars at the ablutions, and slunk off through CV3, over CV4 and into the darkness beyond the channel! This was Kyle’s first sighting of a leopard in the wild albeit a brief one, he saw it well. With leopard viewing in mind, we scanned the hills thoroughly and made our way around these and followed the channel all the way to Rhino Vlei. We stretched our legs here and started making our way back - when we spotted another leopard in the distance. This one walked ever closer and was completely habituated to vehicles. A mature female - she was a small leopard and a confident one. She graced us with an hour of her time as she criss-crossed the road seeking out prey. She had no fear of the vehicle and was as comfortable as the Sabi Sand cats are around us. We had this lady completely to ourselves for more than an hour. When the first safari vehicle arrived, we decided to give them the pleasure of being alone with her and sought out the large herd of buffalo, which we soon found. Spending time with the female leopard on the last game drive was the cherry on top! We fought hard to find a leopard and we were rewarded with a sighting that only the privileged few will ever get to see -particularly in a National Park Apart from witnessing a leopard kill on a few occasions, this would rate as one of the best sightings of a leopard I have had the privilege of witnessing. The road from Savuti to Kasane is tough going up to Ghoha Gate - long stretches of thick sand. Its 77 km of sand to Katchikau and then one meets the tar - a welcome sigh of relief was breathed throughout the car when we crested a ridge and saw the tar

ahead. We pumped up lyres and had a stretch and cold drink in the shade of a Jackalberry 4 hours later we were at Chobe Safari Lodge. What a great hotel. We hung out on comfortable couches, caught up on email and had the best hamburgers in Botswana for a mere Pula 48. G&T sundowners followed and we had the buffet dinner - costly but a good spread. We all enjoyed sleeping in big beds and air-conditioned rooms and met at 10 for brekkie. A river cruise is a must and we spend the day at leisure around the pool and set off at l-5:30 for a sundowner and game-viewing cruise along the Chobe River and into the Park. Elephants are usually down drinking in the afternoon and they did not disappoint. Watching giraffe nervously drink required patience as they came down, got in position and ran off. The highlight was coming across 2 bull elephants swimming across the river to an island of grass to feed for the evening. We drifted right up to them as they swam with great effort to make the long swim acrossWithin moments of arriving they began feeding. It was a very special moment to watch them. We chose to go out for dinner in the town and came across Curry and Coffee. They do pizzas as well. The pizzas were average (as judged by the teenagers), and the curry was world class! Owned by Indians and frequented by the locals, this is definitely a spot worth eating at. 10 Meals with drinks for a mere 800 Pula was very reasonable. We had another late start to the morning and chilled at the lodge until 13:30 before setting off for Elephant Sands at Nata some 250 km’s away. Our host was Ruan who was accommodating and friendly. We had two double chalets and one family one - which we crammed the children into. The water in the taps is very salty, and at this time of the year it was beginning to get cold once the sun set. We sat at the water hole watching the coming and goings of the resident Red Billed Buffalo Weaver and White-browed Sparrow Weavers as they built their nest overhead. A Shaft Tailed Wydah had a gaggles of ladies in tow with him as he flittered around the water hole, Red Billed Teals arrived for a drink and a Kalahari Scrub Robin took offence to a Turtle Dove and chased it around for a while (not sure what he would have done had he caught it?) The first elephants arrived after sunset and predictably chose the fresher trough of water right next to the boma over the stagnant water hole in the background. The elephants were slightly cautious as they approached to within 3 meters of the onlookers to Volume 5 Issue 3 | 41


quench their thirst. It was too early in the migratory season to see the massive numbers, but Ruan explained that between May - September hundreds of migrating elephants from Hwange arrive en mass for a drink and the lodge then escort guests back to the chalets as there are too many around to walk safely. There are 3 packs of Wild Dog on the L6 000 Reserve who are seen approximately 4 times a week. There are nomadic lions that pass through and a large territorial male leopard that is regularly seen. I hoped to stay up |ate and see what would come down. I had the entire boma and dining area to myself as I sat up till 23h00 waiting to see what was in the shadows. A large bull elephant approached the trough cautiously and as I settled to get a good photo flying on my stomach near the edge of the wall, the generator timer kicked in sending the place into pitch darkness.

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After my eyes adjusted to the darkness I watched the bull make off towards my chalet and gave him 5 minutes before I set off on the 200 m walk to my chalet, Fortunately I did not bump into him or any other pachyderms, nor the toothed and clawed nomads. Walking in the dark in the bushveld does heighten ones sense somewhat! Elephant Sands is a great stop over. The chalets are not the same standard as Nata Lodge, but the staff really try to make you feel at home and go out of their way to serve you (As they do at Nata too). The attraction here is that it is a bit more rustic, the water hole attracts a whole lot of Pachyderms and you get really close to them while sitting around a fire catting to fellow tourists. The vibe is homely and relaxed. We set the alarm clock for 05h30 for an early start - but it was way too cold to get up and pack in the dark, so we lay in till 06h15. The elephants dislodged the water pipe to our chalet so no outside showers for the morning - though one would have had to be


very brave to have a luke-warm shower in 2 degrees outside. The drive home was long - taking 12 hours with the border crossing (although this was swift!) Arriving back in Jhb at L7:OO in peak hour traffic quickly brought us back to reality! Reflecting back on Botswana it is a holiday of a lifetime that should be enjoyed with friends and family annually. After all, why do anything great only once? It needs to be experienced to be comprehended. This is only my 4th visit in 20 years, so I am indeed a novice. I think you would need time to get to know the areas in order to get the most value out of your time spent in these vast wilderness areas, as well as pick the right time when animal densities are increased due to seasonal migrations, and the grass is shorter. I don’t believe that the National Parks have the density of the Kruger, and although I came here expecting as good game viewing as the Kruger, one needs to come with less expectation of seeing game and more for the wilderness experience - anything else is a bonus! Botswana is for the purist. Yes you will get thick sand, you may have a cold shower, you may get stuck, you will get lost - but you will find your way again. You will experience absolute solitude, witness breathtaking beauty, have the excitement of unfenced camping in a wild area and see animal tracks around your fire when you wake up in the morning. Its a destination not to be missed - and one to share with your friends and loved ones. Go explore, you’ll be back planning the next visit shortly afterwards. Best of all - there are no plug points, no cell phone reception and very few people! You owe it to yourself to visit this beautiful country.

Ryan Beeton is 39 years old and married with 3 children. He has a passion for wildlife an d travel which is shared by his wife, Gillian. He drove a 1978 Land Rover Series 3 through Africa over 14 months commencing 1994 through Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and then Zaire. The family sailed a 47 foot Catamaran around the Indian Ocean from 2004 - 2006. His business web site is at http://www. secureatag.co.za/

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Trolling D

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Dynamics Turn your boat into a fish magnet

Mike Laubscher

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t is a common belief that fish are scared of our boats, while the fact is that they are actually attracted to it. Armed with this knowledge and the correct dynamics of setting up your lures; and the knowledge of how these lures perform, your can turn your small ski-boat into a mobile FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) and convert your litres of fuel into kilograms of fish. This is already common practice on the large sport fishers, and with a little bit of thought you can do the same on your smaller boat using similar dynamics on a smaller scale. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 45


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The fact is that game fish are attracted to the prop wash and wake created by your boat when it is underway, and the fish actually come up to investigate this and then stumble across your lures grouped like a school of fish which they would never have seen from as far away as they can see your prop wash. Game fish are also used to chasing schools of fish as opposed to a group of one or two fish and so you need to imitate a school of fish together with the prop wash and wake created by your boat and capitalise on the inquisitive nature of these game fish. Placing your lures in the prop wash and wake of your boat is crucial to getting them to perform at their best and to get the fish to see them. They will serve very little purpose placed far behind the boat, as you need all the commotion, noise and action to make your mobile FAD work. So many times I see anglers out on the water with a single lure trolled miles behind the boat at a slow speed and whilst this may work if your lure happens to cross the path of a fish it is not going to get the fish to come to you and it takes for ever to cover the water. The first dynamic that you need to explore is how each of the different types of lures work, what depths they work at, what speeds do they perform at, what do they imitate, and how do they behave. Then you need to match your spread to the speed you want to troll at so that they all can perform correctly.

Soft Lures These are the most misunderstood lures on the market and I have seen so many anglers out there who have spent a fortune on a collection of these and after trying them once or twice unsuccessfully they stay in the box never to be used again. These soft lures are designed to work on the surface and will only work if you place them in the correct position and troll them at a speed fast enough to generate a smoke trail (trail of small bubbles). These soft lures can be separated into 5 main groups.

Feathers, Bullet heads, Meanie Heads & Jet Heads This group of lures is designed for high speed trolling and the faster you troll them the better. These lures are all weighted in order to keep them in the water at high speed and any where from 5 knots up to 17 knots, best between 6 knots to 12 knots and for

feathers even faster. These lures will perform differently depending on the sea conditions, prevailing winds and the lure type. I love fishing with feathers (My favourite is the Williamson Feathers) and have trolled them even when my boat is on the plane at around 20 knots with extreme success so do not be scared to use them at speed when travelling long distance to and from your destination, they can produce a real unexpected surprise which really helps on a quiet day. These lures have no specific shape or action and so rely on speed to get them working and when pulled at the correct speed will create a smoke trail and you really need to test them out to see how they perform close to the boat. The best position on the wave for this type of lure will be behind the wave so that they have space to ride, placed any where else these lures will jump out of the water and start to tumble. The final positioning has to be done once you are at your desired speed and then you need to maintain that speed. If you change your speed, then you must tune the position of the lures. By doing this you will get optimal performance from your lures and the best chance of catching a fish. You need to sight the lures behind the boat and watch their position regularly and if the conditions change like your wake and lines affected by wind, swell and currents which will influence the performance of your lure. The best positions for these lures are on the long & short out rigger positions and the deadly shot gun position from the diagram. These lures also perform extremely well when rigged in conjunction with a small exciter bird on the long and short out rigger positions. Tip: You can enhance these lures by adding a strip bait to them.

Cavitators, Plungers & Darters These are the most versatile of all the soft lures and can be placed in almost any position in the spread and are designed to surf the waves of the wake created by your boat and so must be positioned on the face of the wave to allow them to surf and create an erratic broken smoke trail as they dive with each wave and then break the surface on the next wave. Cavitators will work well on the long and short corners, long and short out riggers position and on the shot gun position and they can be used with and without exciter birds. Large Cavitators can be placed in the prop wash position without birds. These lures can be trolled between 6 knots and 10 knots, and it is important to ensure that they are created their smoke trails at the speed your troll or you will render them Volume 5 Issue 3 | 47


useless. Be sure to fine tune them once at your speed so that they are in fact surfing on the face of the wake wave. It is also important that you match your lures to perform at the same speed as other lures in your spread. This will be different for each position, each kind of boat and the prevailing weather conditions. This means that you need to experiment to find out what works best with what and when. Spend some time on the water and test all your lures out and make some notes so the next time it is easy. Tip: You can enhance these lures by adding a strip bait to them.

Flat Faced Pushers, Concave Faced Pushers and Popping Lures These lures are to be used with a rod in an elevated position to keep them on the surface where they perform best, and so are best placed on the long and short out rigger positions and on the shot gun position, the can be trolled between 6knots and 10knots and are designed to swim on the crest of your wake wave. These lures will take a large amount of air and push it into the water creating an extreme smoke trail and a noisy splashing action and are sure to get the attention of any game fish in the vicinity. Again with these lures it is important to fine tune them once at your set speed to ensure they are placed correctly to deliver optimal performance. These types of lures also work well in conjunction with exciter birds on flat seas. Sail fish and other surface hunters find these 48 | Volume 5 Issue 3

lures irresistible. Tip: You can enhance these lures by adding a strip bait to them.

Daisy Chains & Spreader Bars Daisy chains are a group of five or six small Feathers, Squids (My favourite) or Meanie heads and are designed to enhance your mobile FAD be creating a larger school effect. These work best when placed on the short corner or prop wash positions and can be used with or without hooks. With hooks they will produce small bait fish constantly, and if you want larger fish then you rig them with out hooks to avoid the smaller fish and they will really aid your FAD by causing smaller bait fish to run with your school and enhance your effect. Daisy chains can also be used in conjunction with exciter birds. There is not really enough space on a small ski-boat to place a spreader bar and if you really want to use one then the prop was position will be the best place to rig them. Spreader bars are best used for attracting sail fish to the boat and must be hook free.

Soft Plastics & Squids Small squids and large squids trolled behind your boat from 1 knot to 17 knots and are extremely effective. They can be placed in any position of your spread. From bright colours to natural colours squids will always produce fish. There are several ways to rig them with and without weights so you can use them on the surface or deeper down. The same applies to soft plastic baits which are really so versatile. If weighted they work best in the prop wash, long and


short corner positions. You need to get out there and experiment with soft plastics and squids.

Hard Lures From shiners to spoons to hard plastics with enhanced actions and the age old wooden crank baits and jerk baits which in their modern form are now made from moulded plastic. I would have to say that my favourites are the Rapala X-Rap range which give phenomenal performance even at speeds as high as 8 knots and are ideally suited to swim in your spread with some live, dead or strip baits. The Rapala X-Raps have the splash bait collection which are designed to run just below the surface 1-2ft and the magnums which can dive down to 30 ft. These lures can be placed in any position in the spread and the deeper runners are best placed on the long and short corner position and the prop was position. When placing a deep runner in the prop was position you can rig your shot gun position with a dead or live bait or even use a large jet head and bring it in closer to run almost on top of the deep runner. This is very effective for catching Wahoo and Tuna. You can also rig heavy sinkers on the line to get these hard lures to run deeper. Hard lures are better trolled at slower speeds fro 1 knot up to 8 knots and can work well with certain soft lures at the higher speeds. At lower speeds hard lures will work well with live baits, dead baits and strip baits. Remember that your wake wave

pattern will dramatically change at slower speeds and you make need to compensate for this by letting your lures run further back than at high speeds.

Baits There are numerous ways to rig baits for trolling and I am not going to go into detail with that for this article. Strip baits can be used on Squids, Feathers, Bullet heads, Meanie heads, Pushers, Cavitators, plungers and Darters and are best placed in the long and short out-rigger positions and on the long and short corner positions. Live baits can be trolled without any lures which are then best used with a circle hook placed in front of the bait, and can be used with skirts and so on. The best position for live baits will be on the long & short corners or in the prop wash position. Dead baits can be trolled with out lures in the same way as live baits or can be used with various weighted rigs to enhance their movements. Sardines, Mackerel, Squid, Bonito, Shad and other small fish all make excellent dead and live baits. In conclusion; you need to try matching the food that is around and do not be mistaken by thinking that big lures equal big fish. For example in the summer of 2007/2008 there was large flying fish around and so larger lures produced, in the summer of 2008/2009 the flying fish were small and so small lures produced better. Many a fine fish has been taken on small lures.

An outdoors person who loves, respects, admires nature and God’s creation with a passion, Mike has been fishing since the age of 7yrs old where he started in Durban harbour. With a special love for animals, especially fish and birds, Mike collected Tropical marine fish and kept an aquarium for many years, which he says taught him a lot about fish behavior. Mike is in his sanctuary when out on the water surrounded by nature, away from the hustle and bustle. Visit his web site at http:// www.bluewatercharters.co.za

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The Palanca Report 1st &2ndTrimesters

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he rains this year have been plenty and generous, and I can’t remember such an extreme wet season in Cangandala since the 2005/2006 season. This fact has several consequences which, one way or the other, affects our work. The first and most obvious result was the rivers flooding, which considerably reduced our mobility inside the park. Actually, and as soon as the rains grew in intensity around mid-January, the park main road was cut-off, and we had to walk across with water above our knees to get in. Approaching the animals in these conditions turned out to be almost impossible, and the only exception was a brief observation and still photographs taken in January. Dr. Pedro Vaz Pinto

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Nevertheless, the abundant rains might be a blessing, especially following several very dry seasons in a row. It reduces the risk of intense drought, it replenishes underground water resources and the soils should keep moisture for longer into the dry season; and the lush development of the vegetation should provide lots of grazing material. On the other hand, the constant rains did not allow for strategically placed small out-of-season burnings, which in previous years had contributed for a balanced veld management and food provision for the animals. Another concern is that the overgrown grass this year will turn into a huge amount of dead grass – combustible material, thus increasing enormously the risks of hot fires inside the sanctuary during the dry season. Basically, the weather conditions this year might prove to be good in many respects, but will demand carefully planned and assertive management in the next few months. As for the animals, as always there are new developments to report, and this time a huge surprise was registered. While observing a herd inside the sanctuary in January, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we spotted Joana among the group! This was a totally unexpected. Joana ‘The-Mad-Cow’ had proved to be anti-social and had escaped under the fence soon after being captured in 2009. She had since remained outside the sanctuary, behaving in a secretive fashion, declining to approach the hybrids when they were around in the first two years. Although we looked for her, we failed to find her during the 2011 capture exercise. Finally, even when having Ivan the Terrible was around, they didn’t seem to ‘connect’, as they were never recorded together in spite clearly overlapping their roaming territories. Of course, neither of them seemed to be friendly characters, but we always had hope that they could get along somehow… or at least meet on a special stormy night. On the other hand, we still fear the day Ivan will break through the fence into the sanctuary, but the last thing we expected was Joan to decide to crawl under the fence after 4 years of deliberate isolation! As the rainy season progressed, the animals split into several smaller sub-herds. At one time, apparently into 4 groups, one group with old females and the old bull Duarte, a second group with young Mercury and many young females, a third group composed of a couple females a younger male and several calves, and the last group mostly comprising hybrids. Other than this we had to rely on the trap cameras to

know what was going on, and here our expectations were fully met. Back in December we were convinced that Teresa, one of our two old breeding cows that had conceived calves in January and February (the other being Luisa), would produce a second calf before end of 2013. Well, not only we could confirm that, but also surprisingly, both cows produced the second calf by turn of the year! That was fantastic, as both cows, in spite of their age, seem now to be well synchronized, and producing calves every 9 months. This brought us to a total 2013 production of 7 calves (where 2 old females alone produced 4 of these), of which 3 were females, 2 males, and the two youngest still undetermined (although at least one of the later seems to be a female). Truth be said, the second male calf born, hasn’t been seen in many months and may well have been killed. Some degree of calf mortality is unavoidable, but if confirmed, it was the first casualty in 3 years, and in any case it is better to lose a male calf than a female. By end of March, we received disturbing news, accounting for a new fight along the fence, between Ivan and, presumably, Duarte. Once again the fence was quite damaged, and there were clear signs of fighting and blood, however neither Ivan nor any other bull could be found nearby. We still don’t know for sure if any bull got seriously injured, or if animals moved across the fence boundary, but apparently things are back to normal and are once again peaceful. For now…

2nd Trimester The second trimester usually marks the transition from the wet to the dry season. It has hardly been a favorite of mine, as April tends to be too wet and waterlogged, while in May and June the dead grass takes over and the bush fires start, making field work uncomfortable and not very productive. It is never a good time of the year to observe the animals, as our mobility is reduced, and they have plenty of cover. If this wasn’t enough, the abundant rains of the ending rainy season delayed the normal sequence of events at least one month. Even throughout June, we struggled to drive across the floodplain that defines the western boundary of Cangandala National Park. Not surprisingly, we had very few sable observations to report. The most we could do, was to approach the young herd a few times, now proudly supervised permanently by magnificent Mercury (the first born of our “new” Cangandala). Attempts to approach the larger herd, comprising old females and hybrids, were not very Volume 5 Issue 3 | 55


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successful because of the elusive nature of hybrids, dense cover, and made worse by the conspicuous absence of ol’ Duarte. In spite our efforts, we could not track his radio signal anywhere. Considering the fight reported on the fence at the end of March, we fear that we may not see the old bull again. A pity, as he had made a miraculous recovery after last year’s challenge, however he was getting too old. On the other hand, Ivan, as the trap cameras confirmed, looks as strong as ever and unscratched. What worries us, is that Mercury will be next in the succession line under Ivan’s radar, and sooner or later might be challenged for battle… and we cannot afford to lose young Mercury! The biggest surprise in the sanctuary was finding a pair of reedbuck. Over the past two decades, reedbuck were almost wiped out in Cangandala (although in Luando they are still common), and the last sighting had been in 2009 in a floodplain further south. We certainly didn’t expect any reedbuck to had been caught inside the fence perimeter, where the habitat is not the most attractive for this species. Reedbuck in the region generally prefers more extensive open areas associated with drainage lines. However a careful look at the photo record, gave us some hints on how they had ended up here. Being an adult female and a very young male, suggests they are mother and son.

A likely scenario would be the female moving into the woodland to give birth, precisely when the fence was being expanded and as result she ended up imprisoned inside the sanctuary with her calf. Even if the habitat is not their most preferred, they will be safe inside the camp, and now bear the responsibility to repopulate the area! In the Luando reserve, rains had also been generous, but the most worrying factors are insisting reports of poaching, brought to us by the shepherds. Poaching does seem to be closely linked with several diamond operations established along the Kwanza River, as they create an increasing demand for bush meat, and this remains unchallenged. And of course, well-armed poachers, who are not only a permanent threat to the animals, but also put the lives of our shepherds in danger. Some steps are being taken to tackle this crisis, and I’m hopeful it may produce results soon. Next trimester we expect to make a new aerial survey, and place up to 20 collars on sable in Cangandala and Luando. Dr. Pedro Vaz Pinto Click here to see the Picasa page

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African hunters of yesteryear

The African hunters of days gone by have had experiences few hunters have today. In those days, the game was much more plentiful and regulations were non-existent. Hunting was more dangerous in those days - no chopper evacuation when clawed up by a wounded leopard and no protection against marauding tribesmen. We can learn something from them. In this series, we feature some of the writings of the hunters that came before us and who hunted in an era we think of with nostalgia.

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The Maneating lions of

Tsavo

DEATH OF THE SECOND MAN_EATER by Lieut.-Col. J. H. Patterson, D.S.O.

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t must not be imagined that with the death of this lion our troubles at Tsavo were at an end; his companion was still at large, and very soon began to make us unpleasantly aware of the fact. Only a few nights elapsed before he made an attempt to get at the Permanent Way Inspector, climbing up the steps of his bungalow and prowling round the verandah. The Inspector, hearing the noise and thinking it was a drunken coolie, shouted angrily “Go away!” but, fortunately for him, did not attempt to come out or to open the door. Thus disappointed in his attempt to obtain a meal of human flesh, the lion seized a couple of the Inspector’s goats and devoured them there and then. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 71


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On hearing of this occurrence, I determined to sit up the next night near the Inspector’s bungalow. Fortunately there was a vacant iron shanty close at hand, with a convenient loophole in it for firing from; and outside this I placed three full-grown goats as bait, tying them to a half-length of rail, weighing about 250 lbs. The night passed uneventfully until just before daybreak, when at last the lion turned up, pounced on one of the goats and made off with it, at the same time dragging away the others, rail and all. I fired several shots in his direction, but it was pitch dark and quite impossible to see anything, so I only succeeded in hitting one of the goats. I often longed for a flash-light on such occasions. Next morning I started off in pursuit and was joined by some others from the camp. I found that the trail of the goats and rail was easily followed, and we soon came up, about a quarter of a mile away, to where the lion was still busy at his meal. He was concealed in some thick bush and growled angrily on hearing our approach; finally, as we got closer, he suddenly made a charge, rushing through the bushes at a great pace. In an instant, every man of the party scrambled hastily up the nearest tree, with the exception of one of my assistants, Mr. Winkler, who stood steadily by me throughout. The brute, however, did not press his charge home: and on throwing stones into the bushes where we had last seen him, we guessed by the silence that he had slunk off. We therefore advanced cautiously, and on getting up to the place discovered that he had indeed escaped us, leaving two off the goats scarcely touched. Thinking that in all probability the lion would return as usual to finish his meal, I had a very strong scaffolding put up a few feet away from the dead goats, and took up my position on it before dark. On this occasion I brought my gun-bearer, Mahina, to take a turn at watching, as I was by this time worn out for want of sleep, having spent so many nights on the look-out. I was just dozing off comfortably when suddenly I felt my arm seized, and on looking up saw Mahina pointing in the direction of the goats. “Sher!” (“Lion!”) was all he whispered. I grasped my double smooth-bore, which, I had charged with slug, and waited patiently. In a few moments I was rewarded, for as I watched the spot where I expected the lion to appear, there was a rustling among the bushes and I saw him stealthily emerge into the open and pass almost directly beneath us. I fired both barrels practically together into his shoulder, and to my joy could see him go down under the force of the blow. Quickly I reached for the magazine rifle, but before I

could use it, he was out of sight among the bushes, and I had to fire after him quite at random. Nevertheless I was confident of getting him in the morning, and accordingly set out as soon as it was light. For over a mile there was no difficulty in following the blood-trail, and as he had rested several times I felt sure that he had been badly wounded. In the end, however, my hunt proved fruitless, for after a time the traces of blood ceased and the surface of the ground became rocky, so that I was no longer able to follow the spoor. About this time Sir Guilford Molesworth, K.C.I.E., late Consulting Engineer to the Government of India for State Railways, passed through Tsavo on a tour of inspection on behalf of the Foreign Office. After examining the bridge and other works and expressing his satisfaction, he took a number of photographs, one or two of which he has kindly allowed me to reproduce in this book. He thoroughly sympathised with us in all the trials we had endured from the man-eaters, and was delighted that one at least was dead. When he asked me if I expected to get the second lion soon, I well remember his half-doubting smile as I rather too confidently asserted that I hoped to bag him also in the course of a few days. As it happened, there was no sign of our enemy for about ten days after this, and we began to hope that he had died of his wounds in the bush. All the same we still took every precaution at night, and it was fortunate that we did so, as otherwise at least one more victim would have been added to the list. For on the night of December 27, I was suddenly aroused by terrified shouts from my trolley men, who slept in a tree close outside my boma, to the effect that a lion was trying to get at them. It would have been madness to have gone out, as the moon was hidden by dense clouds and it was absolutely impossible to see anything more than a yard in front of one; so all I could do was to fire off a few rounds just to frighten the brute away. This apparently had the desired effect, for the men were not further molested that night; but the man-eater had evidently prowled about for some time, for we found in the morning that he had gone right into every one of their tents, and round the tree was a regular ring of his footmarks. The following evening I took up my position in this same tree, in the hope that he would make another attempt. The night began badly, as, while climbing up to my perch I very nearly put my hand on a venomous snake which was lying coiled round one of the branches. As may be imagined, I came down again very quickly, but one of my men managed to Volume 5 Issue 3 | 73


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despatch it with a long pole. Fortunately the night was clear and cloudless, and the moon made every thing almost as bright as day. I kept watch until about 2 a.m., when I roused Mahina to take his turn. For about an hour I slept peacefully with my back to the tree, and then woke suddenly with an uncanny feeling that something was wrong. Mahina, however, was on the alert, and had seen nothing; and although I looked carefully round us on all sides, I too could discover nothing unusual. Only half satisfied, I was about to lie back again, when I fancied I saw something move a little way off among the low bushes. On gazing intently at the spot for a few seconds, I found I was not mistaken. It was the man-eater, cautiously stalking us. The ground was fairly open round our tree, with only a small bush every here and there; and from our position it was a most fascinating sight to watch this great brute stealing stealthily round us, taking advantage of every bit of cover as he came. His skill showed that he was an old hand at the terrible game of man-hunting: so I determined to run no undue risk of losing him this time. I accordingly waited until he got quite close -- about twenty yards away -- and then fired my .303 at his chest. I heard the bullet strike him, but unfortunately it had no knockdown effect, for with a fierce growl he turned and made off with great long bounds. Before he disappeared from sight, however, I managed to have three more shots at him from the magazine rifle, and another growl told me that the last of these had also taken effect. We awaited daylight with impatience, and at the first glimmer of dawn we set out to hunt him down. I took a native tracker with me, so that I was free to keep a good look-out, while Mahina followed immediately behind with a Martini carbine. Splashes of blood being plentiful, we were able to get along quickly; and we had not proceeded more than a quarter of a mile through the jungle when suddenly a fierce warning growl was heard right in front of us. Looking cautiously through the bushes, I could see the man-eater glaring out in our direction, and showing his tusks in an angry snarl. I at once took careful aim and fired. Instantly he sprang out and made a most determined charge down on us. I fired again and knocked him over; but in a second he was up once more and coming for me as fast as he could in his crippled condition. A third shot had no apparent effect, so I put out my hand for the Martini, hoping to stop him with it. To my dismay, however, it was not there. The terror of the sudden charge had proved too much for Mahina, and both he and the carbine were by this time well on their way up a tree. In the circumstances there

was nothing to do but follow suit, which I did without loss of time: and but for the fact that one of my shots had broken a hind leg, the brute would most certainly have had me. Even as it was, I had barely time to swing myself up out of his reach before he arrived at the foot of the tree. When the lion found he was too late, he started to limp back to the thicket; but by this time I had seized the carbine from Mahina, and the first shot I fired from it seemed to give him his quietus, for he fell over and lay motionless. Rather foolishly, I at once scrambled down from the tree and walked up towards him. To my surprise and no little alarm he jumped up and attempted another charge. This time, however, a Martini bullet in the chest and another in the head finished him for good and all; he dropped in his tracks not five yards away from me, and died gamely, biting savagely at a branch which had fallen to the ground. By this time all the workmen in camp, attracted by the sound of the firing, had arrived on the scene, and so great was their resentment against the brute who had killed such numbers of their comrades that it was only with the greatest difficulty that I could restrain them from tearing the dead body to pieces. Eventually, amid the wild rejoicings of the natives and coolies, I had the lion carried to my boma, which was close at hand. On examination we found no less than six bullet holes in the body, and embedded only a little way in the flesh of the back was the slug which I had fired into him from the scaffolding about ten days previously. He measured nine feet six inches from tip of nose to tip of tail, and stood three feet eleven and a half inches high; but, as in the case of his companion, the skin was disfigured by being deeply scored all over by the boma thorns. The news of the death of the second “devil” soon spread far and wide over the country, and natives actually travelled from up and down the line to have a look at my trophies and at the “devil-killer”, as they called me. Best of all, the coolies who had absconded came flocking back to Tsavo, and much to my relief work was resumed and we were never again troubled by man-eaters. It was amusing, indeed, to notice the change which took place in the attitude of the workmen towards me after I had killed the two lions. Instead of wishing to murder me, as they once did, they could not now do enough for me, and as a token of their gratitude they presented me with a beautiful silver bowl, as well as with a long poem written in Hindustani describing all our trials and my ultimate victory. As the poem relates our troubles in Volume 5 Issue 3 | 75


somewhat quaint and biblical language, I have given a translation of it in the appendix. The bowl I shall always consider my most highly prized and hardest won trophy. The inscription on it reads as follows:-SIR, -- We, your Overseer, Timekeepers, Mistaris and Workmen, present you with this bowl as a token of our gratitude to you for your bravery in killing two man-eating lions at great risk to your own life, thereby saving us from the fate of being devoured by these terrible monsters who nightly broke into our tents and took our fellow-workers from our side. In presenting you with this bowl, we all add our prayers for your long life, happiness and prosperity. We shall ever remain, Sir, Your grateful servants, Baboo PURSHOTAM HURJEE PURMAR, Overseer and Clerk of Works, on behalf of your Workmen. Dated at Tsavo, January 30, 1899. Before I leave the subject of “the man-eaters of Tsavo,” it may be of interest to mention that these two lions possess the distinction, probably unique among wild animals, of having been specifically referred to in the House of Lords by the Prime Minister of the day. Speaking of the difficulties which had been encountered in the construction of the Uganda Railway, the late Lord Salisbury said:-“The whole of the works were put a stop to for three weeks because a party of man-eating lions appeared in the locality and conceived a most unfortunate taste for our porters. At last the labourers entirely declined to go on unless they were guarded by an iron entrenchment. Of course it is difficult to work a railway under these conditions, and until we found an enthusiastic sportsman to get rid of these lions, our enterprise was seriously hindered.” Also, The Spectator of March 3, 1900, had an article entitled “The Lions that Stopped the Railway,” from which the following extracts are taken:-“The parallel to the story of the lions which stopped the rebuilding of Samaria must occur to everyone, and if the Samaritans had quarter as good cause for their fears as had the railway coolies, their wish to propitiate the local deities is easily understood. If the whole body of lion anecdote, from the days of the Assyrian Kings till the last year of the nineteenth century, were collated and brought together, it would

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not equal in tragedy or atrocity, in savageness or in sheer insolent contempt for man, armed or unarmed, white or black, the story of these two beasts. “To what a distance the whole story carries us back, and how impossible it becomes to account for the survival of primitive man against this kind of foe! For fire -- which has hitherto been regarded as his main safeguard against the carnivora -- these cared nothing. It is curious that the Tsavo lions were not killed by poison, for strychnine is easily used, and with effect. (I may mention that poison was tried, but without effect. The poisoned carcases of transport animals which had died from the bite of the tsetse fly were placed in likely spots, but the wily man-eaters would not touch them, and much preferred live men to dead donkeys.) Poison may have been used early in the history of man, for its powers are employed with strange skill by the men in the tropical forest, both in American and West Central Africa. But there is no evidence that the old inhabitants of Europe, or of Assyria or Asia Minor, ever killed lions or wolves by this means. They looked to the King or chief, or some champion, to kill these monsters for them. It was not the sport but the duty of. Kings, and was in itself a title to be a ruler of men. Theseus, who cleared the roads of beasts and robbers; Hercules, the lion killer; St. George, the dragon-slayer, and all the rest of their class owed to this their everlasting fame. From the story of the Tsavo River we can appreciate their services to man even at this distance of time. When the jungle twinkled with hundreds of lamps, as the shout went on from camp to camp that the first lion was dead, as the hurrying crowds fell prostrate in the midnight forest, laying their heads on his feet, and the Africans danced savage and ceremonial dances of thanksgiving, Mr. Patterson must have realised in no common way what it was to have been a hero and deliverer in the days when man was not yet undisputed lord of the creation, and might pass at any moment under the savage dominion of the beasts.” Well had the two man-eaters earned all this fame; they had devoured between them no less than twenty-eight Indian coolies, in addition to scores of unfortunate African natives of whom no official record was kept.


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A fool may chance to put something into a wise man’s head. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. Volume 5 Issue 3 | 89


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We are the green revolution. We do not print many thousands of copies and have hundreds stay on the shelves or come back to us. We distribute digitally and print on demand only. This is negates the necessity of the cutting down of trees to make paper - which will never be used.

Viva la Revolution!

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Make a Plan

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Hints and advice are given in good faith to be of help in emergencies. The writer as well as the publisher, personnel and agents concerned does not accept any responsibility for any injury, accident or damages that might arise from the use of any of the hints. 96 | Volume 5 Issue 3


Make a small stove from aluminum cans

CLICK HERE to buy your copy of Make a Plan now for only $8.50

There are really few things as nice as a cup of coffee in the veld. To carry a hiker’s stove with kettle or hot water in flask with you will always be a bother. Here is an easier plan for a hunter. We assume that you are already carrying a water bottle and also something to light a fire ●● Mix coffee, sugar and powdered milk to taste in a zip-up plastic bag; even tea and soup will also work. That old tin mug is going to be used to carry everything, boil the water in it and to drink your coffee out of it. The dixie underneath your army water bottle also works well. ●● Bend a small standard out of galvanized wire, the same height as the tin mug and just big enough to fit inside the tin mug. Three used and empty cartridge cases can be used for the pedestals, or else tie the lot firmly in pairs with thin wire. ●● Now you can carry out your plan by putting the mug with water on top of the tripod , make a fire underneath with sticks and so get the water to boil. We can also make a small light stove with aluminium cold drink tins. It works much better and also gives your fellow hunters something to talk ●● Take two aluminium tins. Red Bull works excellent. ●● Carefully cut off the bottom of both tins, about 25. mm from the bottom. ●● Slice or cut three equivalent proportionate spreaded “V” grooves on the side of one tin on the bottom. ●● Push the open bottom sides of the two tins into each other so that the one with the grooves slips inside the other one. From now on it is the upper side of the little stove. ●● Now, on the upper tin, make small proportionately spaced little holes on the bottom edge, not bigger than 1 mm. ●● Cut about a 30mm to 35mm proportionate hole in the middle of the bottom of the top tin. Cut a long strip aluminium plate, 30mm wide, out of the remaining tin. ●● Now roll the plate in a cylinder of 30 mm and insert it tight in the hole at the bottom of the bottom tin. Your stove is finished. Things work like this: ●● 50 ml methylated spirits or benzene will be used as fuel. ●● Put the fuel in the stove and kindle it ●● Place the tripod with tin mug of water over the burning stove. Within seconds your stove will burn like a gas stove and boil the water. Everything fits nicely in the tin mug and is small and light. Enjoy that coffee or your Earl Grey if you are English.

Dr Wallace Vosloo is an Engineer and Scientist by profession. His family has lived in Africa since 1696 and he has a deep love for the continent. He is a practical outdoorsman and loves traditional hunting, axe and knife throwing, longbow shooting, black powder rifle- and cannon shooting, salt and fresh water fly fishing and tracking. The art of survival is Wallace’s main field of interest and his passion is to transfer these old forgotten skills to young hunters.

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Your African 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.

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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True North

John Eldredge

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The Final Act of SelfCenteredness Many awful things have been done with the doctrine of hell. “You’ll go to hell for that” has been used to condemn all sorts of things that God does not condemn. You know… “Don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls who do.” Furthermore, those who have swung the idea of hell around like a club give you the impression that they’ll be glad to see you sent there. But not our God, who “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The Lover of our souls, the One who has pursued us down through space and time, who gave his own life to rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness, has made it clear: He does not want to lose us. He longs for us to be with him forever. Nonetheless, simply because certain people have abused the concept of hell doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. First, you must understand that hell was created not for mankind, but for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). I’m sure you’ll remember with relish the stories where the evil one is destroyed in the end. Commodus being slain with his own knife in the arena. Darth Maul falling to the saber of Obi-Wan Kenobi. A great chasm opening in the earth to swallow Sauron and his army of Orcs so that Middle Earth might be free at last. Hell is not God’s intention for mankind. But remember—he gave us free will. He gave us a choice. We seem to forget—perhaps more truthfully, we refuse to remember—that we are the ones who betrayed him, not vice versa. We are the ones who listened to the lies of the Evil One in the Garden; we chose to mistrust the heart of God. In breaking the one command he gave us, we set in motion a life of breaking his commands. The final act of self-centeredness is seen in those who refuse to come to the wedding banquet of God (Matthew 22:2-3). They do not want God. They reject his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. What is he to do? The universe has only two options. If they insist, God will grant to them what they have wanted—to be left to themselves. (Epic , 90-92)


African Expedition Magazine Volume 5 Issue 3  

The .220 Swift: Something old with something new | Just a few seconds more old chap: Tracking a wounded elephant | Delta Overland: Botswana...

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