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November 2008 Travel Zambia 19 Catctch a giraffe Giraffes, it may not surprise you, are notoriously difficult animals to capture. Rachel McRobb, CEO of the South Luangwa Conservation Society, recently learned the procedure on a training course in Zimbabwe. And she was soon called into action when a snared giraffe was reported at nearby Flatdogs camp ? ( ? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ) ? www. flatdogscamp. com) ? ) . Chimfunshi under threat Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage is desperately in need of funds, reports Lesley Thomson. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? For more than 25 years this unique sanctuary, located near Chingola in the Copperbelt, has rehabilitated homeless chimpanzees. Many arrive in pitiful condition, victims of bars, circuses and the bush- meat trade. They cannot be returned to the wild, and the cost of their daily upkeep is considerable. Chimfunshi is currently limping along thanks to Konkola Copper Mines, who pay a portion of staff wages, the Chingola community, who help with fuel and food, and the dedication of the staff. But without further funding it faces imminent closure, effectively condemning more than 100 chimpanzees to starvation. If you can help, please contact Tony Rauch, Project Manager, Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust: chimps@ coppernet. zm or chimps@ talkingtravel. co. za " We went to look at him and found him in a pretty sorry state," reports Rachel. " The snare was just above his front foot and was obviously causing him a lot of pain." Rachel has darted many animals before – lions, elephants, you name it – but never a giraffe: " They are the most difficult," she explains, " due to their great size and long neck, and all the associated complications when they are immobilised." Immobilising a giraffe involves lassoing the enormous beast and lowering it to the ground. To get this part right, the SLCS team first had to practise on one another: " We spent the whole morning going over the procedure," reports Rachel, " and in the afternoon felt confident enough to carry it out." The team darted the enormous animal with a heavy dose of drugs to bring him down as quickly as possible. They then immediately gave him the antidote, and roped his legs so that they could get to work without being kicked in the face. Next they removed the snare, which had worked its way deep into the foot, and scrubbed the wound to remove dead and rotten flesh. Finally they administered a heavy dose of antibiotics and anti- inflammatories. The whole procedure took just 30 minutes, after which the ropes were removed, along with the earplugs and eye cover. The giraffe got straight back to its feet, seemingly unfazed. Rachel was delighted: " The whole procedure went perfectly and was a great team effort." Find out more about the South Luangwa Conservation Society and ? ? k ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? make a contribution to their valuable work at ? www. slcs- zambia. org. Some people just get lucky. Nellie and John van Herk, from Holland, were on their first- ever safari when they witnessed the rare sight of a giraffe giving birth. The couple, who were staying at Wildlife Camp ( www. wildlifecamp- zambia. com) in South Luangwa, came upon the scene during an afternoon game drive. " We watched everything until the baby was born," reports Nellie. " Also we saw its attempts to stand up, though eventually it got so dark that we could not see it walking away." These pictures capture the amazing spectacle. " It goes without saying that this was a great experience, which we shall never forget." Verticalerticalerticalerticalerticalerticalertical exitit Howto... Lasso practice back at base ( top); removing the snare ( above left); good to go ( above right). SLCS 3) NELLIE & JOHN VAN HERK ( 3) LESLEY THOMSON

Safari guide Craig Doria, who spent many years working in the Luangwa Valley, is a renowned authority on snakes and has written one of the most respected guides to the snakes of Zambia. Here he relates an extraordinary encounter that befell his friend Jake da Motta – familiar to readers of this magazine – on their shared stable, Rancho Los Pajeros. Every morning, for about two months, our ashen- faced groom had been telling us about the large black mamba he had seen cruising past the stables at first light. He was careful to draw the distinction between the more common black- necked spitting cobra and the rarer but much deadlier mamba: " Not the one that plays tricks with saliva, but the one with a mouth like a tortoise!" he insisted, in an excellent description of the mamba's cruel ' smile'. His story was soon confirmed by the track of a large snake passing close by the stables. If the snake got in among the horses by mistake… Well, that would be the end of Rancho Los Pajeros. It had to go. So the local nganga was called in. With due ceremony he placed totems wrapped in soft bark atop each of the fence posts around the yard. And for a few days this seemed to do the trick. Then one morning Jake arrived alone to find a mild riot underway. We had a rudimentary well dug into a small dry riverbed beside the stables. On this morning Jake found the well encircled – at a safe distance – by about 20 outraged women, their water buckets abandoned. All were loudly insisting that Jake deal with the large serpent in the well, which the groom confirmed was indeed the black mamba. Now it definitely had to go. A weapon was needed – and one was duly produced. Unfortunately it was a flimsy, four- foot long piece of bamboo with a six- inch nail stuck into the end. The groom handed it to Jake with all the solemnity of a herald handing his knight a toothpick with which to slay the dragon. It was one of those Darwinian moments, when one either rejects a stupid challenge and survives to pass on one's genes, or accepts and dives headfirst into calamity. And so Jake went to meet his nemesis. The hushed crowd of women opened before him and down he climbed. The mamba was there alright, its grey body sliding in oily smoothness through the mouse holes in the walls of the well. Cue a second Darwinian moment: Jake raised his javelin and speared the snake. Or at least he speared one part of it. The flimsy weapon leaped in his hands while the rest of the reptile erupted in a frenzy of vengeful anger – the head emerging and striking furiously at his neck. Jake, the bamboo and the six- inch nail held fast as the mamba tried in vain to cover the last 15 inches. It was a stalemate: the snake was pegged fast and Jake dared not release his hold. Many well- known sayings come to mind, but I think ' Down a well with a speared mamba' adequately describes this kind of a predicament. Eventually the groom came to Jake's assistance and, with one sweep of a panga, the mamba was beheaded. The ex- snake, probably a female, measured eight feet two inches long. 20 Travel Zambia November 2008 Tales from The mamba, the well and the six- inch nail t he bush CRAIG DORIA The black mamba is Africa's longest venomous snake