In the June issue of the Wildlife Camp newsletter we’ll explain how one staff member won himself a whole crate of his favourite beer and why the Zambian flags flew half-mast on the 27th. And then, even though we still do not know why the chicken crossed the road, we can now confidently say why the Puku crossed the river.
But let us start with the bad news.
Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba, former president of Zambia passed away on June 18th at his house in Lusaka – he was 63 years old. He suffered from a poor heart. Chiluba, or “the liberator” as he was known to his supporters when he became president in 1991, served in this position until 2002. During his time as Zambian president he won himself a lot of praise for the reforms he brought about in a country that became independent in 1964. He had a state-funeral on Monday the 27th and the day was declared a public holiday.
Run for Fun
The annual South Luangwa Conservation Society Fun Run took place on the 18th at Mfuwe International Airport. In order to get the Wildlife Camp staff motivated to participate in the 10km run I put up a crate of beer for every member of our staff who crosses the finish line before I do – but on one condition: at least 25% of our staff run for fun.
Their response was fantastic but I got a little worried when some of them started training during their lunch hours, running up and down between the workshop and the campsite. After all, I did not want to spend my money on 10 crates of beer I would never drink myself! The story spread quickly… Even non-Wildlife Camp locals were talking about these crates of beer… When the big day finally arrived I had to run my own socks off but still was not able to keep Sipiliamu Njobvu, a brick layer and over-all very nice chap behind me. Out of about 200 runners he finished 3rd (I was 6th and Andrew Tembo was 8th). The brick-layer from Wildlife had done it. He had won himself a crate of beer and a handsome amount of prize money. Very well done to him and to all the other Wildlife Camp members who finished the race! We’ll do the same next year.
In last month’s newsletter I deliberately avoided writing anything about the big game we find here in South Luangwa. Guides are often overwhelmed by requests for the large and dangerous animals. In June we did not set out on game drives to find the big ones – They found us, right here in Wildlife Camp.
We had elephants in camp during June, one of which did a very good job at removing the plants next to the restaurant from their pots. There was a leopard in a Mopane-tree in campsite, and a buffalo on the river bank. An Aardvark on the road just outside camp capped off a good month. The lions also paid us a number of visits and kept Camp awake one night with loud roar after loud roar. And then we do not mention the animals that came late at night when everybody was fast asleep.
It is a massive privilege to share our ‘garden’ with magnificent animals such as these!
Moment of the month.
When Wildlife Camp woke up one morning all seemed pretty normal. It was maybe a little cooler than the previous weeks, but that is to be expected in June. The safari-drives all left as usual and the staff was preparing for the day ahead. Then, on a sand-island in the middle of the Luangwa River a young Puku was spotted standing around and seeming a little anxious. The questions started being asked:
How did it get there?
Why did it go there?
How did it survive the crocodile-infested water surrounding its new island?
And more importantly, what will happen to it now?
As the day progressed our questions were answered one-by-one. Lion tracks were on the roads around camp and some people recalled hearing Puku-alarm calls during the night. The big cats had obviously scared the poor Puku into the river and onto the island. Evading the crocs can only be put down to luck, but they definitely noticed the poor thing, as by the time the sun started heating the valley (and the cold-blooded crocs) numerous large ones were seen patrolling around the island, clearly aware that food might try and cross their domain. The Puku wandered restlessly up and down the island, looking for the shortest possible route across the river. The drama went on and by lunch-time we got regular radio-updates from the camp-site bar regarding the movements of our stranded Puku.
“It’s still on the island, Over”
“The crocs are gathering around, Over”
It was like watching a scary movie. At about 14:30, maybe trying to catch the crocs having their siestas, the little antelope made a dash for safety. He had about 25m’s of water to navigate. By the time he was half-way most crocodiles had noticed his move. They came closer and closer and the little Puku moved faster and faster. It was a slow-motion moment of the month when the Puku’s little hooves finally hit solid ground and it sped off, moving further out of the reach of danger. The radio in the reception went off:
“He made it! He made it! Over and Out.”
And that is all the news for June.
Kind Regards from the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia.