The bird calls outside our tent increase in intensity, doves, fish eagles, and a myriad more voice their welcome to the coming dawn. Hippo voices are easily picked up over the bird sounds. The new day is upon us, and it is with sadness we pack to leave this most special place.
Our time here in the Caprivi Strip, that most unique finger of Namibia, is at an end. We have journeyed through four hunting concessions, and three National Parks. It has been a widely varied experience and highly educational.
The draw here is dangerous game, and the life sustaining water. Waterways traverse this narrow spit of land, surrounded as it is by Angola and Botswana to the north and south. Zambia and Zimbabwe to the northeast and southeast. The mighty Okavango cuts through to enter Botswana before disappearing into that country’s interior desert wasteland. The Kwando rolls south then east, becoming the Linyanti, and finally the Chobe. For most of its length in Namibia it forms the southern border with Botswana.
The water levels in the strip are low, with the exception of the Okavango. As previously posted the Kwando is a nothing of a river, struggling on it westward side to maintain twenty meters wide and a meter deep. Traveling east into Nkasa Rupara National Park and changes its name to the Linyanti. Here it is less, much less. Think a nearly dry river, ten meters or so wide and half a meter deep. Houseboats are tied to dry banks thirty meters or more from the waters edge on the Bots side. Mute markers to the many once thriving Botswana Lodge’s and their river tours.
Tourist Lodges behave in a manner, consistent with their demographic. Hunters who reside in said lodges are told at check-in to forgo camo clothing, to refrain from any discussion of hunting, or defense of same, and generally to maintain a down low profile so as to not upset the tourist clientele. What a world we live in. You may ask why stay at that facility? Simple answer it is the only game in town, other options would require a many hour drive daily, limiting prime hunting time and opportunity. Camping maybe? Not allowed by government lease agreements. Build a new camp for hunters? This is a very expensive proposition, and coupled with very low quotas is not in the financial equation.
Hunting is under severe and continued attack across the globe and in almost every industry associated. It is a testimony to the emotional appeal versus the factual representation of what hunting really provides.
Enough of politics, for us we are touched by the generosity and humanity of all the people we have encountered. From game scouts, to trackers, to PH’s, camp staff, National Parks staff, villagers, tribal chiefs and elders, and the village children. Especially the children. Like children everywhere, engaging and curious about all that is new and different. Who are these strange men who come to the village and deliver the very protein of life in cruisers and trailers for the entire village to feast upon for weeks?
They are us. Hunters, conservationists, Professional Hunters and staff. Each of us experiencing real conservation, firsthand on an almost daily basis, seeing the differences we make in so many lives. Stand up please and be counted. If our “sport” is to end, our very existence and that of so many others surely cannot be far behind…