Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mana Pools Game Count

Every year, national parks and some conservation societies are organizing the count of the WILD animals in parks. I had the opportunity to go to Matusodona National park earlier in August, and Lou and I joined a group of happy counters for the Mana Pools Game Count earlier in Septembre. 
couldn't post the cartoons because I was in wilder Maputo right after.
These counts are organized by societies that are doing a tremendous and great job,... but seem not to be actively recruiting new members. Most of the members are friends of a friend of a friend. 
Everyone needs a friend. 
So last year a friend of a friend of a friend called Pat, had a neighbour who had a friend who was involved in the count. 
Pat is very social so he talks to his neighbour, probably sharing a glass of wine or two and talking about the best car on the planet, the land rover defender. From that discussion they spoka about the Wild, and from the wild about the game count. the friend of the neighbour, reaching the end of the bottle invited Pat to come. That is how new members are made.
Coming from the frozen plains of Marple Country, he was immediatly interested in joining in. Any opportunity is good to see something else than a raccoon or a moose.
He was then introduced and accepted as a full endorsed member by the Wildlife and Environment Society of Zimbabwe - WEZ for the fans of abreviations. 
Being a very social person, he thought that making a group to walk together was wise. He was right, as some of the WEZ members are very interesting caracters (who happen to also be from my -not so- distant family) who are strictly respecting the "drink enough" rule - fearing dehydratation more than they fear a rabid hyena.
So Pat and crew bravely went. And they really enjoyed it. So they decided to do it again. And to take the recruitment of new WEZers to a different level all together.
A year later, the guy gathered one massive crew of 6 groups of 6 (=36 people), and because there are not enough Canadians in Zim, he was not that picky about where the people came from. As long as they were friends of friends, you know. And I happen to be the dad of a friend of his son. Bingo.
We were from 14 different nationalities. 
We joined the 200 other counting fellows. Who were at first excited to see newbies, then a bit puzzled, then relatively wary to see so many new faces speaking with weird accents, but still pronouncing "Yes" in some heavy "Yaa" or  knowing how to appreciate good biltong . 
The organizers were lost in translation. The members of the society, speechless, not really sure how to deal with these.... FTs? 
And because Pat is a very social person, who likes good things, he managed and organized the 35 FTs in  Glamping... (Glamorous Camping for those uninitiated), Gourmet meals (with 14 nationalities, each had to out-do the other), wine and whiskey, but above all an incredible experience of walking in the bush, counting all the animals you could see: Impalas by the hundreds (that is the main reason why you should be over 14 to do the walks), elephants charging French runners or old bullies, kudus, lions on the hunt, and many others. Just amazing. 
And the group just chilled. It was completely amazing. You really need more Pats in the world, to put people together, have a Norse Viking to make a Mechoui, some Israelians to feed the planet, a Chilean and Guatemalan missis to prepare mexican food, and millions of other fun things. 

People really enjoyed each other's company, and talked (loudly) into the still night over GnTs and Wine and Mauritian Rhum and... I guess these substances don't only keep the doctor away, but also the hyenas. Good to know. Mental note. 
Funny thing as well, a fake swiss-greek, but real belgian who was in my group of happy walkers happened -obviously- to have been my senior of 5 years in college. And a scout of the 35ème BP. Same Same. I had to meet the guy in the middle of nowhere, reading a GPS and counting buffalos. Last time that happened to me I was sharing sushis in Kinshasa. Cannot wait for the next time.

Thanks for all who made that trip amazing, respect.
Next year I'm back there, for sure. 

(c) Yaron C.
(c) Yaron C.

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