Living in the wild 2004-2008

Mock Charge by an elephant while I was walking.

In 2004 we left Maun and moved to Kasane a small border town  located next to the Chobe river.The Chobe area has the highest population of elephants on earth  It is estimated to be about 120,000 individuals. Many herds travel  from Zimbabwe through the Chobe and on into Namibia before returning. Our new Camp home was situated in Losma valley,known to many as Elephant valley due to large numbers of elephants that were found there .

Elephant valley is situated along the border of Zimbabwe, in fact from our camp it was only 2 km away from Zimbabwe.Our closest neighbors was Lesoma village which was 8 km away and in the  other direction was Elephant Valley Lodge.The wildlife that was found in the valley was diverse,Elephants ,Buffalo,Kudu,Sable,Impala,Warthog, Hyena,Leopard,and the occasional Lion.

I was very exited to be moving there even if it meant living rough.When we first moved there our accomadation consisted of two large army tents,an open air kitchen ,a toilet under a large canvas umbrella and an open air shower(best shower ever,what is better than showering under the stars?).The whole set up was fenced off from the wild with nothing more than some green shade netting.During our stay we made many improvements until we had a simple but nice thatched and reed house. 

The very first night we were there I started developing the waterhole ,using a spade I dug a shallow hole ,1 meter by 1 meter and filled it with water from a hose pipe.Since the soil had a high clay content it held the water perfectly.The next morning  I discovered the hole was empty with huge elephant foot prints all around and gouge marks in the mud.Between my spade and the with the elephants help the hole slowly grew.Every day I would fill the hole with water and every morning it would be empty.After we had dug a well we were then able to pump more water for the elephants and other animals that visited .The elephants were very relaxed around us and our camp ,some would even eat the acacia tree pods off our tent roof.Or simply stand sleepily under a nearby tree for hours .

A sketch I did of our kitchen and living room with elephants drinking at our watering hole beyond.

 In order for us to have a hot shower either one of my brothers or I had to take the land rover or the wheel barrow, and disappear into the neighboring bush in search of wood.On returning we had to make a fire under a 200 liter drum filled with water that was balanced on a stand.
 We had a pair of Leopards in the area,(leopards have a reputation of killing dogs and cats)The leopards in our area lived up to this ,and we unfortunately lost our small fox terrier (Bogie) and a couple of our cats.Our other dog (Patrick)was also attacked but somehow survived .
 Washing was done by hand,here is a sketch of my sister doing some washing while some elephants take a drink at the waterhole .My sister doesn't quite look like that,sorry sketch didn't turn out perfectly.

 Here are some photos of elephants drinking and having fun at the waterhole.Later on we decided to dig a well to supply our vegetable garden with water.So we hired some well diggers who were from Zimbabwe and after many months,and 26 meters later they hit water.It was the clearest water I have ever seen,and the elephants thought so too.

As an Artist those were some of my most exiting and productive years .On a daily basis I was able to observe up close many wild animals especially elephants .I was able to make many sketches, and took hundreds of photos,all of which contributed to some great paintings.I had many experiences in this area which could probably fill a book.Since I often roamed the area on foot I had scary and interesting encounters with Elephants,Buffalo ,the Zimbabwe border patrol,Poaches,and Snakes .

An overly exited calf tries to get a drink while its mother protectively watches over it.


archi said...

brilliant write up rog! I didnt know you still had those sketches. And now half of us are moving back to Kasane!

Olga Díaz said...

Realmente eres afortunado poder ver tan de cerca todos estos grandiosos animales, que suerte.