The Other Side of the River
- 11/2/2014 <--Prev : Next-->
We were most fortunate to be able to take a three day trip on the fabled Zambesi Queen on the Chobe River recently.
It was a glorious experience, not only from the luxury point of view but also to see real conservation in existence.
The Chobe River lies between Namibia and Botswana in parts and the difference between one river bank and the other was chalk and cheese.
Botswana has totally banned all hunting and has a strict no- nonsense approach to poaching, netting and fishing on its side of the river. Hence the land is lush and green and boasts wall to wall animals. Namibia is dry and overgrazed and all one sees is fishermen with nets, and cattle grazing peacefully.
On the Botswana side there is literally a giant pod of hippos ever few hundred meters, a vast herd of happy elephant ever kilometer or so and great herds of buffalo abound. We were lucky enough to have sightings of the rare Puku and Lechwe buck grazing in the marshes.
The birdlife is phenomenal, a pair of Pied Kingfisher busy on every single river rock, a pair of gentle Water Thickkees on ever bend, plus a pair of Fish Eagle on every corner and so on and so forth.
Game viewing from a boat is luxury indeed and the animals were totally unperturbed by our close proximity. The Zambesi Queen certainly knew how to make every sojourn from the Mother Ship an epic event, we were chased by hippo, we watched baboons family units cavorting happily for hours and we watched huge families of elephant playing just like humans in the water as we had never ever seen them before.
We heartily commend Botswana for its conservation practices, I like to think it is to some extent that Botsana's premiere - Sir Ian Khama, was educated in Bulawayo at one of our finest schools.
It was Mahatma Gandhi who said 'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.' and full marks to Botswana.
But one tiny observation which I hope Sir Ian Khama could address - perhaps its domestic animals - dogs, cats, donkeys and goats, could be treated with as much respect as its wild animals?