Mana Pools National Park

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Lisbeth
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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:11 am

What a mess! :shock:
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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Richprins » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:31 pm

Please check Needs Attention pre-booking: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=322&t=596

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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Peter Betts » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:03 am

I think its time for a planning a visit to Mana Pools again and a first time visit to Hwange..Pic of our camp at Mana Pools Aug 1999..This is how camps like Maroela , Balule and Tsendze in Kruger should be ...no fences
Mana Sign.jpg
Mana View.jpg
Mana Pools 1.jpg
Mana Pools 2.jpg
Mucheni%20#2%20campsite[1].jpg

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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Richprins » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:04 am

Some acrobatic elephants there, I think!

(Google)


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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Peter Betts » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:06 pm

The Famous 'Boswell' ..also in my pic above my tent

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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:52 am

Legends of Mana Pools

BY BRIAN JACKMAN - 11 November 2018

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Boswell has become something of an internet sensation
Image: CEDAR TREE MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS


Deep in the heart of Mana Pools National Park, in the shade of a mighty winter thorn tree, an old bull elephant is flapping his ears to keep himself cool.

It’s almost spring in the Zambezi Valley and at last the seed pods, an irresistible delicacy for elephants, are ready to eat.

Most elephants wait for baboons to shake down the ripe fruits and then scoop them up from the ground; but not this bull.

Almost uniquely, over the years he has learnt how to stand on his hind legs like a circus elephant to pluck the most succulent pods with his outstretched trunk.In doing so, he has made himself a YouTube star.

Meet Boswell – the most famous elephant in Zimbabwe.

Mana Pools is a land of giants, of colossal trees and huge elephants that live by the banks of the mighty Zambezi.

It is home to two legendary veterans: Boswell, named after a famous SA circus because of his unique feeding habits, is one; the other is John Stevens, Zimbabwe’s most respected safari guide.

Both have been wandering around Mana Pools for close on half a century.

Ask anyone for a list of Africa’s finest safari guides and John Stevens’s name will come out near the top.

Now aged 70, he has lost none of his boyish enthusiasm for nature.

“I love this place,” he declares.

“And as for walking, there is nowhere like it anywhere in Africa.”

As you might expect from such a safari aficionado, John’s Camp is a genuine canvas bush-camp, stripped of all trivia but unsparing when it comes to the essential luxuries: comfortable beds, hot bucket showers and dining under the stars.

After dinner, sitting around the campfire while hippos honk out on the floodplains, he describes how the park used to be before the poachers moved in and finished off the black rhinos.

“The last one I saw was back in 1992,” he says, “and that’s when the poachers turned on the elephants.”

Now Stevens is determined they shall not follow the rhino into oblivion.

That is why with Nicci, his wife, he helped to establish the Zambezi Elephant Fund in 2015.

“Our ellies are in real danger,” he says. “We just can’t let them disappear on our watch.”

Mana Pools is a land of giants, of colossal trees and huge elephants that live by the banks of the mighty Zambezi
Stevens and his fellow guides need elephants such as Boswell to attract the tourists upon which their livelihoods depend, while big tuskers like Boswell need the Zambezi Elephant Fund to protect them from poachers who have wiped out more than half of all elephants in the valley since 2001.


When Boswell was born, Stevens was working for Zimbabwe’s national parks department as the warden of Mana Pools, leading anti-poaching patrols, building access roads and developing its tourist infrastructure.

About that time he remembers seeing a magnificent bull elephant with huge tusks that must have weighed about 45kg each, and wonders if this was Boswell’s father.

“It would be nice to think so,” he says, “especially as that old fellow, too, would often rear up on his hind legs to reach the seed pods in a manner few other elephants had mastered.”

In 1981, Stevens left the parks department to build Chikwenya Safari Camp at the north-eastern end of Mana Pools, and four years later he struck out on his own to become one of Zimbabwe’s first private safari guides.

For Stevens the 90s were the heyday of his guiding career in Mana Pools, leading his guests on canoe trips down the Zambezi and tracking the last of the black rhinos in the jesse bush – a colloquial name for the dense blanket of bone-dry scrub that covers the park’s trackless hinterland.

Boswell, meanwhile, was now entering his prime; a magnificent tusker whose appearance was in no way diminished by the loss of half his tail – perhaps bitten off by a crocodile.

But in 2002, following years of political instability under President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s tourism industry crashed. One or two operators refused to budge from Mana Pools, including Andrew “Stretch” Ferreira, whose presence deterred the poachers and helped save the lives of some of the park’s bulls such as Boswell; but business was so bad that Stevens decided to move his safari operation to East Africa.

During this time, many elephants related to Boswell were probably shot for their ivory, and Boswell himself would have been a prime target; but miraculously, when Stevens returned, the big tusker was still there.

Just as Boswell can be recognised by his stumpy tail and unique feeding habits, Stevens is recognisable by his broad-brimmed hunter’s hat.

“It’s actually Australian,” he says, “an Akubra my daughter bought for me”.

Now, impeccably turned out in his neatly ironed shorts and bush shirt, he leads me into the park that is his spiritual home.

Mana Pools became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1988, and the Zambezi, the fourth longest river in Africa, runs along its northern border, forming a natural barrier between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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Mana Pools is bordered by the mighty Zambezi River - Image: GETTY

Mana means “four” in the Shona language and refers to a quartet of oxbow lagoons; but the park’s greatest glories are the woodlands that grow at the edge of the floodplains.

All around us the tall trees reach for the light.

Arching overhead like the tracery of a cathedral, their branches create aisles of dappled shade in which herds of impala flit away at our approach, and this is where we spend most of our time searching for Boswell.

Having turned up at the beginning of the week he has since disappeared, and the word is he is now in must, pumped up with testosterone and looking for a mate in the jesse.

This is where the elephants like to hang out until the heat builds up and there is a general movement towards the woodlands.

First come the breeding herds of cows and calves and then the solitary bulls, all lured by the promise of water and a feast of those sought-after seed pods.

But there is more to Mana Pools than Boswell, as I discover when Stevens takes me down to the Cheruwe river, on whose banks a seven-strong pack of endangered wild dogs have made their den.

In a little while we hear a gruff bark followed by the excited twittering of the pups as the dogs return, regurgitating the remains of an impala they killed on their morning hunt.

Back in camp, I awake in the small hours to hear the Nyamatusi lion pride roaring in the starlight, and in the morning, after a quick coffee and porridge, we go to look for them.

But the cats are long gone, so we pick up their tracks again the next day and follow them across an open plain of grass.

For more than an hour we pursue them, walking slowly through the spiky thickets with Stevens providing a master class in the art of tracking.

It’s obvious we are hot on their heels when he points out a tuft of dry grass that has been flattened under their feet – and is now slowly rising.

When we reach the near-impenetrable jesse bush, he holds up his hand.

“Don’t think we’ll push them any further,” he says.

“It’s so thick in there we could walk right into them.”

Afterwards, tucking into a picnic lunch and a long, cold drink, I’m still mentally re-playing the experience of tracking big cats with this extraordinary man, and I think to myself: if anyone can save Boswell and his kind from the poachers it is surely Stevens and the Zambezi Elephant Fund.

Elephants in numbers

3m+ Number of African elephants in the early 20th century

415,000 - Estimated population today

800,000 - African elephants killed for ivory over the past three decades

62% - Percentage decline in population over a decade

1,000 - Price in dollars per kilogram of ivory on the Asian black market

70 - Lifespan in years of an African elephant

50 - Age at which female elephants are still fertile

22 - Gestation period in months of an elephant – the longest in the animal kingdom

6 - Weight in tons of the largest bull elephant

3,5 - Length in metres of the longest elephant tusk

150 - Weight in kilograms of dung produced daily – The Telegraph

The essentials

Brian Jackman’s visit to Mana Pools was arranged by Steppes Travel (steppestravel.com), which offers an eight-day itinerary to Zimbabwe from £3,995 (R74,141) a person based on two people sharing, staying at John’s Camp in Mana Pools and Victoria Falls and including international flights with Ethiopian Airlines (ethiopianairlines.com), internal flights and transfers.

For more information about the Zambezi Elephant Fund, see zambezielephantfund.org – The Telegraph
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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:14 pm

Severe drought affecting elephants and other wildlife in Mana Pools

Posted on October 22, 2019 by Janet Winterbourne

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‘Boswell’ – one of the famous standing elephants in 2018 before the drought hit hard in Mana Pools © Janet Winterbourne Photography

It’s September 2019, and I am about to embark upon one of my many pilgrimages to Mana Pools National Park – one of the finest wildlife destinations in the world that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 3 May 2013. Located in northern Zimbabwe on the southern banks of the mighty Zambezi River, the national park spans some 219,600 hectares of wildlife conservation area. ‘Mana’ means ‘four’ in the local Shona language, and refers to the four large permanent pools created by the meanderings of the middle Zambezi, the pools are called Long Pool, Chine Pool, Green Pool and Chisasiko Pool.

Year after year Mana’s unique landscape of acacia and albida trees, the abundance of birdlife, packs of painted wolves (African wild dogs), magnificent standing elephants, the tranquillity of the Zambezi River, and the unique variety of wildlife keeps luring me back time and again to this Utopian paradise.

However, September 2019 in Mana Pools was a heart-wrenching and devastating sight to behold, and bears little to no resemblance to the park the same time last year, or even the year before that.

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September 2019 and the Chine Pool is completely dried up © Janet Winterbourne Photography

The park has been ravaged by ongoing drought, the landscape is dry and scorched, food supply for the wildlife is scarce and the famous ‘pools’, if not already completely bone dry, are fast on their way to becoming dry, hollowed-out memories of what used to be.

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Chisasiko Pool not much better off, with the last of the water bringing the zebras dangerously close to crocodile territory © Janet Winterbourne Photography

This of course is having a dramatic effect on the well-being of the animals, with scores literally dropping to the ground weak and weary from starvation. There is hope that November will bring the rains, but right now it’s tough times for the inhabitants of the park.

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An exhausted and hungry young elephant collapses to the ground © Janet Winterbourne Photography

As a photographer one becomes mesmerised by the ethereal backlit blue and orange landscapes that Mana Pools is famed for, and, previously, if you were lucky you might just get that shot with an elephant or a zebra in the frame. This year I encountered something I have never seen before in the beautiful albida forests – predator prominence.

Given the extent of the drought, it is rich pickings for the waiting predators, and it is not at all unusual to see lions devouring an easy catch of an elephant or buffalo.

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Rich pickings for the lions in the albida forest © Janet Winterbourne Photography

Just too weak to protect themselves the larger animals and their young are vulnerable to the waiting lions, hyenas and vultures. They simply cannot find enough sustenance to meet their daily requirements, and survival of the fittest determines the outcome.

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A valiant effort to chase off a lion stalking a small elephant calf © Janet Winterbourne Photography

Lion at elephant calf carcass in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

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Despite best efforts the lion prevails © Janet Winterbourne Photography

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Aftermath – the defending elephants return to the calf and the grieving process begins © Janet Winterbourne Photography

For the predators it is simply a waiting game, with an inevitable easy meal as their prize for patience.

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Easy times for the lions in Mana Pools during the drought © Janet Winterbourne Photography

There is no question that it is a dire set of circumstances, and there are various thoughts and opinions as to why Mana Pools has experienced such extreme severity this year. Some say climate change, some say the cyclical nature of life in the bush and nature taking its course, some feel that it’s just the turn for the predators to have a good season. Whatever the reasons, it is tough viewing seeing the smallest emaciated elephants striving for survival, alongside an equally gaunt mother and herd. The prognosis for those diminutive creatures is not good.

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Painfully undernourished cow – this year has seen exceptionally small calves in Mana Pools © Janet Winterbourne Photography

Something that has divided opinion and caused some controversy is the introduction of a feeding programme. Trucks of donated Rhodes grass are brought into Mana Pools, a lifeline for the animals that devour the supplies and feed their young.

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Still visibly thin, this calf received sustenance in the form of Rhodes grass from the emergency Mana Pools feeding programme © Janet Winterbourne Photography

I have seen firsthand that in some instances this has come not a moment too soon for some desperate animals and has undoubtedly saved some lives. Controversy reigns, however, and there are those that feel nature is being tampered with and that it should be allowed to take its course. The nature versus nurture debate rages on, with no definitive ‘right’ answer.

Some of the game species seem to have fared slightly better – perhaps they are less hunted due to the easy meals on offer to predators. The kudu, impala and eland seem somewhat more relaxed, despite also having to forage and depend upon the handouts being distributed.

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Lifeline – a herd of elephant devour the newly arrived grass © Janet Winterbourne Photography

Witnessing the direct impact of the drought in this area made me wonder what the long-term implications for the wildlife will be – not just in Mana Pools, but across the other drought-ridden areas of Africa.

Documenting a drought is not the ‘prettiest’ work a photographer can embark upon, and I found this year’s visit to Mana Pools disturbing and not at all what I had expected. Nonetheless, it is the true story of how tough life can be in the wild.

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Kudu in reasonably good health despite the drought © Janet Winterbourne Photography


Janet Winterbourne

Janet is a wildlife photography enthusiast, And when not doing her ‘day job’ in Cape Town she can be found camera in hand somewhere in the bush. She has a special affinity for Mana Pools and can be found on Instagram as Janet Winterbourne and on Facebook as Janet Winterbourne Photography.
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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Alf » Sat Oct 26, 2019 8:13 am

We all need water quickly
Next trip to the bush??

Let me think......................

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Re: Mana Pools National Park

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:23 am

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ARE MANA'S PAINTED WOLVES UNDER PRESSURE?

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by Nicholas Dyer, Tuesday, 28th July 2020

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When I first started photographing the painted wolves (African wild dogs) in Mana Pools back in 2013, there were two dominant packs on the floodplain: the Vundu and the Nyakasanga. At their peak, in 2014 the Vundu pack was 24-strong including five pups, while the Nyakasanga pack numbered 30 with 15 pups.

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