How does one become more creative?

Answer by Rory Young:

File:PC – 7300 – 0014, Matemere Bernard, Eagle, 1973.jpg

I once asked this question of the most creative person I had ever met.

He wore a ragged old pair of overalls, a battered old floppy hat with the faded logo of some random fertilizer company displayed on it, and "manyatellas", which are basically flip-flops made from old car tyres and sat on an upside down old crate whilst he banged away on a lump of rock with a hammer. This was, I knew, all very deceptive.

Just as misleading was the fact that he was practically illiterate. Most of his childhood had been spent herding cattle in the African bush and he had only done four years of schooling. His only formal employment, many years before this, had been driving tractors on tobacco farms.

Despite all of this, he was successful, wealthy and very famous. His name was Bernard Matemera  and he was a world renowned sculptor. He was amongst the most famous proponents of a type of sculpture known as  Shona art.

Historically art in Africa always had a purpose. It had been decorative or religious. Art was not usually created for its own sake. In the late 1950s that changed dramatically. There was an explosion of creativity in the out in the bush in Zimbabwe that literally that continues to this day.

In 1966 a failed tobacco farmer called Tom Bloemfield decided to give up farming and turn his land into a giant art workshop, utilizing the soapstone that was found there. The place was called Tengenenge and Tom invited artists to form a community on his property. He was laughed off by everybody as a crackpot and his artists as nobodies.

Bernard Matemera was one of these nobodies. Before his death in 2006 he had exhibited all over the world and become the most famous of a group of incredibly talented and unbelievably talented artists.

Yet he stayed a humble and simple man. Although he looked like he had just crawled out of the bush and his workshop was just another patch of ground near other equally ambiguous pieces of ground in the bush at Tengenenge, I knew he had earned the respect of some of the most famous art critics in the world.

He was happy for me to sit with him and chat while he worked and every time I visited Tengenenge I would stop by for a few hours and "chew the cud" with him while he worked.

One day I asked him where he believed creativity came from. Although usually light-hearted and casual in his conversation, he took this question very seriously and stopped what he was doing to sit down before answering me very carefully.

"What I see in my head is what is from deep inside me and from the spirits". He continued, "if it doesn't come to me I must wait or go and look for it. We are all different and we should not try to be the same but we must be Mhunu".  Mhunu is the Shona equivalent of the philosphy of Ubuntu implies "oneness".

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What goes through your mind when you see someone begging?

Answer by Rory Young:

Very vivid memories.

The first of a filthy old beggar sitting on the pavement holding out a bowl and one of my sixteen year old classmates taking a run up and kicking it out of his hand. I have never felt so ashamed to be in company of another human being in my life.

The second memory is of standing in the icy rain in Boulogne in France and asking a truck driver for a coin to make a phone call. I was seventeen years old and my friend and I had not slept for five days.

We had been hitching lifts and begging meals or coins all the way from Marseilles after arriving there from Corsica. Wearing only T-shirts and jeans, cold and wet, our spirits were at their lowest. Now we stood at the English Channel and were stuck. Our only options were either to stow away on a truck heading onto a ferry or try and call my friends family to come and get us. The coin I was asking for was to make that call.

The English trucker gave us a coin and we thanked him profusely. We tried to make the call and failed to get anyone on the line. We would later discover that they were away. We were too exhausted to even try and sneak onto a boat. We were broken.

A short while later we were on a bench in an open waiting area and I just ran out of juice. I passed out or fell asleep on the bench and woke soon after because I couldn't stop my body from shaking violently. The trucker who had given us the coin, and another, were standing there and tried to help me. They asked us who we were and what was going on. I told them.

A few hours later we were sitting in the warm lounge of a ferry. The truckers had smuggled us on board in their trucks.

Once we were on our way they ordered us full English breakfasts and coffee. I was about to try and get into the UK without a passport and as a non citizen or resident, and had no idea what I would do or where I would go if I did get in. Still, I felt better than I had in a long, long time. The two truckers had no reason to help us and could have gotten into big trouble for doing so yet they did. That gave me an incredibly good feeling and brought back my confidence and determination.

So, whenever I see a beggar, I always think back and wonder what would have happened if I had approached a trucker for a coin who had the same attitude as my old classmate.

Anyone can end up desperate and needing to ask for help.

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What is your opinion on zoos?

Answer by Rory Young:

Painted Wolves. African Wild Dogs. Cape Hunting Dogs. Lycaons.

These are the different names that one of my favorite animals is known by.

Lycaon pictus

Following them when they were hunting in Northern Botswana were some of the most thrilling experiences of my life. They can run up to eighty kilometers in a day and will run an animal down over ten kilometers without breaking their pace. The animal is singled out and the pack will run right by other animals so focused are they on their intended quarry.

We would race along, trying to keep up with them. The end though was often hard to watch and hear as they will literally tear an animal to pieces. Still, it is very quick, especially compared to other large predators. I have watched lions slowly eat a buffalo from the rear while it is alive.

They are incredible animals. Although brutal killers, the pack are incredibly close. Animals will stay behind to look  after sick dogs and the pups. All these animals will be fed by others regurgitating meat when they return from the hunt. There is group interaction for every event. Before hunting they will psych each other up with growing excitement.

Walking up to them is always an incredible experience. I like to lie down and throw my hat in front of me. They are incredibly curious and will run up and check you out, sniffing the hat.

 I have only once seen a completely silent group of wild dogs. All unmoving. They were in a fenced area at the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wik…

The pen was clean. The dogs were well fed and healthy, but their behaviour was all wrong. There wasn't any behaviour. They all just lay in the small area and stared at nothing. As thrilling as watching them hunt was, this was so sad.

I feel the same way when I look at the fat, unfit lions or bored primates.

I can never like a zoo. However, I will tolerate and even help them because they are, in today's world, a necessary part of ensuring the continued existence of many species that are or soon will be extinct in the wild.

They are not, however, in any way a normal or wonderful thing. They are to me, a sad necessity. A world where the wild is contained behind bars is a sick world.

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How do adult male elephants interact with other elephants?

Answer by Rory Young:

Life is unfair. Life in the world of elephants is very unfair. Male elephants are much better off in so many ways than the females.

A solitary bull elephant feeding quietly on his own. The scene is calm and peaceful.

Male elephants are large enough and powerful enough to defend themselves against any predator (except for man in very recent times). Therefore they are not obliged to stay with a herd for safety in numbers. Being able to move around on their own is a great advantage. Solitude means that a much, much smaller amount of food needs to be found every day.

A cow herd on the move. They are very aggressive. The female at the front is missing most of her trunk.

Cow herds on the other hand are forced to roam great distances in order to find enough food to feed the whole group every day. This is a more stressful and dangerous existence as the females and calves are vulnerable to attack by lions. Even adult female elephants can be attacked by lions. Linyanti in Botswana has been famous for its prides regularly bringing down adult female elephants. The cow herds therefore are very defensive and busy with less idle time.

Two young adult bull elephants playfully working out who is the more dominant.

So, elephant bulls have a lot more "idle" time on their trunks than the females. However, they don't waste this extra time feeling lonely and standing around doing nothing. They get together with their buddies and do the elephant equivalent of arm-wrestling. They figure out dominance by fighting.

A "casual" approach. His trunk is not only slung over one tusk but he is sucking it! How less serious could a suggested sparring session be?

This fighting can range from mild, playful pushing to raging battles to the death. There is much language and ritual involved with bulls approaching each other and indicating their intention. This can be a casual approach with the trunk hung over one tusk to indicate a "relaxed" disposition or a head-held-high, roaring attack. The laid back approach will usually be a casual session to figure out who is stronger whilst the death match will usually involve two bulls in musth.

 

A bull just going into musth. His penis were beginning to drip, he was secreting from the temporal gland and he had a bad, bad attitude. A girl or a fight was what he was after.

Musth is when a male elephant goes "into season". He will have as much as two hundred times the normal level of testosterone pumping through his system. When a bull goes into musth he turns into a monster. All he wants is a female to mate with and will fight to the death to get it. Other bulls that are more dominant will get out of his way. As elephants never stop growing, the older bulls are usually more dominant. Musth allows younger, less powerful bull a chance to "get their leg over". There is a cost to this though. A bull in musth hardly eats as he only has one thing on his mind. They cannot stay in musth for more than three months or so or they would probably die. They lose a lot of weight during musth and come out of it exhausted. The other big downside is of course that should they bump into another bull then one or both of them will very likely be killed.

I will give you an example of the behaviour of bulls in musth.

I was once driving along the Matusadona shoreline in Zimbabwe. Matusadona is famous for its big-tusked elephants  and one of these huge fellows started moving fast towards me from half a kilometer away. There was no way he could see me from that distance so he was heading towards the sound of the vehicle.

I stopped and waited for him. As he drew closer I realised that he as in musth. All the signs were there, most notably his attitude. He was striding with his head high. When he was a hundred metres away he charged.

I drove away, just keeping the same distance between us to see what he would do. When he realised that he couldn't catch up to me he suddenly, in full charge, collapsed his front legs driving his tusks deep into the ground, all accompanies with loud roaring (not trumpeting).

There is another important advantage to bulls going into musth. It actually gives the girls a break.

When a female goes into season every male for miles around will try to mate with her. The whole herd will often try to chase of large numbers of excited males and the poor girls will become exhausted by it all. Hardly a situation likely to encourage conception.

When a bull in musth turns up however, everything changes. The other bulls back off and the female in season will attach herself to him so as to be left alone by all the others. The rest of the herd understandably encourages this.

Generally males are not welcome amongst a herd and females also do not socialize with females from other herds even. There is of course one great exception to this rule…

Every boy has to visit his mum from time to time!

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How will the funds donated by Quorans be used by The Tashinga Initiative to protect wildlife?

Answer by Rory Young:

Please look carefully at how the men in this picture are dressed and equipped.

Everything is rudimentary, worn and broken. One of the AK47s didn't even have a stock. The scout carrying it would only be able to fire it without raising it to his shoulder and sighting it. When I took the photo a few weeks ago, these men were tired, sore and hungry after covering long distances daily for twenty days.

Now turn your eyes to their faces.

They are smiling genuinely and their heads are held high.

These men are humble people but proud of what they do. They are also resigned to the possibility that they may very well die defending the animals that they have dedicated their lives to protecting.

These men do not receive medals, decent salaries, awards or even public recognition for the work they do, without the necessary training, equipment and other reseources to do it well.

I will not say in which country or park this picture was taken, just that it was in a wildlife area of the Middle Zambezi.

There are wildlife areas and all along the river and in all the countries that border it. They are all in need of assistance. Sometimes it is training. Sometimes it is transport. Sometimes it is communications equipment. Sometimes they just need someone to look after their wives and children and find them clean water or try somehow to improve their futures.

The Tashinga Initiative tries to help fill these needs so that the rangers are able to better do their work.

In just a few days $8k was raised by Quorans eager to help. This was all started by Lisa Groeneweg, a person I had never heard of until a couple of weeks ago. She now looms large in my life, along with all the others who have so generously given in work and money to try and help win this war. I am extremely grateful. Behind the scenes Jay Bell has been working non-stop to get the word out and Oliver Emberton has been lending his time and expertise to assist in fund-raising.

I have had long discussions with Lynne Taylor, the head of the Tashinga Initiative about how the money should be spent so as to have the greatest impact. We have agreed that it will be used to provide expert support, training and operational capacity to assist in wildlife protection and management activities in the Zambezi River Basin Area".

A plan for a project to support and enhance wildlife protection operations has been sitting gathering dust for a long time. With the recent sharp escalation of ivory poaching this project has become urgent. TTI has managed to secure a boat and vehicle and this money will enable specialists to train, guide, support, deploy teams in the field wherever the situation is most serious and the need greatest for a period of one month.

I have agreed to run the project for two to three weeks of that time, alternating with another specialist.

There have been many remarks of disappointed that not more money was raised. Please understand that one month of this activity will have a clear and a large impact. Just today I received news of two more elephants killed in Matusadona. Please see Two More Elephants Poached in Matusadona by Rory Young on Quorans For A Cause This is just one of many wildlife areas. Some areas are losing many elephants every single day.

Photo: Matusadona Anti Poaching Project MAPP

In addition to her donations and tireless efforts, Lisa Groeneweg has also donated a GoPro camera. I will be using this to show people what happens on the ground. Some work will be sensitive and cannot be filmed but I can assure you that the footage released will be variouslyeye-popping, sad, exhilarating and beautiful. Thank you Lisa.

Some people have complained that no celebrities have rallied to support the efforts here and that governments should be funding the work. To hell with them! This will never be won by celebrities or politicians. It will be won by all the "little people". Politicians don't care and will only jump around when they see all the "little people" want this to end. As for the celebrities, I don't care if they are not interested. We will do it without them.

My heroes are the people here who help and the people on the ground.

Thank you.

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What is Nelson Mandela’s legacy?

Answer by Rory Young:

Peace, hope and dignity.

Stanley M made it clear to me that he hated me and all white Africans. We were sitting in a tent and had just heard about Nelson Mandela’s release. Stanley was a former Zimbabwean ZANLA guerilla fighter. He told me that payback time was now coming to white South Africans and they would get what they deserved.

I thought back to the year I had spent at boarding school in Kimberley in South Africa in 1985 as a 12-13 year old. I remembered a pleasant evening walk from a church service back to school. My friend and I were strolling along a small street lined with pretty colonial bungalows, all with lovely little gardens. It was sunset and we were enjoying the walk and laughing at some silly stories we were telling each other. We were interrupted by a voice from one of the verandahs.

Kaffir“, it said.
[Edit: Kaiffir is the most derogatory word for a black person]

I turned and saw a family sitting in silence with cold faces staring at us. I looked to my friend. His name was Hilton and he was black. He was small and harmless and a good boy. He now had a look of fear on his face; a look also of sadness, disappointment and frustration. He searched my face, waiting for my own reaction. I smiled pathetically and tried to make light of it. I failed.

“Hey kaffir boetie, voetsek!” This was from the verandah of the next house along. Again, cold stares. We ignored it and continued.
[Edit: “boetie” literally means little brother, but is meant sarcastically and “voetsek” means roughly “piss off”.]

As we approached the next house, I heard in English, “Get that little kaffir out of here soutpiel!” We walked half a kilometre along the row of houses and, every step of the way, both he and I were insulted; he for being black and me for simply walking with him.
[Edit: “soutpiel” is a derogatory name used by Afrikaners for Anglo-Africans. It literally means “salt prick”, implying that Anglo-Africans have one foot in Europe and one in Africa and that their penis hangs in the ocean becaue they are not truly from Africa]

Our school was a private one and thus could admit black kids, unlike the government schools which were all strictly segregated. We had been walking through a white area where any black would have required a special pass to enter. It was a huge shock and a lesson to me. I was struck not only by the laws, but by the real hatred of this whole street towards my friend simply because he was black.

I came back to the present. I was worried. Stanley was right, white South Africans would be wiped out, murdered on the streets. I had absolutely no doubts about it.

I had of course heard of Nelson Mandela. I had heard that he had been a “terrorist”, as some called him, or a “freedom fighter” as others called him. I expected a man like Samora Machel or Robert Mugabe. I certainly didn’t expect the Nelson Mandela we would all learn to respect and love. African leaders had always been a disappointment to me. They had been hugely consistent in their ability to mismanage, steal from their people and of course butcher their enemies.

I couldn’t imagine the Afrikaners letting themselves be governed by a black man and an ANC government. On the news I saw Eugene Terblanche rallying the AWB to fight when the inevitable black revenge came. It would of course spill over into Zimbabwe, Namibia and other African countries and it would descend into bloody civil war. Those of us in the middle would be forced into one group or another, as always happens. My own family had been divided during the war in Rhodesia. Would I end up fighting my own?

It never happened. Nelson Mandela not only became the great example of a leader that Africa needed, he became a unique and wonderful example to the whole world. He also became a personal example to me. If he could go against the flow and stand alone in order to do the right thing, then so could we all. Not just South Africans, but Africans of all nationalities, colours and creeds. Nelson Mandela became a greater leader than any white leader. He was a man who could be respected, admired and loved more than any other politician, and he was black! What a gift to mankind.

Nelson Mandela flew so high above the ideals and actions of any other man of his generation that he changed my little world and the greater world I live in forever, giving me and all Africans, both black and white an ideal to live by and a future to believe in.

Nelson Mandela’s legacy is peace in South Africa for the last twenty years, hope for the future and dignity for himself, his people, his country and his continent.

Without his amazing personal leadership and ability to inspire people to forgive and reconcile there would have been a very different outcome and no matter who leads his country in the future, they will always have to live in his moral shadow. He has shown us the way.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is our conscience.

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Wildlife: What will be more effective as a means to end Elephant and Rhino Poaching, Park Rangers or alleviating poverty?

Answer by Rory Young:

Ivory poaching has not decreased as poverty has been alleviated, the opposite has happened. This is because ivory and rhino horn poaching are about green not hunger!

As Africa (where the poaching happens) and the Far East (where the biggest market is) have grown economically, and especially with regards to their per capita income, the poaching of ivory and rhino horn has escalated in tandem with this economic growth.

Zimbabwe National Parks Rangers On Parade At Tashinga in Matusadona National Park.

I have received a number of negative and even aggressive dismissive comments about raising funds for anti-poaching activities in National Parks. These people have been saying that it is a waste of time and that to end poaching we need to focus on poverty alleviation. These people are wrong.

First of all, there is a massive difference between poaching for meat  and the poaching of elephants and rhinos for ivory and horn.

Let's look at bush meat first. Meat poaching is not a very profitable venture but the costs of poaching meat are also low. There is a definite link between meat poaching in Zimbabwe for example and poverty/hunger. During the economic crisis meat-poaching rocketed.

It is also the easiest type of poaching to deal with. The meat-poachers are typically unsophisticated in their methods and not overly industrious in their efforts. They will usually lay snare-lines or hunt with dogs.

Most of the meat will be consumed by the poachers and their kin with any surplus being sold on. Dealing with these poachers usually entails first lifting snares in an area that has not previously been patrolled and then creating a deterrent by making arrests.

Education and community outreach are crucial. The same communities that the meat-poachers come from need to know how poaching negatively impacts their lives through loss of tourism revenue for example.

The countries which experience the worst meat-poaching are those with the worst rule of law, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is out of control and a huge threat to wildlife populations simply because the government is doing nothing about it.

Rhino and elephant poaching in Central, Southern and East Africa is a whole different kettle of fish.

There is the occasional inexperienced group or individual who might dig up an old rifle and try to shoot an elephant so as to make a few bob out of the tusks but those are not a serious threat and are usually found and arrested very quickly if there are rangers operating in the area.

The real threat and the cause of all the devastation are the "professional" poaching teams. These are men for whom killing elephants and rhinos is their livelihood and it is a very lucrative livelihood which is why they are also willing to shoot dead any rangers who try to stop them.

Here is a typical report: (WELL DONE TO OUR RANGERS IN MARONGORA)
On the 13th of November 2013, three Rangers (names withheld) were out on extended patrol in the Sharu general area in Rifa. Around 0600hrs early in the morning they picked up a spoor of three people coming from the Zambezi River heading inland.
They tracked for a short distance and came across a place where the poachers had camped. The poachers fired at the rangers who also fired back. This led to the poachers fleeing from their camp.
Hereunder is the list of the recoveries that our Rangers recovered.

  1. 1x AK 47 rifle serial number 386)56
  2. 1x .375 rifle with erased serial number
  3. 21x .375 rounds of ammunition
  4. 16x  AK 47 rounds of ammunition and one magazine.
  5. 2 x aluminium cooking pots and one aluminium plate.
  6. 15kg mealie meal of Zambian label  (Champion breakfast by name)
  7. 750 iltres cooking oil of Zambian label  (OKI packaged in Lusaka)
  8. 1x lighting torch
  9. 1x pair of shoes and 1 pair slippers (pata pata type)
  10. Assortment of clothing including shirts, T shirts, jerseys and trousers.
  11. 1x hand axe and one ripping knife.
  12. Some various tablets and water purifying liquid.

FINDINGS

  • The poachers were Zambians judging from the labels on their belongings and direction from which the spoor was coming.
  • The poachers were just entering the park for a poaching expedition.
  • The poachers were three in number and the direction of flight was towards the Zambezi River which was less than 5 kilometres from the contact scene.
  • It seems the poachers had not shot anything as they had just entered the Park the previous night.

With the onset of the rains and the sprouting of vegetation, poachers take advantage of the environs which they use as cover for their illegal activities. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority however warns would be poachers that illegal entry into any Parks for the purposes of poaching is suicidal and Parks will be pro active in order to remain on top of the situation. The Authority will continue to take poachers as they come.

The above list is the typical make up of a professional poaching team. They have crossed the border from Zambia into Zimbabwe. Hopping back across the border when they have completed their filthy task will leave them in the clear.

Amongst the group there is one "hunter" who is armed with the .375; a weapon designed for shooting big game such as elephant. The serial number has been removed because it has been bought legally in a gun shop in Zambia, along with the ammunition for it. It has been properly licensed for legal hunting or target shooting and then handed over to the poaching team. It will have been kept away from the poachers along with all other equipment so that they cannot be associated with any illegal activity in Zambia (don't shit on your own doorstep). This rifle is not primarily a weapon of war.

There is also an AK47 assault rifle. This weapon would have been kept hidden in the bush somewhere most likely and would  have come from one of the guerilla units fighting in any one of a number of wars during the last forty years or so.

The AK47 is not suitable for shooting elephants. It would only wound elephants and cause them to bleed to death slowly or die slowly from septicemia. This weapon is a weapon of war and meant for use against rangers. In 1989 the parliament of Zimbabwe passed the National Parks Indemnity Act because of the fact that these poaching teams were entering the country armed for war and using the weapons against rangers who in turn were not fully protected under the law if they returned fire. When the Act was passed it was condemned by many countries and organizations, including the WWF, who called it a shoot-to-kill policy.

Zimbabwe realized in 1989 that the people who were coming to kill elephants were former soldiers and criminals who meant business and responded appropriately. To this day Zimbabwe's successes against ivory and rhino horn poaching were almost unique in the world. Unfortunately the economic disaster in Zimbabwe has made it impossible to train, equip and support the rangers as before.

There is a lot of organizing involved in this horrible business. Someone has offered to fund the team. They will have been paid deposits. Someone else has added his knowledge of who to employ and how much to pay them. The food and equipment has been purchased. Meetings have been held to decide which area to target. On their return the money would have been paid, based on the weight of the ivory, all the components and evidence redisbursed and the ivory handed over to the organization or individual that funded the expedition.

This is organized crime. It is a premeditated and carefully planned and executed criminal endeavor. It is also one that adds the use of the tools of war to terrorize the men tasked with guarding these natural areas and their animals. There is huge money involved. The current street value of rhino horn is around $150'000 and rising fast. A rhino's two horns will weigh around 3kg each equating to street value of $900'000. Ivory is going for around $10'000 per kilogram. A Matusadona bull elephant's tusks will easily weigh 25kg each at least; so $500'000 per animal.

This is not about poverty alleviation. These people are making a lot of money. The poachers on the ground are not making as much as the dealers but they are still getting rich by our countries' standards. They are wealthy people. If they shoot five elephants they can retire in comfort. However, they continue killing and killing and killing and making more and more and more.

Amazingly, we have been here before. The elephants and rhinos of Southern, Central and East Africa were all wiped out to one degree or another by early colonial hunters. To save what was left and allow the populations to recover a decision was made to create reserves, National Parks, sanctuaries where the animals would be left alone. These would be large areas where gene pools could be protected. Pragmatically but controversially adjacent to these areas would be established "safari areas" where hunting would be allowed and would be used to raise money.

These National Parks began to flourish.
Soon the game began to repopulate the safari areas and spill over back into the traditional and commercial farming lands. Eventually private (commercial) and communal (rural council/traditional) game ranching became big business.

The efforts to combat poaching are being undertaken in all these different zones. There are many different variables associated with each and different degrees of success with each type of land-ownership in different countries. This is of course necessary to maintain overall populations of wildlife for tourism for example.

So why focus on the National Parks.
It is not possible to protect all the areas properly. We need sanctuaries for endangered species that are intensively protected, whether private or National. In Zimbabwe, the private reserve Madikwe is successfully protecting a population of 200 rhinos. Lake Chivero Rhino Sanctuary and Matobo National Park are National Reserves where rhinos are successfully being protected. However, these areas are not enough.

Matusadona National Park was declared an "Intensive Protection Zone" in the early1990s.
It is the home of the last of the rhinos of the the middle and lower Zambezi river basin and also the home of a unique gene pool of large-tusked elephants. It needs to be protected and rhinos reintroduced to rebreed and build a viable genetic stock.

The rangers are the front line. Without them in the field the animals stand no chance. Changing the attitudes of the buyers in Asia and elsewhere will take time. While that work continues the rangers have to hold the fort!

Park Rangers on patrol in Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.

The Tashinga Initiative is focused on primarily, but not only, on providing support to the rangers of the Middle Zambezi. Please visit this blog Quorans For A Cause where amazing people are doing what they can to help the Tashinga Initiative support the rangers!

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What type of safari would Rory Young take a group of intrepid Quoran adventurers on?

Answer by Rory Young:

Well, no, that's not me, but I do have a really big gun!

First of all, what is a safari?
The word "safari" never used to mean "race to the coordinates radio'ed to you by the other drivers so you can have a quick look at the poor bloody lion surrounded by a dozen little buses, and then race off again to the confused cheetahs hemmed in by a dozen more of the same".

Game drives are a must of course but definitely not like this..

(Unhappy spotty cat up a tree and surrounded by dozens of buses.)

This is how a game drive should look..

(Very happy spotty cat being observed quietly and unobtrusively by one open vehicle)

In swahili "safari" used to mean "long journey" and a journey it should be. It should be a journey of discovery and wonder. Such a journey it will be. We need variety, so not just vehicles. We need to get close to nature; touch it, smell it. We need to walk..

An elephant and me and my really big gun.

The difference between walking and driving?
Below is what lions looks like from 20 metres away when you see them from a vehicle..

Below is what lions look like from 200 metres away when you are on foot and there is nothing between you..

Everything is bigger and more real when you are on foot. You can hear everything, smell everything, touch.. er, well not touch everything..

Where would the safari take place?
The middle Zambezi area. We have to see the rhinos, soMatusadonahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat… National Park on the shores of Lake Kariba is the number one priority. We will track them on foot and watch them at home.

Lake Kariba from Matusadona

Then of course Mana! Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage Site in the Middle Zambezi, and they are both perfect for tracking big game on foot, so we would combine those two parks..

Mana Pools

So what else would be worth discovering and wondering at?

The Homecoming
This is where we all came from! Man evolved in Africa and only ventured out of here relatively recently. Matusadona National Park is strewn with evidence of our ancient ancestors in the form of early, middle and late stone-age tools, the oldest half a million years old. Looking for these whilst surrounded by the same animals our ancestors would have lived amongst is quite an experience.

The people
We have to meet the people of the community around Matusadona. The people are BaTonga. The area is called the Omay and the chief of these BaTonga people is called Chief Mola.

Chief Mola with an arbitrary ad hoc retainer during a surprise visit to the Bumi Hills Anti Poaching Unit.
The people of Chief Mola were relocated to the Omay from the Gwembe valley which was flooded when lake Kariba was built in the 1950s. They are a unique and fascinating culture with unusual customs. They also live together with wildlife in their area. People live alongside lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, hippos and many more. There is conflict at times and Chief Mola does his best to protect animals and people from each other.
We would visit Chief Mola, meet some of his people and discuss their life in the wild with them.

The Wildlife Protection Teams
This goes without saying. Meet the most important people there.

(I've got the biggest gun)

How Long?
Between ten and fourteen days excluding flights.

Where would we stay?
Alternating sleeping in tents under the stars and cozy lodges is best; rough it a bit with excitement and then relax. Here are some links to some of the places I would like us to stay, depending on availability and other factors.
Bumi Hills Lake Kariba
home
Zimbabwe safari lodge : Musango safari camp
Chikwenya Safaris
Camp Zambezi | Natureways Safaris

And finally:
I'm now going to try Oliver Emberton's gratuitous use of kittens..

Cute little African kittens.

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