It’s Monday 17th December 2007 and the hippo operation

It’s Monday 17th December 2007 and the hippo operation

For a while we had a lovely hippo couple using our lagoon just by the dining room, with one often sporting a ‘veil’ of nile cabbage (they were getting married after all). Then one morning Zebron noticed that one of them had not moved for a day or two … after a little bit of investigation he discovered that she had died … in our lagoon!!

So what now? We can’t have a decomposing hippo in the lagoon (a nice waft during lunch time), so we had to make a move … enter scene – bwanas, tractors, boats, ropes and a morning of moving the dead weight of the hippo to his Luangwa burial ground …

Getting into positionZebron and the chain

First off the chain has to be cleaned of mud … then move the boat out to the hippo, fandangle the chain around the head (it’s useful to know that the jaws are the strongest part of the hippo so they can take the weight, meaning this is the best place for the chain – I probably would have tried under the front legs – but luckily I wasn’t in charge of the operation!). Once the chain was in position we got to put our new tractor to the test and begin a-hauling! Unfortunately the jaws may be strong, but the weight of the body dislocated the neck with quite a snap … not an advisable spectator sport for those with weak bellies!

Attaching the chain1 2 3 PULL!!

After the first hurdle the hippo was dragged out and moved behind the camp for a surprise feast for vultures, hyena and other scavengers.

HippoA Lunagwa Burial Service

Robin weather watching Throughout the week the river has been slowly rising and we are getting very excited about bringing the boats out for sundowner cruises. Simon especially is chomping on the bit to get out and play. Robin is avidly watching the weather forecasts and we are expecting quite a lot of rains in the upper catchment area of the Luangwa so (fingers crossed) it’ll only be a week or two before the river is deep enough!

sand cricket We’ve also had an amazing number of sand crickets this year – far more than usual, which our camp workers have been harvesting to make relish (to eat alongside Nshima, mealie meal porridge). I’ve not yet been brave enough to try these, but I have tried another local delicacy, flying ants, which taste a bit like crunchy peanut butter! They are not actually ants, but termite alates – the new queens dispersing to mate and start their own colony.

wild dogs and zebra Rocky has been guiding a lovely Malawian family at Robin’s House and had a great sighting of wild dogs – we see far more wild dogs this time of year. They were along Lupunga spur, standing in a muddy puddle next to a herd of zebras. Dogs being dogs, they are always ready for a meal and went after the zebras, but failed. Rocky says they weren’t being all that serious!

Nsefu house In a last push to get all of the Kawaza school buildings completed before the term starts in January, the builders and I had a little expedition to Chipata on Friday. It been raining hard all night, so the road was quite an adventure, for the first part we didn’t even get out of second gear. But we made it safely, met up with our general supplier and returned to camp with the supply truck behind us!

Jo and Robin had a great time in Kenya and are now back to enjoy the Christmas rush … our team has also been joined by Cath Urquhart – the former Travel Editor of The Times, who is taking a break and will be catering for Luangwa House over the Christmas period. Simon took Cath, our IT consultants and me on a sunset game drive last night …

SundownersBull Frog

Cheers and see you next week!


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