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Monday, 01 March 2021

Catching Some Z's: Zambia & Zimbabwe - Page 4

Written by Richard Taylor
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Your drivers name is Gift. He has packed a picnic meal for you.

The park offered a pleasant diversion the early highlight being the mopani or ‘butterfly’ tree. As for the fauna, they arrived stag for the most part: one warthog, one wildebeest, one impala, one zebra (another Zee!) and several baboons. Except for a single bleached skull and great piles of dung, there were no signs of elephant.

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Their digestion is not efficient,said Gift, pointing to a blue plastic bag amid the droppings.

With less than an hours light left, Gift stopped along a forest trail and introduced me to the guards who would oversee the walking tour. They carried guns and wore khaki and camouflage, like a team of rebel guerrillas.

We must walk single file, Sir,they told me.

Okay.”

This way we look bigger.

I felt an imposter, crunching through the bramble with these big men and their rifles, but they obviously knew their business. After ten minutes they stopped and the leader motioned to me.

There, Sir,he whispered.

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Three white rhinos were grazing nearby.

They were a solid slate grey and took no notice of us (their eyesight is notoriously poor, hence the single filegambit) but they were massive creatures and the guides insisted I keep my movements slow and deliberate.

Okay,” I asked the head guide,Why are they called white rhinos when theyre obviously pink?

Its the mouth,he said. It’s wide. The colonists that were here, the English and Dutchwhen the Dutch were describing it, the English thought they were saying white. The black rhino has a different mouth.

I thanked the guards for their time and their protection. We drove off. The sun was dropping rapidly now and the larger denizens were fashionably late: a giraffe lapping at the treetops, a trio of cape buffalo, and a single bull elephant, stripping the branches clean. From the amount of dung along the trail, he was either working overtime, or the rest of the herd had moved to greener pastures.

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Gift turned the jeep through an abandoned camp of peeling walls and broken plaster and I learned how the tuskers had made their presence felt.

The game wardens used to live here,said Gift. But a lot of them were killed by elephants. So they moved to another place.

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We parked by the banks of the Zambezi, and while Gift unpacked the cooler, I listened to the loud grunting among the bulrushes.

“Hippos,” said Gift.

And now two days later on my river cruise, the hippos were rolling and splashing and grunting still, egrets poked about the bulrushes for dinner and crocodiles lay on the riverbanks catching the last rays of a glorious sunset. And some were Zambian crocs and some were from Zimbabwe. And some were dual citizens no doubt, traversing the Zambezi.

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And I was happy to be here and ponder the Zs.

  

©Richard Taylor

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Monday, 01 March 2021

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