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16 Travel Zambia May 2009 Habitat Habitat Nkani Nkani In March 2001, safari guide John Coppinger led fi ve fellow paddlers on a canoe trip down a remote stretch of the Luangwa River. They started near the source and ended at Tafi ka Camp, John's base in South Luangwa National Park. John knew, from years of experience, that crocodiles seldom bother canoes. Yet this stretch of river had a bad reputation. John's journal tells the story. We put in our canoes about 45 kilometres from the source. This was done with some trepidation. Not even the nearby villagers could enlighten us as to the nature of the river downstream. Would there be rapids not negotiable in our Canadian canoes? What about crocodiles? We were aware of a few sobering facts. A Frenchman named Maurice Patry had attempted a section of the river in 1952 but had aborted near the Lufi la confl uence, in North Luangwa National Park, after a crocodile attack on his canvas canoe. In May/ June 1999 a team of Germans had launched a homemade raft at Mpande ( 100km from the source), but their raft had been irreparably damaged by a crocodile attack at Chief Tembwe, 100km downstream. And in 1994 we ourselves had been attacked by a croc while canoeing from Marula Puku, also in North Luangwa National Park, to the Luangwa/ Zambezi confl uence. The fi rst fi ve or six days were idyllic. The area was sparsely populated, the weather perfect and the river very beautiful, with dense reed beds and a stunning backdrop of the Makutu mountains to the east and the Mafi nga mountains to the west. The few hippos that we encountered were very well behaved, and we treated one another with mutual respect. Crocodiles remained out of sight. On day seven, however, we reached North Luangwa National Park, where the crocodile numbers increased dramatically. And soon we were violently roused from our complacency. I was in the lead canoe with Isaac Banda when a large croc rushed us from the side. I shouted at him to shoot, but the croc submerged before he could raise his rifl e. Minutes later a huge croc ( I assume the same beast) grabbed hold of the stern of the last canoe inches from my brother Mike's backside. It then released its grip and raised its gaping jaws, seemingly poised to attack. Mike leaped forward and fl attened himself across the kit that was tied in the middle of the canoe. Fortunately, the croc submerged and did not appear again. This episode changed our outlook dramatically, and the remaining 200km became a far more daunting prospect. Sure enough, we had a further six crocodile incidents over the next few days, although each time we kept the marauding reptile at bay with warning shots and by banging on the canoes. All these incidents took place in the vicinity of North Luangwa National Park and involved enormous male crocs. I have since mused that their aggression, given the time of year, may well have been down to territorial behaviour. We reached Tafi ka after ten days of paddling, having covered 500km of river. This meant that, after our 1994 expedition, we became the fi rst people to have canoed the entire length of the Luangwa. Good luck to the next fools; we won't be joining them! REMOTE AFRICA SAFARIS MIKE UNWIN

May 2009 Travel Zambia 17 CHIMFUNSHI LATEST Exciting news for Chimfunshi Wildlife Sanctuary and Chimpanzee Orphanage, reports Lesley Thomson. Thanks to the generosity of donors the centre now has a new offi ce, complete with satellite dish and solar panels. A new access road to the large chimpanzee enclosures is also being constructed for visitors, while African Impact has provided assistance with new accommodation for volunteers. Meanwhile Sandy, one of the orphans, moved to his new home in February. This chimp was nursed back to health after a serious crocodile attack but, severely traumatised, has since found it hard to share living quarters with the others. Now enough funds have been raised to complete the building of his new home. Four other chimps, whom he has befriended in the last year, will be joining him. Chimfunshi would like to thank all donors, including those who responded to the appeal in the last edition of Travel Zambia. Please keep it coming! Visitors are welcome at Chimfunshi. Entrance is ZK50,000 per adult, ZK25,000 per child and ZK10,000 per person for school groups. A visit includes a talk, a trip around the education centre and time with the chimpanzees. For further information contact Tony Raunch at Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust, PO Box 11190, Chingola, Zambia, or email chimfunshiwildlife@ iwayafrica. com Brendan Reisbeck, manager of Chongwe River House ( www. chongwe. com), must have been a good boy last year: Santa brought him the top prize on many a safari wish list - a real, live pangolin. This bizarre nocturnal animal is so elusive that many old bush-hands go a lifetime without ever seeing one. Imagine Brendan's surprise, therefore, when one of his staff knocked on his offi ce door on Christmas morning to report having found one in camp. " The next thing we knew," he recalls, " this huge pangolin was ambling around the offi ce and testing out the diamond mesh like a climbing frame." Brendan couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. " We stood there in amazement," he continues. " Eight years of working in the bush and this was my fi rst ever sighting. We truly were very lucky." Reisbeck released the pangolin outside, where he watched and photographed it for a while before it headed home. Better make sure he writes your Christmas list next year. Chongwe's Christmas pangolin The common pangolin ( Manis temminckii) rests in a burrow by day and ventures out at night to feed on ants and termites. It uses a strong sense of smell to locate anthills, powerful front claws to break in, and a long, sticky tongue to lap up its insect prey. Its pine cone- like scales are made of a keratinous material, like fi ngernails. When threatened it will roll into a protective ball, and can work these scales with a vicious cutting action to deter any predator that comes too close. This species is the most widespread of four found in tropical Africa, with another fi ve occurring in Asia. Despite their similar appearance and diet, pangolins ( order Pholidita) are completely unrelated to the armadillos ( order Cingulata) of South and Central America. WILDLIFE FOCUS: PANGOLIN Habitat Nkani Nkani BRENDAN REISBECK CHIMFUNSHI GETTY IMAGES