Driving through rough waters, with the sun rising like an angry blister over the Matusadona range was payment enough for getting out of my sleeping bag before dawn and to get ‘eyes on’ the target area… All sounds very james Bondinsh, but there you go.
First port of call was to find a secluded and quiet inlet to shelter from the wind so I could have a ‘brew’ (coffee) and my sandwiches which had been packed the night before. I ended up having about three cups, couple cigarettes and my sandwiches whilst listening to the francolin and guinea fowl making a racket in the thickets around me. The Golden Orb female spiders were just finishing wrapping up their kills from the previous night (literally) and as a male of my species, I can’t help but thinking that I got a far better deal.
Pulling out of my little sweet spot, the wind had died down and I could crack on with doing what I had to do. The mission I had set myself today was to catalogue the illegal activities which go on in the gorge. Due to the fact that Parks do not have the logistics to do the job the area has been overrun by poaching (fish and wildlife), gold panning and the odd smuggling route has been opened up. All in all these guys are having a barn storming knees up and everyone is invited! As for the gold panning, I never actually saw people doing it, however given the size of one of the crocs I photographed – I wouldn’t be too keen on bended knee sifting through dirt.
But the fishing is so blatant. Nets criss cross the gorge turning it into a maze of bobbing floats: Chibuku bottles and coke bottles are all bobbing merrily away waiting to snag some poor boats propellor. And around these buzz are horde of makoro’s (canoes made out of hollow tree trunks). One can sympathize with people netting for a living, however there are two aspects to take in here before all of the soft hearts climb into me for being such a callous, unsympathetic member of the human race.
This is a Tiger fish spawning ground and apart from messing up the whole tourism industry it will also affect the diversity and eco system of the lake. Further more, there are companies involved which employ hundreds of people who subsist on what the lake has to offer.
It has also been rumoured that these same fish poachers lay their snares and actively enjoy taking part in killing a few elephant to sell the ivory. However I have not seen that with my own eyes so I will leave that as conjecture and when I do get eyes on I will inform you, my faithful and understanding readers! Ha
All in all it was a very successful day, I had a great day out with the old camera, did a bit of writing a bit of reading and enjoyed this little bit of Africa for the day.
As a side note I found the picnic place where I will be taking Pocahontas…