Posted by: wildsidezambia | August 20, 2012

David Lemon fattens up at Kayube – and worries about the elephants

Self confessed eccentric explorer and grandfather David Lemon (67), who is walking the Zambezi from source to end, arrived in Livingstone last week where he took a break, staying with Karien and Peter Kermer at Kayube River Farm. He has so far completed 1600kms on foot, of a total of approximately 3500 kms.

David Lemon rests at Kayube Farm, where he stayed at the Mama Out of Africa

“I am okay”, David says. “In fact, although I look a bit like a Belsen graduate with my weight loss, I feel quite fit”.

 Karien greeted him with a huge strawberry cake and has been working on fattening David up for his next leg, one of the most difficult: Livingstone to Siavonga, near the dam wall at Kariba.“The terrain is particularly hard and I don’t think there will be too much habitation should things go wrong and I need help. I will get through it though. I have a satellite phone, but am not really sure how to use it. I am a dodo when it comes to technology I’m afraid” David confesses.

David is the author of twelve books and innumerable articles on subjects as varied as adventure travel, cats and coarse fishing and he is particularly interested in the plight of elephants, which is what motivated him to undertake this mammoth walk. “The main reason behind it all was to do it for me as my own personal mountain, but as I have been heavily involved with elephant conservation for years, I decided that I would try to publicise exactly what the situation is with elephants in the Zambezi Valley”, David explains.

“I have had very few sightings of elephants so far, although what worried me was that on the one occasion I did come across elephant in the wild, they were incredibly quiet and terribly nervous. I was sleeping when they came around and I think it was the first time I have been in the middle of a totally silent herd.

 “It was nice just to be with them again and one bull came and stood over my sleeping bag, obviously trying to figure out exactly what I was. He then passed the word along though and shortly afterward a family group hurried past me, obviously very scared about the situation. No doubt because of the rampant poaching in Zimbabwe – and sadly also in Zambia.

 “I have had a long talk with Chief Inyambo of the Lozi, who is a leading light in the Peace Parks programme. I am not sure that there is much here to poach at the moment and one thing that worries me about the PeacePark project is what happens if the wild life is brought in.

 “I was in a fishing camp a few weeks ago and there was huge excitement among the villagers on the plain. When I asked what was going on, I was told that they were ‘chasing a fox,’ but when they came back, they had killed a totally harmless otter and they couldn’t understand why I was upset. It is a major cultural problem I fear.

 “As far as I can see, there are huge plans afoot to educate the population, but what worries me is that there doesn’t seem to be much co-ordination and instead of doing the educating first and then going on with the project, everything is being done to set things up as soon as possible – and it isn’t just the ellies. They are the ones dearest to my heart, but there are so many other species involved. There is also the problem of hunting permits. I was taken around the SiomaNgweziPark, near the beautiful NgonyeFallsand we had to go through hunting area before we got there. To me, that didn’t make sense.

 “Somehow, the African culture of killing everything that moves has to be overcome and that will not be easy as this is how they’ve traditionally fed their familes”, David says.

 As soon as David has restocked his supplies from sponsor Cowbell of Ndola, he will continue his journey to Chinde in Mozambique, where the Zambezi flows into the Indian Ocean. The entire journey, which he started in April this year, will probably take him about 10 months, although that figure is only a possibility and might well change in time.

In the meantime David has taken off again. We will keep you posted on David’s progress, whenever he manages to get a report out on that mysterious satellite phone…


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