BLOG – 17TH JULY 2012

By: Liz Winterton


On Friday 1st June the Girls’ Conservation Club travelled to Kafinda Basic School for a friendly Netball Match (or so I thought!)…

After introducing the two teams; us being an un-practiced group with myself masquerading as a relatively good netball player when in fact I hadn’t played for 8 years, and the Kafinda Girl’s 1st team made up of girls from Grades 8 and 9, play got underway. I had vaguely remembered the rules before the first whistle went, but it soon became apparent the way we were taught and played netball in England was not quite the same as in Zambia. After 5 minutes of frantically running up and down court wondering how they can run so fast I swiftly resigned myself to the sub’s bench and let the girls show me how it’s done; Zambia competitive style.

The level of competition was extremely fierce, quickly diminishing my idea of a nice relaxed friendly game, and after a few initial disputes of the 1m rule and a time-out to discuss and clarify the rules, the game once again picked up the pace. After 1hr of rigorous play and lots of the crazy Muzungu (myself) roaring ‘Come on, you can do it!!’ the final score was 20-14 to Kafinda.

The game was clearly enjoyed by all, particularly the 100-strong crowd we managed to create, and will definitely be repeated in the near future. Besides, we need to show Kafinda we can beat them!


The crowd gathering


Fierce competition


The Teams


On Wednesday 11th July, a few days after arriving back in Kasanka from holiday, I was treated to my first elephant herd sighting of the year. Bastiaan had spotted the elephants coming our way across the plain so we cycled down to watch the crossing from the safety of the bat hide. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen with the 19 strong herd coming within 40m of us crouched silently on the platform before heading into the Mushitu and the woodland beyond. With a mixture of fear and awe I snapped away with my camera thinking I would not get the opportunity to be so close to a wild elephant for a long time to come; I was wrong….


The matriarch leading the way


Calfs being herded away


Some of the herd followed by the HUGE bull

Shortly after getting back to camp I jumped in the shower, and to my surprise, when I got out there was a bull elephant feeding in the forest 30m from my tent! A short while later he made his way back to the rest of the herd, casually by-passing where I sit to eat lunch. 


Passing by Kinda Camp


Whilst I was on holiday, Anna informed me that one of our adult males, Jojo, had disappeared from the group. Although he was one of the oldest males in the troop he was still high-ranking and had a variety of mating partners. He was also suspected to be the father of Rhianna, Roseanne’s infant born back in April, so it seemed strange that he appeared to have emigrated from the troop, and questions were raised as to whether he had been killed by poachers.

Now the grass is burnt, the preferred method of poaching baboons is to use dogs, and despite the hard work of KTL scouts we still hear dogs barking relatively frequently within the home range covered by our study troop. 

Unfortunately, a few days ago whilst walking in the forest our study troop frequents every few weeks, we came across a skeleton of an adult male baboon. The skeleton appeared to be 2-3 weeks old, and whilst not wanting to jump to conclusions, the age of the skeleton fits with around the time Jojo disappeared. Fortunately we have managed to collect hair samples for genetic analysis so we will be able to confirm whether or not the baboon was Jojo. 

Although we frequently hear of poaching incidents, it was still a shock to have one of our study males killed. It is a sad reminder that despite the huge efforts by KTL to control poaching within Kasanka it still continues, and until funds are raised to provide more patrol groups, and villagers are educated on the cumulative effects of poaching, it will continue. 




Adult male baboon skeleton


Over the last few weeks we’ve had 2 more babies born. Whitney has given birth to a white/grey infant, and Godiva has had a little girl with a black head and grey body. We were even fortunate enough to witness Godiva eating the umbilical cord of her newborn! At a few weeks old now, Whitney’s infant is becoming more mobile and starting to interact with the other infants and juveniles. At just over a week old, Godiva’s infant is still clinging to mum, but is becoming more aware of her surroundings and getting more tactile with the inquisitive infants and adult females. 


Godiva and Grace with Roseanne and Rhianna


Whitney and her new female infant (name undecided)