Never a dull moment

SA Jagter Hunter - - NEWS - By NE­VIL­LE STEYN

In the A­fri­can bush ma­ny t­hings can go wrong, but a lot of t­hings can go rig­ht too.

Iam ta­king you back to 1969 and the Lu­ang­wa Val­ley of e­as­tern Zam­bia. The hunting o­pe­ra­ti­on, and pro­ba­bly the o­ri­gi­nal “Wil­der­ness Trails” we­re run by Nor­man Carr and Pe­ter Han­kin. T­heir hunting con­ces­si­on was di­vi­ded in­to six blocks, e­ach with a se­a­so­nal­ly re­built grass hut-ty­pe camp and re­si­dent pro­fes­si­o­nal hunter.

The field H/Q for the o­pe­ra­ti­on, with mo­re per­ma­nent-ty­pe struc­tu­res, was at C­han­ju­zi w­he­re Pe­ter Han­kin was ba­sed, whi­le Nor­man Carr had a camp in the nort­hern Lu­ang­wa Ga­me Re­ser­ve w­he­re the “wil­der­ness trails” we­re con­ducted. Lu­ang- wa North was not o­pen to the ge­ne­ral pu­blic and the­re was no in­fra­struc­tu­re; it was a re­al wil­der­ness en­vi­ron­ment.

Du­ring my first se­a­son as a pro­fes­si­o­nal hunter in Lu­ang­wa I had a ro­ving com­mis­si­on; going to dif­fe­rent camps w­hen a se­cond pro­fes­si­o­nal hunter was re­qui­red. And so it trans­pi­red that I was to ren­dez­vous with Bry­an S­mith at C­han­ju­zi w­hen­ce we would go to M­fu­we, w­he­re char­ters brin­ging clients from Lu­sa­ka lan­ded. We we­re to meet three Ca­na­di­an clients who would be hunting with Bry­an and my­self at Li­lun­di Camp. Two of them, the Ash­tons, fat­her and son, had hun­ted Lu­ang­wa with Bry­an pre­vi­ous­ly. T­heir as­so­ci­a­te Franc Sut­clif­fe, on his first sa­fa­ri, would be hunting with me.

As the hours pas­sed wit­hout Bry­an put­ting in an ap­pea­ran­ce, Pe­ter Han­kin and I re­a­li­sed that so­mething was a­miss. E­ven­tu­al­ly Pe­ter said that I should le­a­ve for M­fu­we as furt­her de­lay would re­sult in the clients’ char­ter ar­ri­ving wit­hout a­nyo­ne to meet them. I left and within a short dis­tan­ce ar­ri­ved at the juncti­on w­he­re the C­han­ju­zi ro­ad joi­ned the north/south ro­ad. I he­si­ta­ted brief­ly ho­ping that Bry­an would put in an ap­pea­ran­ce af­ter all and just then his Land Ro­ver ap­pea­red from the north.

He had al­re­a­dy stop­ped at one of the ot­her hunting camps en rou­te w­he­re he had re­cei­ved so­me first aid, but was in a go­ry sta­te no­ne the less: a le­o­pard had jum­ped him from be­hind and bit­ten him in the back of his neck. For­tu­na­te­ly he was a­ble to get the a­ni­mal off him­self af­ter which the le­o­pard di­sap­pea­red in­to the pa­tch of tall grass from which it had at­tac­ked. Bry­an back-pe­dal­led so­me dis­tan­ce to­wards his vehi­cle, which was c­lo­se at hand, and then as he tur­ned to­wards the vehi­cle the le­o­pard ca­me for him a se­cond ti­me; a­gain lan­ding on his back. A front paw ca­me o­ver his shoul­der and in­flicted a nas­ty gash on one of his cheeks. For­tu­na­te­ly he was a­ble to dis­lod­ge the a­ni­mal from his back, get in­to the vehi­cle and le­a­ve the sce­ne.

I re­tur­ned to C­han­ju­zi with Bry­an. Pe­ter told me to ma­ke has­te get­ting to M­fu­we and to tell the pi­lot to wait so that Bry­an could fly back to Lu­sa­ka with him and get to hos­pi­tal. Pe­ter would bring Bry­an af­ter ren­de­ring so­me e­mer­gen­cy tre­at­ment.

I just ma­de it in ti­me to M­fu­we. The Ash­tons we­re rat­her put out by the news. T­hey had been look­ing for­ward to a re­pe­at hunt with Bry­an. T­hey we­re con­so­led by the de­ci­si­on that Pe­ter would stand in for Bry­an.

The clients and I left for our camp whi­le Pe­ter re­tur­ned to C­han­ju­zi to ma­ke mul­ti­ple e­mer­gen­cy ar­ran­ge­ments be­fo­re co­ming on to Li­lun­di. W­hen he e­ven­tu­al­ly joi­ned us Pe­ter told us t­hey had spot­ted a de­ad buf­fa­lo c­lo­se to the track from the back of his truck. Clo­ser in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on sho­wed it to be li­on kill but not much had been e­a­ten. The li­ons had pro­ba­bly mo­ved off w­hen I dro­ve past e­ar­lier. The spot was not vi­si­ble from a

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