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The safari medical service, run by the Luangwa Safaris Association Medical Fund ( LSAMF), is an invaluable resource for residents and visitors alike in the South Luangwa valley. The service was set up in 1997 by Jo Pope of Robin Pope Safaris ( RPS). It is funded by subscriptions from members of the LSAMF, fees from clients and additional donations. The doctor is a volunteer, usually from the UK, other parts of Europe or the USA. LSAMF meets travel expenses, and provides accommodation and food, a vehicle and fuel, and ' pocket money' for local needs. For more information contact Gid Carr at kapani@ normancarrsafaris. com or Dr Ivan Cox at ivancox@ blueyonder. co. uk A unique service visitors. Current studies suggest that one in ten visitors still doesn't take them, however, and this needs to be remedied. Do you get involved in local health care? In order to meet Zambian medical registration criteria the doctor's duties must include an active volunteer role at the Kakumbi Rural Health Clinic ( KRHC), in Mfuwe. This clinic is run entirely by local nurses. The doctor has mainly an advisory role, helping them with difficult cases or getting stuck in when the clinic is overwhelmed. This is where the doctor might encounter something more dramatic, such as snakebite or injuries from elephant or crocodile attack, though more common problems are pneumonia, malaria and minor trauma - and, increasingly, the full spectrum of AIDS. It is a challenging working environment, with moments of inspiration, but also frustration and despair. What else can doctors contribute? Most doctors find there is something extra they can give. Some have introduced new equipment, such as a microscope for malaria diagnosis or a nebuliser for the treatment of asthmatics at the clinic. A few have made substantial contributions: Dr Juergen contributed a valuable section on managing snakebite to a guide on Zambian snakes; Dr Gerd organised an ultrasound machine for the local hospital; Dr Johnny and his partner undertook - with remarkable grit and energy - a total renovation and rebuilding of the rural health clinic. So how does a retired English GP cope with life in the African bush? There is a magic about the valley, and the very remoteness that attracts most visitors also seduces many doctors. Several have come back to do more than one stint. The sense of community amongst the park residents and the local villagers, and the value they place upon having a doctor, makes South Luangwa a special place for those of us who have served there. We become part of a vibrant community, and also get to explore the park - usually for free - through the lodges and camps. Any special memories? Living and working in this environment is a constant delight. Daytime at the ' doctor's house' brings elephant, giraffe, baboons and half the bird species in the valley passing by. And there can be few places in the world where a doctor's night call entails dodging elephants and hippos, only to be confronted by the green flashing eyes of a leopard walking down the road towards you. May 2009 Travel Zambia 29 Clockwise from top left: the doctor's house at Flatdogs camp; renovating the health clinic with a lick of paint; an uninvited visitor in out- patients; all spick and span at the surgery

I sat bolt upright in bed. The alarm clock read 3am as my drowsy brain abandoned dreamland and tried to fi gure out what was going on. Seconds earlier I had been asleep in the comfort of my tent. I was sure that the sound of the spare bed sliding across the fl oor had woken me - but can heavy beds really slide across fl oors? A deep, guttural purring resonated through the tent as the bed shifted again. In an instant I knew: I was being honoured with a late- night visit from the legendary Lady Liuwa. Lady Liuwa is as enormous a lioness as you are likely to fi nd anywhere in Zambia. ( And she looks especially impressive in the dim glow of a paraffi n lamp as she rubs against the side of your tent during the small hours.) She is also, sadly, the last surviving lion of Liuwa Plain National Park, and has a particular affi liation with Matamanene Camp, where - in one of the camp's four en suite tents - I had just been so rudely awakened. There are various theories about why a wild lioness would choose to spend so much time, especially at night, around people. Some suggest that she is lonely and, as a social cat, seeks companionship from one of the few species that does not automatically fl ee from her. Others believe that competitive pressure from the high density of spotted hyenas on the plains has driven her to seek refuge within the confi nes of the camp. Whatever the reason, she certainly adds a frisson to the Liuwa safari experience. Liuwa Plain National Park, located in the remote upper Zambezi fl oodplains of western Zambia's Barotseland, protects 3,600 km2 of remote, wildlife- rich wilderness. The park is sandwiched between the Luambimba River to the north and the Luanginga River to Liuwa Plain is the stuff of myth: a remote, little- visited corner of Zambia that is reputedly home to one of Africa's greatest animal gatherings. For years it was off the safari map. But now, with the help of some enterprising conservationists and operators, adventurous travellers can fi nd out what all the fuss is about. Stephen Cunliffe took up the challenge. 30 Travel Zambia May 2009 Above: Blue wildebeest in Liuwa are once again beginning to migrate as their numbers continue to recover. Meanwhile oribi ( top) continue to thrive on the open grasslands. The Plain Truth