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by John and Jenny Brebner
(Bulawayo 26th Oct 2011)

We then moved on to Sinamatella and stayed two nights. Warden Gomwe is doing a sterling job there and is keeping his camp ship shape. Most of the lodges have been repainted and it would appear that fixing of light fittings and electrical plugs and general maintenance has been carried out. Everywhere was litter free and tidy, the gardens were taking shape and we were most impressed to find every bird bath filled with water. Hot water wasn’t a problem for the most part as it was SO hot that we showered at midday in lukewarm water. Just about all the lodges now have chip boilers which is perfect. Water pressure to the lower lodges may be all right later in the evening but as our lodge was higher up, once the booster pump was turned off for the day, we did not have hot water in the shower. Those visiting the camp should certainly take malarial precautions and make sure you have some mozzie repellant. We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit there, taking several drives and seeing good game. We came across two lots of lion, three one afternoon resting along a river bank, and on a drive along the Kashawe Loop the following morning, we saw at least nine lion – three females and six knee high cubs scuttling along a river bed. We managed to pick up two of the lionesses for a bit of a view but the others had disappeared. Once again birding was excellent, with a number of vultures nesting and roosting along the Lukosi River drive. Five Greater Flamingos were spooning away on the far side of Mandavu, a few Yellowbilled Storks still remained and two Ospreys had been sighted at the dam on the morning of the count by some of our team. Each time we went for a drive, we saw a Giant Eagle Owl sitting in a baobab not far off the road and we definitely saw another bird further up which looked rather like a youngster. At one of the Kashawe pools, we saw two magnificent saddlebilled storks as well as two hamerkops scratching around in the mud. While there, a male and female Bateleur along with two immature Bateleurs took to the air. We visited a known Black Eagle’s nest and saw the fledgling perched not far from the site, in its glorious golden plumage. So a wonderful trip all round and thanks to Hwange National Park.

While up there, several meetings were had with Parks staff, mainly to try and establish the reliability of diesel supplies for the coming weeks, until the rains – hopefully - set in. Contrary to a recent report that went out a few weeks ago, there is absolutely NO evidence to substantiate the claim that seven waterpoints in Hwange National Park have been poisoned. With the count pending, WEZ has been involved extensively in the air and on the ground over the past two to three weeks and together with meetings with wardens concerned, there have been no reports to support this. While poisoning of waterholes in other National Parks in the country has occurred, this is NOT the case in Hwange. Reporting of this nature is irresponsible and detrimental to the well being of the park. Every effort is being made to lure tourists back into the place in order to generate much needed funds and they could quite easily give their travel plans a second thought. The ever generous donors both inside and outside the country also begin to question the feasibility of continuing with their much needed support.
Many would be absolutely amazed at how much work is going on ‘behind the scenes’ in Hwange National Park and just how much hard work some folks are putting in to keep this wonderful heritage alive.

John and Jenny Brebner.

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