A tribute to tourism – 2016 in review

Can small-scale eco-tourism make a difference? 2016 at Nanzhila proved this where the tireless efforts of Steve and Cindy Smith along with GRI (Game Rangers International), TNC (The Nature Conservancy) and DNPW (Dept. of National Parks and Wildlife Zambia) have created a platform for the wildlife of the Southern Kafue to start returning to its former glory. But without the presence of guests – happy to explore this incredible wilderness with us, none of the results would have been possible. It is these self same guests though who best captured what 2016 was like at Nanzhila – many thanks to all who contributed – we know there were many more than the people mentioned below. We thank you for the impact you made!

KEN COE – Sept 2016:I am here in the Nanzhila Plains area of Kafue National Park in Zambia for the fourth time, with green, yellow and russet leaves of the miombo in front of me, finding it impossible to describe the rich luxuriance. For the next five days, the owner of Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp, Steve Smith, who has become a good friend, would himself take the wheel; the incomparable private guide, Benson Siyawareva, would stand primary sentinel; the gentlest person in Zambia, Brighton from camp, would perform all back-up duties in the vehicle; and Steve’s wife, Cindy, would skillfully manage the camp and put up with us all. The contrast between Benson’s and my first visit to Nanzhila back in 2009 and now is stark.  The sedentary species, such as impala, reedbuck, oribi, waterbuck, kudu and warthog, have easily doubled in number and their “flight distances” have been more than halved. The spectacular but shy sable and roan also allow closer approaches now.  As a result of the boom in prey numbers, predator sightings, once rare, are on a continual increase.  All this is a far cry from the poached-out, left-for-dead period before the opening of the camp 10 years ago.  Only the species that move around – elephant, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo – aren’t increasing.  Is there a better argument for tourist presence assisting in conservation of remote areas?  Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp is the only camp in this southern end of Kafue.  Its presence, not to mention specific conservation measures undertaken by Steve and his staff in assisting the park rangers, is making a difference. Wild fire management is at its best I have ever seen.  The improving game numbers speak for themselves, but perhaps the story is best told by the most intelligent species here (elephant, not man).  After decades of living in concealment in the area, elephants are obliging us once again.  That they trust us now in what was formerly a killing field is heartening to say the least.  We end up enjoying hours of watching them – and their watching us with some suspicion at first but then soon relaxing completely. What a privilege…” 

More guest feedback from 2016:

Alex Paul“ My third visit to Nanzhila. Once again many thanks to Cindy and Steve for their welcome and hospitality. Under their watchful eye the wildlife goes from strength to strength and has increased notably since my last visit”. 

Sandie Van RooyenThank you to all at Nanzhila for showing us that there are indeed animals and birds in the Southern Kafue.”

Ann ThompsonWe had a wonderful experience at Nanzhila and will likely return in the coming years. The lodge provides you with a Safari experience in its true spirit away from maddening crowds. We were spoiled by Cindy’s cooking and the staff’s personalized service. “

Richard Pooley “I was last in Kafue National Park some 30 years ago and then only in the northern section. So, I was keen to see a. whether there was still the diversity of wildlife that I remember and b. whether the southern part of the Park was as beautiful as its more popular northern neighbour. Yes, on both counts!”

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2 comments to “A tribute to tourism – 2016 in review”

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  1. During my first day at Nanzhila this year I saw 10 different species of antelope, viz Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Roan, Sable, Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Kudu, Impala, Bushbuck and Oribi. To these were later added Common Duiker. Predators seen during my visit were Lion, Leopard, Serval, Cheetah, Wild Dog and African Wild Cat. The only major antelope species not seen on this visit was Eland. although I understand that they had been seen; certainly last year there was a fine herd of about 40 Eland quite near camp, and on an earlier visit I even got a fleeting glimpse of Caracal. Elephant are now much more in evidence than they were a few years back, and although buffalo have been seen occasionally I wonder whether there is really enough water in the area during the dry season to support a large herd. All this goes to show that for variety of wildlife the Nanzhila area is now probably the best in the KNP and certainly does not deserve to be overlooked in favour of more northerly locations.

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