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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:06 pm 
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The Vhalembethu . .

Exploration of the Makahane ruins was done during 1963, with the assistance of Headman Filemon Makahane and a few of his Counsellors.

The Vhalembethu tribe built the rock surround of their kraal similiar to that of Mapungubw and The Great Zimbabwe although not as high. No mortar was used in the construction of their structures, erected on a firm surface, often rock with no foundation. The flat rocks were laid horizontaly, in an inner and paralel outer row with the cavity filled by loose smaller rocks, the walls tapering inwards, with no jointing where walls came together.

The outer structure with no decorative motives, was erected on the face of a cliff. The entrance in the outer wall is reached by a staircase, in the closed court on the upper level reached by a stairway is a seat built into the wall, inside the court, opposite the seat is the oval shaped rock covered grave of Chief Makhaane.

The original Paramount Chief Makahane lived north of the Great Limpopo River, during the 17th century. The Vhalembethu Tribe occupied the area between the Levuvhu and Mutale Rivers into Zimbabwe.

The tribe south of the river was governed by two Chiefs each ruling his own area not autonomous from the Paramount Chief across the Limpopo. Chief Makahane ruled the Valembethu tribe here along the Levuvhu River, 40 km north east of Punda Maria, during the eighteenth century.

To the west of the Makahane ruins, described above, is an area that was populated, possibly by the subjects of Chief Makahane. Here in the rubble glass beads, claypot shards and other man made objects were uncovered. Here the Vhalembethu also smelted and worked their gold, probably obtained from the Lembu working and living in the western Soutpansberg area.

The Chief dictated what was forbidden and what was to be, everything was done in accordance with a very strict protocol, even the everyday actions. While on a beer drink, deathly silence would settle as the Chief brought the pot to his lips. His living quarters were seperate from those of his followers, access was restricted to only very few of his followers, this did not bother them too much as they did not always know what was coming next.

Chief Makahane was a cruel ruler, feared by his own subjects as well as enemies.

The Chief was the ruler, chief justice and high priest. As punishment, the offender was lowered by a rope, over the rockface to the west of the ruins to a Black Stork nest halfway down. Should the nest contain a chick, the offender was retrieved after taking the chick, which was a delicacy for the chief, after handing over the chick, the offender was set free. Should there be no chick, the rope was cut and the offender plunged to his death, often becoming the meal of the giant Crocodiles frequenting the pools below.

When the hide of a slaughtered beast was dried it wasn't pegged down, instead it had to be held by the teeth of some selected unfortunates, the Chief would test the hide by hitting on it using his knobkerrie, should someone lose his grip - he was summarily hurled over rockface . . . . .

Makahane's subjects reported his cruelty to the Paramount Chief - his father.

The father was shocked by the complaints and called another of his sons, Nelombe and told him that Makahane had lost his mind and was illtreating his subjects in a way unbecoming a Chief.

Melombe was to go to Makahane's kraal and murder him, not as a Chief but as a commoner.

Nelombe and a few supporters set off across the Great Limpopo, appraoching the Makahane kraal, Nelombe started singing and dancing, Makahane sitting on his high chair in the enclosure, heard the singing and watched the approaching Melombe group. He knew that he had been reported to the Paramount Chief and feared reprisal. He feared for his life but was hoping that his fears were unnecessary. He met his brother under the Baobabs below his quarters, spread out the mats and ordered the beer.

Melombe knelt in front of his brother, surrounded by his subjects, greeting him according to custom.

Then Melombe who was very fleetfooted started his dancing and singing, watched eagerly by Makahane and his subjects. Melombe danced closer and closer, encircling Makahane, watched appreciative by all the onlookers - then - he drew his knife and carried out his instruction . . . . stabbing the chief and then cutting his throat as if slaughtering an ox . . . . .

No one of the onlookers coming to the assistance of the Chief . . . .

Nelombe ordered an ox to be slaughtered. Once it had been skinned, of the onlookers came forward to stretch the skin by their teeth as was the custom of this Makahane village. Nelombe told them to peg the hide, hereby putting an end to the cruelty of the slaughtered Makahane, assuring the population that as from then they could live a normal life.

Makahane was buried in the grave, as where he had previously instructed, although not popular, the tribe still respected their customs and made their offerings as required.

Mashande son of Makahale who suceeded his father, immediately left the site, settling in the Elim area, here his son Madadzhe was born. The Swiss missioneries started the Elim Christian Mission in 1879.

Shortly after being exposed to the Christian faith, the now aged Madadzhe decided that it was time to return to the site where his grandfather reigned and was murdered. Folklore saying that this was done to apease the spirits of his forefathers.

Shortly after arrival at the site, the spirits informed him to evacuate from the site, as too much blood had been spilt, he obeyed and with his followers resettled on the banks of the Levuvhu River.

Here at the new settlement Madadzhe was baptized by the Reverend Wessman and assumed the name of August.

After the death of August, his daughter Mkonde accepted the responsibility as guardian of the Makahadzi area where she settled in a new village at the foot the Makahadzi Kop, from where many offerings to her forefathers were made.

Drought and famine followed the discord of the forefathers, and the Vhalembethu finally left the Makahadzi Kop.

During their visit in 1963, to the site with the exploration team, the Headman first went to the oval grave, opposite the built in seat, in the upper enclosure and made a snuff offering to his forefather. Kneeling he softly and obediently said " I am here to speak to these white people, who want to learn more of you, do not be annoyed when I tell them, they want to learn, and I have to tell them the truth ". . . . . .

Maybe next time you go on the Nyalaland Trail, you should request that you visit the Makahane ruins on the Makahane Kop overlooking the Makahanepoort . . . . . . . .

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Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:52 pm 
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Thanx, gmlsmit!
Waiting for the next installment. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:45 pm 
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The Baphalaborwa

The Baphalaborwa people originally came from the northern areas, settling in the Bushbuck Ridge area. From there they, early in the 18th century moved to the area between the Olifants and Letaba Rivers, after expelling the original inhabitants, who had been occupying the area since the 15th century.

Here they lived well and adopted their name - Baphalaborwa - the people of Phalaborwa. Here they became Iron and Copper smelters, naming the area Phalaborwa = " better than the south ".

The Baphalaborwa are the furthest east, Sotho speaking people in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

Proof of their earlier habitation can today be seen at Vudoga, Shikumbu and Masorini, eleven km east of the Phalaborwa gate of the Kruger National Park along the H9.

Here towards the west of the Great Lebombo Mountains the land was not suitable for crop cultivation. The Baphalaborwa did not have much live stock and resorted to Iron and Copper smelting and implement making, which was traded for grain, meat, hides, glass beads and their other requirements. Less Iron or Coper slag was dumped in the surrounding areas, indicating that their methods of metal refining were quite sophisticated for their times.

Masorinikop was originally known as Piene. The Masorini site is on the north-western face of the Masorini Kop.

Low down along the Kop, burnt remains of wooden structures were found as well as grinding stones and refuse dumps on the terraced face. The remains of triangular smelting furnaces and Iron slag were found below the terraces. Connected by path- and stairways, higher up above the lower terraces, remains of huts, refuse dumps, grinding stones as well as three refining smithing furnaces were found, each with it's own anvill and hammering rocks.

Many remnants of the earlier inhabitants are still to be seen on the site, being grinding stones, foundations and clay pot shards etc. Development of the Masorini site commenced during 1974 by the Archeology Dept of the Pretoria University at the request of the then National Parks Board, who intended an Archeological and Ethnological Site Museum, on this early inhabited site. Much use was made of local knowledge during the reconstruction process.

The larger triangular smelting furnaces measuring about 75 cm in height and 60 to 70 cm internally, had thick upright clay walls, with clay pipes in the corners from where air was blown in, to fire the charcoal fuel surrounding the pieces of Iron ore in a clay container resembling a calabash. The melting process completed, the smelters handed the raw iron to the smiths who did the refining in their smaller furnaces and starting the manufacturing process by beating it into the first crude shape of the end product.

Then a time consuming process of reheating and beating fon the anvill followed until the final product e.g. axes, pick heads adzes, assegai blades, arrowheads, knives as well as other consumable items for daily use and trade as well as ornaments were completed.

This activity by the Baphalaborwa at Masorini and surrounding areas contributed a lot to the well being of the inhabitants. However it came to abrupt end, early in the 19th century, when the marauding Zulu Impis from the south and west, together with immigrants from the east as well as internal conflict and cheaper Western ironmongery reduced the demand for their metal goods.

The rythmic pumpimg sound of the smelter's bellows and the sweaty hammering of the smiths on their anvills ,slowly grew softer and less frequent untill eventually permanently quietened.

Now after a thousand years, first inhabited by hunter gatherers during the late stone age, who's tools may still be found in the hills, followed by the miners, smelters and smiths together with their families. Masorini with its round mud/clay huts and thatch roofs and Archeological displays bears little resemblance of this once flourishing area.

The only activity now is maybe a Leopard patrolling the hills and wild game in the Lowlands, with cars parked and interested tourists, listening to the guides telling the history of the people who found it better here, than in the south.

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I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:11 pm 
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Once again, thank you for this wonderful contribution. It is so, so interesting.. one of the forum's treasures. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 11:39 am 
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S.C.R.Barnard part 1.

No history of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK is complete without mentioning Stephanus Cecil Rutgert Barnard ( Bvekenya ).

Bvekenya = “ he who swaggers when he walks “ was born in Knysna and grew up in the western Transvaal. He spent a few years in the S A Police force and then decided that he wanted to lead a life of adventure in the hot, humid, insect infested, dangerous AFRICA. as an Elephant hunter.

Bvekenya started his new life in 1910 when he moved to where the then Transvaal, Rhodesian and Portuguese East African ( now Limpopo Province, Zimbabwe and Mozambique ) boundaries meet – in the Makhuleke at Crookes Corner, where jumping from country to country was quite easy and dependant on who were your pursuers. Sometimes the beacon indicating the border, was just lifted and repositioned to the other side of the camp and the occupants would then casually carry on with their daily lives,.

Bvekenya based himself at Crookes Corner from where he would go on his hunting excursions.

Bvekenya was a specialist Elephant hunter and spent much time in finding the great tuskers also trying to find the legendary “ Ndlulamithi “ “ Ndlulamithi = taller than the trees in Tsonga and Shangane. It appears that there are two Elephants sharing this name as the other better known one whose tusks are on display in the Letaba Elephant hall was estimated to have lived during the period 1927 to 1985.

Bveenya also spent time as an employee of WNLA a labour recruitment agency for the Witwatersrand Gold Mines.

Bvekenya retired from his adventurous life as Elephant hunter/labour recruitment officer in 1929 to as he put it the more “ honest “ life of a farmer on his farm in Geysdorp where he lived an honest life until his death at the age of 78 years on 2, June 1962.

Bvekenya married the love of his life Maria Badenhorst after his retirement from Elephant hunting, this happy marriage produced four beautiful daughters and a son.

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I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Sun May 24, 2009 2:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 1:58 pm 
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S.C.R. Barnard part 2.

The Rinderpest destroyed most animals and Bvekenya mentioned that the 1896 Rinderpest epidemic had eliminated all the Buffalo in the Limpopo and Levhuvu River area, he saw his first Buffalo in 1916 at the Chefu River in Mozambique. No Nyalas were sighted at the Crookes Corner area but there were still many to be found in the lower Limpopo areas and along the Nuanetsi River in Rhodesia. Nyalas only returned to the Pafuri area in the 1920’s

Bvekenya found many Black Rhino in the area but only 5 White Rhino were known to him. Bvekenya mentioned that he was aware that a Black Rhino had been shot and killed in the Shingwedzi area by of the black field staff.


Elephants had already been shot out by white hunters, in the area before his arrival in 1910 and he did most of his Elephant hunting in Rhodesia as far north as the Haroni River and in Portuguese East Africa along the Limpopo, Great Save, and Chefu Rivers as well as the Banyine area.

Giraffe were not to be seen they had been shot out in the area by the hunter Hans Klopper - after whom Kloppersfontein had been named. Hans Klopper farmed in the Louis Trichardt ( now Machado ) area on the farm Doornpoort. This tallslightly built bearded man was well known to Bvekenya.

Bvenkenya mentioned that Buffalo, Kudu, Elands and Nyalas were the animals mainly affected by the Rinderpest with Sable and Roan who were still quite plentiful in Rhodesia.

Many animals either died of thirst or starvation or moved from the area during the drought of 1911 – 1913. The first rains fell late December 1914 as far south as the Nuanetsi and large herds of wild animals returned to the new growth on the recovering veld and many Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Sable, Roan, Nyala, Bushbuck, Oribi, Tsessebe and Lichtenstein’s Hartebeeste, he could not confirm that the latter named was seen within the KRUGER PARK area.

Bvekenya caught a few Eland calves in Portuguese East Africa, which he tamed and reared with his cattle. He was not successful in obtaining an import permit into South Africa but eventually decided to import them in any case, the animals were later released by him in the Kloppersfontein area. Who knows one may be fortunate enough to view of their offspring when visiting the area.

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Sun May 24, 2009 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 2:30 pm 
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S.C.R. Barnard part 3 .

What follows now about Bvekenya, is from other sources read as well as from " The Ivory Trail " authored by T.W. Bulpin


After his decision to become an Elephant hunter the young Barnard moved to the Maluleke and seek his fortune he moved and found or learnt about characters like Alec Thompson the shopkeeper and the assistant William Pye, the tumble down shop being of corrugated iron with a lean to veranda, trading mainly ivory and other spoils of hunting for food, clothes, ammunition and of course . . . . liquor. “ Only Jones “ , Pat Fay a Irishman who had been pensioned from the police station at Sibasa who was quite fat, it was told after returning from an unsuccessful expedition quite lean and famished, indulged into eating some roasted beef until he ate himself to death. Buck Buchanan, Hendrik Hartman was another, he became a short lived partner of Bvenkenya, as well as a few “ Blackbirders “ amongst others Theodore Williams, Jack Ford an Australian and ex Rhodesian policeman, Jacob Diegel, John Dart,, The Hungarian called Wieder and the Swede called Colesen. Jack Lambert, was another, he loved the bottle and often wandered off into the bush after spending his revenue on the liquid supplies, he did this once more and was never again seen. Johnson was another.

Blackbirding was labour recruiting, the blackbirders would go out and find individuals willing to work on the mines and then recruit them. The recruited would run away from their kraals as they were afraid that their wives would bewitch them. The blackbirders were paid a fee of seven pounds per head were paid by the mine owners for each labourer recruited. The labourers were paid half their wages at the mine and the balance kept in reserve and paid to them at the WNLA office at the border once they had completed their term of contract.
Many a night was spent on the route from Crookes Corner under the Baobab at Baobab hill and other spots in the vicinity.

Barnard decided to hunt differently – the honest way, he would obtain his game licences and do it the right way, Afterall he was an ex policeman and a law abiding citizen.

He set off with his meagre equipment a( a rifle, a riding mule four donkeys and a few provisions ) into Portuguese East Africa along the traders path to Sofala in the second season of drought, his immediate destination being the Portuguese administrative post at Massangen on the banks of the Great Save River, where he intended getting the required permits and licences to start off his career as Elephant hunter about 220 km away. There were except for a few Shanganes no other travellers on the dry barren thirsty route, rid of game.

After fourteen days of dusty thirsty travelling he reached his dreary ramshackle destination, with very little water, washing was out of the question, his two week old beard, matted hair and dusty appearance matched that of his hosts Amorina the yellow complexioned (result of quinine swallowed down with the aid of large doses of brandy) well set and flabby, Chef de Post and his assistant called Mangone.

Young Barnard walked into the office where the two officials were passing the time drinking gin, sharing a grubby tumbler. In the back office a Shangane policeman (Folage) was busy interrogating a suspect and was speeding up the process using his boot and the suspects ribs.

The conversation was held in broken Shanganese as it was the only common language they shared. The Portuguese seemed speechless at Barnard’s unknown request, and produced a piece of paper indicating that no game licence or permits could be issued as it was out of season., Barnard could only shoot for the pot and nothing more . . . .

Barnard spent the evening with Amorina and Mangone, who questioned him about his origin and equipment, they even counted his money, eyed by Forage.

The following Barnard set off after breakfast, on his return journey eyed by the three.

Barnard considered going into Rhodesia and then possibly move further but the reigning drought, made him realise that it would be useless, as along the Great Save even where there was a bit of water, game was scarce. He reached a suitable spot and decided to make camp and remain a few days. Apart from a few scraggy, famished Shanganes, who survived on roots and berries, there seemed to be no danger. There was some game around his camp and he felt quite comfortable, but uneasy. He spent about thirty days at this camp, then – he did not notice the human shapes stealing through the bush upon him, while he was dozing off one evening.

The human shapes crept upon him and attacked him, awakening him with the glancing crack of a knobkerrie on his skull. Barnard jumped up and attacked his assailant recognising Folage from the Portuguese post. During the fight Barnard stuck his thumb into the eye of his attacker, who then let go and fled.

Barnard escaped and after a half hearted chase the followers returned to his camp and rounded up his belongings and set off.

Barnard decided to get to the Makhuleke as soon as possible and set off, post haste, half naked – the sun scorching him and the thorns grabbing at his skin, a group of passing Shanganes offered him some clothing, a bit of food and a spear. The only relief he got was when he soaked in the moist mud at a waterhole, when his dried out body seemed to absorb the moisture like blotting paper.

On this return journey he saw his first Elephant. He heard a commotion in the bush with lots of grumbling, trumpeting stamping and trampling, he went to investigate; he saw an Elephant being worried by a Honey Badger at a little water hole. The Elephant would approach and the Badger would defend by charging and biting the big feet and then hastily giving way, the Elephant retreating and then repeating the process with the Badger spluttering and cursing and standing it’s ground, just giving way to the stamping feet and waving trunk., eventually the Elephant saw the terrible looking shape of the onlooker, took fright, turned around with a squeal and fled with the Badger hurtling through the bush in hot pursuit.

Arriving at the Makhuleke Barnard had a good wash and a meal and slept for a day.

Telling Thompson the story about the Elephant and the Badger, the latter remarked that Barnard must have had a bad fever.

Barnard decided to return and as he was not successful in obtaining the permits and licences he required, he was going to do it in any case and on his own way. When Thompson heard that Barnard intended going back he said the fever must be much worse than he originally suspected.

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I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Tue May 26, 2009 5:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 3:10 pm 
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S. C. R. Barnard Part 4.

Barnard had made up his mind and decided to go to Johannesburg, draw his money, rig himself out and do what he intended – Elephant hunting.

He spoke Thompson into lending him some money, against the security of his wagon he bought the minimum of second hand clothing and a raincoat and set of. He got a lift on a wagon to Soekmekaar from where he went to Pietersburg – now Polokwane and at Soekmekaar store he purchased a suit, a pair of shoes, underwear and some toiletries. Parcel under the arm the young adventurer boarded the already moving train.

He sat down and relaxed and then decided to have a wash and change into his newly acquired clothing. He undressed and threw his worn filthy clothing through the window of the speeding train. He enjoyed his wash and shave, when he opened the parcel containing his new clothing he discovered that the suit was minus the trousers. . . . .

He got dressed in what he had and covered himself with his raincoat, to hide the absence of the trousers. At Pietersburg he barely made the train to Pretoria, still wearing the raincoat. At Pretoria in the very early hours of the morning he changed trains to his destination – Johannesburg. The train reached Johannesburg at sunrise and he could not wait for the clothing shops to open – to purchase a pair of trousers, being too shy to tell the shopkeeper about his dilemma he returned to the station to get suitably dressed, the urchins smilingly directed him to the Ladies’ change rooms where he restored his confidence. He then went to the barber shop and when he left he looked quite decent.

He purchased the necessary equipment amongst others a 9.5 Mannlicher-Schonauer, 500 cartridges and a revolver. As clothing he purchased greenish coloured corduroy shorts and jackets from which he removed all pockets to prevent him from getting caught up by the thorns of the bush. He preferred the corduroy to khaki as it was absolutely noiseless. Rubber soled boots were selected for silence as well as puttees in preference to socks. A big shady hat with upturned sides completed his costume.. In the dark of that evening he watched as the lights of the city disappeared through the train window on his return journey to the Makhuleke and his adventure. Monty Ash the shopkeeper at Klein Letaba gave Barnard the two donkeys he had kept for him, he thought that the fever and the heat had got to Barnard and also told him so, the youngster disregarded the advice given and set off after Ash gave him an old .303 rifle as a parting gift.

Arriving at the Maluleke Barnard paid his debt and set off on his great adventure, he journeyed up to the Save where he camped on the Rhodesian side of the border, as a precaution against his previous bad experience. Here he shot a Hippo and many starving Shanganes gathered to share in the oncoming feast.
When the carcass rose from the waters, many willing hands were available to usher it to the banks. Bvekenya took of the fat and cut sjamboks from the hide. While watching the starving Shanganes feasting, their gratitude reminded Bvekenya that he owed them a favour due to the returning mineworkers who assisted during his him previously ordeal. Their kindness most certainly saved his life.

Bvekenya decided to visit the kraal of his helpers and found it heartbreaking, the inhabitants were thin and starving, he decided to go out and shoot some game. He shot an Eland and a Tsessebe in the area where it had recently rained. The meat was cut up and fires made, Bvekenya realised that allowing these starving people to eat much meat would do them much harm, he ordered them to prepare a broth from the meat, which they enjoyed for three days and then they got stuck into the meat, he watched them flourish and their recovery was astonishing.

Bvekenya stayed over a few days and set out hunting and shot much for the people of the kraal.

One day Bvekenya had a very close shave when he unknowingly set off an Elephant trap consisting of a weighted heavy poisoned spear barely scraped his back breaking the stock of the .303 rifle slung across his back. The deadly poison was prepared by crushing the seeds of the Butsula creeper, mixing it with gum and coated to the points of the trap spears. A painful death came certainly to whatever the spears touched.

On his return to the kraal there was much consternation when the news of his close shave became known and a witch doctor was summoned to come and attend to him. She examined him and fortunately found no scratches. The old witch rubbed ointment into his bruises while the onlookers laughed and were overjoyed.

His kindness to the members of the kraal was told to the witch and she decided to spill the bones and bless him, which she promptly did. Peering into the bones she announced that he was their friend and chief, he saved them from famine and the ancestors were very grateful. He was to be careful in the forests and to tread gently, leave no trails and sleep lightly. Through all these dangers he will grow taller than the trees and live until his grows grey.

As for Elephant hunting he was to count the toes and fingers of the attendant children and then know how many Elephants he will be permitted to hunt. Bvekenya counted the children – 15 in total, he reckoned that 300 Elephant would do him quite wel as he barely had a shilling to his name . . . .

That night his last in the kraal he slept uneasily and had strange dreams, early the next morning he greeted his friends and set off . . . . .

_________________
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 9:53 am 
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:thumbs_up:
Thanks for this fascinting passage !

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 1:37 pm 
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I do like this man, he seems a good soul... now for the strange dream :hmz:

I laughed at the Honey Badger and Elephant and the suit without trousers. Oh dear, I could relate to that story.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 5:23 pm 
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S. C. R. Barnard Part 5.

From Shubela’s kraal, Bvekenya went southwards across the Great Save river to an area in which his Shangane friends told him, he was sure to find Elephants. Two Shanganes accompanied him as guides, trackers and carriers.

They were soon on the tracks of his first Elephant, a sizable bull. Bvekenya was thrilled as he looked at the spoor with alls its lines and markings, telling the trackers a lot but all his inexperienced eyes saw was foot marks in the dust of the parched land during the reigning drought.

They soon came across the animal; Bvekenya had the knowledge of hearsay but no practical experience. As all youths he already knew it all as the Shanganes pointed and nudged him forward.

He went forward with great caution with the Shanganes crouching and watching him in silence. He was going to shoot the beast behind the ear as he had been told. He looked back at the trackers and they were looking at him. He was conscious of the cicadas buzzing, his own heart thumping, his sweaty hands and the Elephant grazing on the few Mopani leaves left. He stared down over the barrel directed the sights towards what he expected to be a killing shot, he pulled the trigger, the 9.5 Mannlicher-Schonauer replied and a puff of dust rose from the hide of the pachyderm , slightly high and a thud was heard a moment later.

The startled elephant wheeled and crashed into the bush, he fired two more shots into the rear end of the fleeing animal. He turned around and saw the two Shanganes disappear into the bush, but in the opposite direction.

He set off into the bush after the wounded Elephant; he tracked the spoor in the sand through midday before he found his prey, eating Mopani leaves. He cautiously crept closer and followed the advice of getting as close as you can and then get a further five paces closer. He repeated the previous process and squeezed the trigger and quickly sent off two more rounds into the falling/fallen carcass. He could hardly control his joy – his first profitable kill, he rested his gun against a tree and like all amateurs before and after him rushed to the laying carcass and got onto it. To his astonishment the Elephant rose, Bvekenya hit the ground with a thud. The wounded beast stumbled off like someone who had spent too much time celebrating at Crook’s Corner coughing blood for about fifty paces and collapsed – dead.

He advanced very cautiously to examine his prize, and carefully examined each of the six bullet holes, trying to determine which proved deadly. Bvekenya was no longer proud of his ability as a mighty white Elephant hunter; it had taken him six shots to make his first kill . . . . .

The great white hunter now realised that it takes a lot of practical experience to mercifully and also economically, slay an Elephant with one well placed shot. He was far from camp and was not sure that he would find the carcass to get the tusks, so decided to drag a stick in the sand from the carcass to the camp.

At the camp the Shanganes were waiting for him and were pleased to hear about all the meat available during this terrible drought. Overnight they gathered fellow tribesman to the following morning come and help themselves in the land of plenty. Early the following morning the area around the carcass resembled exactly what it was – a bush abattoir with many blood and guts smeared happy Shanganes working like slaves By evening the carcass was converted to a heap of offal and a stain in the dust.

The tusks were carried twenty five miles away and hidden at the foot of a Baobab where could be easily found by him and away from any authorities who may be in the area.

The nice tusks weighed forty nine and fifty pounds a piece and ivory fetching 8s.6d. (Eight shillings and a sixpence for those born after 1961) per pound, yielded a handsome Forty two pounds and ten shillings.

Now he had to find the next Elephant. The tribes people were only to familiar with the tracks a big marked and scarred 70 cm footprint of an old rogue who had recently killed two woman and a man. No one knew what had turned this old bull into a killer, who always covered the gored bruised bodies of his victims with branches he stripped off the trees.

Bvekenya and his two trackers/guides/carriers/ runners away and another, followed the indicated trail. It was a hard slog through the parched land, eventually their caution got a bit slack and all a sudden they were rudely brought back to reality when a bush pheasant rose from a clump and screeched for dear life. There he was – the old rogue – standing in the bush, watching them. All of a sudden the Shanganes and the donkey were trying to outpace one another in the opposite direction. Bvekenya decided to stand his ground and raised his gun, and followed the beast coming towards him over the barrel and through the vee of the sights trying to steady the front marker, he squeezed the trigger while pointing at the chest of the approaching trumpeting tornado with its ears and trunk folded back, battering every obstruction in its way.

For seventy yards there was a road of destruction following the Elephant towards the hunter. It must have lost sight of his quarry with blood dripping from its chest, it stopped and it raised its trunk trying to get a smell of its quarry – Bvekenya – the hated human being. Bvekenya gathered his wits and again raised the Mannlicher-Schonauer, took aim and squeezed the trigger, the firing pin hit the percussion cap of the cartridge case in the breech, igniting the charge of gunpowder which immediately exploded, forcing the cartridge through the barrel through air and penetrating the thick hide of the Elephant, behind the ear, the shock collapsed the old giant. Bvekenya was satisfied the shot must have killed the Elephant instantly,. The triumphant Bvekenya shouted for the Shanganes and they came back cautiously and stared in wonder uttering praises at the great Bwana who had slayed the old killer. More food was available and they started lighting a fire for their braai while the Bwana rolled himself a cigar from bartered tobacco and some picked leaves. Life was now becoming really good as success was now coming their way.

All of a sudden there was a howl and exclamations in Shanganese; the Elephant was scrambling to its feet. Bvekenya exclaimed and expleted grabbing for his gun, ramming a cartridge into the breech, the Elephant was unsteadily disappearing into the bush destroying everything and anything in its way. The Bwana followed squeezing the trigger four times, then silence as the old rogue collapsed with a mighty sigh rising no more . . . and died.

The tribes people had heard the shooting and the trumpeting and from afar, soon appeared to collect their share of the meat and the fat., trooping through the bush and set to work on the carcass with a will.

Word spread fast through the bush telegraph and people came from afar to trade whatever they had for Elephant meat and biltong with this great Bwana.

This old beast was beyond his prime and there may have been a few young bulls who later in years to come, try and equal his seventy five pounds a piece.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:27 pm 
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S. C. R. Barnard Part 6.

After the second shot, his third Elephant fell and was really dead. Bvekenya had now learnt the lesson of all professionals – an Elephant is not dead until it is dead.

He packed up collected the three pairs of hidden tusks and set of to William Pye in the shop at the Makhuleke and trade his tusks for cash, the store assistant handed over one hundred and sixty eight pounds for the eight tusks and remarked the Bvekenya “ fought royal combat “.

His return to the Makhuleke was a triumph for Bvekenya as the inhabitants did not expect to ever see him again as he was surely to have be killed by an Elephant by now.

Thompson asked him what he was going to do next and the reply was “ buy provisions, cartridges and a couple of mules and go back as he still had 297 Elephants due, and that Thompson had better do good business as he would need a lot of cash to trade their tusks.

Thompson enquired about the Portuguese authorities and shrugged and said that “ they could lump it, if that Folage had not raided me, I would be far away up north, now I am going to stay just as long as I feel I like it, and they will have to run if they wanted to catch me, before I am through I will get back what I lost and hopefully a hundred times more, I still also want to get Folage and his ringleader, before all is done “.

The reply was “ well it is your life, not mine, but you are still going to make trouble for yourself. When do you start.”. Bvekenya left two days later, well provisioned , he was very satisfied about the acquisition of the two mules the riding one with the white face called Yapie and the other white footed packing mule aptly called Witvoet together with his three Shanganes who by now had gained much confidence in the skills of their Bwana.

They had not travelled very far on the tracks in the dry bush when they turned a corner and there stood a big bull, browsing on a tree, they were surprised and so was he, but adding to his surprise was his irritation with them, he came down the little path like a battle ship at full speed towards the fast disappearing group, as the bull passed Bvekenya fired , four quick shots rapidly followed one another, Elephant skidded and dropped a hundred paces further – stone dead. – his biggest tusker eighty pounds a side . . . .

The biggest problem now was to find Yapie who had taken such a fright that afterwards the merest rumour of an Elephant would stop him dead in his tracks and refused to move one little step closer and nothing would ever change his mind, he had also learnt by experience. . . . .

The local tribes people got their share and the following afternoon the Elephant was reduced to a heap of bones, for the Hyaenas.

The tusks were again hidden for later retrieval and the safari got on their way after a rumour reached Bvekenya’ s ears that there was a vast number of Elephants thirty miles south-west of the Great Save and thirty miles east of the Rhodesian border.

They soon found the bit of grass left in the drought, all trampled as if by big feet, he consulted with the headman of the local kraal who confirmed their presence around a shallow muddy lake surrounded by tall Mthombothi trees. He offered one of his tribesman as a guide and they set off, following the guide.

While approaching the lake, they in the distance heard the noise of Elephants, they crept closer with great caution and then with great wonder they viewed the amazing sight – about three hundred Elephants were gathered around and in the muddy lake, splashing water and rolling around in the mud . . . . ..

In the middle of the crowd towered one big mass of Elephant , dwarfing those who surrounded him, Njalabane saw his wonder and whispered to Bvekenya “ yes that is Ndlulamithi the one who is taller than the trees , he is the mightiest of the Elephants in this land, see his tusks, he is the mighty chief of all Elephants “.

Bvekenya’ s heart ached, for possession of that bull whose tusks seemed to touch the ground, he searched from a vantage point, near the old bull was an ant heap, he carefully crept towards it, while the herd unaware of the lurking danger kept on enjoying themselves at the little lake. As he crawled up the ant hill, a little puff of dust arose from the ant hill in the direction of the lake and the mighty herd bolted through the muddy water and disappeared into the bush. In their flight Bvekenya fired a shot at the old bull but a younger one came in between and he heard the thud of the hit . . . .

That night he was tormented with dreams of the mighty tusker he had seen, the following morning he rose early, he had to find and kill the wounded Elephant before it turned rogue and take revenge on innocent tribes people.

They soon found the tracks of the limping and followed it all day, towards evening they found it hiding in the thicket, the Shanganes thumped the tree trunks and flushed the young Elephant, he hobbled out into the clearing and Bvekenya dropped him mercifully with a single shot. Barnard felt his heart shrink at the sight at the young Elephant a forty pounder, he was really sorry as it had not yet reached its prime.

Back at camp Njalabane told Bvekenya that each year during December the herd gathered in that area, they would not feed much but would mill around and wash in the little lake seeming to have great fun with a lot of stomach rumbling and trumpeting.

The adolescent Elephants would then be separated from the adults. In several groups, each group would be escorted by an old cow, very wise in the ways of the bush and be led off along the dusty tracks indicating to the followers where the waterholes, game paths and best feeding places were. This was according to Njalabane the equivalence of the Shanganes circumcision of the boys and the puberty school of the girls.

While the young Elephants were away in January, that month of the each year depending on the rains, there would be some fighting among the bulls. The younger lesser bulls would be driven off by the bigger bulls. The winners would select their mates and after hours of affectionate trunk twisting and caressing and washing each other in the little lake and blowing dust over one another, they would ensure their survival.

The old cows returned mid to end February to the big herd while the bulls left the cows and they again would go happily along doing the things Elephants do, with the bulls living in small bachelor groups.

Bvekenya often experienced that when an Elephant had been shot and the carcass left overnight, the herd would return and try and resurrect the fallen one, sometimes even dragging it along for some distance.

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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:29 pm 
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S. C. R. Barnard Part 7.

One morning Njalabane told the Bwana that they should leave as it seems as if the Rain God has walked through the bush, he had seen the distant lightning and soon the dry land would turn green and the herds would return and get fat and shiny, if the Bwana wanted to learn about them they should go.

They trekked up to the Lindi River along its southern banks to the Hippo pools of Tshipinda just below where the Tshngwesi tributary flows into the main stream of the Lindi. The rains had fallen and the country was refreshed along the narrow river belt.. At night the Klipspringer and Bushbuck whistled and barked while the Hippos grunted in the pools or in the reeds.

The whole countryside was alive with game animals; Tsessebe, Waterbuck, Sable, Roan, wherever they looked. Ostriches, Warthogs and Buffalo were gathered in great numbers, just as Njalabane had predicted. They chatted a lot while trekking through the African wonderland, Bvekenya listening and learning. They saw Giraffe and found a Rhino trail and even the places where it scattered dung. Njalabane explained to him the difference between the Malembu Futsu and the Malembu Mukhombe the first eating twigs and the second eating grass with its wide mouth.

Bvekenya saw the different Malembus bit did not regard them of much value for all they had was an armour plated hide and a horn made from compressed hair . . . . They were hardly worth wasting a cartridge.

Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs and Hyaenas were seen among the large herds on the plains. Small groups of younger Elephants each led by an old cow, were also seen.

Bvekenya’s guns remained silent as they trekked. He learnt about the likes and dislikes of the Elephants, the grasses and leaves and berries they preferred. He was shown the Marulas and was told that th Elephant loved them and when they were overripe the Elephant would eat them in large quantities and go home singing . . . . . . He was told that the Elephants avoid the black-berried Sheshonge bush, one branch placed in an Elephants-path and the beast would deviate.

They rested in the afternoon, next to the dry river bed with the water flowing or buried under the sand. From the shadows they watched the game come down to drink from the few little pools, or dig in the sand. The watched the Impala come down with the attendant Oxpeckers hanging on lovingly ridding it of ticks and other parasites.

The adult Elephants would rest in the shade and then move down with fanning ears, leaving the little ones hidden in the thicket. After trampling the surrounding sand firm to avoid it from caving in, they would dig a well, sometimes eight feet deep and then stick their trunks in and draw the cool clear precious water from it.

Bvekenya was told about the cruelty of Hlolwa the Wild dog Lions, Leopards and Cheetah would kill their prey as brave men do, but Hlolwa is afraid, he does not kill when prey stands and faces him with courage. A Lion would take a chance and fight it out, even with a Buffalo. But Hlolwa he would seek out some antelope like the doe heavy with calf or lamb, even a tiny Duiker or some frightened fawn and then he would be in his element!

He loves to chase his quarry and tear it to pieces and eat it while often still alive while piping twitter of excitement and wagging its bushy tail. Should one be injured during the chase and blood is dropped, the others would pounce upon it and devour it. These cowards are hated and have no place, they should be killed.
This is Njalabane speaking not gmlsmit.

Bvekenya watched a pack of Wild dogs on the hunt and found it quite remarkable, despite Njalabane’s hatred for them. But when he saw them catch and devour their prey he was enraged, took his gun and promptly shot a few.

One morning Bvekenya had to shoot for the pot and went after Nyari, he found a medium sized herd the thick reeds drinking from a small pool which was surrounded by tall isolated boulders. When they scented him the herd scattered, the rush of thundering hoofs filled the air. Bvekenya ran onto a large boulder , selected a large bull nosing in the reeds, trying to find the intruder, the hunter shouted and Nyari turned and faced to where the sound came from. By now he was downwind from his adversary and got a whiff of him and charged the hunter waited for the bull to come into range, aimed picked his shot and fired. Nyari leaped into the air and bellowed when the bullet struck, he tore through the reeds and the bull hit the boulder with a thud, he drew back, tossed its head to collect his battered wits and once more battered the boulder with the hunter on top. The bull slid down and Bvekenya stared down into his dark eyes. It then keeled over and died . . . . . . Bvekenya had just shot his first Buffalo.

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Done 144 visits to National Parks.
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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:12 pm 
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S. C. R. Barnard Part 8.

Bvekenya did most of his hunting in the area where he enjoyed it most; along the Chefu River a great haven for a lonely hunter and a place with a never ending supply of bull Elephants, between the Great Save and the Great Limpopo Rivers he spent his great life.

He lived from the land, venison was available as required, water could be drawn from the river, berries and roots could be picked or dug up and seeds could be roasted and ground for coffee.

Here he could in his spare time he could cure hides and make whips and sjamboks and dry the meat and turn it into delicious biltong.

A Giraffe would yield 100 wagon whips, a big Sable 25. The hides of Buffalo made excellent boots and that of a hippo, excellent sjamboks.

Here at the Chefu camp the worked and relaxed, they swam in the pools.

One night they were awakened by a terrible thumping clanking noise, the Shanganes said it was the ghost of Mazimbe who was angry and came to drive them away; they scurried up into the highest tree available almost weeping with fear.

The thumping went on for hours, stopping for short intervals.

The following morning on examining the camp they found one of the containers in which they kept fat was missing and all around the camp . . . . . . . tracks of a Hyaena.

They followed the tracks and slowly Bvekenya started assembling a picture of what had happened. The Hyaena found the fat container and started eating the fat, its head got stuck and could not remove it, it got anxious and started running around; bumping into anything and everything that was in its way. They eventually found the container wedged into the fork of a tree where the animal just by luck got caught up and was then able to extricate himself after, judging by the markings on the ground, a mighty tug of war. The footprints indicated that the freed animal took of like a flash.

Lions often visited the camp, scaring the life out of the donkeys and old Yappy.

Here he also learnt many of the ways of the Shangane people, they skilfully spun cotton, harvest3ed from the wild cotton bushes, the carved head rests from soft wood, iron was beaten into spears, in the earlier years the metal was obtained from far away mines in the Transvaal. Now the migrant labourers brought pieces of tools with them which was converted into whatever they could.

Guns were priceless possessions to them, no matter how old or how crude, they often made their own using pipes and rough timber, ammunition was no problem as pebbles, and hard pips were readily available,, gunpowder was smuggled by returning migrant workers, obtained from the explosives used in the mines. These home made guns were quite lethal, to either the animal or the hunter.

The Shanganes lived off the land, palms supplied leaves for their huts, venison was in ready supply either being shot or trapped, there were plenty of plants providing juice that they could ferment into some lethal alcoholic concoction, the Lala palm was a great favourite. I often wondered at the origin of this name, lala meaning sleep in some black languages.

Elephants also enjoyed the sap being tapped from the trees into the calabashes, they often raided the calabashes hanging from the tree being tapped, one can only speculate about the effect it had on the animals as they seemed to enjoy what they were doing and were also becoming noisier as they went on raiding the calabashes.

Every possible reason for having wine or beer drinking festivities were utilised until the supply ran out, should the participants run out before the supply the party would continue as they recovered.

A drummer would be summoned and he would then activate the bush telegraph inviting people to the occasion.

The bush telegraph would send out many different messages of either feast or famine or that the police or tax collectors were on their way . . . . . .

Bvekenya also learnt much about the witch doctors and their ways, how they would cast spells upon someone, how they would call the rain, how they would cure disease using herbs, roots, animal parts or whatever their forefathers had told them.

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No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: Early History of the KNP Area
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:14 pm 
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S. C. R. Barnard Part 9.

The early part of his hunting career was during the time of drought. And game was then concentrated in the areas where it had rained a little and where there then was water.

The habits of the animals and the signs of the veld were changing and Bvekenya realised that the rains were on their way.

Bvekenya was running low on supplies and decided to return to the Maluleke and replenish. He set off with a few Shanganes, his donkeys and Yappy the faithful scared mule.

They bought what he needed and set off back the Chefu.

Bvekenya and two of his hunters went ahead of the rest of the group and the first night, out they camped in the bed of the dry Limpopo, while they were preparing their meal one of the Shanganes looked up and shouted – a wall of water was approaching along the dusty dry parched river bed.

The party grabbed as much as they could and clambered up the river bank, looking back they saw the river sweeping around their little camp of a few minutes ago and then over the little fire they left behind . . . . . The watched the water rushing past.

It was getting dark and they found another suitable spot and pitched camp. The following morning they saw that they were now on an island isolated and only with a few bare essentials everything else was gone – washed away by the flood.

They were stranded on their island huddling under a piece of canvass, and it rained for two days. A few days later Yappy was grazing on the water’s edge, and another wall of water came down and washed him away.

The hunters survived on Cane rats, roots, boiled leaves, frogs and whatever they could find for the twenty seven days, they were marooned on the island, the water was very muddy; fortunately Bvekenya found a bit of alum amongst his salvaged belongings and added a bit to the boiled water which then would within a few minutes settle the mud in the bottom of the container and they could drink.

Bvekenya measured the speed of the flowing river by throwing a piece of wood into the water and then running alongside it, it was flowing at one hundred yards a minute. The river was 300 paces wide and about twelve feet deep. As part of his daily past time he used to collect water from the muddy river, boil it in a paraffin tin and then let it settle after adding the alum, he estimated the mass of the settled silt and calculated that there was no less than 14 pounds of silt, per cubic yard of water.

The floods brought down tons of debris, enormous trees would be washed down, with trees and bushes, many little animals were often clinging to the branches; including snakes.

After three weeks a third wave brought down masses of palm leaves and reeds which were deposited on their island, Bvekenya decided that they should build a raft . . . . . and leave their island.

The raft was built and the piece of canvas mentioned earlier as a sail and off they went, taking with them what was left of what they had salvaged the first day of the flooding. The only real loss apart from the lost provisions was Yapie.

Yapie was found a while later on and island living the life of a very happy mule, lots of grazing, lots of water, no dangerous animals and nothing or nobody to carry . . . . .

Now the Great Mother was recovering and everything was growing and turning green and flowering, the dust was gone, the birds had returned and with them the animals, any kind you could imagine . . . . . The air was smelling of her wonderful perfume.

The fish were migrating upstream to spawn and multiply and the Crocodiles and Otters also had their share.

The birds were building their nests and the males were trying their best to impress the females, displaying their colours and acrobatics and singing their cheerful songs, everything was vibrant. The riverbanks were riddled with little caves made by the Bee Eaters, the Kingfishers were darting and diving and calling.

The tracks of Impala and Nyala, of Lions, Leopards, Jackals and Hyaena, of Elephants were leading down to the water where Hippos were grumbling and snorting and Crocodiles sunbathing and a Python or two were hiding below the surface awaiting some unfortunate thirsty prey.

The forests of Southern Africa which had endured so much were now rewarded.

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No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
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Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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