September 29, 1995
Matobo Hills - Tracking with Jeffrey
We leave Water Wilderness to Adrian and Cicely and catch the Trislander at Bumi Hills for the flight over the lake to Kariba Airport. There we must disembark and unload the luggage, check in with Air Zimbabwe, then reboard and reload the luggage back on to the exact same plane with the exact same pilot for the flight to Bulawayo. The Trislander loses much of it’s charm over the course of the 90 minute flight to Bulowayo.
We arrive at Matobo Lodge in time for the afternoon game drive/walk with Jeffrey. Jeffrey is a professional hunter, and knows all the guides that we have met on the trip. He takes us in a group of 8 into the Matobo Park Intensive Rhino protection zone.
There is a herd of 70 rhino in the park. They are guarded by park rangers with automatic weapons. Poachers are shot on sight, as are tourists who are mistaken for poachers. No one is allowed to walk in the park without a professional guide or hunter, and the guide must report in before entering the park.
Jeffery finds rhino tracks and leads us through a field of dried yellow grass as tall as I am. We circle the field to get downwind and, in a clearing, find a white rhino cow with her 18 month year old calf. A very exciting sighting. I carve a third notch into the camcorder, now more than halfway through the Big Five.
Jeffery does not carry a rifle, as have our guides on previous walks. I thought that it was required by law and ask him about this. He explains that there is no point to carrying a rifle into a Rhino Protection Zone, because the penalties for shooting a rhino are so severe. In other words, while Zimbabwe values its tourists, it values its rhinos even more. I can’t argue with that.
NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: This is a back-post / cross-post from my first on-line journal/blogging effort - a journal of our Southern Africa Tour in 1995. Originally posted to an abandoned domain (NetSnake.com), the term "blog" had not yet entered the parlance. I am migrating the original posts to this blog. Links to the original journal Date Index or Africa Tour Home Page will likely eventually disappear. The images from the original post were graphics and screen caps from video which I am leaving in it's low-rez glory for historical integrity. My intent is to also add some of Sigrid's higher quality scanned photos to these blog back-posts. The difference in images should be obvious.
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