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False May 2008 Travel Zambia 35 Interview Hills, sand from the Luangwa River and 1,100 bags of cement. I had never built anything in my life before, so it was a steep learning curve. When did it open? Anna: The first children arrived in May 2001. What facilities does the centre have? Steve: The main room is like a museum – full of natural exhibits and displays. There is also a large library and a well- equipped classroom. Close by is a 9m open- sided thatched structure where we hold outdoor classes and children have their meals. We also provided a double toilet, cooking hut and other ancillary facilities for children and teachers. Recently we built a large adventure playground. The children love it. How often do children visit Chipembele? Anna: We collect 20 children in our 4WD truck from six local schools twice a week. The centre is also open to any school in Zambia. On one occasion, 72 children turned up unannounced from a school 200 miles away. No charge is made for admission, tuition or meals. Amazingly, many of the children who come here, as well as some of their teachers, have never seen what to us are common animals, such as giraffe, warthog, buffalo and antelope. They often first meet these animals on the drive here. What do children do at Chipembele? Anna: We teach them about wildlife and conservation, and Steve takes them on armed bush walks. He carries a rifle purely for protection, in the unlikely event of an elephant, lion or buffalo deciding to charge. When a pride of lions takes up temporary residence in our area, they are often responsible for the tracks we see on our walks. Tell me about your anti- poaching work, Steve. Steve: I am an Honorary Wildlife Police Officer working with ZAWA ( the Zambia Wildlife Authority) and an Honorary Forestry Officer working with the Forestry Department. I therefore become involved in anti- poaching duties and also work to stop illegal tree-cutting and habitat destruction. We are also trustees of South Luangwa Conservation Society ( SLCS), which works with local communities to combat poaching, reduce people- animal conflict and deal with wild animals that may have been snared or injured. Has either of you ever run into difficulties with wild animals? Steve: We’ve both been chased by elephants many times and have often walked into lion at close range in the bush, but so far we have remained unscathed. A couple of years ago I was wading across a small, shallow river when a huge crocodile tried to take me; I was lucky to escape. Anna was once stung by a scorpion and suffered excruciating pain for 20 hours – before I found a traditional healer who took away the pain within minutes. Violent deaths are not unusual among local people. We’ve lost four of our workers: one was eaten by lions; another was bitten in half by a hippo; the third was killed in a brawl; and the fourth, our driver Mabvuto, was killed only last September by an elephant as he cycled to work. I believe you are also heavily involved in other local projects. Anna: Yes. We operate a pupil sponsorship scheme currently running at 112 pupils, most of whom are orphans. We have reared and rehabilitated a large number of orphaned wild animals and discovered a wealth of animal fossils, including an extinct primate never before found in central Africa. So, what next after Chipembele? Steve: Chipembele is our home now and also our gift to Zambia. There are only the two of us, so we can’t build centres all over Africa. But if we can inspire others to do similar things, to educate the citizens of tomorrow of the importance of conserving their natural heritage, then that would be a fitting legacy. One extraordinary animal has earned a special place in the affections of the Chipembele team. Bulu is a Jack Russell cross who came to Steve and Anna in late November 1999. Since then, the stories of his narrow escapes with death have made him a legend across the Luangwa Valley. He has suffered countless bouts of sleeping sickness ( normally a killer disease in domestic animals); been nearly blinded by a spitting cobra, but regained his sight after a careful operation; and miraculously survived a vicious lion attack that left him wandering the bush for five days with horrific neck injuries. He has also been a patient and loving adoptive guardian to all the orphaned animals who have been reared at Chipembele, from bushbuck to baboons. No wonder he is known everywhere as Bulu the Wonder Dog. BULU THE WONDER DOG Chipembele: the story so far June 1998: Arrive in Zambia July 1998: Camp beside Luangwa River in Mfuwe area July 1998: Chief Kakumbi donates site to establish a wildlife education centre Aug 1999: Granted official permission to develop site 2000: Begin serious development work with local schools Mar 2000: Start building centre May 2001: Centre opens; local schools attend on fixed programme 2002: Steve becomes Honorary Wildlife Police Officer 2002: Sponsorship scheme for orphans starts with three pupils 2004/ 5: Anna administers new micro-loans for eleven women’s clubs. 2006: Steve becomes Honorary Forestry Officer 2006: Chipembele given seat on Board of Trustees for SLCS Feb 2007: House and centre cut off for three weeks by floods 2007: build 48- bed girls dormitory at local school; pupil sponsorship scheme expands to 137 2008: Chipembele now offering classes to 180 children per month from six local schools Bulu and friends CHIPEMBELE

False BEHIND THE SMOKESCREEN You won’t find Zambia’s Copperbelt on any list of the country’s great attractions. This populous, industrial region, with its teeming towns and grinding industry, is seen almost as a necessary evil – the powerhouse of a nation’s economy, perhaps, but hardly suitable for the front of its brochures. But first impressions, discovered Crispin Quarmby, can be deceptive. A marching line of pylons, five abreast, is the first hint of what lies ahead. Soon, turning north onto the Ndola/ Kitwe highway, you pass the vast switching station that distributes all this power to the mines and mining towns. Then finally, as you start the long descent to the Kafue River crossing, the full extent of the industrial landscape becomes apparent, with mine headgear looming to your south and a great pall of smoke belching from the tall chimneys dead ahead. Welcome to the Copperbelt. At first glance, this landscape is far from the ‘ Real Africa’ beloved of the safari industry. So perhaps it is hardly surprising that this heavily industrialised and densely populated corner of Zambia rarely features on the average tourist itinerary. Indeed, Copperbelt Province – situated some 350km north of Lusaka – may be the country’s smallest, but it contains seven of its ten major conurbations, including the towns of Kabwe, Kitwe and Ndola. The Copperbelt, of course, gets its name from the huge copper deposits that were discovered and developed into mines during the early part of the twentieth century. And the story of the region’s fluctuating fortunes is, to a large extent, the story of modern Zambia. In the early days, the flourishing mining industry attracted migrant workers from all over Zambia and, indeed, the world. As the mines expanded after World War Two, with copper production peaking in 1969 at 720,000 tonnes, mine towns also prospered. The various mining companies competed to provide the very best in housing and recreation for their employees, each town offering its own golf course, sports clubs, riding arena and so on. Indeed, Chingola Golf Club was adjudged by Gary Player to be among the best fifteen outside the USA ( and he should know). In 1982, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines ( ZCCM) was formed as a conglomerate Above: Nkana mine plant area and smelter, Kitwe Below: Open- cast mining for copper and cobalt at Nchanga Mine, Chingola Opposite: The Kafue River offers respite from all that bustle and industry. ALL PHOTOS: STEPHEN ROBINSON 36 Travel Zambia May 2008