Clown fish in Malaysia
Clown fish in Malaysia
  • Walk with the animals, talk with the animals
    • 16/10/2017
Next stop Great Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is actually a compound noun meaning big stone house, and there several hundred sites in the country, but this one is the original and by far the largest and grandest. It is the largest pre colonional structure in Africa after the Egyptian pyramids. So what is it? A complex of three compounds of huge dry stone walls (some 6m wide, 15m high), built in the 13th and 14th century; one built on a hill, incorporating the natural granite rock, with commanding views of the area. This was the home, fortress, and court of the king. The valley complex being home to his 200 wives, and the Great Enclosure, the most impressive structure, reserved for the first wife.
Here gold was more abundant than iron, but the population eventually outgrew thTheyvailable resources and parties left to found settlements elsewhere.
The site has been the subject of much controversy, as colonialists and early archeologists denied that such a place could have been built by native Africans.
Recently it had been used as a propaganda tool in the opposite regard, to showcase the skill and achievements of the indigenous population - just don't compare it to European architecture of the same period!

Excavations here yielded eight bird shapes totems, each the symbol of a successive king. One of these now appears on the national flag.

Camping here required sentry duty at dinner time to ward off raiding monkeys and baboons, using water pistols and a chance to put the slingshots we bought in the Masai mara to good use!

Less driving, more action since we arrived in Zim. Next stop Antelope Park, a private game reserve specialising as a lion sanctuary and the worlds only breeding program aimed at wild release.
A lot of white farmers kept lions as pets, so after the liberation and land reclamation the centre have them a home, albeit in fairly small enclosures.
The live release program entails taking cubs from these lions and hand rearing them, taking them for walks in the bush so they can practice hunting. Once they reach adulthood, the best cubs are formed into a pride and given a large enclosed area or the park containing enough wild game to support them. Human contact is then stopped, and when these lions have cubs they are deemed wild enough to be released into the wild in national parks where the population has declined.
So many activities on offer, the biggest attraction being the opportunity to accompany the hand reared cubs on their daily walk. At 24 months they are quite big and the feeling of walking alongside them in the bush, as if they were a pet dog, is quite surreal, especially when they occasionally stalk and pounce on each other - like kittens but with the power to take your arm off - and then when they spot a wilder beast or giraffe they change modes - flattened to the ground, stealthily circling, and you remember what they are.
It was an incredible experience, but there is some cynicism amongst the group, because although the centre hasn't got space for any more, they continue to breed these hand reared cubs to keep the tourists entertained. Also they mainly want females for the release program, so the male cubs are doomed to be "retired" to small pens once they are too old for tourists to play with.
At night you can hear the ominous growls of hundreds of hungry lions, making it not too easy to get to sleep!


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