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False 20 Travel Zambia May 2008

False May 2008 Travel Zambia 21 RIP Silky 1996– 2007 Chongwe River Camp ( www. chongwe. com) is sad to announce the disappearance of their tame impala, Silky. This popular character around camp disappeared at the end of November, heavily pregnant. After several days and repeated searches, the staff were unable to find her and could only assume the worst. Her loss marks the end of an era for Chongwe: staff and guests will miss her queuing for cornflakes every morning, nibbling on tea bags and guests’ novels ( often frustratingly taking the last few pages) and tagging along on bush walks. They are comforted, however, by the thought that her life, for an impala, was a long and happy one, and her ability to avoid the numerous predators who passed though the camp was little short of miraculous. She will be sorely missed. Habitat Nkani Nkani Wildlife focus: Puff adder The puff adder ( Bitis arietans) is a common and widespread member of the viper family that feeds on rodents and other small animals. Its stout body averages about 1m in length ( though may exceptionally exceed 1.6m), and varies in colour from yellowish to greyish- brown, always with a distinctive pattern of chevrons down the spine. It is reluctant to move, relying on its camouflage for protection, but when disturbed will hiss loudly and strike fast. Its large size and potent venom, together with its habit of basking by footpaths and a willingness to bite, make this species arguably the most dangerous snake in Africa. Nonetheless human fatalities are unusual, probably occuring in less than 10% of all untreated cases. Tales from the bush: CHECK FIRST! Leopards value their privacy JULIET SHENTON/ SHENTON SAFARIS CHONGWE RIVER CAMP Loo stops in the bush are always challenging, both in terms of keeping the guests discreetly hidden from the rest of the party and in finding a safe spot not too far from the vehicle. On one game drive many years ago a large lady client sitting on the back seat yelled that she needed a loo stop. I pulled over, and was about to leap out and check for a suitable bush, when she jumped off the vehicle and headed for the nearest thicket. She must have been desperate, as she disregarded my shouts to stop and promptly disappeared from view. Seconds later there came a yell that startled everyone waiting in the vehicle, and the unfortunate guest came lumbering out again, yelling in incoherent panic, her pants still at half- mast. Only once she had rearranged her clothing and bundled herself back into her seat was she able to explain: apparently, upon squatting down behind the bush, she had found herself looking straight up into the very annoyed face of a rudely- awakened leopard. It was not clear who had been more surprised: the feline or the human. After a brief search we spotted the cat moving deeper into the thicket. But no time for photos: we rushed away in search of a better loo spot. Look for leopards with Shenton Safaris at www. kaingo. com Derek Shenton is intimately acquainted with leopards. His two camps in South Luangwa National Park are located in prime country for this enigmatic cat and over the years he has become familiar with its ways. But sometimes, recounts Derek, the ways of guests are rather less easy to anticipate – especially guests in need of a ‘ comfort break’. NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY