It’s Monday 8th December 2008 and from our own correspondents

Following the style of the BBC’s ‘From Our Own Correspondents’ we thought that we would hear from three of our Special Interest Experts – David Rogers a  professional photographer, Dr Matt Becker the AWDC project manager and Louisa Hill a yoga fundi.

David Rogers

I have been running photographic workshops with Robin Pope Safaris to South Luangwa in the Emerald Season for the past four years and it is a dramatic time to be in this wonderful park. The river flows swiftly, the bush is lush, the animals are in great condition, there are plenty of colourful birds and the sky is often decorated with thick white clouds. We have almost always had great sightings of wild dog, leopard, lion and quite a few kills. There are relatively few other visitors in the park at this time of the year and as rain usually occurs in short spells, it has seldom been an interruption.

Photographic  Safari in South LuangwaDuo  Buffalo in the Emerald Season

The trips attract a variety of people from beginners with point and shoot cameras to highly experienced shooters with all the latest gear. For everyone it is an opportunity to learn, share and spend time with like-minded people practicing their art.  We are usually in the park before sunrise to catch the best light and even if the game is quiet spend our time shooting landscapes, macro or practicing other creative techniques. We sometimes spend the whole day out in the field but mostly return mid morning to download our images and process them before heading out again in the afternoon. We also use time during the heat of the day for one on one analysis of images and also workshops on digital techniques.

Macro-photo of a  swallowtail butterflyDavid et al in the flooded ebony lagoon

Matt Becker

I have just returned back to Luangwa Valley after a trip home to Montana to defend my PhD, an event over 5 years in the making that was delayed with the unexpected good fortune of a great job – project manager of African Wild Dog Conservation (AWDC).  My dissertation research focused on wolf, elk and bison predator-prey dynamics in Yellowstone National Park from 1996-2007 and has just been published as several chapters in a comprehensive scientific book – “The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone: A Synthesis of 16 Years of Integrated Field Studies.

Matt Becker

The book involved nearly 70 scientists from diverse fields of expertise and I hope to apply the skills and multi-disciplinary approach gleaned from that work to AWDC’s research and collaborations to help better understand the dynamics of the Luangwa ecosystem and the animals and people that depend on it. This coming season guests also have a chance to assist in these endeavors through the Luangwa Valley Carnivore Monitoring Program, a cooperative effort between guides, operators, guests and AWDC to better document populations and trends of large carnivores in the valley.  Such involvement would be invaluable, so please ask your guides about it when you arrive! I hope you’ll participate and perhaps we’ll also see you at African Wild Dog Week in March.

Jumping wild dogWild dog

Louisa Hill

They say the trouble with Africa is it gets in your blood, and once discovered, the spirit of Africa never leaves you. The same can be said about yoga. What often starts out as a mission to get fit or de-stress can end up moulding your entire lifestyle. And like Africa, once discovered, it leaves you wanting more. I was privileged to be able to combine my two true loves during my time working in South Luangwa National Park. Soaking up the beauty of Zambia from the varied vantage points of my yoga mat, I practiced sun salutations against a blood-red African sunset and stretched my limbs to the sounds of hippos grunting and fish eagles calling nearby.

Yoga on the beachSetting sun

Of course the sight of a ‘muzungu’ lady contorting herself into strange shapes raised more than a few whispers among the local residents. But it wasn’t long before the whispers turned into a curious fascination, and the fascination turned into enquiries, which in turn led to the first ‘bush yoga’ class South Luangwa had ever seen. Starting out with just 2 or 3 curious valley residents, word soon spread that yoga classes were on offer and the fledgling yogis came in droves, makeshift yoga mats under their arms. Sadly, I don’t live in South Luangwa any more, but me and my trusty (and extremely dusty) yoga mat still enjoy travelling the world in search of stunning spots to salute the sun. We’ve found plenty, from the manicured lawns of the Taj Mahal to the turquoise seas of the Mediterranean – all of my favourites match tranquil water with the setting sun, which is why I have chosen Pumulani as my next ultimate yoga location. A combination of Lake Malawi and the sights, sounds and spirit of the Zambian bush will take some beating. Now you can join me and indulge in some bush & beach yoga against the Zambian and Malawian sunset on our African Yoga Retreat.

Louisa Hill

Thanks to David, Matt & Louisa! Hope that you are all enjoying the run up to Christmas.


PS There is a volunteer teaching position for the two children of the Liuwa Plain National Park Project Coordinator. The position is available from February 2009, and the kids are 5 & 8 years old. Please contact Nitha Keulemans [volunteer (at)] for more information.
Fish  eagle

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