It’s Monday 15th October 2007 and the Chief’s Ceremony

It’s Monday 15th October 2007 and the Chief’s Ceremony

This week is the middle of October and the bush is dry, the river low and the once flooding Luangwa has slowed down less than a walking pace. The game is gathering around the remaining waterholes and, guess what, we have a few. At each camp I admit to a little cheating…..we keep a waterhole going throughout the season. At RoJo House where Robin and I live, we also have a waterhole. It is currently a veritable highway with elephant, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, impala, bushbuck and many more using it as their regular waterhole and hang out. The view from our bedroom window is often a show stopper!!

view from our bedroomelephants gathering at the waterhole

The Walking Mobiles ended for the season. Robin volunteered to be the one to drive up the night before to provide the staff with transport out. I was a little surprised. We are very busy with all sorts, including building, budgets and planning for next year. Surely a driver could do this. On a little more digging it turned out there was a reason. He has sent recordings to ZOS (Zambian Ornithological Society) over the last couple of years of a “ lesser seedcracker” which has not been recorded in the Luangwa before. To get a new sighting established and recognized you need a photograph or in the old days a dead bird!. So a great chance to do this.

golden winged pytilia

On Wednesday he set off rather later than planned (told you we were busy) and returned some three hours later. He had crossed the Luwi River and the vehicle had overheated. After some bush mechanics he moved on only to get a flat tyre. The jack was not great and although he managed to get the tyre changed it ended up “buggered” and so would not work a second time. He had a further three hours to drive and without a spare and working jack this was not great. He decided to radio camp to send a message to the Mobile team that he should be rescued if he did not turn up but the radio would not work!! Well that was enough. Somehow this particular journey was not meant to be happening and he turned around and drove home. That meant leaving the next day at 0430. Hmmmmmm.

Jen and the Mobile Team

As it happened I was going to town for the day and was on the 0630 flight. So to bed at eight that night to get enough sleep. At 0230, I awoke. That is rare – I am a heavy sleeper and usually sleep through the hippos fighting, lions killing and hyenas whooping. Trust me – it takes a lot to wake me. Well there was a pair of giant eagle owls chatting away to each other next to our bedroom window. I tried to ignore them but no way. So as not to wake Robin I tiptoed over to the window and promptly stumbled into a chair. He was awake. Soon we were both at the window, flashing a torch, saying shoo shoo and clapping. They completely ignored us so in the end a side of “Yes Minister” played loudly to drown the owls out sent us off to sleep. Only for an hour or so before the early wake up! Robin in the end did not find a seedcracker but did find a golden winged pytilia. Apparently another rare bird and photographed. He was chuffed. Also some lovely wildebeest, a large herd of buffalo and eland east of Camp 3. The truck returned with all the kit – somewhat better packed than attached picture of safaris in Sudan (Robin’s desktop picture – it makes him laugh so much).

RPS Mobile Truckpossible overloading

Jen has been up on the Mupamadzi River with the mobile crew for four months now and was very sad to come out !! End of her season. She has done an amazing job – it is a tough one – very remote and isolated. But she has loved it. Jen and Beks from Nsefu Camp had the chance to visit the annual local knees up. Every year the paramount Chief of the area, Chief Nsefu, holds a ceremony called Malalila. I gave them all the “motherly” advise – don’t take money, stick together, always stay near members of staff. They came back hot and dusty but having had a great time. I asked for a brief outline.

Hippo meat distributedArrival of Chief Nsefu

On arrival they were surprised by the crowds. There were thousands of people. The first thing they saw was raw meat from a hippo being given out to the dignitaries to take home. Imagine popping that into your handbag. The Chief arrived, carried aloft, guarded by both smart parks people and by his gun waving personal attendants.

The crowds escort the Chiefthe Chief with his entourage

The District Commissioner gave a speech about all the Chiefs working together. But there was a noticeable absence of the other five Chiefs from the area. The villagers spokesman talked for a while – all about the people and wildlife conflict. The villagers want compensation if a family member is killed by an elephant. They need more forest for firewood and medicine collection. And more. Speeches over and lots of dancing. Including Jen who looks totally at home dancing at a Chief Ceremony!

Village HeadmanJen dances at ceremony

from us all, have a great week

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