Wow, what an exciting month of July we just had. We are now well past the middle of 2019, and our safari season is just rocking!
Anke, Ron & Luke were at Kafunta for most of the month of July.
Luke hadn’t been to the lodge since the opening last April, and it was with great excitement that he finally saw for himself the extend of the changes and upgrade.
As I write these lines, Luke is on his way back to Australia to start another semester of Uni.
He will soon be back for more visits with his childhood friends (here with Byron Miles and Maurice Chikumba).
There was a lot going on this month, with some hick-ups along the way.
Our biggest headache was the pontoon. We were very frustrated to notice that it was getting frequently stuck in the middle of the river, and realised that as the water level lowered, an important sand bar started appearing in the river.
The Luangwa is a sandy river. During the rainy season, the sand, the sediments and debris carried by the river shift greatly due to high-flow events and the variation of current intensity.
With this constant movement, side channels, sand or gravel bars are formed and reformed on regular basis. Meanders shift and move and islands can even sometimes be created.
This is the beauty of Luangwa’s free-flowing nature but what happens at the bottom is obviously invisible when we install the pontoon.
We tried several fixes however for most of the month the pontoon was unfortunately not operational. And we must apologise to all our guests and other users for this. We hired a team of several dozens of casual workers to fill sand bags and form a temporary ridge, which should be
ready by the time this newsletter reaches your inbox. With a river populated with crocs and hippos, it was certainly a challenging task, and we’re happy it is finally sorted.
Another "gift" from Mother Nature is the increasing number of Tse-Tse flies. Although they aren’t typically carrying any disease in this region, they are not exactly welcome, their stings being a tad painful! Having anticipated this already from last season, we worked early on with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife to place some traps near our bush camps. It has already greatly helped control their numbers, for everyone’s comfort!
But not everything this month was that unpleasant, on the opposite we had some very exciting events as well!
Visit by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
A week or so ago, Zambia hosted a working visit from the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), H.E. Amb. Zurab Pololikashvila. The UNWTO is the United Nations agency in charge of the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with 158 countries as members. It promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth and environmental sustainability.
The Secretary General’s program included a short visit to South Luangwa National Park, and we were extremely privileged at Kafunta River Lodge to welcome high dignitaries representing UNWTO and the Zambian Government for their overnight stay.
Above, from left to right: Mr Bullet Nsemukila (Zambia Eastern Province Permanent Secretary), Hon. Makebi Zulu (Zambia Provincial Minister, Eastern Province), Dr.Christine Kaseba Sata (Zambia’s former First Lady and currently Ambassador to France), H.E. Amb. Zurab Pololikashvili (UNWTO Secretary General), Hon. Ronald Chitotela (Zambia Minister of Tourism) and Mrs Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt (UNWTO Director, Regional Department for Africa)
Local representatives such as our District Commissioner, Mayor, DNPW Director and Council Secretary were also part of the delegation, along with members of the media. It was quite a big fuss for small Mfuwe village!
Ron & Anke with the newly appointed Zambia Minister of Tourism, Hon. Ronald Chitotela.
This brings a lot of exposure to Zambia’s most renown national park, and hopefully the country as a whole will benefit from UNWTO’s expertise and projects to make tourism a tool for sustainable development.
The delegation went on to visit various community projects supervised by Project Luangwa and the Luangwa Safari Association and held a working lunch with tour operators and stakeholders of Mfuwe.
Thank you to the Ministry of Tourism & Arts, the Luangwa Safari Association and Chichele Safaris and all those involved with the organisation of this visit.
Anke is hosting breakfast with our visiting officials
Clean up for our Planet!
Above: Chipembele’s Anti Plastic Environmental Campaign Day (27 July 2019)
Recycling and reducing plastic use is on everyone’s mind all over the world and the same goes for remote African villages such as Mfuwe. Kafunta Safaris is strongly committed to a cleaner environment and we gladly support several local initiatives aimed at recycling glass or plastic, as well as educational projects geared towards finding solutions to this urgent conservation challenge. Here are a few of them.
Mfuwe EcoBricks & Glass Project
We frequently do a clean up day at Kafunta and our bush camps to collect all sorts of trash, which we then sort and dispose off accordingly. Plastics are given to EcoBrickswhile glass bottles are given to Tribal Textiles for their new Glass Workshop.
Mfuwe EcoBricks was started by a local Mfuwe resident, Mr. George Banda, who has researched the requirements to make bricks out of plastic bottles, filled with used plastic, styrofoam, tinfoil etc. Many lodges, organisations and businesses now support George and his students by collecting plastic waste and helping make bricks that can be use for simple structures such as decorative walls, sign posts etc.
Well done to George, to Marula Lodge and to Chipembele as well as the Health Department and Council for this great initiative.
Follow Mfuwe Ecobricks on Facebook!
The Glass Recycling Workshop is another fantastic idea developed by Tribal Textiles to contribute to the recycling effort in the valley.
Lodges and residents can now deliver their empty glass bottles to Mwamba, the talented head of the Glass Workshop, who in turn will transform them in a variety of beautiful products such as platters, plates, drink ware, beads and jewellery and more!
Thank you Tribal Textiles for their investment in both tools and workforce!
We invite our guests to visit Tribe & Tribal Textiles where these items are available for sale. Tribal Textiles is donating 10% of the profits from sales to Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust to support their work educating children about conservation.
Mr. Mwamba at work
No Plastic for a Healthy Mfuwe
The driving force behind all these environmental efforts is undoubtedly the internationally recognised Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET). For decades now, the CWET has developed comprehensive and inspiring conservation education programmes aimed at local children and young people to educate and encourage them to be active conservationists and empower them to make changes that are necessary to sustain their livelihoods and their environment.
On 27th July, the CWET ran its Anti-Plastic Environmental Campaign with hundreds of people participating in "pick-up parades" across the district and culminating in central Mfuwe town.
We gladly join the effort pairing a team of 6 CWET Conservation Club Members with 6 of our safari spotters (and the help of our volunteer Enrique and dedicated driver Davey) to cover more areas of Mfuwe.
The day ended with various guest speakers, music, performances and dances, inspired by the theme "Be Fantastic, Say No To Plastic"!
If you want you too can help Chipembele continue their incredible work for the future of the Luangwa Valley, its people and wildlife. Consider donating here.
Back to the Wild
I know that a newsletter without a bit of wildlife photos wouldn’t be right! But I thought that, for a change, an in-depth account of what is being done in Mfuwe to contribute to the well-being of the local community is also important. After all without a sustainable community, there would be no wildlife! There is so much more to cover but it will be for another edition.
So now, let’s look at what was spotted in the bush over the past few weeks!
Above: large herds of elephants coming in front of Kafunta (photographed from the hide)
Below: photos brought back by Courtney after an afternoon game drive
InAfrica Photo Workshop
Every year, Stephan Tüngler brings a small group of participants to South Luangwa to hone their photographic skills. Over the course of 10 days, Stephan teaches the essentials of wildlife photography principles and tricks, and Kafunta River Lodge is his playground!
Which in return provides us with fantastic wildlife photography from both "master" and "pupils".
Here are only but a few of these photos by Stephan Tüngler, Katrin Martin & Laurent Maggiore.
Check InAfrica’s South Luangwa video here.
If you are keen on joining Stephan, quickly book his 2020 Safari (8-17 June 2020) as space is limited (only 2 people per vehicle). Tuition is in German and English.
Right folks. Time to move on to August now!
Winter will soon be over, temperatures are already rising and who knows what summer will bring to Luangwa this year! Let’s meet again in a month.
Izzy Kafunta Safaris
PS: don’t forget to send me your photos too! Email me!
Mfuwe, South Luangwa, Zambia