Nzira Issue 9

Page 1


Issue 9 Oct/Nov 2018

Travel Zimbabwe

Masoka African Pitta Camp

My Beautiful Home

Matopos Huts



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October/November 2018



My Beautiful Home Matopos Huts


Zimbabwe’s Healthy Baobab Population

20 The Little Guys Article by Tristan Egremont-Lee

24 Masoka

African Pitta Camp

30 Road Trip Harare to Lake Mutirikwi

34 Recipes By Real Food

44 Isuzu Mana Pools


Safaris for the Soul

Linking Tourism with Conservation

50 Rifa Conservation Education Camp

62 An Equatorial Adventure Article by Nick Fawcett

66 Trade & Travel Snippets

68 Elephant Hills Resort Victoria Falls

71 Travel Gear Our Travel Gear Picks

73 Games


Zambezi Cycle Challenge Victoria Falls

Crossword and Sudoku

74 Bark of the Urban Baboon Trails Well Trodden

Have something to share? We are always happy to receive photos, articles and letters. Please email to



From the Editor


s cold wintry days slip away to a mere memory, our focus is drawn to the indigenous Msasa and Munondo trees covered in an interfusion of what one would normally describe as autumn colours; red, orange, yellow and everything in between. Jacaranda trees shower the ground with a profusion of purple flowers. WhatsApp group chats of ornithologists and ‘twitchers’ (yes – they are different!) gather momentum as the migrants return. Camps and lodges prepare for the flocks of game viewing tourists who prefer this time of the year as wildlife is forced to leave the drier parts of the bush and congregate in areas where permanent or pumped water is located. Suddenly, spring has sprung! Talking of birds, this month we feature one of the most elusive, sought after, extraordinarily beautiful bird whose luminous blue feather spots shimmer even in the darkest of places, a ‘big tick’ on any birder’s check-list; the African Pitta. The excitement of hunting a Pitta and actually being able to photograph one is surreal. A small window of opportunity lies in their discovery and the timing has to be just right - a couple of weeks of calling to attract a mate reveals their location. It is pot luck otherwise. They favour deciduous thickets close to water and require dense leaf litter in which they scratch around to find their diet of creepy crawlies. The thought of centipedes and millipedes slithering up one’s trouser leg, whilst inching quietly on all fours through the undergrowth, adds to the challenge of the hunt and the focus has to be on the goal of locating the Pitta by listening carefully for the far sounding but deceptively close guttural call, emanating every ten seconds or so. Patience is the order of the day but sending a Pitta picture on your WhatsApp group is the final reward! Masoka Camp is unique in its location and guides Mackenzie and Tich, using local knowledge and skills, will do their utmost to present you with your social media trophy. Whilst you are there, take a moment to enjoy your surrounds in a unique environment; enormous specimens of Leadwood, Tamarind, Baobab, Bird Plum and River Lychee trees adorn the Angwa River and its tributaries and once the Pitta hunt is complete, chill under the Natal Mahogany trees, watch the river run by and just listen. You never know what else might surprise you.

In this issue

Some of the other articles featured in this issue include: An age old tradition of hut painting has been brought back to life with the introduction of The Matopos Hut Competition. The effort that has gone into creating the patterns and designs on these huts is astounding and we are privileged to be able to parade just a few of these for our readers. At the recent Sanganai-Hlanganani Travel Show held in Bulawayo, the organization who developed this programme was deservedly honoured with 1st prize for the best stand from the Sustainable Tourism Programme, Green Tourism Awards, presented by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Having spent some time at RIFA Conservation Education Camp in 1994, it is so inspiring to hear of the continuous dedication of the RIFA team and volunteers who have kept this concept going for 30 years, through thick and thin, educating and teaching our children, the future generation, the importance of sustainable conservation. Reports that the number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years is terrifying and it is only through organizations such as this that we can help to protect the little that is left. Septuagenarians, Nick and Soo Fawcett, head off to Uganda, don their mountaineering gear and take on the incredibly harsh conditions of the Rwenzori Mountains, proudly wielding the Zimbabwe flag at the top of Mount Stanley’s 5109m high Margherita Peak and completing yet another challenge in their extraordinary lives. We all need to take a leaf out of their book; their energy and enthusiasm for life is astounding. No mountain too high, no river too deep; their cup is always full, even when it is half full. Bruno De Leo gives us an insight into the Zambezi Cycle Challenge - an event that has grown enormously in popularity over the years. Who wouldn’t want to ride a mountain bike in one of the most pristine environments, the path peppered only by large rotund turds and mopane tree branches freshly broken and scattered by a passing elephant? For a mountain biker, the opportunity to ride along the edge of one of the most famous river gorges in the world, with no barriers or fences is, irresistible, unless of course you suffer from vertigo! I cannot end without introducing our youngest contributor, Tristan Egremont-Lee. The enthusiasm this 14-year-old lad has shown towards educating us on the smaller creatures in our country is an eye opener and I sincerely hope that his future career is in the wildlife industry because his passion for the preservation of “The Little Guys” will surely lead to much bigger things! Just to add to his accolade, he is one of the youngest people to conquer Mount Aconcagua, at 6960m in Argentina last December. So, next time you travel to Nyanga in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, don your hiking boots and venture up our very own Mount Nyangani at 2592m. When you reach the summit, give a thought to fellow Zimbabweans, young and old, who have conquered some of the toughest peaks and remember this:

Masoka guide, Tich, demonstrating the art of patience and stealth on a Pitta hunt. 6

October/November 2018

There is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it and always make sure your cup is full.

s e l a w S e i Debb


A magazine is nothing without its content. Our contributors going above and beyond this month have been:

Gus Le Breton David Brazier Mike Garden Mafungi Bryony Rheam Veronique Attala AndrĂŠ van Rooyen Gemma Peters The RIFA Committee and Management Team Tristan Egremont-Lee Bruno De Leo Melissa Wynn Piet de Klerk Tony Wood Tisha Greyling Kevin Butler Mackenzie Zirota Werner Suter Jules Costa Julie Havercroft Carl van der Riet Judy Macdonald Nick Fawcett The Outdoor Store Gregg Robinson Judy Amira Adam Herscovitz

Publisher Mike Garden +263(0) 772 209 162

Editor Debbie Swales

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Whilst every effort is made to check the content of any article, the directors will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions in such articles. We accept that all articles and photographs sent to us are the sole responsibility of the authors and we do not accept liabitity for any misrepresentation. Events listed, the dates thereof, and prices are printed using information supplied to us that we are satisfied is correct at the time of printing. Nzira publication is the exclusive property of Ndeipi (Pvt) Ltd.

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The chevron shape is a symbol of fertility © André van Rooyen


October/November 2018

Article Bryony Rheam Images André van Rooyen, Adam Herscovitz, Veronique Attala

My Beautiful Home

Matopos Huts


t would be wrong to describe the My Beautiful Home competition as a celebration of traditional Ndebele hut decoration, for there is little that is traditional about it. When the AmaNdebele arrived in the area now known as Matabeleland in 1840, they began building their huts in characteristic beehive style: both the sides of the hut and the roof were made of grass. Whilst this design had been effective in KwaZulu Natal, where the Ndebele had originated from, it wasn’t so successful in the hot, dry climate of southern Zimbabwe because the grass from the roof reached the ground making it easy for white ants to attack and destroy in very little time. It was, therefore, out of necessity that they started to consider new ways of building their huts. First, they tried putting a beehive roof on a cylinder hut before finally settling on a cone shape roof on a cylindrical base and walls. Now that the walls were stand alone and made of mud, not grass, they provided a surface on which to paint. As King Mzilikazi Khumalo had made his way north of the Limpopo, the AmaNdebele had incorporated many Sotho and Tswana people and inevitably, their cultural practices were influenced by them. One of them being the decoration of their huts’ external walls.

© André van Rooyen



Painting of the huts is solely a female occupation © Veronique Attala

The Banyubi people (an offshoot of the Kalanga) who lived in the Matopos, were already building a cone roof on a cylinder-shaped base. Their unique characteristic was their internal walls, which had shelves, on which to keep their pots and other cooking instruments. This moulding can still be seen in the modern huts where it has also been extended to include tables, chairs and even ovens and sinks. After being polished with a pebble (imbokodo), the relief is then painted with a mixture made from the bark of the isigangatsha tree which has been boiled with green soap. The Ndebele influence on the huts is restricted to the tiered thatch on the roof and thus what is often referred to as ‘traditional’ is actually an amalgam of different cultures. According to local historian, Pathisa Nyathi, hut decorations are historically geometric in shape. The colours chosen are red (isibomvu), black (isidaka) and white, made from the ash of the Umtswiri tree. Many of the current designs are of flowers or may include numbers and letters, but the traditional shape is that of the chevron. This pattern may appear to be a simple geometric shape, but it has a much deeper meaning. It is, in fact, a fertility symbol – the ‘v’ shape is symbolic of the legs and the upper part, the womb of a woman, from where we all began. This is no simple ‘good luck’ motif wishing the inhabitants of the hut a large, healthy family, it also represents continuity of the human race, eternity, and indeed, immortality: individuals perish, humanity is forever. The circular shape of both the huts and the chevron design upon them are inspired, not by human invention, but by the cosmos: the movement of the stars and the planets. It is a Western concept that art is created for art’s sake. In Africa, art and functionality go together. Pictures communicate a message as well as serve a purpose. Circles, equilibrium and symmetry are all part of African aesthetics which is why a hut is more than just a hut and why a wall is already a thing of beauty, whether it is painted or not. Circles complete the unending cycle of life. 10 October/November 2018

© Adam Herscovitz

© André van Rooyen

© André van Rooyen

The role of the woman as the source of life, ‘the womb’, is highly prized in traditional life: the painting of the huts is a solely female occupation. When polygamy was the accepted practice, each wife would have her own kitchen hut in which she would cook and sleep. Birth took place in this hut and it is therefore synonymous with the continuation of life. It is also in the kitchen where rituals to propitiate the ancestors are performed. Offerings are left at the back of the kitchen area where nobody is allowed to sit. One person, usually the head of the household, appeals to the ancestors on behalf of the family. The ancestors, in turn, are intermediaries between humans and God, who is not to be appealed to personally. When someone has died, the corpse is placed in the kitchen hut before burial and so completes the unending cycle of life. Over the past century, the practice of hut decoration has been on the decline and today is only really relevant to the kitchen hut. Many of the bedroom huts are built in a European design – a small rectangular building with a zinc roof. It is unfortunate that modernisation has become synonymous with Europeanisation. Many people do not value rural life anymore and are at pains to eschew their culture. However, the My Beautiful Home competition has gone a long way towards reviving the tradition of hut decoration. Started by a French lady, Veronique Attala, the competition has been going since 2014. Veronique enjoys going cycling in the Matopos and this is where she discovered a number of people who were still decorating their huts in the traditional way. This was a sign that the people who lived in them were happy and that they loved the place in which they lived. Despite the language barrier and the cultural differences between her and the local people, she felt a oneness, a shared happiness that does not need to be communicated with words. She got in touch with local historian, Pathisa Nyathi, and architect, John Knight, to see if there was any way to revive and celebrate this practice and together they visited the local chief to promote the idea. Soon, other people joined the team, such as Clifford Zulu from The National Gallery, Andre van Rooyen (photography), Violette Kee-Tui and Butholeswi Nyathi. There were thirty entrants in the first year, by 2016 there were four hundred.

© André van Rooyen

We can provide a guide to go see some of the homes. A high clearance vehicle is required. For further information: Email

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There are a number of prizes, including those for the best interior and the best exterior. The prizes comprise of wheelbarrows, kitchenware, water tanks, ploughs, bicycles and torches. A recent grant from the US Embassy means that a coffee table book detailing the history and tradition behind the decorations and the competition itself will soon be available. Ultimately, however, Veronique wishes that the local people themselves benefit in a wider sense from the competition, by involving them in ecotourism. Interestingly, the means for the local people to improve their lives today relies on the revival of a traditional form of art, but it is a technique that has proved it is open to change. Modern decorations include jigsaw puzzle pieces and even pictures of Christ and Osama Bin laden. As the newly-arrived AmaNdebele were able to adapt to their new environment over a hundred years ago, so, it is hoped, today’s villagers are able to adapt to the demands of the 21st century. Nzira



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Images David Brazier

. Zimbabwe’s Healthy Baobab Population Article Gus Le Breton ew travellers to Zimbabwe can fail to be impressed by the sheer size and grandeur of the spectacular baobab tree. As you gaze in awe up into its branches and reflect on the fact that this very tree was alive at the time of the Munhumutapa empire in the 15th century (or even, in some cases, the Roman empire!), who wouldn’t be impressed. This is a living, breathing, piece of history.



October/November 2018

Which is why, when the story came out earlier this year, that baobab trees are dying in unprecedented numbers because of climate change, there was significant cause for concern but is the concern really justified? Although baobabs are found in over 30 African countries, Zimbabwe has one of the highest baobab populations, estimated at over 5 million trees, according to a study undertaken by the trade association PhytoTrade Africa.

Zimbabwe’s Healthy Baobab Population

The biggest cause of baobab mortality is the clearance of land for arable agriculture. Farmers do this because they need to make a living despite the fact that most baobabs in Zimbabwe occur in very dry areas, often with poor soils and little hope of any productive arable agriculture. Give the baobab tree an economic value and suddenly there is no need to convert the land. Rather keep it as it is and use the existing indigenous trees to generate a much more sustainable income for much less effort. As a result, the trees are protected instead of cleared, with additional benefits for the soil stability and water catchment protection. There have been questions as to whether harvesting baobab fruit from the wild is actually sustainable without a long term programme to replant the trees. Of course it’s not inherently unsustainable – no trees are harmed in the process of collecting their fruit but surely, if the seeds are taken away in the fruit, how will new trees grow? It’s a fair question and the answer is somewhat complex. Firstly, even under intensive harvesting, not all of the fruits leave the vicinity of the tree. At least 10 to 20% fall to the ground, get damaged on landing but are quickly eaten by passing animals. The seeds are then distributed through manure, ready for germination. Baobabs also regenerate from root suckers growing from existing trees, rather than from seed, which is not affected at all by fruit harvesting. In fact, there is evidence that in areas where baobab trees are valued for their fruit, rural people will protect new emerging “wildings” (wild seedlings) that are growing up from root suckers so harvesting and giving value to the fruit actually promotes more successful regeneration, rather than less.

Recently the baobab fruit has earned itself the moniker of “the African Superfruit” and justifiably so. Exceptionally rich in fibre, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium, daily consumption of the fruit powder is said to boost immunity and help prevent illness. Researchers have also identified specific health properties around the regulation of blood sugar levels and improving gut health through its prebiotic activity. The seed oil is also highly prized in the cosmetics industry having remarkable ability to keep the skin moisturized throughout the day. A fact to which the author of this article, who uses it as a daily shaving oil, can testify!

In the last few years, an industry has grown up around the sustainable harvesting of the fruit to supply both the health food and the cosmetics sectors. Zimbabwe is at the forefront of this industry and there are already over 4,000 organically-certified harvesters in the country engaged in baobab harvesting. Moreover, as the role of harvesting fruit traditionally falls to women, the primary beneficiaries of this growing market are female. It is also a win-win for conservation. The baobab is a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem and hollow baobabs provide homes to a variety of bats, animals, birds, insects and reptiles.

So, what about this story of baobabs dying off because of climate change? The Romanian authors of the study that led to this story investigated 15 very large, very old baobabs (the oldest one dated at 2,500 years plus!) over a 12-year period. During this time, 4 of the trees they studied were reported to have died completely and another 6 experienced the loss of some of their largest and oldest stems. Initially they highlighted this as an “unexpected and intriguing” finding but later they went on to conclude that, “the deaths of the oldest and largest African baobab trees is an event of unprecedented magnitude”. The story was picked up in the international media and suddenly there was a wave of panic throughout the baobab world, especially for those engaged in the nascent but fast-growing baobab industry. Nzira


When you look at the data a little more closely, a few things spring out at you. Firstly, they chose these trees specifically because they were very old, so it is perhaps not that surprising that some of them died. If we studied a group of 90-year old humans and some of them died during the study, no-one would really interpret this as a cause for alarm! Secondly, the scale of mortality was not quite as significant as they reported it. They actually studied 60 trees in total, but reported only on the results of the 13 oldest and the 6 largest (which, since several overlapped in both categories, was 15 trees in total). 4 trees dying out of 60 doesn’t sound nearly so bad. Thirdly, they completely ignored the many other studies from across Africa (including, importantly, the PhytoTrade study in Zimbabwe) that have consistently shown that the baobab populations are strong and robust, with a healthy distribution of different ages of trees and no evidence to suggest that they are under any threat. Although baobabs in Zimbabwe are prone to sporadic outbreaks of a black mould that covers the tree (Sooty Mould disease), researchers have long established that this disease is not fatal and that the tree recovers within a few years from the disease - the tree equivalent of catching a bad cold.


October/November 2018

So perhaps no need for panic. The baobab has survived as a species in Zimbabwe for several million years and is likely to be around for several million more (notwithstanding the changing climate). That doesn’t mean we should take them for granted. They are a miracle of nature and Zimbabwe has several of the largest and oldest in Africa. Baobabs are found in most of the hotter low lying areas but if you’re travelling round the country, don’t forget to check out some of the spectacular baobabs of the southeast Lowveld, including the 27,6 metre diameter tree on Chishakwe Ranch, Bedford on Humani, the Travellers Tree on the banks of the Devuli River (all in the Save Conservancy), as well as the Kondo baobab at Kondo business centre just after Rupisi Hot Springs. We are blessed to have a healthy baobab population in Zimbabwe with trees both big and small, old and young, on which many thousands of rural people depend as a sustainable and growing income source. So next time you see a baobab product on the shelf, buy it and in doing so, positively contributes to baobab conservation. You can rest assured that the exact tree that supplied that product will probably outlive you by many, many generations!

The African Super-fruit

Zimbabwe’s Healthy Baobab Population



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Little Article and Images Tristan Egremont-Lee

These three animals are under one group – REPTILES! This name often sends shivers up one’s spine – the thought of snakes or even just the ‘cold blooded’ is often too much to bear, but these are still important animals and none of them are really bad! A calm reptile that some still dislike, no matter what they do, is the chameleon.

chameleons Chameleons range far and wide and therefore have a wide variety of diet. They are commonly thought to only eat flies but they can eat a range of prey such as praying mantis, butterflies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, ants and more! They are therefore an apex predator for the insect world and can outgun all of them with that lightening fast tongue, along with their commando disguise! So if you are a person who doesn’t like bugs, you must surely give them your vote of support! Chameleons are themselves food for many predatory birds and mammals.

Fun Facts

1. A chameleon’s tongue travels at 6

metres per second and is twice the length of their body!

2. Flat necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) is our predominant species in Zimbabwe.

20 October/November 2018

Tortoises These are one of Zimbabwe’s most loved creatures – who couldn’t find their calm, placid nature adorable? They are also valuable to the environment, not because they are a key prey species (after all, who could get at them through that amazing shell?!), but more because of their own diet. Tortoises keep lots of plants under control. They will typically destroy an entire plant as they feed, enjoying a range of fungi, succulents and grasses. Some of their favorite foods might be seen as a nuisance in your garden!

Fun Facts

1. The Kalahari tent tortoises shell was used by bushmen as snuff boxes.

2. The Bell’s hinged tortoise (Kinixys belliana) is

probably Zimbabwe’s most common tortoise and family pet.

3. They can live up to 22 years old and their shell

shape changes in various different climates as part of adaptation.

The next subject’s attraction might take some convincing – snakes!

snakes I may not be able to convert everybody to love snakes, but I will try! Starting with explaining what good they do. There is of course a wide variety of snakes from harmless to very dangerous and because of this they eat a huge variety of prey. The Queen snake of North America even eats crayfish! Importantly, for us who live around towns, they keep another large group of animals in check, particularly rodents – the favorite food for many snakes. For me, keeping rat and mice numbers down is a must! Just think, if there were no snakes, your house could be overrun by rodent pests! So, I am not asking you to necessarily keep a snake as a pet, but I am asking you to not just kill a snake on sight, but preferably call a snake catcher to remove it!

Fun Facts

1. The venom of the Brazilian lancehead viper is being used to treat high blood pressure, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

2. The author relocating a small specimen of Zimbabwe’s largest snake - the African Rock python (Python sebea) which can grow to 6 metres in length. Sources: https://healthypets.mercola (archive venom/toxins)



22 October/November 2018



Masoka African Pitta Camp

Article Tony Wood and Tisha Greyling Images Tony Wood, Kevin Butler, Mackenzie Zirota ,Tisha Greyling, Werner Suter


he enigmatic African Pitta can be very difficult to find. Way back, after two abortive trips to Masoka Camp in December 2012 and January 2013, my client John, decided to return in December 2013 with friends, Andre and Pieter, so it was a very full Land Cruiser that made its way down the escarpment and into the Zambezi Valley. After leaving Harare around 6 a.m., we arrived in camp around noon and after a light lunch we set off looking for the elusive Pittas. Fantastic views of Livingstone’s Flycatchers got us off to a good start and within about 45 minutes – SUCCESS!

24 October/November 2018

Whilst all acknowledged that this was not a brilliant sighting, it was without doubt an acceptable “big tick” for the boys. The Jesse Bush, made up largely of Combretum spp., where the Pitta can normally be found, is VERY thick and being in big game country is also quite dangerous, with the occasional close elephant or lion encounter, where pitta hunts have been abandoned in preference for client safety! This first Pitta viewing certainly took the pressure off Mack and myself. Masoka is primarily a birding destination and is home to a number of very special species regarded as difficult birds to find.

During the afternoon we ticked off Redthroated Twinspot, Emerald Cuckoo, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Lilian’s Lovebird, Thrush Nightingale and a Three-banded Courser. Other “specials” include Livingstone’s Flycatcher, African Broadbill, Narina Trogon, Crested Guineafowl and Arnot’s Chat to name just a few. Evening rolled in and with a fire made by the very helpful camp staff, we ate and drank well. Pitta ‘season’ is during the rains and that night it started to pour. With the help of the buffeting wind, the chalets became saturated as the gauze windows do not keep out the rain! Andre is lying in his bed at 5:30 a.m. and he can hear a Pitta calling.

Masoka African Pitta Camp

He thinks, “Wood is messing around with a bird call recording”. I am also lying in my bed hearing a Pitta calling and think the same about my client. Both of us were very wrong! There was a Pitta calling in the tree above the kitchen! How quickly people can get dressed when the need arises! We all set off into the riverine forest that overlooks the dry Angwa River, ticking off bird species. By about 10:30 a.m., I suddenly heard traffic. In the middle of nowhere? Not possible, surely? We ran back to camp, to an absolutely amazing sight. Flood water is coming UPstream! The Mkanga River, a few kilometres downstream, came down in a massive flash flood and on reaching the Angwa spread out in both directions! To cap it all, we heard the sounds of voices and water coming from upstream. Around the corner come local lads running ahead of the water wielding spears, stabbing cat-fish by the dozen. We watched this spectacle in awe before the two floods, one up and one down, finally met, right in front of our camp. The entire river bed was now filled with water. A few hours later, however, it had started to retreat and by evening, as the sun burnt off the clouds, we were left with just sand again. Situated on the banks of the Angwa River, Masoka Camp is idyllically hidden in a grove of ancient Natal Mahogany trees. Sitting quietly in their cooling shade, one sees all sorts of game on the far bank. Herds of elephant often cross the river at first and last light to come and feed in the lush forest areas. Magnificent specimens of Ebony, Nyala Berry, Star Chestnut, Tamarind, Wild Mango, Baobab, even Panga Panga, can be found. Not to mention the insects, butterflies and orchids. Of course, the real reason for selecting Masoka is the African Pitta (Pitta angolensis). This bird, from west and central Africa, migrates south every year into central and southern Africa to breed. Extremely elusive and retiring, it is a species eagerly sought after by the more determined birders.

Baobab and Bird Plum

Dining Area

Verreaux’s (Giant) Eagle Owl

Angwa River Nzira


The really good news is that seeing a Pitta is not particularly arduous because of the fantastic efforts of McKenzie Zirota. One can drive there in about five hours from Harare (4x4 essential in the rainy season). You can choose between fully catered or self-catering, simply using the camp’s cutlery, crockery, utensils and can hire an experienced local cook.The camp has three thatched en-suite chalets that sleep two to four. For larger groups, an extra tent with outdoor bathroom is provided. The thatched gazebo is very comfortable with a fire pit for those convivial evenings. The Dream in the Wilds Tisha Greyling

Mackenzie and Giant Leadwood Tree.

Scarlet Tip on Zambezi Bride’s Bush

Leopard Orchid 26 October/November 2018

In 2006, Mack was just 20 and living with his parents in their kraal in Masoka Village. Mack’s father, Gift, had already schooled him in the importance of conservation. Gift was a key player in the CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) project, which sprung from the 1975 Parks and Wildlife Act, that gave landholders the right to protect and manage wildlife for their own benefit. Sadly the camp fell into neglect as political dispensations changed. His dream as a young boy was to fix up and run the camp for wildlife tourism and Mack was encouraged by other guides to keep records of all Pitta information. The next step was to get his professional guide qualification. With his tips, he bought the books and started studying. Today, he is a few months away from his final qualification. Other keen birders got to hear of his dream and contributed funding, materials, equipment and labour to fix up the camp. Mack and I trained local camp assistants and encouraged guests to donate equipment and books to local schools. Water tanks were donated, being driven 2000 km to the camp. I taught vegetable gardening and nutritious cooking, professional guides taught Mack about guiding, someone bought a rifle for him and he is now the problem animal control officer for the village. The preservation of the Pitta lies in the hands of Mack, his assistant guide Tich, camp staff and villagers. Their understanding of the need to preserve the Pitta breeding areas has created a unique conservation project whilst support and fees from visitors provides an income to the communal area.Mack and his wife now have their own house in the Zirota kraal. He and his staff run the camp like clockwork and some of the world’s top photographers, international and regional birders still talk about their memories of Masoka – The Dream in the Wilds.

Masoka African Pitta Camp

African Pitta

BOOKING DETAILS and DIRECTIONS Janet & Tony Wood +263 77 223 8418 Mackenzie Zirota +263 77 980 7261

Arnot’s Chat


Masoka Camp Nzira




28 October/November 2018

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TRIP HARARE TO LAKE MUTIRIKWI Article and Images Debbie Swales

Driefontein Mission

GPS reference: 19⁰25′01.90″S 30⁰42′48.72″E

aving left Harare at 7am, we embarked on a journey that would be good for the mind, body and soul. It would take us through parts of Zimbabwe so rarely seen and shamefully, some had never ever seen before.


Our first port of call, just two hours south of Harare, was the old Enkeldoorn Hotel (now Vic’s Tavern) in Chivhu. The draw card here being a “jail” in the infamous pub. Enkeldoorn, as it was then, had illegally and brazenly declared itself to be a Republic! In the 1970’s, many a weary and unsuspecting traveller would head for the local pub only to be tormented for being a ‘foreigner’ and forced to receive a Republic of Enkeldoorn visa stamp in their passport. They would also have a stint in the local miniature ‘jail’, which is located inside the pub, and this stint was perhaps made shorter by buying a round of drinks or pleading for release or whatever was the particular order of the day! The next stop was Orton’s Drift over the Sebakwe River, approximately 30kms south of Chivhu. Despite the test of time and many floods, this 120-year old pioneer wagon crossing is still very obviously there. 30 October/November 2018

Unevenly laid stones, rocks and pebbles are tightly packed together creating a low crossing point. Men from Canada and Australia, partaking in the Boer War around 1900 also used this crossing to go South, having disembarked in Beira, Mozambique would then take a train as far as Marondera where they disembarked and began trekking to Bulawayo. A long and treacherous journey, all in the name of War. Approximately 500m north of Orton’s Drift lies the remnants of a small hotel which was built for the pioneers to use particularly if the river was in flood and too high to cross. Remarkably, a quaint but crumbling old post office which opened in 1894, is still standing to this day. As we drive south to our next pit stop, we pass and can only wonder, at the massive Mvuma chimney built in 1913 and used until 1925. It still stands, slightly damaged over the years by lightening strikes, 40.2m high over the old gold, copper and silver mine dumps for which it was built. It is still a formidable sight and an outstanding piece of industrial architecture which was used for the purpose of ventilating and removing the yellowed poisonous fumes from the mines.

Over time, these fumes left a swathe of stunted and damaged trees in its toxic path. Off the main tar road lies Driefontein Mission and its beautiful orange/red brick church which was built in 1912, complete with stunning stained glass windows and immaculately laid wooden floors that the founder and builder, Reverend Fr. Emil Schmitz could be immensely proud of, were he still alive. Original heavy wooden doors remain and on one part of a nearby building is an inlaid brick pattern depicting a cross and the year 1908. Of great interest during our travels, was an unassuming building in the small growth point of Felixburg. This building is the original store constructed by the now famous Meikle brothers who came to Rhodesia in 1891. After the Meikles arrival in Fort Victoria (now Masvingo) and seeing the need for a general merchandise store, they opened up a temporary shop under a simple tarpaulin. Small beginnings for what developed and grew into the famous Thomas Meikles (TM) chain of stores all over the country.

Road Trip Harare to Lake Mutirikwi

Thomas was the main driving force and visionary behind all the concepts, including the Meikles Hotel in the centre of Harare, which opened in 1915. This small store in Felixburg, near Mvuma, was soon closed as this area never reached the gold producing potential which the early settlers had assumed it would. The building is standing to this day and still being used as a store with its dilapidated shelves holding just a few bunches of kale, a handful of match boxes and several packets of cheap biscuits in the corner.An old used car tyre stands on the floor, propped against the old concrete counter, presumably also for sale. About 100 metres away from the store lies a small, somewhat vandalized graveyard. A tombstone lies lonely in its own cold grave in the dirt with the name of Willie Posselt, hunter and explorer. He was the first colonialist to see the famous carved Zimbabwe birds in 1889 and these birds now feature on Zimbabwe’s flag as the National emblem. After a small altercation with the then chief of the area, Posselt removed one of the carvings, exchanged it for a few goods and returned to South Africa where he sold it to Cecil John Rhodes for £25. Many Zimbabweans believe that this carving, the last of the 8 known birds, needs to be returned to its rightful place in order for their nation to be prosperous and for the angry ancestral spirts to be appeased.

The Post Office

Orton's Drift over the Sebakwe River

GPS: 19° 9’ 10.8” S, 30° 39’ 1.6416” E

GPS: 19° 8’58.10”S 30°39’10.26”E Nzira


The Italian Chapel of St Francis of Assisi, 5kms east of Masvingo, is a surprising find and feels so out of context, standing alone, in the deserted African landscape with a military barracks as its immediate and somewhat intimidating neighbour. The chapel was built by Italian internees between 1942 and 1946. The remains of 71 Italians, who died during this war, lie within the walls of this regal building which are decorated with exquisite paintings. Its turquoise blue and gold trimmings reminiscent of the artwork in Salle des Illustres, Toulouse. Fuelled by a picnic lunch near the isolated Italian cemetery, just 30m from the Italian Chapel and fuelled by the excitement of these amazing historical treasures of Zimbabwe, we then proceeded to The Pioneer Cemetery. Lying solemnly in the hills, overlooked by Cotapaxi Hill just a few kms south of Masvingo are 17 graves within a low stone wall. A rusty old sign with barely legible writing marks the entrance to the site. One can only wonder why 12 of the graves have no names. Who were they? What was their demise? Buried, with just a cross to mark their lonely resting place. A short drive from the cemetery takes us to the top of Providential Pass on the main tar road from Masvingo which eventually ends up at the Beit Bridge border post. Sadly, just a few tall pillars are all that remain of this desecrated site but despite this, it is still worth a visit once you understand that the memorial stands to remember the long and arduous route through the hills, created by the pioneers for their ox wagons, passing from the Lowveld to the Highveld in 1890. One can only marvel at the perseverance and courage of man and beast, pushing and pulling heavily laden wagons, battling all the elements, wild animals and diseases to go to they know not what but, perhaps, once reaching the Highveld, finding relief from the scorching heat behind them and clutching on to faith and hope in the land that lay before them.

Driefontein Mission

GPS reference: 19⁰25′01.90″S 30⁰42′48.72″E

Our road, for that day, finally ended a few kilometres further at Norma Jeane’s Lake View Resort on the edge of Lake Mutirikwi, where further adventures and unusual curiosities await in this extraordinary part of the country which has so much to offer. With a little research and adventurous spirit, a treasure chest of forgotten jewels lie dotted around every bend and it is well worth spending a little extra time in this area, exploring and discovering.


inue t n o c to be

Old Meikles Store 32 October/November 2018

GPS reference: 19⁰26′10.80″S 30⁰50′40.31″E

Road Trip Harare to Lake Mutirikwi

Italian Chapel, Masvingo

GPS reference: 20⁰04′10.13″S 30⁰51′57.95″E

Posselt gravestone

GPS reference: 19⁰26′01.66″S 30⁰50′41.61″E Nzira


WARM GINGER-SOY BUTTERNUT SALAD. With Quinoa, Broccoli, Avocado, Feta and Toasted Sunflower Seeds.


Prep Time

Cooking Time






STEP 1 Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Wash, de-seed and dice the butternut and peel and mince the ginger. Combine the ginger, soy sauce, 1 tsp honey and 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large bowl and add the butternut squares. Toss to coat and arrange the butternut on a large baking sheet in one layer. Place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes. STEP 2 Place the quinoa in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Simmer on lowmedium heat until water has reduced. STEP 3 Meanwhile make the dressing and prepare the salad. Zest and juice the lemon and place the tahini, 1 tsp honey, half the coriander, half the lemon juice, all of the lemon zest and 1/4 cup olive oil in the blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt andpepper. STEP 4 Trim and cut the broccoli into small florets, place in a pot with 2 cm of water to steam for 7 minutes. Wash the peas and cube the flesh of half of the avocado. Dry toast the sunflower seeds in a pan over medium heat until fragrant and golden. STEP 5 Remove the roasted butternut from the oven. Place in a large bowl with the broccoli, peas, quinoa, sunflower seeds, remaining coriander leaves and dressing. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper and an extra tbsp of olive oil if required.Divide the salad between dinner bowls, add the cubes of avocado to each bowl and crumble the feta over the food. Serve warm. 34 October/November 2018

INGREDIENTS. 1 butternut 2 inches ginger 1 tbsp soy sauce 1 head broccoli 1 avocado 1 pack peas 150g quinoa 50g feta 30g sunflower seeds 1 tbsp tahini 1 pack coriander 1 lemon

FROM THE STORE CUPBOARD. 5 tbsp. + 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tsp honey Salt and pepper to season.


Order. Cook. Eat.


Prep Time

Cooking Time






INGREDIENTS 4 chicken thighs bone-in 1 onion 6 cloves garlic 1 yellow pepper 1 red bell pepper 1 large carrot 200g mushrooms 8 black olives 4 sprigs thyme 1/2 pack parsley 1/2 pack basil 1 tsp dried oregano 600g tomatoes 1 tbsp tomato paste 1 tsp cayenne pepper

FROM THE STORE CUPBOARD. 1 tbsp coconut oil 2 tbsp red wine vinegar Salt and pepper to season.

STEP 1 Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Peel and mince the onion and garlic. De-seed and dice the peppers. Peel and slice the carrot. Trim and slice the mushrooms. Pit the olives. Dice the tomatoes. STEP 2 Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a heavy cast iron skillet. Fry the onion until transparent, about 3 to 4 minutes then add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds). STEP 3 Add the peppers, carrots, mushrooms, thyme and basil, and sauté for 5 minutes until vegetables are beginning to soften. STEP 4 Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden, occasionally moving the vegetables around the chicken in the pan so they don’t stick. STEP 5 Pour in 150mls water and the red wine vinegar into the pan containing the chicken and allow to simmer and reduce down (about 5-6 minutes). STEP 6 Finally add the tomatoes, tomato paste and cayenne pepper to the chicken in the pan . Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cover with lid, reducing heat to low. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until the meat is falling off the bone. Add the olives and allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes. Divide before plates, garnish with parsley and serve immediately Nzira


Contact Call: +263(0) 078 589 8114


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Mango de Tzondzo MOZAMBIQUE

Email :- Tel :- +27 790 390 824

What to expect A modern clean and well appointed house with large windows and sliding/stacking beach front doors. All 5 bedrooms have air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms,hair dryers and fitted wardrobes. The 6th is a bunk room with 3 bunks,also air conditioned & attached is a crib with changing table,Mosquito net attachment for the crib,high chair feeding table & moveable stairs barrier. The main bedroom's bathroom has a bath & large shower. The kitchen is well equipped with two Minus 40 fridges, 2 additional stand by fridges (1 has icemaker),stand alone ice maker,chest freezers,dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer. There is a gas stove / oven. The property comes with a large braai & Weber BBQ. From the veranda you can see the start of the bazaruto archipelago with Paradise Island and Bazaruto Island in view. During the right season you are also likely to see whales, dolphins and turtles when out at sea. The property overlooks the Indian Ocean with amazing sun rise views. No internet/wifi provided; however

there is a vodacom aerial near the house which provides good cellular and data signal.

Guest access The property can be accessed by dirt road behind the dunes and it is a short 8 minute drive from the centre of Inhassoro. The road from Inhassoro is unpaved 4x4 vehicle recommended GPS co-ordinates Latitude -21,5813 Longditude 35,2460 Guest services There is a management team available that service the house. They can be called when needed. Management can ,sometimes, arrange extra services, such as home help, cleaners, maids etc at an additional cost.Its recommended you inform them if required early as it's not always available. Please ensure you get a quote for these services. Sue Dunlap - +25 88 4300 5592 Debbie - +25 88 4417 8388 Other things to note You can hire boats from local companies in Inhassoro which are ideal for day trips to Paradise Island and the Archipelago. This is perfect for deep sea fishing, snorkeling or scuba diving if you have the equipment. We recommend MARLIN FISHING CHARTERS (Charles Lee - +25 88 4706 6784) who have competitive rates. Weblink:



Article Julie Havercroft

is r a f Sa l u o S

Images Julie Havercroft and Carl van der Riet

for the

Linking Tourism with Conservation

38 October/November October/November2018 2018

The sun, a fat red ball, rises slowly over the horizon and another beautiful day dawns in the Zambezi valley. We are near Chirundu on the western boundary of Zimbabwe on a two-hour canoe trip down the majestic Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa. Our canoes glide gently downstream with the current, oars occasionally dipping into the water to steer. The silence of canoeing is one of its main attractions and this serene way of exploring the river is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to start any day. It is by no means strenuous but it is best done at dawn or dusk simply to avoid the midday heat and wind. This activity is part of Chirundu Safari Lodge’s Animal Protection Education Safaris (APES). I am excited to be here to see for myself what makes APES unique.

Nzira Nzira 39 39

Above Zambezi valley near Chirundu

The beginning of APES With the conservation movement gaining momentum worldwide over recent years, Carl and Debbie van der Riet saw the way forward for a sustainable, non-consumptive and non-intrusive style of tourism in the Chirundu area. “This was a way to further educate tourists and visitors about wildlife in Zimbabwe; what dangers it faces and why it needs our protection. Our wildlife and its environment is one of our most valuable and vulnerable assets,” van der Riet says. “We had an opportunity to move into educational safaris. The tourism market is shifting away from simple game drives, towards learning more about wildlife conservation and anti-poaching”. This concept was ahead of the times and continues to be ground breaking. Moreover, there has recently been huge interest in this style of tourism, with Zimbabwe as a destination, by more and more European tour operators.

Working together Part of developing this business was for Chirundu Safari Lodge to launch their Animal Protection Education Safaris (APES), in conjunction with Hemmersbach Rhino Force, a private conservation initiative set up and driven by the vision of a German philanthropist who visited and fell in love with Africa, Zimbabwe and its wildlife, particularly the rhino, a few years ago. 40 October/November 2018

The Chirundu Anti-poaching Project (CAPP) was set up by Hemmerbach Rhino Force, Chirundu Safari Lodge and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Whilst being financed by Hemmersbach Rhino Force the project runs conjointly with ZimParks. Anti-poaching patrols are done by boat, foot, vehicle and air. Chirundu Safari Lodge plays a part in supporting this operation by assisting with the aerial patrols, logistics, pilots, aircraft, accommodation, food and fuel. The joint operation also assists the underprivileged people and school children in Chirundu town, developing innovative garbage solutions for the area and assisting with general law enforcement for the authorities.

What’s on offer Chirundu Safari Lodge’s APES complement the anti-poaching programme by showing guests how the system works and what goes into the day-to-day efforts to protect the wildlife. In fact, all activities on offer are driven by an intensive initiative to teach people more about flora and fauna as well as their protection. A typical APES programme of activities includes guided canoe patrol trips, aerial surveillance flights, tour of the CAPP base, basic firearm familiarization and target practice, snare sweeps, a geo cache challenge and a bush survival excursion.

The guides share their knowledge of animals, birds and habitats but, more importantly, the emphasis is on their protection. More traditional activities like walks, game-drives, night-drives, boat cruises and fishing trips on the Zambezi are also undertaken and a traditional Zimbabwe evening held under a majestic baobab. As a number of the APES guests include family groups, one popular activity with both children and adults alike, is the bush survival skills excursion. They are shown how to make ropes, fire, purify water and also how to make a rudimentary bush shelter. When I went along to observe, I did notice how much their parents also enjoyed this particular activity. Being in the bush with experienced guides gives adults and children alike a unique learning experience and one that is not likely to be forgotten. The children are given notebooks and are encouraged to observe, participate, learn and connect with nature. Right Tamarind Tented Camp

Accommodation The Chirundu Safari Lodge operation includes the main lodge which has eighteen en-suite rooms. Set back from the river, it overlooks a pan which provides hours of entertainment for guests as baboons, elephants, warthogs, bushbuck and more, come to drink, wallow and splash themselves to cool down. The riverside luxury tented camping option at Tamarind Tented Camp boasts fifteen en-suite rooms. Lastly, there is the Pump House camp site along the river comprising of nine sites; each with its own kitchen area and ablution block. There is plenty on offer to suit the mix of local and foreign visitors who wish to come and stay here. The Lodge is also starting to market itself as the gateway to the nearby World Heritage Site, Mana Pools National Park. “Self-drive guests can stay here on the way to or from Mana, or overseas guests can fly into Lusaka, Zambia (just over two hours’ drive away), stay with us and then take a transfer to Mana or they can have a tailor-made day trip via boat, plane or vehicle,” van der Riet says.The value of the tourism sector to our local economy cannot be emphasized enough and efforts like these contribute towards boosting it in the country, as well as filling an important conservation function. I have come away with a better understanding of efforts being undertaken here whilst enjoying a holiday and a ‘bush’ break. This is a safari for the soul.

For more info

Email Website











42 October/November 2018

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Article Piet de Klerk

ana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is situated in the north of Zimbabwe on the mighty Zambezi River. It is an exceptionally scenic park with the famous apple-ring acacia trees dotted along the floodplains, which are a major attraction in the drier seasons when the pods fall to the ground, offering valuable sustenance for a variety of game. Around 350 species of bird life occur here, thus creating one of Africa’s best game viewing, birding and photographic areas.


For this trip we used the Isuzu’s top of the range double cab, the KB300 4x4 Auto. Isuzu has always been known for it’s durability and reliability so it makes a great companion for trips to remote places like Mana Pools. The KB300 is not a simple workhorse vehicle. It has all the features and comforts expected in a modern vehicle including leather trim, climate control, touchscreen radio with satellite navigation (which even shows the dirt roads in Mana!) and a reversing camera normally expected in a luxury vehicle. Rest assured you will have a comfortable journey. The Isuzu KB300 is packed with safety features as well. It has 6 airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, hill descent control, rear park sensors plus much more. 44 October/November 2018

Although the Isuzu is built to handle the toughest of conditions, we decided to customise and modify the unit for the Mana Pools trip to improve the performance on the rugged terrain. Starting from the front of the vehicle we replaced the standard plastic bumper with a Wildog 4x4 heavy duty bumper. Not only does this give you extra strength up front but it also improves your approach angle when driving up steep inclines or when crossing a deep riverbed. A 700mm Ironman LED light bar was also fitted onto the bumper. This makes such a difference when driving in the dark, particularly on our Zimbabwe roads! We did a full suspension upgrade by installing Ironman 4x4 performance suspension. The standard Isuzu suspension is very good and known to be one of the more comfortable pickups available but we wanted to increase the ride height of the vehicle. As we were putting a lot of extra weight on the vehicle, the upgrade helped with this as well. A snorkel was fitted on the side of the cab for air intake. Despite what many people think, fitting a snorkel is not for driving through deep water; it protects your vehicle’s engine by drawing in cleaner air when you are driving on a dirt road. We changed the tyres and rims, which had more to do with styling than performance. I think black rims look cool! On the rear of the vehicle we replaced the factory fitted bumper with a Wildog 4x4 rear bumper with integrated tow hitch. Two spare wheel carriers can be fitted onto this should you wish. The last modification done to the vehicle was fitting a 12v socket in the load tray to plug in a camping fridge. An essential when camping! For the first two nights of the trip we were based at the BBC camp and the next four at Nyamepi campsite. We would have loved to stay longer at BBC but it is very popular and two nights is all that was available. Apart from the scenery, fishing, birding and game viewing opportunities and a wonderful week away from the hustle and bustle of town, the main highlight of the trip was a fabulous sighting of two cheetahs, on the prowl, just past Chine pool. A very rare sighting for Mana Pools.

For further information on the Isuzu KB300 4x4 Auto, contact: Piet de Klerk Autoworld Harare (Pvt) Ltd Tel 08677004334 Nzira


46 October/November 2018



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Book Online | Tel +263 24 270 1813 | Mobile/Whatsapp +263 78 391 0310 | Tel +263 29 288 0601 | Mobile/Whatsapp +263 78 385 6394 | Tel +263 83 284 5040 | Mobile/Whatsapp +263 78 389 0807 Nzira




Article and Images RIFA Committee and Management Team


ifa Conservation Education Camp (RCEC) commenced in 1982 and has been providing conservation education at its current location since 1988. In 1987, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority allocated RCEC a permanent home, approximately 4km upstream of Chirundu town, which is situated on the western boundary of Zimbabwe. Over this 30-year period, somewhere in the region of 35,000 youngsters have had the opportunity to partake in a true wilderness experience, learning and understanding about the importance of preserving our wildlife and natural resources and having a lot of fun at the same time. RCEC also works with the local Chirundu community on a number of projects which include conservation education sessions and self help projects conducted at the local Rutendo school in Chirundu. As an adjunct to this, a chicken raising project and tree growing project have been established. The thinking behind these is to teach the students useful skills and thereby reduce the likelihood that they will turn to poaching, charcoal burning, and other environmentally unsustainable activities. If funding becomes available, there are plans to build a room at the school, to be used as an environmental education resource centre and also to start a fish farming project. 50 October/November 2018

There is much work to be done in educating future generations in this arena and this is only going to be respected if they are taught to understand the importance of these issues, are ably motivated, capable and experienced, to preserve these areas. Many modern day challenges face wildlife and natural resources of different countries and Zimbabwe is no exception. These challenges include decreasing habitats and habitat loss mainly due to the constant expanding human population, human wildlife conflict, poaching of all kinds and lack of value placed on wildlife and natural resources. The vision is to take RCEC programmes to the local rural communities within the Hurungwe District, bordering the Zambezi valley, in order to assist and play a part in providing conservation education to those who are unable to attend the camps at RCEC. An important aspect of the Rifa season is that each year a variety of sponsored schools attend the camp. These are schools from the local area (Chirundu, Nyamakati and Magunje) This programme is provided free of charge and funding is essential in order to be able to continue with this very worthwhile cause. Around thirty schools attend each year with a total of between 900 and 1000 students who generally stay for five nights. Three ‘dorms’, accommodating ten students in each are equipped with beds, mattresses, mosquito nets, fans and lights. Teachers and parents who come to assist are accommodated in an adjacent block with four two-bedded rooms. Five permanent staff are based at the camp. Children are briefed on safety aspects as elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, hyena, hippo and crocodiles could be encountered whilst impala, warthog, bushbuck and kudu may also be seen. During the field outings, the groups are accompanied by Rifa staff members, volunteers and a parks ranger who will carry firearms for protection. The object, whilst they are here, is to spend as much time in the field as possible. For ‘A’ level students, apart from the general wildlife experience, the emphasis is on doing field work that relates to their syllabus such as mapping, river flow velocity, erosion/deposition patterns, vegetation sampling and transects.

RIFA Conservation Education Camp

emphasis is on practical activities



RIFA Conservation Education Camp With the primary students, the emphasis is on practical activities such as learning about termites, bush craft, fire lighting and making string from baobab bark. The field activities are mainly guided walks to various places of interest, including the Zambezi River, during which, spoor, vegetation and all aspects of wildlife are discussed.

Impala Dissection

Part of the programme is an impala dissection followed by a vulture watch. The ZPWMA gives Rifa a quota of impala that may be harvested annually and the students can participate in a dissection. This is a rare opportunity for students to physically study the internal organs of a mammal and the ruminant digestive system. The meat may then be utilised for catering and the remains of the carcass is placed in front of the camp. Invariably a number of vultures will come in to devour the offerings which is a spectacular sight. These vultures are also monitored by camp staff for research value. This exercise gives the students a practical experience of the ‘cycle of life’ – from the soil, to vegetation, herbivores, predators, scavengers, decomposers and finally back to the soil. The ‘Reference Block’ contains a small museum, library and laboratory. The museum has various skulls, bones, skins, head mounts, a full leopard mount, models of fish and snakes and local artefacts. This provides a wealth of material that can be used for practical lessons. The library has reference books and recent donations allowed the purchase of numerous up to date bird and tree books. The laboratory has two electronic microscopes and various types of equipment for the practical field exercises. RIFA is not a commercial safari destination but it is possible for people to stay at the camp in between the school bookings. This is on a self-catering basis with basic equipment available. The charge is $10 pppn. Bookings are also taken for interest groups such as Birdlife Zimbabwe. Our goal is to ensure that Zimbabwe’s valuable wildlife and natural resources are here for future generations. In order to achieve this, ongoing conservation education is absolutely vital. Anyone who may be interested in assisting Rifa Conservation Education Camp can contact us on the information given below.

Vulture Watch and Survey

Office: Zimbabwe Hunters’ Association (ZHA) Mukuvisi Woodlands, Hillside Road Ext, Hillside, Harare P. O Box HG 548, Highlands, Harare Phone: (+263) 024 2747215 / 6 Cell: (+263) 0772 329434 Web Site: Facebook: Rifa Conservation Education Camp, Zimbabwe

Camp Visitor 52 October/November 2018



Article Bruno De Leo Images Melissa Wynn

Victoria Falls

54 October/November 2018


he Zambezi River snakes its way through 2700 kms of mesmerizing countryside, passing through seven countries before finally reaching the Indian Ocean. A lifeline to wildlife and humans alike throughout its course, there is also a natural beauty that attracts tourists from all over the world. At the point where the Zambezi river plunges more than 100 meters into the gorge below, forming one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls, is what sets the backdrop for the Zambezi Cycle Challenge. (ZCC) The primary objective of ZCC is to raise funds by hosting a unique mountain bike event that will take the riders through the scenic natural forest areas close to Victoria Falls. All the funds raised will be channelled into conservation areas through reputable organizations that are dedicated in their efforts to conserve wildlife. The format of the event will seek to provide something for the social mountain bike rider as well as the nature loving wildlife enthusiast and competitive rider. Teams will be required to have at least two members but race organizers will consider single applicants as long as they agree to be grouped with other cyclists of a similar ability. It is a three day stage event covering a distance of between 50 to 80 kms each day. Day one starts about 50km south of Victoria Falls along the Bulawayo road. A combination of old hunting tracks, well trodden elephant paths and winding single track along the banks of the Matetsi River, finally ends up back at Victoria Falls. Day two will start about 40 kms towards the Kazungula border post near Botswana and takes riders back to Victoria Falls along the Westwood Vlei, through the scenic Zambezi National Park and along the Zambezi River. This day is not a timed stage as it is all about enjoying the National Park. There are compulsory stops at two particularly scenic points along the river where refreshments are served and the rider has an opportunity to rest and soak up the tranquil scenery. Day three begins about 30 kms downstream of Victoria Falls. The route on this final day will be mostly single track and technically challenging as it takes riders back towards Victoria Falls along the Batoka Gorge, with spectacular views of the Zambezi River way below and finally, awe inspiring views of the Victoria Falls as you approach the finish. You will literally be riding on the edge of the gorge on several occasions.



Animal encounters are very possible on all three days but riders are offered protection with the assistance of armed professional guides, marshals and park personnel dotted along the route. Refreshments are provided at strategic points as days can be long depending on individual fitness. This is an event that is perfect for the family and supporters to join in due to it’s location. Many different activities are available, ranging from cultural village tours, game drives, bars and restaurants to adrenalin filled gorge swings or white water rafting. There is something for everyone to enjoy a memorable and fun filled few days. Dates for the 2019 Zambezi Cycle Challenge are 12th to 14th July. The beneficiaries of the funds raised will be: VFWT is a boots on the ground organization that focuses on

Community outreach and training. Wildlife research through its veterinary laboratory. Human and wildlife conflict issues. Wildlife rehabilitation.

Children in the Wilderness

CITW is a non�profit organization supported by ecotourism company, Wilderness Safaris, that aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of rural children in Africa.

Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit

VFAPU is dedicated to curtailing poaching in and around the Victoria Falls area. They are responsible for the removal of thousands of snares and the apprehension of numerous poachers.

Contact Bruno De Leo (Pictured Right) 525 Reynard Rd P.O.Box 162 Victoria Falls Zimbabwe

Tel: +263 13 41207 Cell: +263 772 144 778 Email: Skype: brunodeleo4

56 October/November 2018











A 3 bed lodge For 2 nights at $49 per month x 4 instalments





A 4 bed lodge For 2 nights at $ 41 per month x 4 instalments UDU CAMP


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A 1 bed lodge for 2 nights at $37 per month x 4 instalments MATOPOS




A 2 bed lodge for 2 nights at $28 per month x 4 instalments RHODES CAMP

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Historical Sites


Activities not to miss...


Rhino Tracking





Trout Fishing


Sky walks










RESERVATIONS +263718 659 833 | +263292 74000 or 65592

RESERVATIONS +263773 500 399 | +263773 500 398

T & Cs apply. Note: Facilities are self catering and rate is bed only.

T & Cs apply. Note: Facilities are self catering and rate is bed Nzira 57only.


re you planning to import a vehicle via Dar es Salaam direct to Harare at minimum risk and hassles while saving on time? Contact our cargo section for a quote, we fly HRE/DAR/HRE every Tuesday and Saturday. Or is it repatriation of the remains of a dearly beloved from Johannesburg, South Africa? Freight rates range from ZAR5000.00 to ZAR10 000.00 (flat rate), including an additional free uplift of 20kgs of the deceased’s personal effects which must be consigned under the same airway bill. We fly HRE/JNB/HRE every day of the week and JNB/BUQ/JNB every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Our B737 uses its belly hold for cargo with a capacity of +3000kgs depending on the passenger load. The B767 uses both the belly hold and unitized equipment called Unit Loading Devices (ULDs), with a capacity 15000kgs.

Air Zimbabwe Cargo section offers you quality, safe and affordable movement of your cargo on any of our routes. With capacity to uplift general cargo (mail, courier materials, household goods, hunting trophies etc) as well as special cargo which includes valuables, live animals, perishables, dangerous goods, human remains and pharmaceuticals. All cargo is carried in accordance with the current IATA Tact Rules, IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations, IATA Live Animals Regulations and IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.

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A shipper (sender) must be informed of and adhere to all regulations pertaining to the nature of their cargo whilst the consignee (receiver) must be able to pay for collection of the goods on arrival to avoid accumulation of warehouse storage charges before clearance with customs. For domestic carriage, no charges accrue to the receiver. There are existing partnerships and agreements with Freight Agents, Ground Handling Agents (GHA) and General Sales & Services Agents (GSSA) in both local, regional and international destinations to assist with clearance of goods. Our highly skilled and experienced staff with capacity to handle all cargo ensuring movement within stipulated timeframes, rules and regulations. Part of their training includes Elementary and Advanced Cargo as well as Dangerous Goods Handling courses.

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Contact our cargo section for a quote today and enjoy a wholesome experience of Zimbabwean Hospitality in the Skies.

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Explore, Experience & Enjoy Let us take care of your travels in Zimbabwe 0772347897 | 0772265774

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N. Tselentis Pvt Ltd

62 Mutare Road Msasa Harare 0867 700 7066-69

60 October/November 2018




EQUATORIAL Adventure Article and Images Nick Fawcett

62 October/November 2018


alk of Uganda and images of the despotic regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote come drifting across the mind. What could possibly attract one to this hot, steamy, landlocked country in the middle of Africa? Anxious to see for ourselves, we arrived at Entebbe International Airport at 2.30am on 3 July 2018 to meet up with the other members of what became known as “Team U-gan-do-it.” Six young, fit and fun-loving thirtysomething year olds and us two old codgers, on the wrong side of seventy, made up the team. Travelling in a Toyota minibus, quickly dubbed the “Mean Green Machine,” we took in the mountain gorillas before arriving at Ruboni Camp in the Rwenzori foothills. That evening, in the subdued, solar-powered lighting, our mountain guide warned us of the rigours that awaited us; of the cold, the effects of altitude, the possibility of rain, the privation and the sheer physical demands of the expedition. Undeterred, we fitted ourselves out the next day with our mountaineering equipment and set off; eight unprepared but eager adventurers, supported by five guides and thirty porters.

On entering the Rwenzori National Park, the banana plantations and cultivated lands immediately gave way to forest and boulder-strewn rivers, and by evening we had climbed 1000m to reach the rudimentary Nyabitaba Hut (2600m). Day 2 revealed the Portal Peaks in all their spectacular glory and we began an arduous climb through the bamboo and giant heather zones. Every tree was festooned with moss and old man’s beard; their ethereal appearance heightening the mystique. Our lunch stop gave us our first, intimidating view of Mount Stanley with one of its glaciers clearly visible. The magnitude and the difficulty of the task ahead was beginning to sink in! Another few hours of steady climbing brought us to the John Matte Hut (3420m). Not even the sunlight could warm the crisp mountain air but our hardy youngsters braved a dip in the icy, glacier-fed river!



The Towering Ramparts of Mount Stanley

A Giant Lobelia in the Bigo Bog Every day, Enock the cook, would serve up delicious pancakes, fritters, samosas, soups, casseroles and all manner of egg dishes, followed by hot chocolate, tea or coffee. Our evenings were spent organising kit, chatting and playing cards, punctuated by the ritual of the guides’ daily briefing. Starting out on Day 3, we were soon confronted by the alien landscape of the Lower Bigo Bog – Giant Lobelias and Tree Groundsels thrust themselves up from the mass of sedges, grasses and xerophytes that flourish in the dark, peaty bog. Snaking across the bog was a simple boardwalk serving to protect the fragile treasures and reducing the risk of injury to trekkers. We toiled up the valley, crossing several small streams cascading down from the ramparts above, and in the late afternoon we reached Bujuku Lake surrounded by the towering walls of Mounts Speke, Stanley and Baker. At close to 4000m, Bujuku Hut is the point beyond which no one suffering from symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should proceed. Duly warned, we faced Day 4’s 64 October/November 2018

Start of the gruelling Icefall Climb formidable ascent to Elena Hut with some trepidation. The arduous climb, in cold, windy conditions, through bogs, forests and over boulders, turned the previous three days into a collective walk in the park and we only reached Elena Hut (4562m) in the mid-afternoon. Small, dark and cramped, Elena is the springboard for Margherita Peak, but our expectation of some training that evening on our equipment did not materialize, leaving us with the mistaken impression that it would all be plain sailing! After a fitful sleep in our summit gear we rose at 2am to a delicious bowl of Enock’s oats porridge. Outside, it was snowing lightly; the tiny flakes drifting in front of our head torches. It was a surreal experience as we set off, with laboured breathing and adrenaline pumping. Before long we arrived at the first fixed rope with which we had to climb a 40m rock face. From the top of the rope ascent we climbed steadily for about an hour, before reaching a ravine at the edge of a snowfield. We donned our crampons which crunched into the icy crust as we continued our climb.

Roping down below the summit

Team ‘U gan do it’ on Margherita Summit 5109m

The Descent Towards Bujuku Lake

Plodding the Snowfield at 5050m Outside the beam of our head torches there was nothing but inky blackness and swirling sleet. After another rocky pitch, we were dismayed to arrive at more fixed ropes with which we had to descend the rock face, losing over 70m of hard fought altitude! A grey dawn saw us scrambling over the boulders until we reached a 40-degree icefall, broken by large horizontal fissures and crevasses. Roping up seemed to take forever and we struggled up the icefall, our ill-fitting crampons skidding off the rock-hard ice. Midway up the icefall we reached the end of the 60m ropes anchored with ice screws. There, we clipped onto tethers, while the guides rigged the next pitch. It was a gruelling 150 vertical metres of height gain. After plodding up an extensive snowfield we rounded a cornice and found ourselves climbing through a glittering tunnel of ice and stalactites before another 20m rope climb brought us, gasping for breath, to a sheltered spot and our first rest. Psyching ourselves up for the final push, we summited (5109m) at 11.45am to emotional celebrations.

With the weather deteriorating, the descent was slow and arduous, but 15 hours after we started, we reached Elena. It had been a highly technical and gruelling climb in some extremely harsh conditions. We were utterly spent but euphoric that we had all made it. Descending the next day, my wife was undoubtedly suffering from the combined effects of altitude, exhaustion and exposure, so progress down to John Matte Hut was painstakingly slow. That evening hip flasks were produced and promptly flattened in exuberant celebrations. Overnight rain made for treacherous going on Day 7 but we managed the last 1800m descent unscathed. For us, our Rwenzori adventure was life changing and our advice is bucket list it. If we can do it, u-gan-do-it too! Nzira


TRADE & TRAVEL SNIPPETS KITFT - “It’s Tiger Time!” The 57th Kariba Invitation Tiger Fishing Tournament is approaching held at Charara, Lake Kariba. 10th, 11th and 12th October 2018

Chikwenya Wilderness Safaris is due to open the revamped Chikwenya camp, Mana Pools in October 2018. Currently it is a sixtented camp but to be increased in 2019. The camp is open seasonally, being closed in the wetter season from around mid-November and re-opening in April.

EVENTS Sanganai/Hlanganani

Safari Logistics It is planning on launching set scheduled flights between Victoria Falls, Kariba, Mana Pools, Hwange and Harare in 2019 and these flights will be available on a daily basis. The company will also offer a ‘meet and greet’ service for guests.

The Conservation & Wildlife Fund (CWF)

a non-profit trust which operates in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park region, will increase conservation levies for 2019. The increase in levies, which will only apply when new bookings are made, will allow CWF to improve anti-poaching efforts and to fund lion and elephant conservation projects. In 2019 the levy will be increased to US$15 per person per night and this will be increased further to US$20 per person per night in 2020.

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe.

World Tourism Expo It was held over 6th to 8th September 2018. This is an annual Tourism Trade Fair organized by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, showcasing the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and attracting international visitors, exhibitors and media from around the world. Nzira is honoured to have an article in this issue from one of the winners; The Matopos Mud Hut Competition. (See the Editors page for details)

© Gregg Robinson

AZTA Awards. Some of the winners pictured above.


The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), which is the voice of the business operators in the country’s travel and tourism sector, has changed its name to the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe. The rebranding came about as a result of a need to differentiate the Council from other tourism organisations and to stress its role as that of the business operators in the sector. The rebranding was marked by a celebratory dinner in Harare, attended by about 120 operators from across the country. Tribute was paid to founding Chairman and CEO, David Chapman. He is perhaps the person who can lay claim to being Zimbabwe’s ‘longest-serving’ personality in travel and tourism, having started in the business back in the late 1950s and retiring only a few years ago. The TBCZ is headquartered at 129 Baines Avenue, between S Muzenda and Fifth Streets. The CEO is Paul Matamisa and the current President is Tich Hwingwiri of the Rainbow Tourism Group.

The Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents. (AZTA)

Held their 25th Annual Awards ceremony, for the travel and tourism sector, on 1 September 2018 at The Jam Tree in Harare. The reasoning behind the awards, presented by AZTA Chairperson Ignatius Matungamire, is to give accolades to airlines, lodges, agents and companies certificates for outstanding service, voted by the Zimbabwe travel industry. Some of the top awards included: The Environmental Award was received by Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) after launching a major recycling project in Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Africa Albida Tourism’s (AAT) flagship property, took out the top award ahead of Victoria Falls Hotel, which was first runner-up, and second runner-up Elephant Hills Resort. Victoria Falls Safari Club was named Best Boutique Hotel, with Stanley & Livingstone and Pamushana Lodge in south eastern Zimbabwe taking second and third places. Lokuthula Lodges won the award in the Best Self-Catering category, followed by Nyanga’s Blue Swallow Lodges and Gweru’s Antelope Park.

66 October/November 2018


Kenya Elephant Man in Zimbabwe Jim Justus Nyamu, known as the “Kenya Elephant Man”, (due to his many walking campaigns dubbed “IvoryBelongstoElephants”) arrived on foot in Zimbabwe on 10th September 2018 having begun his journey in Kenya on 14th July 2018. He and his team crossed over the border from Zambia at Victoria Falls and will then walk to the Plumtree border post, via Bulawayo, before completing his journey in Gabarone, Botswana.


Victoria Falls

According to statistics, tourist arrivals to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, increased by 11% in 2017 and Victoria Falls rain forest has recorded a 50% increase in international visitors in two years (2015 to 2017). Local and regional self drives to Zimbabwe have also increased due to confidence being restored by the removal of the inordinate police roadblocks around the country.

The objective of this East Africa to South Africa elephant walk is to create awareness on the plight of African elephants. The two regions enjoy the cross-border elephant population from Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana and their is a dire need to identify an integrated conservation approach. Secondly the two regions have continued losing elephants due to poaching as well as habitat loss caused by land use changes. This is Jim’s 14th elephant campaign walk since 2013 and it is the longest. The second longest being a journey through East Africa from Kenya to Tanzania and Uganda in 2016, which took 126 days covering 3480km. Check out for more information and Jim’s detailed profile or contact him directly via email or WhatsApp on +254 723 398190

Victoria Falls Rainforest

VIEWING HOURS EXTENDED. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) Marketing Manager, Aaron Chingombe and Victoria Falls Tourism Manager, Kelvin Mudawariwo confirmed that due to the increasing number of tourists in the area, Zimparks has extended viewing hours at the Victoria Falls Rainforest from 18h00 to 22h00. Other activities have also been introduced including private bush dinners next to the statue of David Livingstone and tour operators, under permit from Zimparks, may now offer night drives into the Zambezi National Park, including Chamabonda vlei. Also a designated picnic site, on the banks of the Zambezi River, is currently being constructed with running water and electricity, ablution blocks. Fun activities will be introduced for the picnickers including swimming in a protected area in the Zambezi River. For further information contact:

What can you expect from Ancient City Lodge?

Award Winning Resort

' The Great Zimbabwe Experience' 1 Shepherd's Plot,Great Zimbabwe Masvingo Zimbabwe.

Call 039 265 120 Email



Elephant Hills RESORT Victoria Falls Article and Images Mike Garden


have spent many a night at the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls: sometimes it was just for a weekend away from the big city; on others to attend a week long, work related conference. The most enjoyable times were, however, when we came up to play golf in our annual Nomads National tournament with some 200 fellow golfers, taking time out to chill and catch up with old or new business colleagues. The one thing that I love to do here is wake up early and take a walk or run around the golf course situated right in front of the hotel. I did just that this morning, taking photos of the sunrise as well as the impala, waterbuck, warthog and kudu scattered all around the estate. The wildlife here is used to humans walking nearby, yet they always keep a wary eye, pausing every so often from their morning meal to see who or what is approaching. The eighteen-hole golf course was originally designed by Gary Player to be the hardest in Africa. When the hotel was rebuilt in 1989, Roger Bayliss redesigned the course, together with Roy Jennings and Jumbo Thompson, to be more suitable for the social golfer. Grass was imported for the fairways and the greens, blending in very effectively with the natural flora and fauna. Local rules allow for the golf ball to be dropped out of piles of animal dung or sunken hoof marks. Retrieving the ball from water holes is not recommended due to the occasional crocodile taking up temporary residence every now and again! The Elephant Hills has established itself as the conference centre of first choice, amongst larger companies around the country, wanting to take their employees away from the daily office grind to educate them on the latest information on their particular type of business. On the way back from my morning stroll, I came across four gentlemen out on the tennis court having a fun game whilst the temperature was still fairly cool (22ºC at 7am). Adrian Landry is the current General Manager at Elephant Hills and he has been tasked by the Legacy Group of Hotels to bring the hotel back to its former glorious position in the Zimbabwe Travel arena. On my way out of the Hotel at 6am, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the waiters being spoken to by their superior, giving them their daily advice on how best to deal with guests at the dinner table.

68 October/November 2018

Over the past two years, I have noticed a huge improvement overall in most aspects of the hotel and Adrian assures me that there is a lot more included in next year’s budget. There are 267 rooms in the Hotel so the eating area is particularly large. The buffet breakfast was very appealing with an enormous spread that included all sorts of fruit along with a selection of choice croissants to satisfy the Continental tastes as well as the mouth-watering English breakfast. I sat on the window side where one can view the ever daunting Zambezi River flowing towards the largest waterfall in the world. The Victoria Falls are known locally as the Mosioa-Tunya, (“The Smoke that Thunders”) and even though they are 4km away, one can view their seemingly ever present clouds of spray comfortably from the lounge alongside the upstairs bar. Victoria Falls is well known for the entertainment supplied at most hotels every evening and Elephant Hills is no exception to this with energetic drummers and dancers giving an excellent display whilst you are having your evening meal. There is a specially laid out casino room with a dozen gaming tables which is opened up whenever there is a large conference or golf tournament taking place at the hotel. A free shuttle service travels into the town centre every hour allowing guests to see the Falls or go out to dinner at one of the numerous dining places all within ten minutes of Elephant Hills.



Africa’s greatest natural wonder Zimbabwe by Legacy


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72 October/November 2018

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Crossword Puzzle By Mary-Anne 1











11 13 14

15 17

16 19

18 20



23 24





Sudoku Difficulty - Medium

3 2 6 7 8

DOWN 1. Howl 2. Simple fractions 3. Ignore 4. Elizabeth Regina 5. Middle of the road 6. Distance 7. All the real girls


18. Caliphate 19. Hate 22. Entitle 23. Enough 25. Block 26. Isotherms 27. Rosania 28. Dead Sea


7 2 1 3 6 5 4 6 5 7 2 8 8 4 9 7 2 1


3 1 6 4 7 8 3

1. Echo spice shows a place of shelter for travellers (7) 5. Elephants love to wallow in this (7) 9. Collectively they count for approximately 50% of everyone (9) 10. Does a solarium provide exposure to the sun (5) 11. We sing ‘... in excelsis Deo’ every Christmas (6) 12. Le heart once tanned is a flexible skin (7) 14. This small restaurant is probably inexpensive (4) 15. A yellow substance used as jam and not related to whey (6,4) 18. The successors of Mohammed ruled in this (9) 19. Heat can turn to this (4) 22. You are allowed to give someone the right to a name (7) 23. Is this sufficient to satisfy a need (6) 25. A child’s toy which mother uses for chopping (5) 26. Some shirt shows temperature on a map (9) 27. A sin or a virtue provides an Italian footballer (7) 28. This body of water doesn’t seem to be alive (4,3)


1. Show lions how to sound like a wolf (4) 2. Easy parts of a sum (6,9) 3. A region will fail to notice (6) 4. The Queen (9,6) 5. Not extreme but moderate political views (6,2,3,4) 6. Disect an intervening space (8) 7. Every genuine woman become a romantic drama (3,3,4,5) 8. The hare contain an artist in the capital (5,3) 13. It’s what a thespian does best (3) 16. Wrong judgement, in error (8) 17. A nice cuppa (3) 20. A leg or arm in parliament (6) 21. Moses’ successor blew his trumpet at Jericho (6) 24. India is part of this continent (4)

ACROSS 1. Hospice 5. Mudbath 9. Womankind 10. Solar 11. Gloria 12. Leather 14. Cafe 15. Lemon curd





8. Harare 13. Act 16. Mistaken 17. Tea 20. Member 21. Joshua 24. Asia

Emboldened by their successful home-grown range management strategy, some even cross the main Gweru/ Bulawayo road and sometimes from the high points you can see elephant watering at farm dams or browsing through the miombo woodlands. Nalatale Ruins is one such high point. Man has helped and hindered this wonderful story. Of course there will be collateral damage if the elephant chance upon juicy grain or vegetable crops still standing in the fields along the way. The ranchers have developed fences that can drop down when the elephant meet them and spring upright after their passage. Cattle are not as clever. The elephant help to keep open the veld which can otherwise become overwhelmed by scrubby thornbush.

The Bark of the

Urban Baboon Article and Images MAFUNGI

Trails well trodden hey say an elephant never forgets. Recently we visited a large ranch near the town of Shangani and discovered a fascinating story about these large pachyderms that is little known outside of a group of wildlife enthusiasts and ranchers that live in that area. From around 1994 onwards, elephant started making the long trek from Hwange National Park and following a well-treed area through the Gwampa Forest, they cut the Shangani River near Nkayi and then head south to these ranches where they over-winter from April until November. They then trudge all the way back to Hwange National Park. Their return to the Park coincides with the start of the rains and obviously there is ample grazing and browse for all the elephant populations once more.


This route was probably an ancient one followed by elephant over millennia, but the intervention of man cutting up wilderness areas into small farms and ranches, effectively stopped the age-old tradition. That is until the provision of numerous watering points and the control of poaching led to a massive explosion of the elephant population in the Park. Too many for the carrying capacity of the land. Far too many. So the elephant sagely discussed the problem in their low rumbling sub-liminal way and agreed that the most expendable members of their society would do the honours and leave the safety of Hwange for the cows and calves and the breeding males. So a steady increase over the last quartercentury has seen the number of elephant making the trek reach more than 240 animals. Every single one a male. Not a single cow or calf amongst them! A few even stay year-round now and some 7 to 10 are totally resident. 74 October/November 2018

Humans however have little capacity for such sagacity. There is evidence all over southern Africa of great civilisations that once existed and then collapsed either due to the greed of competing tribes or colonisers and often, more likely, just the exhaustion of the natural resources as the human population rose and became unsustainable. In our nuclear family we have the existence of a third-born daughter of a third-born daughter. This is considered very auspicious in some cultures. However we realised how tenuous is our existence and the risk of the selffulfilling prophecy of the Darwin Award when our youngest set off for Kariba one festive season. Newly licensed and raring to go off in pursuit of boxer-shorted male members of the human race, we were a little perplexed to get a phone call some three hours after she left home. “Is Kwe Kwe on the way to Kariba?” she asked expectantly. To sort this little problem out we had to go to Chinhoyi meet the errant car-load of bimbos, refuel and refinance them and point them in the right direction. Success did not come easy and the boxer-shorted members of humanity were in short supply. A repeat journey the following New Year was required on the Testosterone Trail. This time the phone call came only two hours after they left home. “Is Kadoma on the way to Kariba?” This time the question was asked rather nervously. Once again, Chinhoyi called for a meeting of relatives and the exchange of expletives and friendly advice. Well I guess it was progress of sorts, they did know that one of the towns along the way to Kariba began with the letter K and almost anyone could innocently mistake Kadoma or Kwe Kwe for Karoi! So if you ever travel down late at night from Harare to Bulawayo, watch out for the grey ghosts that may float across the shiny new tarmacadam road as they search wider and wider afield for the elusive green grass. Be sure that these pachyderms will not mistake Shurugwi for Shangani. That’s an all-too-human error. Just be very wary of bimbos doing u-turns on the busy highway as they re-programme their homing devices on the Testosterone Trail!




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