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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

False 22 Travel Zambia May 2008 BUSH THEATRE On the doorstep of South Luangwa National Park a new performance group has been wowing tourists and villagers alike. Marek Petzer reports on how two enterprising individuals have harnessed the local acting talent. Picture the scene: a group of tourists arrive back at their lodge after an exciting game drive to find themselves walking straight into another animal drama. But now the kind of scenes they have just been witnessing in the bush are being performed by people – complete with their own background sound effects of hippos, birds and insects. An elephant lumbers across the stage, unmistakable with its flapping reed- mat ears and a braided- grass trunk, followed by another actor beating a bucket to scare it from the crops. Soon other animals enter: a stately kudu, a cunning honey badger, a pedantic giraffe. There is conflict, laughter and ultimately hope. It is the bush brought to life on stage: people, animals and all. The actors belong to a local theatre group called Seka, meaning ‘ to laugh’ in Chinyanja. It represents the combined efforts of Miranda Guhrs, granddaughter of the famed conservationist Norman Carr, and Msatero Tembo, acclaimed actor, director and producer. Since 2002 Seka has been delighting audiences all over southern Africa, from the Luangwa Valley to Johannesburg, and has even performed as far away as Bangkok. Supported by Theatre For Africa and the Africa Resources Trust, their mission is ‘ changing circumstances through changing minds, and changing minds through the arts – theatre and stories in particular.’ Now Seka plan to build a cultural centre, museum and theatre adjacent to the park. Find out more at: www. seka- educational- theatre. com Dancing into the future The Lusaka Ballet School is staging its annual ballet event on the 7th and 14th June at the Hellenic Hall on Kafue Road, reports Laura Manni. The first show is an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland performed by children aged 3– 8, and the second show, which includes dinner, will feature 8– 16- year- olds performing a mixture of classical, folk and modern ballet. All proceeds raised from the two events will go towards Kidz Dance for Kidz. This Zambia- based, non- profit NGO is committed to improving children’s futures through community- led projects. The first of these is the building of a school in the rural area of Chisamba, where over 200 children from three different farm communities currently receive no education. Learn more at www. kidzdance4kidz. com. For ticket information contact Anja on 0979380660 ‘ In Africa, a war is launched by a song and victory is also celebrated by a song’. So say the organisers of the first Malaria Pulse Festival, to be held in Lusaka on 27– 29 June. The festival features an outstanding line- up of musicians from malaria- infected countries across Africa. Their performance aims to drum up publicity and promote awareness of malaria, and also to raise over $ 500,000 towards malaria control and awareness. ????????????? The Festival is organised by ????????????????? PaSuFlo Management, an event management company based in Johannesburg that aims to address African development issues through the medium of entertainment. Music for malaria Crowned cranes and ( inset) a kudu, the Seka way MAREK PETZER KIDZ DANCE FOR KIDZ PaSuFlo Hip Hop Pantsula ( South Africa) People People Vakacha Habitat Habitat Nkani Nkani