Special Anti-Poaching Edition

A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place. ~ African Proverb

There is a great African proverb that says, “A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place.” Every time I think of our camp life, I think of this proverb. We’re a small company, and from a distance a small forest. I’d like to think we’re made up of a variety of trees. In our Shenton Safaris’ Family we have Kigelia, Mopane and Ebony trees. Derek and Juliet, the regal ebony tree. Some trees such as the mopane are known for the strength and endurance, much like Andrew “Big” who can lift and carry anything that is needed across camp. Others instead, as the kigelia, for their wisdom bearing fruits, like Gerard a fountain of knowledge that he holds in reserve ready to share.

Our Shenton Safaris’ Family is a mixed forest, where every individual tree is fundamental to our forests’ well-being. The Shenton’s will be supporting every single member of our extended safari family, whether or not we manage to have any guests this year. It is them and only them at the front line of responsibility. There is no government support, no furlough payments here. If they are not able to give our team these funds there will not be any food on the table. Thankfully, the Shenton’s have enough saved to cover the payments to our staff for the next 6 months, but today we are reaching out to all our past or future guests, for financial support towards our anti-poaching efforts if you feel inspired to aid with this.

Where has this month gone? How many extremes in emotions have we all experienced? The world is in limbo, and no one has the answers to the ever increasing list of questions that we all have. April, May and June have always been a time of intense work for us, usually. Derek would be back and forth opening up the roads to camp. Starting the camp build at Kaingo. Preparing materials, grasses and bamboos, that need to be cultivated for Mwamba. It would be one of the busiest months on the desk for me. Preparing all the logistics for the year for our bookings. Ensuring that everything runs seamlessly for each guest in camp. Collecting the final “last minute” bookings for the end of season. Organising and meeting up with all of our team in camp! On the 18th of May we would have welcomed our first guests to Kaingo. Then on the 1st of June we would have opened up our little jewel, Mwamba. Instead? We’re all still far apart from each other.

Instead of our guests, right now we have a skeleton team both at Kaingo and Mwamba. Derek went to the camps a month or so back now to open up the roads to the remote northern areas around Kaingo and Mwamba. This work – though we are not open for guests – is crucial for the rapid access anti-poaching teams to have means of entry to the hot-spot areas for poaching. Tourism conveys such a protective presence and the poachers will be moving further forward and becoming bolder and bolder as the year goes on. Our anti-poaching teams at the camp are regularly hearing shots fired, seeing bush fires in the distance and other signs of poaching activity. The incredible deterrent that tourism is against poaching is being felt more and more every day. It is imperative we take all possible anti-poaching measures for South Luangwa’s vulnerable wildlife at this time when we have the least means to effect the necessary measures.

Our anti-poaching efforts include grading the 150km of road networks in the northern territories with a team of 3 out doing the tractor/grading work. Having one team in each camp reporting on all signs of poaching activity. Funding a 5/6 scout 10-day patrol every month to our area of the park.

The total cost of the conservation work for the next 6 months to the end of December is approximately USD 16,000.00

  • USD 3000.00 – 3000 litres of diesel needed for the 150 Km of road networks to be fully opened.
  • USD 4000.00 – Anti-poaching road grading team and anti-poaching reporting team based in Kaingo and Mwamba for 6 months. (May-Nov)
  • USD 2000.00 – Food costs for all teams across the 6 months. (May-Nov)
  • USD 1200.00 – Anti-poaching reporting team during the rains, the reduced team (Nov-Dec)
  • USD 445.00 – Food costs for the rains anti-poaching team (Nov-Dec)
  • USD 5000.00 – Tractor maintenance and spares purchase to initiate road works.

Any contribution towards our anti-poaching efforts to protect the wildlife of the South Luangwa, no matter how small, would be so gratefully received.

Please contact me to find out how you can donate.

Special thanks to Peter Lemon, Gayle Gledhill and Bruce Williamson for going out of their way to reach out to us and donate to help us in our anti-poaching efforts.

Many years ago, Derek bought his first tractor, then later his John Deere – affectionately named “The First Wife” – to which Jules has always laughed! These tractors enable us to open the roads for the camps in the area and to open the anti-poaching roads into the backcountry. Interestingly it was Derek’s work with DNPW that helped change the policy from back-burning to protect against poaching to using these rapid access roads as firebreaks as well. This move has protected a large amount of habitat and fauna. Good biodiversity ensures abundant game, and this is what we are proud to have encouraged and created in our remote section of the South Luangwa National Park.

There’s one true testament to this – that undeniable and agreed by those who know the park – even by the other tour operators – that the area surrounding our camps has some of the most prolific game viewing of the Luangwa Valley. Years of protecting this area from back-burning has led to incredible abundance of a multitude of species, and avoided that they have had to flee to avoid fires. While Derek was out grading roads and working with the team, he had the delight of viewing some amazing moments. In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing this footage across our platforms, but here’s a sneak peak for now. This is what we are working so hard to protect!

Safe travels until we meet again where the heavens meet the earth…

Salani Bwino

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