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The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit

Victoria Falls comprises of many wild and wonderful things, from the sprawling wilderness to the diverse wildlife population. However, poaching is a harsh reality, and if ignored, would cripple Africa’s eco-system.

While Victoria Falls may be home to a natural wonder, it is also the heritage and legacy for a community of people with indomitable strength. The Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit (VFAPU) have boots on the ground and eyes on the future. They are the unsung heroes of every game drive and safari in our National Parks areas, protecting the environment and its inhabitants for generations to come. Wild Horizons has been a proud supporter of VFAPU for 15 years, providing financial and operational aid to further their reach and impact. This meaningful partnership is rooted in a shared sense of purpose and appreciation for the remote wildlife areas that make Victoria Falls such a special, diverse space.

VFAPU comprises 15 high-performing scouts who are trained in the tracking and apprehension of poachers, many of whom pose a lethal threat not just to the animals, but the scouts themselves. It is a job that requires the utmost dedication as the days are long and the challenges daunting. Some patrols take place over several days, venturing deep into the National Park with the team covering up to 15km each day. Small details such as a footprint in the dust or trampled patch of grass can lead the scouts in the right direction. Their senses must remain on high alert for any small piece of evidence that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye.

When one thinks of wildlife poaching, images of poachers with high powered rifles may come to mind. However, this is just one approach. Snares are rudimentary pieces of wire fashioned into a loop, left (and often forgotten about) in areas of high animal traffic. They wrap around the neck or leg of an animal, and the more the animal tries to escape, the tighter the snare becomes. VFAPU have removed 22 500 snares from wildlife areas, saving as many lives in the process. To date, the scouts have rescued nearly 300 mammals who have been injured through poaching activities, all of which received veterinary attention and once recovered, were released back into the wild. A staggering 900 poachers have been apprehended, and the damage prevented through this alone is incomprehensible.

Funding remains one of the biggest challenges that VFAPU faces. Their invaluable work incurs massive costs and donations are vital to ensure the continued success of the organisation. Wild Horizons is a proud supporter of VFAPU, paying the salaries of three scouts each month and sponsoring the fund raising activities hosted by VFAPU.

By simply reading and sharing the work that VFAPU do, the call of the wild travels a little further. However, if you would like to donate to VFAPU, please visit their website at http://vfapu.com/donate/ where you can also discover more about their extensive projects. Financial help is always appreciated, but boots, green shirts, hats, flashlights, sleeping bags, raincoats and medical supplies will also make a difference.

VFAPU started as a team of three dedicated individuals. Now, they have given a global community the power to transform knowledge to action. Because of them, future generations will walk in an elephants footsteps, hear the haunting whoop of a hyena, find shade beneath a tangle of trees and watch a sunset over the pristine Zambezi River. It has been an honour to be part of their journey, and Wild Horizons will continue to be a proud supporter of the Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit for decades to come.

Negative Ions Inspire Positive Vibes | Victoria Falls

Negative Ions Inspire Positive Vibes | Victoria Falls

When you step into a raw, natural space, something shifts – emotionally, physically and mentally. Your skin tingles as it absorbs sun rays, your mind clears as crisp fresh air blows over you, and your thoughts dissolve to create room for immersive mindfulness. Some places inspire this reaction to a higher degree than others. Places that evoke a sense of empowerment as well as tranquillity, igniting an electrifying paradox of sensations. Anyone who has done a tour of the Victoria Falls rainforest will understand the intoxicating feeling, but not everyone understands what causes this euphoric state. Beyond the joy that comes from being away from stress and in a beautiful place like the Victoria Falls, there is something else at work here – negative ions.

Chef Daisy: ‘I am vibrant’

There is something hypnotic about watching a chef preparing a meal. The soft hand that shook mine moments ago now confidently wields a butchers knife, swiftly slicing up ingredients like they are made of butter. I can hear the smile in Chef Daisy’s voice as rich aromas rise in warm waves from her frying pan. Her tone seems to be in tune with the sizzle, and her story emerges through the plumes of steam that have started to dance between us.

Daisy’s passion for cooking began in her modest family kitchen, where she watched Chef Daisy sitting on the deck of The Lookout Cafeher mother lovingly prepare traditional meals. Since then, she has worked at the Wild Horizons Lookout Café and now on the Malachite, a luxury dinner cruise boat.

These exciting kitchen environments have inspired Chef Daisy’s skills and become transferable to the taste of her cuisine. Her bold and fearless experimentation with flavours mirrors the dramatic landscape of the Lookout Café, an iconic restaurant perched on the edge of the Batoka Gorge. Today, as the Malachite slips along the surface of the Zambezi, Daisy plates up her popular Beef Mignon. “The Zambezi River is breath-taking and refreshing, so the environment on its own makes the brain fresh”, explains Daisy, as she trickles a decadent jus over her dish. The dots and squiggles of nouveau cuisine are artfully incorporated, but they are accompanied by hearty, wholesome ingredients that strike the delicate balance between home cooking and fine dining.

As in all kitchens, a sense of urgency buzzes through the atmosphere around us, but the calm smile never leaves Daisy’s lips. Her lightning-quick hands stir and sprinkle fresh herbs into the simmering pots, but there is no futuristic culinary chemistry or flamboyant tableside showmanship. The ingredients for the Malachite dining experience are simple- spectacular food, prepared and served by a spectacular team, in spectacular surroundings.

While Daisy favours fine dining when she cooks, her favourite meal is Mild Peri Chicken served with a parsnip puree, asparagus, baby carrots and chilli sauce. Like her, it is unpretentious yet inimitable- the kind of meal you would want to share with friends. Though Daisy may work like a machine, there is emotion in her food that resonates with all who taste it.

Chef Daisy describes herself as a “vibrant, energetic woman who is willing to go the extra mile” and she shows this in her food. An hour ago, we sat down at a table laden in fairly ordinary groceries. Under Daisy’s expert hands, the vegetables, herbs, spices and meat came together in a delicious dish that only someone who truly understands and appreciates good food could create.

At Wild Horizons, a spirit of empowerment, passion and positivity emanates from within. The women in our company shape our vision to make a difference, and their fierce sense of strength and leadership weaves a golden thread throughout the organisation. Keep an eye on our website for more blog posts about the many Wild Horizons Wonder Women.

Join Chef Daisy on a Malachite dinner cruise by booking here, or get in touch with us at info@wildhorizons.co.zw

Carol Makuwire: ‘I am a pioneer’

“I am not just a boat captain responsible for my passengers. I am a pioneer, responsible for inspiring other women to break into the profession.” Her voice may be soft, but the message is clear and delivered without a tremor of nerves. Twenty-two-year-old Carol Makuwire is a valued ambassador for Wild Horizons, navigating unchartered waters as she strives to become the first female boat captain working on the Zambezi in Victoria Falls.

Carol joined the Wild Horizons team in 2017 as a trainee chef at the Lookout Café. To allow trainees to experience different sectors of the organisation, chefs will often work in the Café as well as on the cruise boats. Before her first sunset cruise was over, Carol had decided to step away from the kitchen and join the crew. Inspired by her profound appreciation of and connection to the natural world, Carol started studying for her guides license and Skippers license with the Inland Waters Ministry of Transport.

Understanding that boat captains charismatic personalities shape the guests experience , Carol began shadowing the Wild Horizons boat captains during her free time. The crew took Carol under their wing, and to help her grow in confidence, they encouraged Carol to perform part of the briefing on the cruises. “I was nervous at first”, she admits with an easy smile, “but I love working in nature and I love people, so with the support of the others I started looking forward to the talks”. Having achieved one milestone, Carol was ready for the next challenge. She sat her Skippers exam and became licensed.

Having chosen a challenging, male-dominated career path, Carol has not been immune to the glass ceiling, but she dismisses the occasional negativity. “People will sometimes tell me I am too small to be in charge of a big boat, and that I was better-suited training to be a chef”. Without a shred of bitterness, she shrugs off the comments and says with a knowing smile , “I am here, I am doing this, and if you are not going to be supportive, then I am not going to listen”.

While Carol works alongside her mentors, she continues her studies for her Professional Guides Licence with a sense of determination that reflects the joy she derives from following her heart. In celebrating strong women like Carol Makuwire, we not only validate her hard work but also hope to inspire other women to pursue their own dreams.

At Wild Horizons, a spirit of empowerment, passion and positivity emanates from within. The women in our company shape our vision to make a difference, and their fierce sense of strength and leadership weaves a golden thread throughout the organisation.

Keep an eye on our website for more blog posts about the many Wild Horizons Wonder Women.

An interview with guide and photographer, Vusa Sibanda

Vusa Sibanda’s journey to becoming a guide began in the Matetsi region of Zimbabwe, where he worked as a tracker for eight years. Roaming along animal superhighways, Vusa would use misplaced twigs, imprints in the sand and naked tree branches to draw a map in his mind, illustrating wildlife movements that would be indecipherable to the untrained eye. Recognizing his talent, recruiters for the FGASA program offered Vusa the opportunity to spend two months in South Africa to complete his guide-training course. Five years later, Vusa is a highly respected and valued guide at Old Drift Lodge. While his days as a tracker have drawn to a close, Vusa’s boundless knowledge of the bush and his acute attention to detail is reflected in his exquisite wildlife photography. Safari Guide and Photographer Vusa Sibanda

Vusa’s Instagram page resembles an archive of experiences and safari moments frozen in time through the lens of his Canon Camera. Scrolling through the images will take you on a sentimental journey back into some of the most wild and untouched places on earth. “One thing I have learned being in the bush, is that every animal, tree and stretch of landscape has its own character”, muses Vusa. “I am in the wilderness everyday and have been since I was young, but I am always excited to go on the river and on a game drive because I know that the wilderness will show me something I have never seen before”. While many people will scour the National Park looking for big game, Vusa believes that the subject of the photograph is not necessarily what determines a great shot. It is the moment that they spring into action, be this a bird in flight, a lion yawning, or a buck prancing through the trees. Outside his lens you might see a bird nesting or hippo wallowing, but the gentle click of his camera is reserved for the fleeting moment that they take off, or tear open the surface of the Zambezi River, leaving him with a hard copy of that powerful moment.

Vusa’s camera has been an ever-present companion on his ventures into the wilderness and his passion has become a vessel through which he shares his expertise with guests at Old Drift Lodge. In an increasingly digital world, memories of the present are scrolled instantly into the past. However, Vusa’s images will compel you to look closely, look twice and look slowly. Through the glass screen of your phone or desktop, you can peer into his wild world and understand what it looks like in a given moment.

@vusasibanda2002

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Achievers’ Awards Event 2018

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Achievers’ Awards Event 2018

A total of 19 awards were handed out at the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Achievers’ Awards event, attended by the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Prisca Mupfumira, and about 200 travel and tour operators, government officials and media personalities. The awards were created to reward and recognise effort and achievement by individuals and organisations in support of the travel and tourism sector, primarily during the preceding 12 months.

Barbara MurasiranwaWild Horizons are proud winners of the Achievement in Innovation award (jointly awarded to Victoria Falls Carnival, Wild Horizons and Far and Wide Zimbabwe) as well as the President’s Special Award, awarded to Wild Horizons’ Barbara Murasiranwa. Barbara, who chairs the ZCT’s Victoria Falls branch is a “tireless representative of ZCT and of operators in the Victoria Falls area.”

https://dailynews.co.zw/articles-2018-02-24-top-tourism-players-honoured/

The life-changing impact of education in rural Zimbabwe

Although Zimbabwe is often reported as having the highest literacy rate in Africa this does not necessarily reflect the situation on the ground. For instance:

Zimstat put the literacy rate at 97% but this figure is based on the percentage of people who have attended school up until Grade 3. This does not necessarily prove whether a person can read or write. Source

I recently encountered a remarkable story that illustrates the far-reaching impact education can have in someone’s life. I first met Edward Nkosana whilst visiting Intabayengwe community with Benson Siyawareva. Benson is a relative newcomer to the community having moved therein 2014.

In his short time here he has made a huge difference by establishing Lesedi primary school in June 2014. The school is allowing many children in the community to receive an education who may otherwise have been unable to access one.

Whilst I was with Benson at the school a quiet, elderly gentleman came up to him. The gentleman was clearly emotional, with tears in his eyes as he showed Benson a well-used slip of paper. They hugged and the man was still teary but grinning from ear-to-ear as we left. Intrigued I asked Benson about it. I was stunned to learn that the man had taken adult literacy classes offered at the school and at the age of 65 and with 6 children he had finally passed his grade 7 exams! The slip of paper he showed Benson showed his results.

I was awed and inspired by this story and asked if I would be able to interview Mr Nkosana, and find out more about how he came to recieve an education later in life and what it means to him.

A few weeks later I made my way to Edward’s home. A cleanly swept yard with a single tree and neat thatch huts was evidence of his pride in his home. Edward and his family welcomed me warmly and we sat under the tree to chat.

Edward did not get an education because his father passed away when he was very young. He moved to live with his uncle, and although his cousins attended school, he was left with the task of herding the family cattle. Edward was always determined to learn how to read and write in English, primarily because he wanted to understand the Bible. Throughout his working career he endeavored to attend night school to further his education, but as his job entailed working many night shifts this was difficult to achieve. Assistance eventually arrived in the form of Benson who sponsored Edward’s school fees. I learnt that he had accomplished the incredible feat of learning to read and write in just two years by taking two grades a year for three years. 

He is delighted that today he has achieved his goal. He says that an education has changed him personally; in the past he was prone to drinking and fighting. His wife, who at first did not support his efforts to improve his education, now whole-heartedly supports his achievements. He says an education has allowed him to not only read but to understand. He is determined that his children and his grandchildren get a good education. Despite economic hardships Edward has ensured that all his children have completed Form 4. These days Edward attends school with them and helps with their homework. Edward said

I am currently in form 1. There are 6 of us; 2 girls, 3 boys and now there is 1 man!

Edward’s favourite subject at school is history as it taught him about the lives of his forefathers and the rise of civilization. He is so proud to tell me the history of his tribes movements over the past facts he was originally told by his grandmother that were confirmed to be true when he went to school.

He also now works as a caretaker at the school. Edward’s advice to people of his age in his community would be to try to go to school if at all possible saying:

an education uplifts the community and teaches people to be better people. He stresses that education encourages friendships and promotes healthy communication.

As I left humbled and inspired I looked down. Some of Edward’s grandchildren had played at our feet whilst we spoke and etched in the sand in a poignant summary of Edward’s story one of them had written a single word “Hope”.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Contact Ngoko Safaris for more information on assisting Lesedi primary school.

The Rotary Club of Victoria Falls provides extensive support to many  schools in the Victoria Falls Area and beyond.

Wild Horizons provides school fee payment, equipment and support and is happy to co-ordinate efforts that support our community and donations.

Article and Images by Sarah Kerr with assistance from Libby White