ZIMBABWE: Hunting with Nyamazana Safaris
I recently hunted with Nyamazana Safaris for a leopard for myself and a leopard and Cape buffalo with a fellow hunter.
The accommodations were either a beautiful lodge with a great view or a very comfortable tent camp with flush toilet and hot shower. Plus more beautiful views.
Throughout my hunt for the leopard the baiting process we saw leopard tracks of all sizes both male and female. We saw fresh tracks everyday so I know there were a number of cats moving.
Thank-you Wayne for a great hunt and outstanding trophy.
Jay Porter with J-S Worldwide Hunting
A Novice Elephant Hunters Journal - Part One
A Novice Elephant Hunters Journal - Part One
by Bruce Fried
Pictures to follow...
It was time to return to my must do Safari list and Elephant was at the top of the list.
I had hunted Zimbabwe previously and had enjoyed the people and area of Mopani bushveld in the south. This hunt I wanted to see a different region. Searching the internet I found Nyamazana Safaris. Several emails with the owner Wayne Van Den Bergh and I had booked a 14 day hunt with an affordable Elephant for March 2013.
Wayne's concession lies approximately 40 km SE of Hwange National Park and his area is bordered on the northly Ngamo Forest Land and on the south by the Gwaai Forest. He has 3 camps scattered throughout this hunting range in these Teak forest lands of Zimbabwe.
His home in Famona, a suburb of Bulawayo which is basically a 140km drive NW of Bulawayo on highway A8 towards Victoria Falls, make a left at Kenmaur and you are in his territory.
We started the hunting day awaking at 5 am, breakfast at 5:30 and on the road at 6 am. The plan was to scout the area for the tracks and stop at any farms and inquire if there were any problems with crop raiding elephants. Around 10am, one farmer reported 3 elephants had raided his crops the night before.
Wayne decided to put his best tracker named Cowboy and his game scout Graham on their trail to see if they could locate the trio while we continued along the roads to scout for any other fresh elephant sign. Around noon Cowboy radioed that he had caught up to the Elephants and they were resting in the shade of some teak tress. We stopped our scouting and decided to meet Cowboy and Graham at a road nearest to the tracks. It took Cowboy and Graham one hour to make a return trip. Wayne and I geared up and followed the trackers about 2 km. Around 3 pm we slowed way down as we approached and glassed the area around the big teak trees and to our dismay they had disappeared! They left only fresh rub signs on the trees and wallows in the sandy soil. Never to be discouraged, Wayne told the trackers to scout a 360 degree area away from the tress to see if they could possibly find their departing tracks. Within 5 minutes they were successful and we were off again. We tracked the trio for another km and finally sighted the elephants. They had wandered in a very extensive area containing grass around 6 tall. It was going to require a considerable effort to make a quiet stalk in order to get close enough to make an ethical shot. Fortunately the wind was in our favor, steady and about 5km/hr. We approached to within 35 yards, stopped to glass the 3 elephants and pick our animal. One elephant was about 1 taller than the others and had beautiful ivory. Easy choice!
We approached a couple yards closer and set up the shooting sticks. The elephant was grazing to our right and angling slightly toward us. Wayne told me to shoot. Being 5? tall in 6 tall grass, I was having difficulty locating the sweet spot to hit the heart. The elephant must have seen a little movement or heard something unusual because he suddenly turned, faced our direction and lifted his head high to get a better view.
The brain at that point presented itself as the only option. I was hesitant to take the shot because this was my first elephant. The distance was a little long and his head was at a slight angle to me. I could get a clean shot of the grass but it would still be a difficult placement. The last thing I wanted was a wounded animal and possibly the end of my hunt. The elephant ended my deliberations by deciding he did not like what he saw and turned to our left and started walking away at a slight angle. I knew I had to shoot quickly or it was the end of hunting for the day. Because of the grass I again had trouble picking out the proper aiming point but I saw the grass was about 6 8 shorter just left a little so I waited a moment and when the elephant was clear, I fired a raking shot placing the .375 H & H magnum about 2 behind the shoulder. Wayne, who is 6 tall and could see over the grass also fired an insurance round with his .458 Lott, but the Elephant never flinched. The trio took off at full speed. The chase was on!
Doubts were front and center in my mind. Did I hit, miss or what? The trackers sprung into action like a greyhound on a hare.
In seconds we were on the track. 100 yards, no blood. My heart was sinking. 150 yards, a small drop of blood. Hopes rising! 175 yards, chunks of lung tissue. Self confidence returns! 200 yards, the trackers ahead of me start whooping in Ndebele, even though I could not understand the language, (I understood their excitement). I caught up and saw the still form on the ground. Success!
It is 4 pm and my 1st hunting day of a 14 day elephant safari!!! Elation doesn't exactly describe my feelings at that moment but I was at a loss for words and just admired the beautiful creature. I had always wanted to hunt an elephant after seeing my first Tarzan movie at the age of 7. I am 67 and my dream had come true.
Day 2. It was late in the day so we had to forgo butchering on day one. On the way back to camp we stopped by the farmer that had reported the crop raiding trio to us and told him we would be butchering the next day. Everyone has heard of African Drums as a way of communication in rural areas. Well even in this remote area 2 hours NW of Bulawayo and 2 hours from Victoria Falls the drums have been replaced the cell phone.
Amazing but true, the cell phone and 3 donkeys pulling a 2 wheeled cart as a major means of transportation, dwellings without interior light, solar panels, exist comfortably side by side!
At dawn on day 2, Wayne sends a crew ahead to clear a 3 km road to my trophy whilst we eat breakfast. We catch up to the crew about 150 meters short of the Elephant. Trophy pictures are taken and the butchering begins with Wayne's six man crew around 8am. At 10am additional area residents helping and a couple of 3 donkey team carts parked in the nearby brush. By noon, there were 40 people helping and half a dozen carts. Volunteers cut leafy young teak branches and laid them as a mat upon which the fresh cut meat was placed to keep it off the sand. By 1pm the leafy mat was piled high with meat, the Elephant was nearing the articulated skeleton state and over 70 people were present with a dozen donkey carts scattered in sparse open spots around the Elephant. This scene was overseen by elders and many (I stopped counting at 50) patient vultures circling overhead. All this was present in an area which I am guessing may run a population density of 2 people per square km and no visible cell towers. African drums are silent.
The local elder and his wife were present, called out names and the volunteers lined up in an orderly fashion.
Then their ubiquitous empty corn seed sacks were filled up in equal volume one by one to each of the 70 volunteers.
The approximately 10 long by 7 wide by 2 high pile of meat soon disappeared and all that remained was the beaming smiles on the faces of the al la carte volunteers wherever they had come from!
By 2pm Wayne had the skinned and de-boned skull with attached tusks loaded on the back of the Land Cruiser and we headed for camp. On the way out of the newly cleaned road we met 4 more donkey carts and passengers on their way to the butcher site. Late to the party they would have to settle for the organ meats and etc... Actually there was still a reasonable amount of meat left on the carcass but you would have to work around the blood, guts and mud to reach it. To the early bird go the prime cuts as usual.
At the camp area we unloaded the huge skull in a remote area to rot. This prepared the skull for separating the ivory in 5 or so days. To the rest of the world the skull etc... was probably an ugly grotesque and disgusting sight. To me it was a sight only acceded by, by the crown jewels maybe?!
My 52 pound ivory tusks sparkle as bright as any jewel.
During my research before this hunt I had arrived at the opinion that Elephant meat was generally rather tough and unappealing.
Those people had never met Wayne's camp cook Jonathan? That evening Jonathan served supper with potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, salad and marinated Elephant kebabs.
Let me dwell on the kebabs. The flavor of the marinade, Elephant, and tomatoes, onions, interspersed with cubes of Elephant fat was unbelievably flavorful. The cubed Elephant meat melted in your mouth. My only regret is that the locals will have the pleasure of enjoying the remaining 3,987 pounds of Elephant delight. That is only if they have the equivalent of Jonathan's skill. Since I cannot return to the States with Jonathan or any elephant meat, I unabashedly consumed more than my fair share of the kebabs. I remain non repentant.
Part II to follow on my Leopard success...