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November 2008 Travel Zambia 17 A few kilometres from the banks of the Kafue River, beside a small clearing in the dense miombo, I find Brightson hard at work. Why here, I wonder. By way of explanation he indicates an ancient spoil heap, its surface littered with weathered fragments of pure iron. These were once molten droplets: the overspill from an ancient working smelter. Through an interpreter, he explains why this was the perfect site then – the big termite mound provided the clay for the furnace; the nearby dambo provided the water; the woodland provided the timber – and so is just as good today. Brightson's knowledge has been passed down through the generations. He explains that these smelters were used to make weapons during times of conflict, which were then traded for maize meal. He also describes the rituals that accompanied their use: how women were prohibited from visiting a smelter; and how a pot with traditional medicines was left as an offering to ancestors to prevent accidents. ( Exploding smelters, it seems, were an occupational hazard.) Once complete, the new smelter, like its predecessors, will comprise a two- metre- high clay chimney containing alternating layers of charcoal, firewood and iron ore. A mould placed among the ashes at the bottom will capture the molten iron. Brightson actually plans to construct two smelters: one will be operational; the other a demonstration model – opened in cross- section, so visitors can see how it works. He will also sell small iron artefacts forged on site. A glance at the surrounding bush suggests that very little has changed since the first smelter was built here. This is no conventional building site: I point out lion tracks in the dust of the compond. Brightson shrugs. That was two nights ago; now there is work to be done. Visit Kaingu Safari Lodge to see the iron- age smelter and learn more about the region's ancient history: www. kaingu- lodge. com Iron will Brightson Chambweka, based at Kaingu Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park, will be familiar to regular readers of TZ. And the ex- poacher turned guide is now bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge of local history to a fascinating new project: he is reconstructing a traditional iron smelter on its original site. Mike Unwin reports. Mediciiciicine man WRWRITES IT DOWNDOWNDOWNDOWN Did you know that the flowers of the scrambled egg bush ( Glaucous cassia) are used as an aphrodisiac – or that hunters would traditionally use a concoction of hyena droppings and acacia roots wrapped in cloth to ward off other predators? Jacob Katiyo, a guide at Chongwe River Camp ( www. chongwe. com), has been researching the medicinal and cultural uses of plants and animals in his native Zambezi Valley and now plans to pass on his knowledge to other guides in the form of a booklet. " I decided to gather this information from the elders so that people can have knowledge about the flora and fauna and what they can do for people," says Jacob. " I want people to know about these things before they disappear." Brightson Chabweka at work: building the new visitors' reception ( top); pointing out his ancestral lands from the sacred vantage point of Mpamba Rock ( centre and bottom). MIKE UNWIN ( 5) MIKE UNWIN ( 2)

18 Travel Zambia November 2008PeoplePeopleVakachaVakachaHabitatHabitatNkaniNkaniCultureCulture African Parks expapands Africa Parks has made a major impact in Zambia through its pioneering management of Liuwa Plain National Park. Now this innovative organisation is poised to expand its park management programme. Stephen Cunliffe reports on what this could mean for Zambia's wildlife – and for its visitors. African Parks was established in 2000 as the first private institution to combine conservation expertise with a commercial approach to park management. The terms of its mandate leaves it directly responsible for its results. Thus it does not simply offer support to state conservation agencies, but gets stuck in with a hands- on approach. For the last five years Liuwa Plain has been African Park's flagship project in Zambia. Here the organisation has followed its now- standard approach: to rehabilitate a neglected park and, using sound business principles, to manage it as an economic entity. This approach attracts reputable ecotourism operators who bring their skills, capital and marketing clout towards developing a sustainable tourism infrastructure. All revenues, such as entrance and concession fees, are retained at park level to help wean it from donor support and become financially self- sustaining. Critical to this recipe is the local community. African Parks recognises that people who live around the park must see tangible benefits if they are to offer it their support. Each project thus has a local capacity- building dimension, providing community conservation, training and education programmes. Parks typically employ 80– 250 permanent staff members in management alone, with many more finding temporary work. Now Zambia looks set to benefit from a redoubling of African Parks' commitment to the country. Discussions are under way with government over three potential new projects: the Bangweulu Wetland Park ( consisting of the new Chikuni Partnership Park and the adjacent Bangweulu Game Management Area), the Lower Zambezi National Park and West Lunga National Park. Further negotiations are still required before formal partnership agreements can be signed. But the Zambian Wildlife Authority ( ZAWA) has had five years to assess the Liuwa project, and its invitation to African Parks to expand their Zambia programme suggests that it likes what it has seen. Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, believes that four projects of this scale are probably all that the organisation can handle within a single country at present. African Parks' vision for Zambia is to ensure that these parks are effectively rehabilitated, restocked and managed. This will both shore up their conservation value and will enhance their long- term attractiveness to reputable tourism operators – thereby contributing to the country's broader economy. Such ambitious plans will require substantial investments of money, time and effort. But if the reputation and track record of African Parks are anything to go by, then you can rest assured that these wonderful parks – such vital components of Zambia's natural heritage – will be in very capable hands. Visit Liuwa Plain Robin Pope Safaris is the first major operator to offer safaris into Liuwa Plain since the park's rehabilitation. The safaris, led by Robin Pope himself, include a three- hour boat transfer across the vast Zambezi floodplain. Find out more at www. robinpopesafaris. net STEPHEN CUNLIFFE Blue wildebeest on Liuwa Plain