The magnificent Zambezi River rises in North west Zambia. A powerful and supple flow that enters the Indian Ocean in Mozambque at Quelimane. The Zambezi catchment area covers 1 352 000 square kilometres and spreads over eight countries. Under a limitless sky the fast flowing river snakes and roars for 2 650Kms following a river line that has been carved out over time by rough caresses until it reaches the ocean. Kariba dam is a hydroelectric dam in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi river basin between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is situated roughly half way down this river.
It is sixteen years since I stood staring out over this expanse of shimmering water where the sun beams down hot and sticky. Out on this enormous lake there is a peace in the silence as the sweet breath of warm wind caresses your hair. The Matusadona is situated on the shores of Lake Kariba and is home to many large mammals: especially elephants and buffaloes. Panicum, a regenerative grass carpets the shoreline and with this ready access for food, zebras, water bucks, buffaloes and impalas graze. In this open air amphitheater, zebra bend in stripey unison, ears pricked and wary eyes watchful as they take a drink in the long shadows of late afternoon. Their high pitched brays breaking the silence as a huge crocodile like a medieval serpent menaces closer through the shallows, its long tail gently licking the surface. Buffalo swagger with exaggerated arrogance, snorting and formidable in their numbers. Their imposing horns spread outward and downwards from their large heads and their powerful and muscled bodies are bejeweled with tick birds, their personal ‘bug cleaning service’. Rhinos, light on their feet slip through the warmth, private and obscured in the shadows.
On one of nature’s grandest stages, elephants cross the twilight: silhouetted shadows stretching into early darkness and leaving behind hovering moths and a night full of crickets and mosquitoes. This adhesive group of females and their offspring amble away puffing up small whirls of dust that appear to hang motionless. Despite the matriarch’s bulk, she has the lightness and grace of a dancer. For me personally, they are the ambassadors for the bush.. ‘Loxidonta africana.’ The deep rumbles of content vibrate through the evening air reminding me that although I cannot see them, I can feel their presence.
While moon beams float upon the water and the wind carries the neck tingling roar of a lion, the Matusadona pulsates with a subliminal rumble that you feel rather than hear. On this lake, the sky appears deeper and the stars are brighter. This wild paradise with its limitless sky and rugged beauty teems with wildlife. The Matusadona is truly a spectacular place where earth drifts into heaven leaving you floating in tranquil moments adorned in sun washed scenes and bronzed trees. This is Africa…a canvas of vibrant colours and teeming with warmth, sunny skies and wildlife.
Elephants, rhinos and other wildlife are irreplaceable riches and cannot be allowed to simply fade away. These animals in the Matusadona have not been immune to the horror of the poachers angry weapons or the barbaric practice of snaring. These animals are being protected byMatusadona Anti Poaching Project who are a component of the Tashinga Initiative and cover Chizarira, Mana Pools, Matusadona and Victoria Falls. (Please take a look at their face book page…give them some support.) Tashinga was the name originally chosen for the headquarters of the Matusadona National Parks. The Tashinga Initiative Foundation.
Chengeta Wildlife has just spent two weeks providing intensive training in the GachGache . (Take a look at their face book page.. please give them some support.) Chengeta Wildlife is providing a first class and comprehensive anti poaching training. These amazing people on the ground, whether protecting the wild or training the rangers to protect the wild are all doing a difficult but awesome job. Poaching, an ugly reality: one we as civilians can do very little about except to help spread the awareness and donate or raise funds for the different groups. It is a case of all doing our bit.
However, one thing we can control is our LITTER. Photo from Cavan Warren.. Antelope Island and pollution in and around Kariba.
‘Many animals confuse plastic bags, balloons, bait packets, lolly wrappers and rubber with prey and eat them. Many animals are injured, become ill, and die each year due to human carelessness with litter and pollution. Animals can swallow or get entangled in many of the litter items people leave in the environment.’
On an island in this beautiful paradise, an island empty of all modern things: LITTER, like a lethal mix enticing hungry animals to take their fill. Plastic kills….a slow painful death. Let us take responsibility, bag our litter and return it to the main land where there are facilities to dispose of unwanted rubbish and allow the rangers space to get on with their much needed and important work: they do not need to clean up after us.
Let us look after this ‘Magical Place’ (My poem).