Tuesday, December 23, 2014


elephants in Chobe National Park
I went to Kasane without any real plans. Said I’d figure it out when I got here. But it's all worked out wicked well. I got lucky that, out of all the phone numbers I called, the most affordable one was the only one with a room available. My home this week is run by some of the most helpful people I’ve yet met.

My accommodations here in Kasane have been Bophirimo Guesthouse run by Kebonye and Simon. They have helped to connect me with the folks who run the Chobe Snake Park, a local geologist and literature aficionado, and best of all, two local writers: Peter Comely, a safari guide and novelist, and very accomplished poet Onalethuso Petruss Ntema. Meeting these two has been very inspiring. And they both signed copies of their books for me. (Score!)These are the connections I look for. Serendipity is a real blessing.

crocodile on Sedudu Island between Botswana and Namibia
I’ve visited the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, crossing the convergence of the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers to play a homemade marimba and watch pied kingfishers, crocodiles, and hippos along the riverbank. The reeds on the island in the middle of the river had been mown flat by the local herds of elephants.

I visited the Chobe Snake Park and Biodiversity Centre where they keep a variety of snakes and other rehabbed wildlife. Some were local captures, others were recovered from smugglers, or found injured by poison or car-strikes. I got to hold pythons, brown house snakes, and beaked snakes. I kept my distance behind the glass from the puff adders and black mamba, admiring these deadly creatures.

Chobe is elephant territory
Best of all, the staff at the Snake Park let me tag along to help with some of their research projects. That turned out to be an extraordinary day. Someone had called in a report of an injured white-backed vulture. This individual seemed to be poisoned, potentially by Rat-X. With the proper permit clearance from the wildlife department, the vulture, dubbed Jiles, was brought back to the centre for food and water and some charcoal tablets to help absorb the poison. Latest I've heard is that he's doing well and soon to be released.

I helped with a community study of diseases carried by flies and got to talk the similarities between scientific and literary journals, the effects of poaching and anti-poaching efforts, local culture, and as they say here: all the what-what. Shop shop [Ok]. It was a great opportunity, plus he blogs about his experiences working in conservation, which is very affirming to me in my search for the connections between conservation and writing.

Lilac Breasted Roller
I also got to visit Victoria Falls, but that’s going to be a blog entry of its own. I hope to return to Kasane someday. I’ve loved it here, and highly recommend Bophirimo Guesthouse to you when you come.

Next time I see you, ask me about the night on the wildlife corridor when I stood in a herd of elephant. Ahemdullah.

big ol bull elephant (guess how you can tell)

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