The “old lady” lioness had seen better days and had taken up residence in the bush row of lodges between Mana Reception and Gwaya campsite, accompanied by a juvenile and a cub which may or may not have been her own. This strange little pride depended upon her to put food on the table and it appeared to be her years of experience, rather than her physical fitness that did so.
Similarly, our group were relying on “Mo the Great Fisherman” to produce the goods for our team. Armed with his split-cane fly-rod, he worked the waters downstream of the chalet in search of lunch whilst we were so confident in his skills that we engaged in a spot of elephant-dung cricket on the hippo-cropped green lawns of the sandbank. So immersed in the presentation of his flies was Mo, that he did not notice the cub resting in the shade of the river-bank rain tree until he almost stood on it.
“Was the mayfly a significant food source for the mighty Tigerfish, or should he try a different pattern?” These were the thoughts weighing his mind as he looked up straight into the eyes of the cub staring at him 5 meters away. Mo never even saw the “old lady “ sitting right next to the cub…
Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park is legendary for the degree of freedom Zimparks allows visitors. There are no fences and all wildlife can and do roam through campsites at will. Navigating a route to the showers at Nyamepi regularly involves honing your skills in buffalo-detours and elephant-skirting. Night time hyena visits are guaranteed and the camp is abuzz with quarrelling honey-badgers most nights. It’s all part of the charm of the place and for the most part, people are amazed that the relaxed nature of most human-animal interactions here and love the surreal photo opportunities that result. I for one hope that this never changes and our children’s children can get to immerse themselves in paradise as we can today.
Incidents like Mo’s most often end up as amusing memories (as his did, with him rapidly engaging reverse and deciding that bush cricket was more fun than fishing) but from time to time, even experienced people get themselves into tricky situations unecessarily. It is wise therefore to be cautious. Be honest with yourself about your levels of bush-wiseness, most of us visit Mana best a few times a year and if we are honest, would probably be better off hiring a Zimparks scout to accompany us.
Most importantly, don’t intentionally seek out the human-animal interactions you see on Youtube videos by offering animals food or carelessly leaving food lying around the camp. Fed animals become problem animals, which eventually need to be shot despite your video going viral on social media. Worst of all, Zimparks may be forced to tighten up on the freedom they allow Mana guests, denying our children the opportunity to experience this paradise fully.
The Zambezi Society has drawn up a set of guidelines to ensure Mana remains Mana, please abide by the Mana Pools Code of Conduct and distribute it to your party prior to your trip.