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Unwelcome Strangers Anti-poaching operations in Zimbabwe

Rookie Writers

African Safari: The hunt is over, but the memories remain

Overland to Central Kafue: Zamkafuzi

Part 2 of a wild Zambian Adventure

The art of the saltwater

Drop Shot

Master gamefisherman Mike Laubscher shows you how to make the perfect drop shot

Make a Plan


contents 2 | Volume 5 Issue 4


10 Unwelcome Strangers Anti-poaching operations in Zimbabwe

22 Overland to Central Kafue: Zamkafuzi Part 2 of a wild Zambian Adventure

34 The art of the saltwater Drop Shot Master gamefisherman Mike Laubscher shows you how to make the perfect drop shot

47 Rookie Writers African Safari: The hunt is over, but the memories remain

65 The Maneating lions of Tsavo The Swahili and other native tribes

86 Make a Plan Make fire with a beer can and chocolate

90 True North There is no escaping this war

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AFRICAN

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

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UNWELCOME

Strangers

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Anti-poaching operations in Zimbabwe

Rory Young

The battered old mini bus rolls quietly into Siakobvu, grinding to a halt in front of Peter’s Store. The five weary occupants stumble out. They look nervously around them as they wander into the little shop. They order cokes and then settle down on the front step to wash away the dust that has burned their throats for an eternity on the road.

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An old man, seemingly dozing under a nearby tree watches them carefully. He nods to the young boy next to him who wanders over to the strangers. Everyone knows they are not from here. They are not Tongas either, although one looks as though he might be. Siakobvu, tiny little hamlet though it may be, is the headquarters of the Nyaminyami rural council and the gateway to the Omay communal area and the Matusadona National Park. No one can drive through to either the Omay wildlife area or the park without going through Siakobvu. After passing through Siakobvu, the road winds its way down the rocky escarpment. It then splits into with one road continuing to Bumi Hills and the other to Chalala. The Chalala arm is in very bad condition so most vehicles pass through Bumi and then head West along a connecting road to Chalala. The old man slowly climbs to his feet, helping himself as best he can with the old broken spear he uses as a walking stick. He begins a steady and direct plod past the bus. A tension flashes through the strangers. They go quiet and watch him with narrowed eyes. They visibly relax when they see he is clearly infirm and obviously not checking them and their vehicle out. They don’t know the old man though, he only needs one glance. He glances into the back of the vehicle and notices that there is no luggage. The boy slouches next to the strangers. He is a mujiba. Mujibas have been used throughout Central and Southern Africa in all the various wars as information gatherers and signalers. He is proud of his job and pays attention to everything he hears. The strangers are not talking though. That’s not a problem for the boy, he sees one of the group is a woman and starts talking to her. She chats back to him and soon the store keeper joins in the discussion. The woman says they are going to Chalala down on the lake shore to buy dried kapenta fish to take to Harare to sell. The boy tells them how lucky they are. The Bumi Hills road has just been graded for the first time in years! “Yes, I know”, she answers. This is strange, how would an outsider who knows no-one here know that. He meets the old man outside a nearby hut. He tells the “madala” that there is one who claims to be an off-duty policeman, that they claim to be going to Chalala to buy fish and that somehow they seem to know a lot about what is happening in the area, including that the road has just been graded.

The old man carefully removes an old cell phone from his pocket and dials a number. The phone rings loudly next to me. I am a bit annoyed by the sound. After so many years in the bush without anything except radios I am still easily irritated by the intrusive sound and struggling to get used to the idea. I am also in the middle of a discussion about the remains of a poached elephant I am looking at in a discussion with some of the men I am training, so do not appreciate the interruption. I nod to the conservation manager and wait as he takes the call. He speaks in fast ChiTonga so I can only just get the gist of it. From what I hear and from the growing tension in the WM’s voice it can only be poachers. He finishes and turns to me. “A black mini-bus just arrived in Siakobvu with some dirty-looking strangers”, he says, “they say they are going to Chalala to buy fish to sell in Harare. They don’t seem right. They say they are driving to Chalala but why at this time? They have no luggage with them but they claim to know nobody here, so why would they bring nothing with them”. We decide to run to Bumi rather than wait for a vehicle to come and collect us. Rogers, the conservation manager, calls on the phone as we go. He has a radio but the phone is preferable as we don’t want anyone to hear what is going on. There are eyes and ears everywhere. He calls the local head of the National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the rural council head office. It is agreed that a combined operation can take. In addition to our team of 4 trackers there is myself and one Parks ranger. There are no more Parks rangers available as they are tied up elsewhere but there are a couple of council scouts based at Mola that we can pick up. I change clothes and grab my kit. We hold a council of war to plan our strategy. We know that a vehicle will take three hours to reach Chalala. We need to establish whether the group actually goes there and if not then where they have been dropped off? If they are dropped off somewhere other than Chalala then we know that they are poachers. They will usually access the wildlife areas via one route and leave by another to avoid being vulnerable to being ambushed on their return. They also spread disinformation just in case an informer is watching them We decide to leave one small group, comprised of the Bumi GM, the wildlife manager and a couple of guides with a vehicle at the junction where the SiakoVolume 5 Issue 4 | 13


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bvu road splits. The other group, comprised of myself, the park ranger and four trackers will use a Bumi Hills game drive vehicle to avoid alerting anyone to the fact that an anti-poaching team is on the move, drive to Siakobvu and hopefully meet the suspected poachers on the way or determine where they have dropped off. If that is the case then we will pursue them on foot. On the way we will pick up a couple of scouts working for rural council wildlife management in Mola village. The Bumi GM and the Conservation Manager will try and make contact with the police, local safari operators and NGOs to see what support is available in the event of a firefight or prolonged pursuit requiring the assistance stop-groups, observation posts and police road-blocks. We head off. It is already getting late. It is dark by the time we reach Mola. We now have to be very careful. I park just out of range of the light cast by the stores. There is a lot of loud music blaring from the three shops that are open and a number of men milling around or dancing with containers of opaque beer in their hands. The park ranger and the others sneak out into the dark. They will take a long roundabout route to the council scouts’ quarters and then hopefully sneak up without being seen. There is a good chance that someone will be watching to see what the scouts are up to. I wait patiently for the team to return. I cannot help but be a bit nervous. Only the park ranger and I are properly armed. The scouts are not yet armed as although they have all previously completed their training, I need to assess them and do some refresher training before the approval can be given for them to be armed. I am confident of the Parks ranger’s training, experience and ability. It is immediately clear that we are on the same page, understanding each other and falling into sync immediately. I hope that the 16 | Volume 5 Issue 4

council scouts will be a postive addition to our team. The team returns without the council scouts. “They are on their days off” the park ranger tells me, “they left yesterday and will be returning in two days. There are also none on patrol”. This coincidence is not good. It is also close to full moon, the favourite time for ivory poachers to operate. If there are no council scouts patrolling or active in any way in the area then it is an ideal opportunity for poachers”. I don’t like it. We have only two armed men and no real support team. We have been working on setting up a combined rapid response team for the area covering the park and the adjacent areas but it is still in the discussion phase. So, no support, only a small team of trained men of whom only two are armed. We also have no medical support. There are no helicopters in the area and no airstrips. If there is a firefight and someone is wounded it will take many hours to get him competent medical help. We have no choice but to keep going and hope that we can arrest or deter them before any elephants get killed.. A call comes in. It is the conservation manager. The informer at Siakobvu has spotted the vehicle returning; with only two occupants and after only two hours instead of six. Now we have no doubts. The vehicle could only have driven an hour down from Siakobvu. That would put the drop-off point just above the escarpment at around dusk. That would be a useful location to either move through the villages just after dark and then on into the Bumi Hills wildlife concession at first light or to access the Matusadona National Park. A vehicle appears on the road ahead. We stop it. The driver was known to one of the scouts and quite hap-


py to assist us. He had seen the black bus stopped at a point an hour up the road from where we now were. We thank him and I put my foot down hard on the accelerator. It would be better to find them before they moved into the bush. We reach the point and jump out of the vehicle with torches to look for the tracks and learn who they are and where they went. It is all there. We see where the bus had stopped and turned around before heading back the way it had come. Four people were dropped off and then we find a fifth set of tracks joining them further on. They had met someone at this point. One of the group is a woman. Alarm bells go off in my head; I have been told by the conservation manager that there have been reports of a woman moving in and out of the area with money and organizing ivory poaching. Apparently she brings in a group and weapons and equipment are collected from people who hide them in return for money. The group then poaches, whilst she moves separately to another rendezvous point and then they move out via another route towards Binga far to the West. The tracks continued down the road and so do we.. for several hours. We track using the headlights and torches and at a run. At one point we find the tracks had left the road. After a closer inspection we realize that it was when we were passing that location in the vehicle. They hid from us in a gully next to the road. We continue on our way, taking turns with the driving/ resting and tracking. We reach the first village from Siakobvu. Known as “the guest-house”, it is a small collection of mud huts and goat-pens. I hop out and try to conceal my white skin in the darkness. One of the scouts, deliberately dressed in a simple pair of coveralls wanders

over to one of the huts that is hosting a little evening discussion of elderly men. We wait patiently as he goes through the exhaustive but important ritual of greetings and polite small-talk before inquiring if his “friends” have arrived from Siakobvu. No-one has come it turns out although some of the dogs were barking a few hours earlier. They obviously didn’t show themselves but we do know that they came here. We carefully “360” around the village and pick up their tracks again leaving in a different direction. Instead of heading North they are now moving North-West. We notice that they have been careful to avoid being seen, walking a careful loop around the outskirts of the village. Unfortunately they are now using a path and the vehicle can’t follow so we can’t use the headlights to help track and the vehicle will have to take an alternative route. We split up but try to keep in sight of each other as much as possible, in case there is an ambush or the group is close. Unlikely though as they are still hours ahead of us and the going is slow as we can’t risk losing the spoor if they suddenly switch direction again to throw off pursuers. They could however stop to rest allowing us to catch up. We have to be vigilant. After a route that carefully skirts villages but maintains its overall direction we meet up again and a lively discussion develops. Our quarry is now moving fast. Their stride-length has increased. The woman and one other are dropping back however. They may be tiring and struggling to keep up. The others may be speeding up because they have their destination in mind and it is now close. This is a dilemma that has been on our minds constantly. With only two armed men we will be at a big disadvantage once they pick up their weapons. On the other hand if we Volume 5 Issue 4 | 17


catch them before then we may not be able to hold them. On the other hand they may disperse into the villages before picking up the weapons and we risk losing them. The Parks ranger and I discuss it over. It is a difficult decision but in the end we both agree. We jump back into the vehicle and I gun it. We will try to catch them before they reach their destination. We race down the road stopping from time to time to check for spoor. Each time we find it is still there and each time the woman and one other have fallen back behind the others. This is good, if we don’t catch them before the head into the bush then we will focus on grabbing these two. They are tired and slow. We are not. This team can keep going without food or sleep way beyond most people’s limits. They do it all day every day, and often all night. Unexpectedly we round a bend between two small but sharp embankments and find a pair of panicked faces caught in the headlights. As I slow the vehicle they look around desperately for an escape. It is dark around them, made much worse, in spite of the moonlight, by the headlights confusing and blinding their eyes. Two of the team jumps out and order them to lie down on the ground. We continue forward and not far down the road we find three men running toward a small group of huts. We shout at them to stop. They do what they are told. They are searched. No one has brought anything with them. Except the woman. She has cash. Lots of it. They are questioned individually. They maintain that they have come to buy fish to sell in Harare. The story is bizarre. They could easily travel to Kariba, on the other side of the lake from Harare, more cheaply, far quicker and much, much more comfortable than this way. None of us believe it and it appears they don’t either, although they do 18 | Volume 5 Issue 4

stick to the pretense. We check their soles and identify the man who had joined them on the escarpment. He is a local and extremely nervous. We don’t let on that we know he was waiting for them and is their guide. We ask him where they are going to in the middle of the night. He tells us that they were going to spend the night at the group of huts just ahead. I’m stunned. We caught up with them just in time. While the group are seated and guarded we approach the little homestead and call out the owner. He is fully dressed and again, very nervous. He claims that the group had arranged to come and stay with him as they are visiting friends. No surprise that there is another contradictory story. He agrees to allow the scouts to search. They do and nothing is found. Since there are no weapons and no contraband we cannot hold them under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. However, if they can be individually interrogated properly then we are certain that someone will spill the beans and tell us where the weapons and equipment are hidden. We need the police. As they are on a prescribed road they could be questioned on the grounds of suspicious behaviour. I make the call. There are no officers available. In fact there is only one officer in the whole area right now. We are on rural council land and therefore are obliged to release them. We let them go with a warning that they will be watched and followed. They advise us that they have changed their minds about the “fish” and will instead head back to Harare. We hope that is the truth. I wonder if I will next see these people through my rifle sights. Tough times are ahead. I am here to train this team and reorganize them to go after the armed ivory poachers that are increasingly swarming into the area, rather than the relatively harmless meat


poachers who had been laying snares. It will not be easy. We need to expand the network of informers, retrain the scouts - especially in tactical tracking, build a plan for deployments based on information collated from the informers and the trackers in the field about access points, exit points, usual movements, terrain, and so on. We especially need to set up a well trained rapid

response and support team with vehicles and boats. We have some equipment and vehicles pledged. It is a start but we will need many more trained men and weapons so that will be my first mission. It may be a difficult job with scant resources. The men however, I have no doubts about. I am now sure will be our greatest asset.

Based in Zambia, Rory Young has spent almost 25 years working in Central and Southern Africa in wildlife and forestry management as a professional safari guide, ranger, manager and owner. He now alternates between guiding, training safari and wildlife personnel and writing from home, which also allows him time with his Dutch wife Marjet and their two young children. He is a strong proponent of ethical hunting. He writes a regular blog at http://youngrory.wordpress.com/ Volume 5 Issue 4 | 19


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Overland to Central Kafue:

Zamkafuzi

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Part 2 of a wild Zambian Adventure John Evans

O

ur drive into the Zambezi Valley in Western Zambia via Botswana and Chobe, then across the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, our two-day attempted visit to Sioma Ngwezi National Park and the impressive Ngonye Falls were all the subjects of Part 1. Our main objective, however, was Liuwa Plains National Park. So Michele and I in our 1983 petrol Toyota Hilux, named Violet, and our great friends Tim and Denise Blight, in their recently acquired, much more recent model Landrover Defender diesel, headed for Liuwa.

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Our maps showed a road on the western side of the Zambezi River to the small town of Kalabo, the entry point to Liuwa Plains National Park which is situated on the Barotse Flood Plains. The alternative ‘main route’ required two ferry crossings, one to the east bank, to follow the main road through the large town of Mongu, and then another ferry back across the river to get to Kalabo and Liuwa Plains. Why pay two ferry fares, we reasoned, when we could reach Kalabo by simply driving on the west side of the river? From the limited internet information we gleaned on the area we had a rough budget based on an exchange rate of R(ZAR) 1.60 to the rebased Zambian kwacha (ZMW). We expected the high border entry costs but considered the exchange rate of R2.00 per ZMW offered at the border, a rip-off so we had vehemently refused to exchange, preferring to try the bank. Problem was it was already late afternoon and the bank at the border was closed. The auto-teller machine rejected our cards so we spent considerable time trying to convince border officials to accept rands. The rate we received at the bank in Sesheke was only slightly better at R1.843/ZMW. That meant our tight budget was stretched even more thinly! We could exchange only cash at the busy bank as their computer systems were temporarily out of order. Our decision to carry minimal cash and rely on bank cards was counting against us. Soon after the turnoff to the one-engined community ferry near Ngonye falls the new tar of the M10 ended and we had the choice of the newlybuilt but yet-to-becompacted road or the parallel, unmaintained old gravel road. We opted off the rough new road for the old, which looked relatively smooth from across the median between the two. But we soon saw the Landy suddenly disappear in an impressive cloud of dust ahead of us when it hit the first of several large “bulldust pits” (very large potholes, often across the whole road, into which your vehicle falls and is suddenly engulfed in copious fine dust from the underlayer pulverised by all the other vehicles that fell into the hole before yours did). At times bumpy rough seemed preferable to bulldust and at others vice versa. So it was relatively slow, bumpy going for the next about 40km to Sitoti, the last ferry point before Kalabo. At one point, just before an old bridge, I instinctively took the small sand track down the road embankment and through the dry river bed – just Volume 5 Issue 4 | 25


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as well because a section of the bridge had washed away, not obvious as one approached the bridge on a sligh t incline! No signage or even rocks in the road to direct travellers – a reminder to take it easy when driving unfamiliar rural roads in Africa. It was hard to imagine this area being flooded with water when everything was so very dry. Near the Sitoti ferry landing we took the only obvious thick sandy turn, up a little incline, onto the ‘main’ road to Kalabo. This was a track of soft sand, barely one vehicle wide and hedged on both sides with a kind of bramble. Old Violet seemed to be making particularly heavy weather of the deep sand and after a few kilometres we stopped to evaluate whether we really wanted to continue ploughing through the soft sand all the way to Kalabo, which might not have much needed foreign exchange facilities, or opt for the ferry and the larger, more travelled main route on the east side of the river to Mongu which would certainly have banks. When Violet refused to make the turn across the track Tim noted that only her rear wheels were driving. Now drivers of modern permanently all-wheel-drive vehicles are spared the ignominy of having to climb out of the vehicle and manually engage the front free-wheel hubs in such circumstances. It sort of dents the ‘veteran African bush driver’ image. Mercifully, apart from the Lord, my wife and our friends, no one else saw. Later we met a party who had opted for the west bank route and took two days to drive the approximately 200km to Kalabo – heavy sand all the way!

night we heard an unfamiliar soft hoo hoo hoowoowoo owl call. Michele managed to get a good photo of the medium-sized African Wood Owl who seemed relatively unperturbed by our flashlights. Next day we checked every bank and auto teller in Mongu, a largish dusty African frontier town and commercial ‘capital’ of the ‘wild west’ of Zambia, but could not obtain foreign exchange with our bank cards. As it happened we all had Mastercard and these Zambian banks would not process these. Fortunately Denise had a Visa card account which saved the day. With the high Zambian fuel price, extra ferry crossings, Violet thirstier than ever even after fitting a Weber carburettor with much careful engine tuning, Michele and I were having serious doubts about whether we could really afford the full duration of the trip. Yet we felt it was right, in God, to make the trip. The church had blessed us with extra leave, even though we’d only just completed our first year in Barberton and we had realised enough from investments to just cover anticipated expenses. Had we been too eager and been disobedient? We didn’t think so, but… We said nothing to Tim and Denise who announced that evening that they intended to bless us by sponsoring two nights in Liuwa Plains! What amazing friends and what an awesome God we serve! This was another in a line of blessings we have received since the decision to move to Barberton. We would have to see this trip through!

Our map showed the distance from Sitoti to Senanga as 34km yet the well-worn sand road wound over parts of the original built road in places and past it in others, also the victim of successive flooding. Actual distance driven was probably significantly further than 34km to accommodate all the detours and it must have taken more than an hour to reach Senanga. From there it was good tar all the way to Mongu.

The signpost just out of the north-western exit of Mongu read, “Zambezi 25km”. A Chinese company or consortium has apparently rebuilt the causeway across the flood plain every year for the past eleven years. Each year parts of it are washed away and in the following dry season it is rebuilt. We encountered them frantically busy, with large sections of the road under construction and more sandy detour than causeway driving. Various detours and ‘unofficial detours’ had been created crisscrossing the construction areas.

Mutoya, a Christian mission station with a campsite for dusty overlanders that offers green lawns under big spreading trees and clean, rustic but wellmaintained ablutions, was clearly signposted on the outskirts of Mongu on the Senanga road.

We passed some small single family settlements on the flood plain dotted on any slightly raised ground available. On the approach to the ferry point the raised roadway was home to a collection of shacks, narrowing the road considerably.

We had not managed to make email contact before departure but we were warmly received for R85 or ZMW50 per person per night (testimony to more favourable exchange rates in the recent past), so we reserved two nights. As we were turning in for the

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the park is remote and receives only around two hundred visitors per year. It is accessible only in the four-month dry season (July to October). The rest of the year it is typically submerged or too boggy. Personnel at the main lodge pack up the lodge and truck it and themselves out of the park except for the heavier furniture which is stacked to avoid the water. When the floods have subsided and the tracks are passable once again they drive in again and ‘set up shop’ for four months till the next rains. They repeat the process each year. There is a sand airstrip near the main lodge. Crossing the Luanginga River at Kalabo by the handdrawn pontoon is one of those genuine African experiences. The hollow steel pontoon is unstable and just long enough to take two medium-sized vehicles. If the first vehicle drives on directly to the far end, the thing’s likely to tip up risking landing the first vehicle in the drink or at least making the second’s approach impossible! So the first vehicle has to drive on to about halfway then the second begins to edge on while the first then moves forward to counterbalance. Once the vehicles are aboard a hoard of local pedestrians with their bags of salt and meal also embark. We all pay our fares and then it’s all hands to the rope to pull the pontoon across to the other side. The pontoon captain indicates the direction I should take Violet up the sloping sandy bank. Hubs are locked this time. We engage low range second gear and feed her all 64kW but she just runs out of legs before the top. Reverse downhill back towards the pontoon, watched with curiosity by friends, locals and pontoon captain who suggest an alternative route only slightly less steep. Second attempt has the same result. Only then does Violet’s pilot realise that he increased tyre pressure for the tar run into Kalabo and it needs to be reduced again. ‘Bush driver’ image now completely shattered I lament my lack of practice of remote African travelling over the past few years especially, as Violet reaches the top of the river bank and level ground with a few kilowatts to spare. The more powerful Lindy with ‘baboon tyres’, as Tim calls wide tyres, took the steeper route without flinching. Now here’s the thing. There was no track up the river bank, just uniformly sandy. It seems that in such conditions wide, soft tyres rule but in deep sand tracks perhaps narrower tyres work better. We observed that the Park’s Landcruisers were all fitted with original narrow cross ply tyres and they travelled easily along the deep sand tracks. Tim’s theory is that the

narrower tyre pushes up less of a sand wall in front of it and offers less sidewall resistance in the deep tracks than wider tyres – bears thinking about. Plentiful engine power is a strong recommendation for a heavy vehicle in deep sand though. Liuwa Plains National Park is amazing on a grand scale. Endless grassy plains stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions between occasional ‘tree islands’ where trees and bush grow on almost imperceptibly higher ground. Our campsite was thoughtfully arranged in one of the islands, undetectable from the neighbouring plain. Several individual campsites were cleverly arranged around central shared ablutions in such a way that one was hardly aware of other campers. Some tracks are washed away by flooding each year yet others seem to remain for several years, judging by their depth. There are no signposts so GPS with updated Tracks for Africa is essential, together with the sketch map you receive when checking in. It was hot and very dry with only the occasional sighting of small groups of wildebeest (brindled gnu) or zebra mirage-like in the ever-present heat shimmer on the endless horizon. There was water in shallow dambos dotted about the plains. We were a little disappointed not to witness the massing of huge herds preparing for migration yet we were rewarded with good sightings of hyaena, wildebeest, zebra, sidestriped jackal, large flocks of crowned cranes and pelicans, some wattled cranes, open bills, spoonbills, saddlebills, fish eagles, tawny eagles, bateleur, yellowbilled kites and other raptors, sanderlings, redbilled teals, black-winged stilts and flocks of other waders concentrated around some dambos. We headed for what the sketch map described as an “active hyaena den” to find three hyaena cooling off in the shallows of a nearby dambo. We were able to absorb something of the magnitude of God’s awesome creation by just parking for a few hours next to a dambo with huge flocks of birds and seeing wildebeest frolicking and zebra enjoying rolling in the white sand before drinking. Another treat was witnessing the very early, somewhat uncoordinated running of a newborn wildebeest, with umbilicus still evident, around his mum. These little guys are able to stand within a few minutes of birth and run with their mothers within five minutes. Within a day they can fully maintain their place within the herd! A cloudbank on the western horizon added ome effect to the sunset but the general absence of cloud or serious wind to stir the dust meant no classic sunrise or sunset pictures yet the starkness of these times Volume 5 Issue 4 | 29


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held their own beauty. Night sounds were few but we were able to identify squaretailed nightjars and ‘puppy bird’, presumably it was a bird, that made a sound almost like the squealing of small puppies around their mothers, the occasional whoop of a hyaena and brief singing of cicadas. Liuwa’s fees for campers are steep by local South African standards. Western Zambia is remote and the road approaches are tough, which add to this destination’s attractiveness but are bound to incur substantial fuel and maintenance costs just to get there and back. One wonders whether reduced admission charges might not attract more visitors and more income overall. But then there are probably questions of ecological sensitivity and increased numbers of vehicles might be undesirable. Management of wildlife areas is costly but I question the wisdom in ‘fleecing’ a small number of visitors in under-maintained facilities. If one is expected to pay top dollar then broken toilet seats, leaky plumbing and slap dash cleaning of ablutions are not good advertisements for attracting future income. A lesson learned on an extended East African safari

in 2000 was that whatever the conditions one encounters this is the experience. Hankering after better facilities, roads, larger numbers or greater variety of animals and birds only serves to frustrate one and detract from the enjoyment of the African experience you came for. For us every part of a trip is to be savoured, from the roadside stops for tea or repairs to the technical difficulties of negotiating road obstacles en route and the variety of game and birds to be seen. This is the stuff of travelling off the beaten track and builds the repertoire of anecdotes! From Liuwa we headed back to Mongu and Mutoya camp for another night. Our return trip, by the same route, was quicker. Before we realised it we were crossing the river on a temporary steel bridge, apparently only for the use of the construction teams. It seems we’d missed a few detours due to lack of signage, but at all times people were friendly and waved us on with an occasional shrug and smile of disbelief. The Landy had to have a second attempt to get up the soft sandy bank from the campsite. On our way out the gate guard proudly showed us a 1,6m black cobra he had killed the previous night. We set off for Kafue, about 400km eastward on tar.

John and his wife, Michele are veterans of several southern and east- African safaris. They are currently both on the ministry staff of Barberton Christian Church, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

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The art of the saltwater

Drop Shot

Mike Laubscher 34 | Volume 5 Issue 4


Master gamefisherman Mike Laubscher shows you how to make the perfect drop shot

D

rop shots have two distinct differences in respect of Saltwater and Bass fishing, and the methods used are actually very different whilst both are very effective forms of fishing. Here we will look into various forms and applications of saltwater drop shot.

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Kingfish caught on a Paddle Tail Drop shot lure

Dorado (Mahi-mahi) on Drop Shot offshore Durban 36 | Volume 5 Issue 4


Having fished many disciplines I like to experiment and mix and match, like the ladies do with their clothes; and in doing so I have found several effective ways in which to fish drop shot in saltwater. It is important to have a good arsenal of techniques when going out on the water as this allows you to find the best method to get fish according to the circumstances at hand, and thereby greatly increasing your chances of getting fish, the big one, or even to land the proverbial one that usually “gets away”. The first thing that you need to do is get the right tackle for the job, as you can go from ultra light to extra heavy, the length of the rod and the reel capacity are all factors. I am not going to go too much into the tackle here except to note the important things to look for when buying your tackle. The rod needs to be a fast action rod and you must match the rod with the weights of the jig heads you want to throw for example a medium heavy rod will usually allow you to throw from a 1/8 ounce Jig head to a 3/4 ounce Jig Head and if you can only afford one rod, then this size is my recommendation as a good all round versatile rod. The reel should be able to carry enough braid (200-300m) to allow a fish to run and must be a saltwater rated reel with a good front drag system and with the medium heavy rod I would fit a 2500 to 3000 size reel with 10 – 12 lb braid. If you are fishing in estuaries I would go down to a medium or medium light; for the surf an 8-9ft Heavy rod; and a light jigging stick for heavy off shore drop shot. The weight and hook size will have to match the lure you are using, the fish you are hunting and you also need to take into consideration the wind, current and depth of water you are fishing. This is very important as you need to be able to get your lure to where the fish are. Generally the rule of thumb is to let your weight be the least possible to get your lure where it needs to be with the most possible action.

Estuaries and harbours I usually like to use a 1/8 or 1/4 ounce with a 1/0 or 2/0 hook, and will even go down to a 1/16 or 1/32 in the shallow water, remember the lighter your weight the better your lure action; but the higher up in the water column it will swim. ●● Cast at the bank and retrieve into the deeper water, this can only be done from a boat or ski, and in certain places where you can cast across a channel. This work extremely well on a falling tide as the predator fish (The ones we want to catch) are waiting in ambush at the drop off for the bait fish to come off the bank. You can also go weightless or use the down shot or bottom method. ●● Casting parallel to the bank at a slight angle to get into deeper water and then retrieving your lure along the drop off. Again this is where the predators are waiting to ambush and hunt the smaller bait fish. You can also go weightless or use the down shot or bottom method. ●● Casting at structure like rocks, piers, buoy’s etc. This is extremely effective just after a high tide has turned it has a draining effect which sucks the bait fish off the structure and allows them to become venerable. The predators know this and so come to hunt. You can also go weightless or use the down shot or bottom Volume 5 Issue 4 | 37


Walla-walla (Ribbon fish) on Drop Shot

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method. ●● Casting from the bank or pier into the open water, and then retrieving back to you, do not pull out to soon as many times the fish will follow you lure right in close before he takes. You can also go weightless or use the down shot or bottom method. If on a boat or ski you can also try a vertical drop shot at the deepest point of a drop of or if you find holes or structure in the deeper water. You can also use the down shot or bottom method. Retrieves can be from slow to fast, and in saltwater you can never retrieve too fast for a game fish, especially king fish. You can also fish weightless for great top water action in all these situations. Best in most circumstances is to allow your lure to get to the bottom and allow your line to sink and then to start retrieving. Try different speeds and actions and you should soon discover which one is working.

Off Shore Drop shot has so many variables and conditions, but is awesome fun Here I usually like to fish from a 1/2 ounce to a 2 ounce jig head with a 2/0 – 6/0 hook. Again the lighter the better for the best action, but you also need to take the depth, the wind and the current into consideration and at what depth you want to fish. Ways I usually fish drop shot off shore: Get the boat/ski behind the back line on an open beach area and cast towards the beach into the surf and retrieve back to the boat. This is extremely productive and you can go heavy to fish deeper down or lighter to fish near or on the surface. Best is a fast retrieve. Warning: Taking your boat near backline is dangerous and if you are not experienced DO NOT GO THERE. ALWAYS have BOTH the motors running and in gear and a competent skipper NOT fishing and in FULL CONTROL of the boat WATCHING that you DO NOT drift into the surf zone. NEVER do this in front of rocks. · Trolling drop shot lures behind the boat anywhere from 3-15Km/hr. You must use heavier tackle here as invariably the pick ups are big fish, this method is extremely effective for sailfish. · Vertical Drop Shot, here you drift your boat/ski over reefs, pinnacles and ledges, drop your lure on the side of the boat/ski that is in the opposite direction

to your movement so they do not go under the boat and let it go to the bottom and retrieve back up to the boat, try various retrieves, jerking actions and speeds. Here I like to use a heavy leader for 40-50 lbs and you can also use a short wire bite trace, but I find I get more hits without using wire. · Regular Drop Shot, which is basically like spooning, here you cast out with the wind to get maximum distance and retrieve back to the boat. You can let the lure sink or start retrieving immediately after the lure hits the water. This is a fast retrieval style and you can try jerking and pausing your retrieves till you get a take. · Surface Drop Shot, which is as close to plugging that drop shot can get. Here you fish your lure weightless and cast out and vary your retrieves, this works well in the shallow water and over pinnacles. · Bottom Drop Shot, here you get your lure to the bottom and you simply twitch your rod up and down, or retrieve 5 or so turns and drop down again repeatedly. Here you ca also use the down shot method of bottom method described below which are extremely effective for getting bottom fish as it keeps your lure just above the surface. Here you can get rock cod, reds, cob and geelbek, all sorts of game fish and often really nice big fish.

Rock and Surf Drop Shot Again there are many ways to drop shot here, and I usually use anything from 1/8 to 2 ounce jig heads according to the tackle I am using. Best is the 1/4 and 1/2 ounce weights, but if the surf or wind is up then you have to go heavier. · On open beaches look for the deeper holes and throw there, vary your retrieves as with a slow retrieve you can fish the bottom and with a faster retrieve you can fish higher up. You can also use the down shot or bottom method her and if the water is calm enough you can throw weightless. · Look for rocky out crops and throw around here, I usually always fish fast here to eliminate the high chance of snagging, here you will get the predators hunting the fish seeking refuge by these structures. · At the rocks you can get out on the rock and throw into the deeper water behind the ledges, vary your speeds and retrievals and try different depths for retrieving your lure. Make sure you have sighted a spot to land your fish before you start fishing as with the lighter drop shot tackle you most likely will not be able to bring your fish over the ledge and will have to Volume 5 Issue 4 | 39


lead him to a suitable landing bay or gully.

Drop Shot

· At the rocks you can throw parallel to the surf into bays, I have found this extremely effective especially when the rocks go out to the backline of the bay. I also like to fish weightless here and with the down shot method if. At the rocks you can also go smaller and fish all the gullies, here I like to use a 1/16 or 1/32 with a smaller 1-2 inch lure. The down shot method also works well here but is subject to snagging.

This is a method I learnt from Bass fishing which I tried out in saltwater with pleasant results, in fact the first time I put the rig down I was into a fish before I even brought my bail arm over on my reel. Since then this method has produced me many quality fish.

Jig Head Drop Shot This is probably the most well known method used for drop shot. You attach a short leader of 300mm to your braid with a double figure of eight or uni knot. The gauge of this leader can be from 6lbs up to 30lbs or even more depending on where you are fishing and what you are fishing for, and you may even need to use a short 100mm steel bite trace if you are off shore fishing for toothy critters. Generally I like to use leaders in the 10 -20lb range for general saltwater drop shot, and probably use 20lb the most so that the leader does not get rubbed off by the roughness of the fish’s mouth. In estuaries 10lb is usually enough. Onto the short leader you attach your jig head with a single figure of eight or uni knot. Onto the jig head you put your soft plastic lure which must be put on carefully and straight to get the correct action. The hook also should come out at about 1/3 of the length of your lure and not more than ½ to allow the best movement and action of the soft plastic bait. This is very important and an area where I have seen many an angler fail, which is not good because you are doomed before you even get your line wet. Usually the use of a Jig Head leans it self towards faster aggressive type retrievals, but it can also be fished slowly. The weight of your jig head is going to be the determining factor here and will dictate the depth your lure will swim at according to the speed you retrieve. You also get different style jig heads the most common is the round jig head which is best for faster retrievals, the nitro or arrow style jig heads are best used with a medium retrieve to allow the erratic movement that the shapes cause, the football style jig heads are best for slower fishing on the bottom.

Down shot Drop shot, and Bottom

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This method is for bottom and slower style fishing, but works like a charm. Here you use a standard J type hook, I personally prefer to use a circle style hook and once you get used to these you will never turn back, the difference is that the circle hook does the work for you before you strike and it is designed to get the fish in the corner of his mouth and not in the throat. The rig is tied using a normal tear drop style sinker from 1/8 to 4 ounces, 300mm up the leader you tie your hook in with a Palomar knot, ensuring the hook points up. You can go higher up but I have found that 300mm is the best. You can also tie in more than one hook up to 5 or 6 but 1 or 2 works best. You then slip the hook through the nose of your soft plastic bait and you’re a ready to get your line stretched. You can use these in estuaries, harbours, beaches, rocks and off shore. You can also use a Bass hook in areas where there are lots of rocks and structure to reduce the snags. Bottom Drop Shot: You can also tie a treble swivel in your line and have a short leader of 150 - 200mm for your hook and 300mm for your sinker in the same way you would set up a basic bottom trace for bait. This also works extremely well and the techniques are the same as those for the down shot method. Note: Because your lure is free from the sinker any little movement of you rod will impart an awesome action to the lure. Do dot jerk vigorously as you lure will bounce around like crazy. Use a slower gentler type rod movement for best results. Try it out in a pool and see for yourself.

Weightless Drop shot As the name suggests this is fishing your soft plastic bait without any sinkers, weights or jig heads, and is basically a top water method for fishing your lure. Some lure float and so can be used like a popper and some are heavy and will sink so you can retrieve them just sub surface (my favourite), you can also get the heavily salt impregnated lures which will sink. Here you tie a J hook or Circle hook and slip through the nose of the lure. I prefer a Bass hook as it allows the hook to be further down the lure and I find I


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Soldier Bream on Reef fishing Drop Shot

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

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get more hook ups this way as opposed to the hook through the nose where you get many strikes but no hook ups. As this method is mostly top water it is best fished fast, with the occasional pause of 2-3 seconds. Having said this when you cast out wait 2-5 seconds before retrieving as I have got so many fish before I have started retrieving or as I start retrieving it’s not a joke, especially in harbours and estuaries.

Lures

some saltwater fish on Bass lures. My favourite colour is white or off white and if I was reduced to one colour it would be white, but you must try the natural colours, bright colours and even the clear ones. The basic principal is brighter colours on brighter days and during the day, and also in stained and turbid water. Darker colours on dark days overcast days, early morning and late afternoon. Clear lures when the water is extremely clear. And white at anytime or condition.

You are not limited to saltwater lures, many bass lures, worms and flukes, and so on work extremely well and you should try them, I have got some awe-

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Get our RSS feed CLICK HERE Don’t you just hate it when large international magazines refuse to publish the work of budding new authors? “Give us a list of where your articles were published and we will consider you.” they write in their demoralising emails. Everybody has to start somewhere. Talk about Catch 22. Well, enough is enough. We feel rookie writers need to get a chance to strut their stuff, so we negotiated with The Ultimate Field Guide to sponsor a Rookie Writer article in our next couple of issues to help those authors who are not famous - yet. So here it is - the first Rookie Writer article. Read them and vote for your favorite. You may just help to launch the next Wilbur Smith on a writing career.

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African Safari: The hunt but the memories remain

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t is over, n

y mother patiently waited outside of the public library as I fidgeted in the check- out line. In my hands were two books which would light a desire for African hunting and one day lead me to that continent on the other side of the earth. The year was 1966 and the books were Horn of the Hunter by Robert Ruark and The End of the Game by Peter Beard. These two works, along with a big stack of Outdoor Life magazines, given to me by a family friend, kindled a fever that would not see its resolution for another two decades.

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Michael Walker

M


October 1985 found me on a 2 week hunt for plains game and Cape Buffalo in Zimbabwe. A boyhood friend and hunting companion had helped me to book an end of season hunt. A few years later it was South Africa. During those hunts there were many nice trophies, but also moments where my emotions ran the gamut from giddy excitement to fear and shame to serene contentment. Now, twenty-some years later, the trophies have become secondary to so many other aspects of those hunts. I can sit back and look at the heads of Cape Buffalo, Kudu, Eland, Gemsbok, and a few other species that hang on the walls of our family room. Each one has its unique story and value depending on the difficulty of the stalk or the range of the shot, the distance walked in however high the temperature was on a certain day, or some other peculiarity. These days my fondest memories don’t seem to be related to the actual hunt, but more to the little aspects of daily life while on safari. They were the things that made up the total experience of being in Africa. The gentle cooing of an Emerald Spotted Wood Dove as its call descended the musical scale octave by octave. The brilliant colors of Lilac Breasted Rollers and the crazy scolding of a Go-Away Bird. All of those thorns that cut your arms and legs, and snagged your clothes and skin; and the one that went through the sole of your shoe. Those gigantic termite mounds and the deep ant bear holes. The stunning green of a tree that stood alone amid a dry and stunted landscape. The massive boulders that comprised the Kopjies of the Matopos Hills. The animal bones, porcupine quills, and land snail shells that littered the cave where a big Leopard lived on the old Boer farmers land. The nests of the Weaver Birds that hung like decorations on a Christmas tree. The smell of a wood-fire and the cool satisfaction of a drink after a long hot day. The way the cold bit in the early morning and how the sun beat you like a hammer later that same day. Canned peaches could be as delicious and satisfying a meal as anything you’d ever eaten before. Clean, cool water felt like heaven ,whether splashing it over your face or slugging it down it after walking miles back to the hunting vehicle. The tired looking little grey donkeys that pulled carts along the dirt roads with seemingly impossibly heavy loads piled high upon them; and the brightly colored town buses crammed to near bursting with people and a mountain of baggage on top. The sawing sound of an unseen Leopard as it made its way through the bush, elicit50 | Volume 5 Issue 4


ing a hell-raising ruckus from the local Baboon tribe. There was the Dung Beetle crossing the trail, as you stalked a herd of Cape Buffalo, backpedaling a golf ball size burden to his den. The Siafu ant that crawled up the PH’s pants forcing him to strip out of them in order to get it off. There were snakes too… lots of snakes. The Cobras, the Boomslang, the huge Rock Python , the Puff Adders, some that you couldn’t identify and most of all, that twelve foot Black Mamba that raced beside the vehicle. There was the way the locals always stared at you as you drove past them. How did those women manage those bundles of wood or those five gallon cans of whatever-it-was on their heads? They always seemed to have a baby strapped to their backs too. Riding in a Land Rover could be a bumpy, neck jerking, leg cramping ordeal. Now,every time you smell diesel fumes, you’re reminded of those hunting cars. And there were insects. You noticed how colorful some of the ticks which infested the hides of the game were. There were those big black Scorpions and their more dangerous but smaller yellowish cousins. The Millipede that looked like a big cigar walking through the grass. And oh those maddening little Mopane flies that swarmed around your ears, mouth, and eyes! There were so many animals that you saw in the process of scouting or just driving to and from a hunting area. All of those Jackals and Spring Hares, Genet Cats and Steenboks, Rabbits and Honey Badgers; Hyraxes and Klipspringers, Tortoises and Monitor Lizards, goats by the number and long horned Afrikaaner cattle. There were customs that were a part of the Rhodesian societal traditions that I found to be fascinating as well as humorous. If the PH said, “we’ll be going there just now.” it meant that we’d be going there later. Afternoon tea became another part daily safari life. I would never had dreamed that I would be drinking hot tea with milk and sugar at four in the afternoon with the temperature hovering around the high end of the 90’s. But after a couple of times, I found it to be another chance for conversation and tale telling. I had to laugh out loud when the PH told one of his associates of “…this bloody awful drink they have in the States… it’s called iced tea!” The Land Rover bucked and swayed its way up a gently sloping dirt track. A friend of the PH had offered to let us hunt on his ranch, apologizing that it was just a “small” place; only 5000 acres. As the car reached the crest of the hill, I looked out across a landscape that would forever remain in my mind.

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It was late afternoon and the sun cast an orange-yellow light on distant hills that at first glance looked like a city skyline. But this skyline was formed of colossal boulders, each as big as a large building, piled one upon the other. It was as if the hand of God had reached down and neatly placed them like child might do with a handful of pebbles. Stark greenery obscured their bases and was scattered here and there throughout the rock. A deep blue sky completed the picture. As I surveyed that beautiful scene I felt a deep satisfaction and peace unlike any I had ever or may ever feel again. As we came to a halt, I silently reflected on the landscape. It brought to mind some words from Out of Africa : “Here I am, where I ought to be…”

Michael grew up hunting and fishing, trapping raccoons and opossums and selling them to the locals for their dinner menu. He also served in the US Army during the early 1970’s . He was active in the health care industry for the past 38 years in the Cardiology and Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Areas . He hunted in Africa twice; Zimbabwe in 1985 and South Africa in 1989. He now has a passion for things African and hopes to return to take all of those pictures that I was unable to get while concentrating on hunting. Volume 5 Issue 4 | 53


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African hunters of yesteryear

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

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The Maneating lions of

Tsavo

The Swahili and other native tribes

by Lieut.-Col. J. H. Patterson, D.S.O.

I have always been very keenly interested in the different native races of Africa, and consequently availed myself of every opportunity of studying their manners and customs. I had little scope for this at Tsavo, however, as the district around us was practically uninhabited. Still there was of course a good number of Swahili among my workmen, together with a few Wa Kamba, Wa N’yam Wezi, and others, so I soon became more or less acquainted with the habits of these tribes. The Swahili live principally along the coast of British East Africa and at Zanzibar. They are a mixed race, being the descendants of Arab fathers and negro mothers. Their name is derived from the Arabic word suahil, coast; but it has also been said, by some who have found them scarcely so guileless as might have been expected, to be really a corruption of the words sawa hili, that is, “those who cheat all alike.” However that may be, the men are as a rule of splendid physique and well qualified for the calling that the majority of them follow, that of caravan porters. They are a careless, light-hearted, Volume 5 Issue 4 | 65


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improvident people, and are very fond of all the good things of this world, enjoying them thoroughly whenever they get the chance.

and gravely assured me that he would not spoil the tin!

Their life is spent in journeying to and from the interior, carrying heavy loads of provisions and tradegoods on the one journey, and returning with similar loads of ivory or other products of the country. They are away for many months at a time on these expeditions, and consequently -- as they cannot spend money on the march -- they have a goodly number of rupees to draw on their return to Mombasa. These generally disappear with wonderful rapidity, and when no more fun can be bought, they join another caravan and begin a new safari to the Great Lakes, or even beyond. Many a time have I watched them trudging along the old caravan road which crossed the Tsavo at a ford about half a mile from the railway station: here a halt was always called, so that they might wash and bathe in the cool waters of the river. THE OLD CARAVAN ROAD WHICH CROSSED THE TSAVO AT A FORD.

SWAHILI CARAVAN PORTERS. Nothing ever seems to damp the spirits of the Swahili porter. Be his life ever so hard, his load ever so heavy, the moment it is off his back and he has disposed of his posho (food), he straightway forgets all his troubles, and begins to laugh and sing and joke with his fellows as if he were the happiest and luckiest mortal alive. Such was my cook, Mabruki, and his merry laugh was quite infectious. I remember that one day he was opening a tin of biscuits for me, and not being able to pull off the under-lid with his fingers, he seized the flap in his magnificent teeth and tugged at it. I shouted to him to stop, thinking that he might break a tooth; but he misunderstood my solicitude

The Swahili men wear a long white cotton garment, like a night-shirt, called a kanzu; the women -- who are too liberally endowed to be entirely graceful -- go about with bare arms and shoulders, and wear a long brightly-coloured cloth which they wind tightly round their bosoms and then allow to fall to the feet. All are followers of the Prophet, and their social customs are consequently much the same as those of any other Mohammedan race, though with a good admixture of savagedom. They have a happy knack of giving a nickname to every European with whom they have to do, such nickname generally making reference to something peculiar or striking in his habits, temper, or appearance. On the whole, they are a kindly, generous folk, whom one cannot help liking. Of the many tribes which are to be seen about the railway on the way up from the coast, perhaps the most extraordinary-looking are the Wa Nyika, the people who inhabit the thorny nyika (wilderness) which borders on the Taru Desert. They are exceedingly ugly and of a low type. The men wear nothing in the way of dress but a scanty and very dirty cloth thrown over the shoulders, while the women attire themselves only in a short kilt which is tied round them very low at the waist. Both men and women adorn themselves with brass chains round the neck and coils of copper and iron wire round the arms. The nearest native inhabitants to Tsavo are the Wa Taita, who dwell in the mountains near N’dii, some thirty miles away. My work often took me to this Volume 5 Issue 4 | 67


place, and on one of my visits, finding myself with some spare time on my hands, I set out to pay a long promised visit to the District Officer. A fairly good road ran from N’dii Station to his house at the foot of the mountains, about four miles away, and on my arrival I was not only most hospitably entertained but was also introduced to M’gogo, the Head Chief of the Wa Taita, who had just come in for a shauri (consultation) about some affair of State. The old fellow appeared delighted to meet me, and promptly invited me to his kraal, some way up the hills. I jumped at the prospect of seeing the Wa Taita at home, so presently off we started on our heavy climb, my Indian servant, Bhawal, coming with us. After a couple of hours’ steady scramble up a steep and slippery goatpath, we arrived at M’gogo’s capital, where I was at once introduced to his wives, who were busily engaged in making pombe (a native fermented drink) in the hollowed-out stump of a tree. I presented one of them with an orange for her child, but she did not understand what it was for on tasting it she made a wry face and would not eat it. Still she did not throw it away, but carefully put it into a bag with her other treasures -- doubtless for future investigation. As soon as the women saw Bhawal, however, he became the centre of attraction, and I was eclipsed. He happened to have on a new puggaree, with lots of gold work on it, and this took their fancy immensely; they examined every line most carefully and went into ecstasies over it -- just as their European sisters would have done over the latest Parisian creation. We made a short halt for rest and refreshment, and then started again on our journey to the top of the hills. After a stiff climb for another two hours, part of it through a thick black forest, we emerged on the summit, where I found I was well rewarded for my trouble by the magnificent views we obtained on all sides. The great Kilima N’jaro stood out particularly well, and made a very effective background to the fine panorama. I was surprised to find a number of well-fed cattle on the mountain top, but I fancy M’gogo thought I was casting an evil spell over them when he saw me taking photographs of them as they grazed peacefully on the sweet grass which covered the plateau. Like most other natives of Africa, the Wa Taita are exceedingly superstitious, and this failing is turned to good account by the all-powerful “witch-doctor” or “medicine-man.” It is, for instance, an extraordinary sight to see the absolute faith with which a Ki Taita will blow the simba-dawa, or “lion medicine “, to the four points of the compass before lying down to sleep in the open. This dawa -- which is, of course, 68 | Volume 5 Issue 4

obtainable only from the witch-doctor -- consists simply of a little black powder, usually carried in a tiny horn stuck through a slit in the ear; but the Ki Taita firmly believes that a few grains of this dust blown round him from the palm of the hand is a complete safeguard against raging lions seeking whom they may devour; and after the blowing ceremony he will lie down to sleep in perfect confidence, even in the midst of a man-eater’s district. In the nature of things, moreover, he never loses this touching faith in the efficacy of the witch-doctor’s charm; for if he is attacked by a lion, the brute sees to it that he does not live to become an unbeliever, while if he is not attacked, it is of course quite clear that it is to the dawa that he owes his immunity.

SUCH WAS MY COOK, MABRUKI. For the rest, the Wa Taita are essentially a peaceloving and industrious people; and, indeed, before the arrival of the British in the country, they hardly ever ventured down from their mountain fastnesses, owing to their dread of the warlike Masai. Each man has as many wives as he can afford to pay for in sheep or cattle; he provides each spouse with a separate establishment, but the family huts are


clustered together, and as a rule all live in perfect harmony. The most curious custom of the tribe is the filing of the front teeth into sharp points, which gives the whole face a most peculiar and rather diabolical expression. As usual, their ideas of costume are rather primitive; the men sometimes wear a scrap of cloth round the loins, while the women content themselves with the same or with a short kilt. Both sexes adorn themselves with a great quantity of copper or iron wire coiled round their arms and legs, and smear their bodies all over with grease, the men adding red clay to the mixture. Many of the women also wear dozens of rows of beads, while their ears are hung with pieces of chain and other fantastic ornaments. The men always carry bows and poisoned arrows, as well as a seemie (a short, roughly-fashioned sword) hung on a leathern thong round the waist. A three-legged stool is also an important part of their equipment, and is slung on the shoulder when on the march.

The next people met with on the road to the Great Lakes are the Wa Kamba, who inhabit the Ukambani province, and may be seen from M’toto Andei to the Athi River. They are a very large tribe, but have little cohesion, being split up, into many clans under chiefs who govern in a patriarchal kind of way. In appearance and dress -- or the want of it -- they are very like the Wa Taita, and they have the same custom of filing the front teeth. As a rule, too, they are a peace-loving people, though when driven to it by hunger they will commit very cruel and treacherous acts of wholesale murder. While the railway was being constructed, a severe famine occurred in their part of the country, when hundreds of them died of starvation. During this period they several times swooped down on isolated railway maintenance gangs and utterly annihilated them, in order to obtain possession of the food which they knew would be stored in the camps. These attacks were always made by night. Like most other native races in East Africa, their only arms are the bow and poisoned arrow, but in the use of these primitive weapons they are specially expert. The arrow-head remains in the flesh when the shaft is withdrawn, and if the poison is fresh, paralysis and death very quickly follow, the skin round the wound turning yellow and mortifying within an hour or two. This deadly poison is obtained, I believe, by boiling down a particular root, the arrow-heads being dipped in the black, pitchy-looking essence which remains. I am glad to say, however, that owing to the establishment of several Mission Stations amongst them, the Wa Kamba are quickly becoming the most civilised natives in the country; and the missionaries have adopted the sensible course of teaching the people husbandry and the practical arts and crafts of everyday life, in addition to caring for their spiritual needs.

THE WOMEN . - - WEAR A LONG, BRIGHTLYCOLOURED CLOTH.

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A stream cannot rise above its source. If you climb up a tree, you must climb down the same tree. Volume 5 Issue 4 | 79


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

Viva la Revolution!

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Make a Plan

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

Hints and advice are given in good faith to be of help in emergencies. The writer as well as the publisher, personnel and agents concerned does not accept any responsibility for any injury, accident or damages that might arise from the use of any of the hints. 86 | Volume 5 Issue 4


Make fire with a beer can and chocolate CLICK HERE to buy your copy of Make a Plan now for only $8.50

Make a fire with a beer tin and chocolate? Believe me it works, although it requires quite a lot of effort. ●● Firstly, take the tin of beer, open it and pour it in a glass or mug. That now, is to quench your thirst during all the hard work that is waiting. You can, of course, also use an empty one. ●● Turn the tin upside down and you will see that the bottom side forms a cavity or concave. This form can serve as a parabolic reflector to concentrate sunbeams with and thus enable you to start a fire, but it needs to be polished first until it shines like a mirror. It is here where the chocolates come in. ●● Tear a piece off from the paper covering the chocolate, melt/lick a piece of chocolate wet and spread it thickly on the rough inside of the paper (it must be rather lumpish). Now polish the cavity underneath the tin to a super shine with the chocolate it until you can see yourself clearly in it. ●● It is not easy or quick. The problem is that the modern beer tin is sprayed with a layer of clear lacquer to protect it from rust, and this stuff is difficult to remove. You can, of course, use any other super fine polish paste or you can cover the underside of the tin with tinfoil to form a parabolic mirror. Ordinary kitchen foil is adequate, also the foil where the slab chocolate is sealed in. Be sure the shiny side is outside and that it is rubbed flat against the tin so that it will accept the true parabolic curve. ●● Now you are ready to make your fire. Take a piece of the chocolate covering or any other paper, roll it in skittle form and straighten the point out with care. Now aim your parabolic mirror perpendicular to the sun (hold the tin against your chest) and move the piece of paper slowly nearer to the point where the sunbeams are focused on through the parabolic mirror. Keep it steady there until it finally catches fire. ●● You can also use the parabolic reflector that is in a torch or in the head lights or spot lights of a vehicle (unfortunately the reflector of a sealed beam type vehicle light cannot be removed). ●● Remove the bulb out and push a piece of rolled up paper in the hole up to the focus point and you can again start a fire with sunbeams. .

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Your African safari is a unique experience. Now you can document your hunt day by day and revisit those exciting times for years to come. 31 Full days of journaling space with vital information: ●● safari clothing ●● personal item checklists ●● health and first aid ●● mammal identification information with photographs, tracks, dung and SCI and Rowland Ward qualification minimums.

Know how to administer CPR. Deal with dangerous animals up close. Identify and treat bites from snakes, spiders and scorpions. Know the right emergency numbers to dial in an emergency – it’s all there. A must-have item for every serious hunter. Sturdy PlastiCoil binding for durability and easy opening, 110 pages, 6.0 x 9.0 in. Full color covers and cream interior printed in black and white.

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True North

John Eldredge

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There is no escaping this war Remember, when Jesus boiled his whole mission down to healing the brokenhearted and setting prisoners free from darkness, he was referring to all of us. Our modern, scientific, Enlightenment worldview has simply removed spiritual warfare as a practical category, and so it shouldn’t surprise us that we can’t see spiritual strongholds after we say they don’t really exist. If you deny the battle raging against your heart, well, then, the thief just gets to steal and kill and destroy. Some friends of mine started a Christian school together a few years ago. It had been their shared dream for nearly all their adult lives. After years of praying and talking and dreaming, it finally happened. Then the assault came . . . but they would not see it as such. It was “hassles” and “misunderstanding” at first. As it grew worse, it became a rift between them. A mutual friend warned them of the warfare, urged them to fight it as such. “No,” they insisted, “this is about us. We just don’t see eye-to-eye.” I’m sorry to say their school shut its doors a few months ago, and the two aren’t speaking to each other. Because they refused to fight it for the warfare it was, they got taken out. I could tell you many, many stories like that. There is no war is the subtle—but pervasive—lie sown by an Enemy so familiar to us we don’t even see him. For too long he has infiltrated the ranks of the church, and we haven’t even recognized him.



African Expedition Magazine Volume 6 Issue 1