Our 2022 season ended on a good note with some amazing wildlife highlights. Although our camps are closed at the moment, we have ventured back to the Luangwa Valley during this emerald season to check on things, take a new boat into Tafika and start preparations for May’s opening.
2022 closed with the usual heat wave. The beating sun comes with gifts in the Luangwa, though, and over October and November the Tafika guests enjoyed watching a lioness welcome three adorable male cubs into their new home. This home happened to be a few 100 metres away from Tafika Camp and the family trotted through the camp during daylight a few times.
The dedicated lioness mother was visited by her pride regularly and they seemed to relish the shade and cool sandy floor of our seasonal Carmine Bee-eater hide. It has a great view but we didn’t realise lions would appreciate it as much as we do. The pride very politely didn’t damage anything and on occasion left it vacant for our use.
We have a new boat, aptly named the Lily Trotter. It was taken into the Luangwa Valley in February while the river was high and will be used for river crossings at Tafika Camp, replacing the canoe when water levels allow. The meandering Luangwa river is the only way to access our camps between January and mid-April.
The emerald season is extremely different to the dry season and although it’s largely inaccessible, one can enjoy some lovely sightings and perspectives from the boat.
At the end of March the river level increased significantly enabling easy access to the Yellow-billed stork colony by boat. It’s a hive of activity at the moment and promises to be a lovely spectacle for our May and June guests this year.
We’re happy to see that the camps are all in good condition, the surrounding bush is lush and healthy and the river hasn’t eroded away any of the camp structures. The staff are faring well with decent rains for their crops. Many have chosen to plant cotton as a cash crop, which hopefully doesn’t leave hungry bellies later on in the year.
We are delighted to share that after many years of hard work and study, Mukupa Ben Zulu has now qualified as a professional walking safari guide. As a trained teacher, experienced tea-bearer and accomplished tracker Mukupa is well placed to lead walking safaris going forward. His enthusiasm, charisma and expert knowledge is always appreciated by our guests.
African Parks has created a Shoebill Captive Rearing and Rehabilitation Facility in Bangweulu Wetlands.
As some of you may know, Shoebills practise siblicide so when breeding, often two eggs are laid and the weaker chick is pushed out of the nest. In an effort to bolster the fragile Shoebill population, African Parks rescues these ostracised chicks and raises them in a specialised facility so they can be released back into the wild. This year, parts of the facility will be open to paid visits and ‘show-and-tells’ for Shoebill Island Camp guests.
This is still a very new development so more information will be available going forward.
The Tafika Fund
At the end of 2022 we dropped off an extra supply of books and stationary at Mkasanga school to see them through the start of 2023.
As per usual, at the start of every year we awarded four new school pupil scholarships. We now offer 13 fully inclusive scholarships, through the Fund, for 3 girls and 10 boys. Four pupils graduated successfully at the end of 2022 with David Mbewe being our standout pupil. He finished his grade 12 at Lumezi High Secondary School as head boy and with great grades.
For his final results, David achieved 8 distinctions in English language (1), Civic Education (2), Religious studies (1), Maths. (1), Add. Maths. (1), Physics (1), Chemistry (1) and Biology (1).
Four students finished college education with two finishing up technical training in electrics and carpentry and two with teaching degrees. We have taken on five new students who are attending colleges in nursing, biochemistry, accounting and technical skills. We now offer 11 fully inclusive scholarships to college students that are studying nursing, biochemistry, accounting and mechanics.
A very big thank you to all of you for your generous donations, they keep all of these initiatives alive. A special thanks for the second hand computers that are donated as it becomes more of a requirement for our students going forward. Please note that donations to The Tafika Fund can now be made through the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF). Tax-free donations for USA donors are possible through this platform.
We look forward to launching into a new season again on the 1st of May.