Friday, January 28, 2011


Driving up to traffic light in Lusaka, one will often be accosted by Kaponya (translates to those who run up and down the street!) Kaponya have been around for years. They sell anything from rabbits and fly swatters to dodgy CD’s, DVD’s, unusual underwear, football shirts, caps and games of scrabble…in fact they sell anything that you really do not need at that very moment when the lights go red and you are forced to stop. Whatever you do never catch their eye, even worse never eye up their products, even a mere flick of the eyeball on their wares and you are done for! When you are least in the mood, the sun is at its strongest, hot, sweaty, irritable and in a rush, you let your guard down and catch their eye and then by Jove they are onto you…’ yes my friend very nice perfume, glue, batteries’….’hey just for you, large saggy ‘Y’ fronts’…’yes mister…what about some gospel CD’s’…’ hey Masungu what about my apples/oranges/tomatoes, they are most very freshhhhh’…what about…’I really don’t want your fly no thank you…thank you but no…goodbye…I don’t want any tomatoes’! Now the more you do this the more they come onto you, like mopane flies in the forest, they will never leave you alone. I know them all by name now and wish them good luck and I have made friends with many of them, its a hard life and one must give them respect for the work they do and their perseverance. One man in particular whose name is Lazarus sells the finest fly swatters and football shirts south of the Nile, and always has a smile now matter how hot the weather or hard his life,  I hope that one day he lives the life he dreams, he deserves to do well!  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Night Walks

Lusaka is not a great place if you like hiking. Every square inch of land is owned and fenced with few exceptions and the topography is a pretty monotonous, with no mountains and few vistas, unless you love thick Brachystegia woodland. What makes the place attractive is the people and the nooks and crannies of wildlife and eccentricity. I often walk around the plot I live on, or range across the nearby farm that belonged to my late friend Mark Jellis. On these bits of land one can often spot Duiker and other small mammals and on the forest reserve Kudu and Waterbuck that have jumped the fence from the nearby game farm. Of course there are numerous birds and insects to be seen and this time of the year some of the breeding birds have glorious and brightly coloured plumage.

By night however there is more than just the stars to gaze at. I often wander around after dark with a torch and the dogs and and every now and then will come across a real beauty...

The first snake is a Herald Snake also known as a Red Lipped Snake (Crotaphopeltis Hotamboeia)  and the second darker snake is a Cape Wolf Snake (Lycophindon Capense). They are both small snakes, the Cape Wolf looks big but its body thickness is not much more than a biro pen! They have one thing in common...they love to eat lizards, the Cape Wolf in particular just can't get enough of them, while the Herald may make do with a mouse or hapless frog.  They look venomous, but the Herald's back fanged poison would only really make a frog's eye's water...the Cape Wolf just embraces its prey tightly like a large bosomy auntie or a python.     

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lusaka has a large fleet of ubiquitous blue and white mini bus 'taxis'...they are everywhere and cause chaos on the roads, the more chaos they create the happier their drivers are...a law unto none, they cut in, swerve, break and 'U' turn without warning, they jumble their poor passengers about city like washing in a machine. I have ridden many a time in them and you appreciate being dropped off in one piece at the end of the journey...


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hippo Riding

Every now and then one comes across something in the press that makes you think, 'I could have done fact come to think of it... I did'!...Years ago in the Luangwa Valley I was a passenger on the back of an open top game viewing vehicle, Toyota Land cruiser series 70 to be sure, a marvellous vehicle that I never have been able to afford to buy even 5th hand and 20 years old they still seem out of reach of my we, a bunch of guides and I were driving back from a rather splendid party at and even more splendid safari camp called Kaingo. We crossed a bumpy plain near the Luangwa Wafwa, one of many very beautiful oxbow lagoons which runs off the Luangwa River. It was a starry night and we were all rather inebriated from an evening of Mosi beer and tequila. A hippo feeding to the side of the road got spooked by our vehicle and ran along the side of the road, keeping up for some time, they can run rather fast... they have been clocked at 50kmph, and can keep it up for several hundred metres. The hippo was very close to the vehicle, as we sped up so did the hippo who was now within touching distance of the cruiser. Two of us looked at each other and decided that it would be a good idea to jump on the hippo's back. We both leapt out of the vehicle and bounced onto the back of the hippo, we of course both bounced off and the hippo veered off and ran full speed towards the say this was one of the more stupid actions of my life would be an underestimate, but we both survived bar lots of slimy hippo sweat on our trousers, which is rather sticky and red in colour known as hipposudoric acid.

I recently saw an article in the press about a South African Farmer who has the same idea, he is wise...he has known it since it was very small...we were drunk and did now know the hippo at all!!

Chifwema Road!

After years of bumping, thumping, smashing and squelching up and down one of the worst roads in Lusaka, the Chinese, as part of a large development project, have tarmacked the Chifwema Road. The government has gone into partnership with China to build a 'Multi Economic Facility Zone' (MFEZ) just off the Chifwema Road. The rather nice tarmac leads to the MFEZ. The idea is to build a light industrial estate for assembly and other light industrial activities. Sorry for the boring blog today, but tarmac is very welcome here and hits the headlines when we get it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Who Chomped the Genet?!

About 2 months ago I found a very young Genet (Genetta genetta) also known as a small-spotted Genet. The little bugger was squeaking away just off the path of the morning walk I do around the plot on which I rent a small house. It took me a while to find him and when I did I picked him up and stroked him and he calmed right down. I decided to leave him and see if mother may be nearby. Sure enough I came back a while later and he was gone. Well a few days later I walked down the same path and picked up a rather unsavoury smell...very unsavoury, after allot of searching high and low and even grabbing a Jack Russell or two to help me (they could not find it either) I eventually found the carcass of an adult Genet very close to where I found the young blighter a few days back ...'bugger' I thought, if that's the mother then the youngster has had it, should have kept it. What killed the Genet would not be revealed until some time later....

...and thus a few days ago, two months after finding the body of the adult I found the skeleton of the adult Genet, perfect condition as you can see from the photo and low and behold rather large holes in the skull, predator teeth ...Jack Russell sized teeth marks...Lucy and Joey the landlord's JR's are in the dog house!