Fifty-five kilometres along the Mansa Road, not more than thirty from where the Congo Pedicle abruptly ends its awkward protrusion into Zambia’s side lies Kasanka, one of country’s smallest yet most diverse National Parks. Rapidly gaining recognition and fame for hosting the annual congregation of some eight to ten million Straw-coloured Fruitbats – which share the swampy mushitu’s canopy in which they roost with agile Blue Monkeys, Trogons and Turaco’s – the Park is as varied in flora as it is in fauna. It is in a small patch of mushitu (Zambian swamp forest) at Fibwe, a stone’s throw from what is arguably the World’s most amazing wildlife spectacle, that I first pitched my tent almost three years ago. Slowly but surely carving my niche within the Kasanka Trust, the private non-profit organisation tasked with managing the Park, I have worked my way up from a regular volunteer to, well, whatever comes after that!
My job, albeit somewhat vague in description, is as diverse in nature as the Park itself. Whether I am coordinating monitoring activities, assisting with anti-poaching or supervising our Early-burning programme in the Park, bored I am never. Some days I might find myself in the back of a game-viewer, excitedly pointing out some of the awesomely large Crocodiles along the Kasanka River to first time visitors, on others I might drag weary journalists through tall sharp grass and itunkulu (wild ginger) bush to show them a 67m mofu tree – quite possibly the tallest tree in the country! On other days still I can be found clumsily trying to keep myself afloat on a bobbing raft of Papyrus, trying to control a raging wildfire (swamps DO burn, but let me save some for later). I enjoy breaking down cultural barriers between my local colleagues and myself and like to do so a tiny bit with each time the fragile vegetation gives way to my humungous mzungu feet and I disappear into the murky depths, only for my muddied head to appear again, desperately seeking equal parts of oxygen, pity and respect. Never a dull moment!
The point is that I truly love my job and could not see myself working anywhere else for the moment. I have found the work to be so rewarding and enjoyable that it is difficult not to become passionate about Kasanka and the surrounding area or want to be around to witness its development and growth. Therefore, I would hereby like to dedicate this blog to my work in the wilds of northern Zambia and share with you some of the excitement that comes with it. I hope it is contagious!
The Southern African Wildlife College is coming to Kasanka National Park and Bangwuelu Swamps area during late September 2013. Could you please email me the contact information for the current Park Ranger or Law inforcement officer of Kasanka National Park if possible. We would also possibly like to meet you while we are in the area as we are currently doing an needs analyses for the SADC TFCA’s.
Hope to hear from you.
Marilize van der Walt
Research & University Program Officer
Hi Bastiaan, I am coming out to Kasanka with my cousin Christopher Hill ( a trustee of Kasanka) at the end of November. The aim of the visit is to organise a study tour for my students (Animal Management) to come out to Kasanka in late May for a period of two weeks. Whilst I have an idea of flights, I would be grateful if you can give me an idea of how much it would cost the students for full board and a variety of conservation activities for this period. The reason that I would like to know now is that I need to send out a letter by the beginning of September, indicating to students the likely cost of this syudy tour.They can then start saving! I am happy for them to camp out if this will keep down costs.
Look forward to your reply and meeting you on 25th Novemeber.
Rupert Hill – [email protected]