Saturday, January 7, 2012

Elephant Orphanage and a visit with Chief Shezongo

Have tried to visit the orphanage twice before with no luck,so third time's a charm. It is 53km N on the Cordon Road.Leaving camp you enter the Tsetse Tri-angle where you drive with one hand and swat with the other,as they bite into you,even through your shirt.

It took David(camp guide)an hour and forty five minutes to get there where he is greeted like a rock star,everybody knows everybody.Liz the veterinary nurse from England gave me the whole spieel and took us over to where they are fed.After donning a green coat,and walking through some foot and mouth,solution we proceeded to the pond where they were to be fed.
There are 6 elephants,the oldest being 7 yrs to 18 months old.They are all bulls except for one and they were orphaned mainly due to poaching.They are kept there till 8 or 9 years old and then will wonder off on their own.They each have a keeper 24/7 and the babies on milk are fed every 2 hrs.They have a staff of 32,which includes a full time anti-poaching patrol around the camp area,armed with AK 47's.

The entire project is supported by charity from the David Sheperd Wildlife Foundation,David Shepard is a world renowned wildlife artist and consevationist from England.Please viit his website and see all the wonderful projects they do around the world saving a lot of endangered species,and check out his art.When he comes over here he stays at this camp and when he was here last year he sketched this lion picture in the guest book while he was sitting around.

We then proceeded another 25km to Shezongo Village to meet the Chief and look at his 'Palace'.The grass in the plains is 3ft tall and you could never find the place without a guide,it is just 2 tracks and then you will come across other tracks and could drive in circles for days.Once arriving at the compund the junior messenger,which is the Prince,has us wait at the gate while he goes to ask the Chief if I may come in and see him.Permission is granted and we drive in and I go to the door where I kneel down on one knee and then enter,where he sits behind a desk in a small 3m x 3m mud hut.I take a seat and the Prince does most of the interpreting.What do you say to the guy? I asked him how many people does he oversee "Many,many people"."How many villages are there under your control?" "We have many,many,many villages".Then he asked me if I had a battery for him cause he can't get one and that I must please bring him one,and I said i will get right on it!

His area of chiefdom is huge,it covers 120km X 150km, he resolves all the issues the people have,they will come to him with their problems and he finds the solution and they have to obey what he says.He said they have many,many problems ,but did not name any.So if you want to build a safari camp,you go and see him and then he will get with his headsmen,which there are 156,and then will decide and give you place where you can build your camp,you don't pay anything for the land.Of course once you are up and running and making some money it would be wise to give him a cow or two.

I am still looking around to see where the 'Palace' is? After some photo's he grants me permission to go to his palace,and the prince escourts me over to the 3 mud huts(one for each wife) where the wives are working outside thier individual huts,with many,many kids running around the palace grounds.The Chief has his own 'upscaled house' in front of the wives huts.Of course I wanted to take a close up picture of the wife,but the Prince said no ways.After the tour we stopped by some of the workers huts to pick up supplies etc, and they all want their picture taken.The kids love looking at their picture on the camera screen and laugh at it hysterically,and then I have to take some more of them,which is really fun to see them get so much pleasure out of it.Then of course they want to know when am I going to send them a copy!They will shake your hand and with the other hand hold their elbow as they are shaking your hand,as a sign of respect.
David then took me over to the witchdoctors village,where she got dressed up and showed me how she dispels of spirits.Her husband is the oldest member in the entire area and the Chiefs Senior Adviser,whom we sat down with in a big semi-circle.They brought me some mangoes which I layed into as they watched in astonishment as I pulled out my knife and started peeling them like a poefte.I devoured 4 and took the rest home like a little pig.The kids,and there were plenty of them sat behind and just stared at me and laughed,while the others played pool on their home built pool table and cue's and as happy as can be.

Was an amazing experience hanging out with all these different people and just seeing life in the village and the daily struggles they go through,which would be monumental for the white man.
We left at 5pm and on our way out there 4 little boys swimming in a mud hole having the time of their life,laughing and waving furiously at us as we drove by,which just makes you wonder about a lot of things.......................

On the way we encountersd 9 sable, 6 zebra's,a hyaena stalking some warthog's,4 roan and a spitting cobra on the road.Arrived back in camp at 7,surviving another bout with the Tsetse Tri-angle and watch another African sunset with a cold Mosi in one hand to savor the moment.

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