It’s Monday 21st November 2005 and the mangrove kingfisher

Jo has been in London this week for the World Travel Market. Part of the proceedings involved the presentation of awards for Responsible Tourism.  We are delighted to say that the winner of the award for Outstanding Personal Contribution to responsible tourism worldwide was Jo. Her citation said:

“Jo and her husband, Robin, have always advocated the training up of Zambian staff members. Jo’s staff are well-paid, well-treated and very well motivated – with an admirable company ethos that has engendered a lot of loyalty. Many guides and camp staff have been with the company for years, and each year the best members of staff are chosen from within the general staff of the camp to be trained
up as guides. Jo has for many years supported the local schools and clinics in her area and backed and helped the villagers of Kawaza village to set up and run their own viable village tourism.”

Well done Jo, we are delighted that your efforts are recognised. We echo the sentiments.

Luangwa HouseBack here, the Luangwa House is in its final stages now – only 3½ weeks to go. We have recently had a photographer up here to take a few photos in order for Jo and Kim to show the world what the end product will look like so we frantically finished certain sections of the house so that the shots could be taken and wow – what a difference it makes having the furniture in place!!

With only one day to get the required photos you can imagine the chaos and mayhem that ensued in order to get it all done! Furniture being moved, last licks of paint being applied (careful to avoid the new furniture – whoa-be-tied anyone who came too close to our new lounge suite with a paint brush – the wrath of Shanie!), and large thunderstorms brewing to add a little spice to the occasion. But, as you can see by the photos, it was worth it – an amazingly different place to the building site of 1 month ago.

Luangwa HouseLuangwa House

On the wildlife front we have had a little excitement at Robin and Jo’s house this week. A troop of baboons chased a baby bushbuck into their swimming pool. The poor little creature sought refuge from the hungry troop in the pool and by a stroke of luck the pool net, which keeps the leaves out of the water, was over the pool and saved the little antelope. The net held the little bushbucks’ weight easily and with the help of the staff Robin hauled the traumatized animal out of the pool and put him in an empty storeroom whilst the baboons were chased away. Robin then took the it back out into the bush and released it with the rest of the bushbuck that live around the house.

crowned craneWe have had some fantastic birding outings recently with a few of us getting up and going out into the park at 5am and back at 7am before works starts. Not only is it the most fantastic time of day to be out in the park, just as the day breaks, the animals and birds think so as well as it is lovely and cool.

double banded sandgrouse

Just this morning we had a great trip into the bush with sightings of double banded sandgrouse, crowned crane, a lovely pair of pied kingfishers and a purple crested lourie which was part of a large group of louries feeding in a fruiting fig tree just outside camp. I spent quite a while trying to get a photo of the bird in flight but it proved a little too fast for me.

purple crested louriepied kingfishers

Retraction from Robin:
We recently announced that a new species of kingfisher (Mangrove) had been identified in the South Luangwa and that this sighting had been confirmed. I wish to apologise to Debs and the bird fundis as it appears we have jumped the gun. The identification and confirmation of this particular bird sighting is still being discussed and debated and it’s true identity shall probably only be confirmed beyond all doubt with a DNA sample. Again apologies to all concerned. Robin 5 Dec 2005

We have just had great news here in the valley. Many of you who have visited us over the last season will know that we have been trying to get a positive identification of a strange looking kingfisher around Kasikizi Lagoon, near Nsefu camp. It has been Debs’ mission to prove to the birding world that it is actually a mangrove kingfisher, something that is not meant to occur here. Well, she has just had clarification from the experts and her record has been accepted – a new species in the park!!!

This is probably my last ‘It’s Monday’ as I am off to Malawi soon (unless I am asked to write one over the Christmas period when I am back visiting Shanie, who will still be here!!) so I would just like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to you all. It has been great knowing you all – I have met some amazing people over the years and formed wonderful friendships with many of Robin Pope Safaris’ guests and I hope these friendships do not fade.

I would like to leave you with a photo of one of my favourite places in the park. It is up in the mobile safaris area – it is the view from the ‘Kopje’ – a rocky outcrop – on the Chifungwe plain. The peace, tranquility and real spirit of the bush that you experience whilst sitting up here having your morning tea is, in my mind, what the Luangwa is all about and I will miss it dearly.

view of Chifungwe plain

Cheers folks and have a good week.

Simon

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