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Hard Nosed Big Game Hounds

Hard Nosed Big Game Hounds
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Luwire Photographic Safaris

Luwire Photographic Safaris
Looking across the Lugenda from one of the camps

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Great and Wondrous Quotes

"Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading". . . . .Thomas Jefferson . . . ..or........... somebody with a classic southern presence that can talk seriously while allowing the ignorant liberal mind to think he just made a joke! 


I copy this article for you because I worked in this area for 5 years with Derek and others. We heard often of the Lions on the Rovuma river taking people. Many went to try their hand at eliminating them but they are very cunning and human savvy. It is said they are descended from the Lions of long ago back to Livingston's day when the Lions would feed on the remains of discarded slaves en route from the interior to the slave auctions on the coast and have kept in their DNA the intelligence learned over time as to the hunting and eating of humans.

The Man-Eating Lions of Mozambique 

Photo by Joel Sartore/Getty Images
Change comes slowly to northern Mozambique. Wally Johnson, hunting legend of the last century, worked the area and shot some very big tuskers there. He noted of the native Makonde people that "their women all had a two-inch nail sticking through their upper lips." Originally an ornamentation, it also had the happy result of making them unappealing to the Arab slavers that trolled through Makonde villages seeking to stock the sultan's harems.
During the independence conflict a generation ago, the area became a war zone as Portuguese colonial troops battled insurgents coming south out of Tanzania. The guns went quiet in 1974, and African nationalists took power, but rural villagers here live a primitive life largely unaffected by political trends.
Villagers are mostly Muslim, some are animist, but witchcraft is rampant and there are dark whispers of cannibalism, widely practiced in days of yore, creeping back into the local culture. And, just as they have done for centuries, the roars of man-eaters that roam this wild land continue to send waves of pure terror through a vulnerable populace.
Straddling the Lugenda River, with the Rovuma River to the north, this is a vast, unruly wilderness where granite inselbergs (rocky obelisks) burst above the bush like gigantic tombstones and dominate a forbidding landscape lined with labyrinthine river systems. As they near the sea, the rivers widen into a lush littoral, and along these pristine watercourses, elephants sometimes journey all the way to the surf.
The few outsiders who visit here legally come to hunt the coutadas, or safari concessions, and these licensed hunters and their scouts are on the front line of the area's latest war, against organized, effective, and violent ivory-poaching gangs.
"The Somalis have been the biggest problem," says PH Steve Liversidge. "They have taken a steady toll.
"Much as I loathe these poachers, I must admit they're tough and aggressive, and some are bloody good elephant hunters. I found seven big bulls in a pile put down virtually atop one another by a single shooter. It was a stunning display of fine musketry. I went after him, but he gapped it out of the area at speed."

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images
Return of the Lions
Into this vacuum of lawlessness, lions have moved in from southern Tanzania and the interior of Mozambique. Increasingly these cats are adding humans to their menu. One explanation for the increase in man-eaters is that bushpigs have become a dietary mainstay for lions living near settlements. The pigs invariably feed at night in cornfields, which are often guarded by crop-protecting villagers. When the lions come hunting, they come into close proximity to people, and the cats develop a sense of familiarity that breeds lethal contempt. Sleeping sentries become collateral targets, and once the lions appreciate the ease of the kill, they add human flesh to their diet.
"There's something unusual about the relationship between man and beast in this place," says Derek Littleton, a resident professional hunter. "The folks here are generally docile, shy, self-effacing. Lions are generally wary of man, but here that's not always the case. They almost lord themselves over the people in some places. Lions do not take the same liberties with the Maasai, for instance. They'll attack them, too, but they're a damn sight less brazen about it."
Exacerbating the threat, there is a dearth of horned game in some areas, and in those places humans constitute the most convenient form of nutrition. The conventional wisdom is that man-eaters are generally old, infirm, or wounded. That does not apply here. There is a report of one lion on the Rovuma who is thought to be accountable for the deaths of more than 40 people. When they caught up with him, it was discovered he was only four years old.
Littleton has been following hard on the tracks of one of the most prolific predators in the area for more than a year now.
"He's a cunning fellow. Operates alone, moves into an area, and he's not shy about announcing his arrival by roaring into the night," says Littleton. "The villagers light fires, some sleep in tree platforms or barricade their homes, but he bides his time until things settle down. On one occasion, he broke through a door and attacked a child but couldn't bite through the heavy straw mat that shielded the kid."
Failing to breach the door on another hut, the cat leapt onto the thatch and went in through the roof to snatch a young girl inside.
"He kills, then moves a big distance, and it's hard work following him," says Littleton. "A lot of the ground is rocky and hard, making tracking tough, but I'm going to get him."
Anticipating an attack one night, Littleton waited outside a village but heard nothing.
"When I gathered my kit in the morning, I found a human shoulder bone a short distance away. He had eaten while I waited. He's a confident killer."
Such is the confidence of the lions that they have even moved close to the coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia. One victim, a disgruntled gambler, emerged from the local casino to take stock of his losses under a mango tree. Unbeknownst to him, a lioness lurked in the branches above, and just when he thought his evening could get no worse, she alighted upon him. At the end of the encounter, he had to reconcile himself to having lost not only his money but also part of his bottom. Luckily, a crowd collected and scared the cat away, and the punter lived to lick his wounds.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images
The Sacred Cat
Adding to the woes of those who seek to deal with the killers is the curious attitude of the locals, many of whom believe the lions are merely acting on behalf of aggrieved ancestral spirits seeking to purge the community of those possessed by evil.
On one occasion, a hunter on fresh tracks, close to making contact with a small group of males that had been raiding villages, was ordered to halt by an official in the civil administration. It was discovered later that tribal leaders and cuchucuheiros (witch doctors) had intervened and lobbied the authorities strongly on the lions' behalf. The issue became political and the local administration bowed to the tribes' demands. The lions were left to kill again.
But man's problems in the area do not end with lions, says hunter James Egremont-Lee.
"Most interesting for me are the man-eating hyenas that terrorize some of the coastal villages south of Mocimboa da Praia," he says. "The vegetation is denser, and there are plenty of lions, but in this area the hyena are the dominant threat. They move in packs and are so brazen that they actually haul victims out of their huts. A nightmare situation, hearing the hysterical, almost diabolical cackling of hyenas gathering to attack you in your home.
"We had six people killed by hyenas in coastal villages near us, and 14 taken by crocodiles. It's not a neighborhood for the faint-hearted."
Lions wreak their share of havoc on the eastern coast, too.
"My first experience with [coastal] lions was at a village on the Lugenda," recounts Egremont-Lee. A young girl was sleeping with her family on the veranda of their hut, where they might be cooled by the breeze. "She was plucked from her bed and carried away, but the noise awoke a relative who gave chase and the child was mercifully discarded. Luckily, none of the punctures were into the bone, the infection was treatable, and she recovered."
A less fortunate girl, snatched in full view of a crowd squatting around an evening fire, was spirited into the surrounding bush. When the villagers gave chase, the lion dropped the girl, turned on them, put them to flight, and then slunk into the night to consume his quarry.
And so, the ancient contest between man and beast continues in this east-African wilderness, by turns enduring and resisting the vagaries of modernity. George Adamson, the author of Born Free, warned that nature would strike back at civilization that intruded too deeply into wild places. Perhaps the lions of northern Mozambique are in that vanguard.
This article was printed in Feb. Outdoor Life

Monday, February 3, 2014

Right Where I Was Supposed to Be!

To deny the instinct to hunt is to deny the instinct to exist.
Harry Selby

When I am hunting and fishing with the right attitude, I reenter the woods and rivers with a moment-by moment sense of the glories of creation, of the natural world as living fabric of existence, so that I'm both young again but also 70 thousand years old.
Jim Harrison

Anyone who fails to be moved at a primal level by the sight of vast schools of salmon fighting their way upstream in response to inscrutable instincts to procreate and die probably shouldn't be there anyway.
E Donald Thomas Jr.

One's own heart is the best place to store the few things of life that really matter.
Rudyard Kipling

Sitting here in a warm space while the weather is chilled by an overcast rain filled sky I just am given over to the thoughts that come from other places and long gone time. Time spent that was so enjoyable that I knew I should take it in in deep breaths of memory that should be reverently placed  within a sacred chest in my aging soul. There I can go at times like this and replay just for myself the happenings of the day or night moving me once again as it once did when I was there apart of the scene that brought me such satisfaction.

I stand there as I have learned to do and take another look, breath in the scents, one more time I feel the emotion and experience the exertion, the adrenaline rising and falling away as the accomplishment of realizing I have once again found the place I should be right at that very moment.

Once in Mozambique while driving in an open vehicle down a dusty dry riverbed close to dark I remember smelling the sweet musk of a Leopard somewhere close to the track. Not once but several times over the hours of the drive while the lights of the Landcruiser illuminated often the eyes of hunters and hunted in the limbs of the leafless bush, that smell would fill the workings of my senses. I would see the blinking red, white, or orange colored flames of the eyes of those looking down as I passed and feel them there. Sometime I see a glimpse of fur or the flash of a tail, an empty limb swaying from the weight of something now gone in an instant. Bush Babies, Leopards, Baboons, Porcupines, Night Jars, all shifting here and there and some poised and calm watching calmly covered by the night watching me go.

Another time I was leaving the Bush to catch the plane home in Pemba. I started early around 3 AM as I wanted to drive the bush roads at night in the coolness. Just after dawn on a good strait stretch I saw ahead a pack of Wild Dogs laying in the road, they were a large group and I knew them as I had driven many times to the area with clients as I could always find them just off this road in a dry river where water stood under a tall bank of the river even in the dry season. They would be there most days during the heat of the mid day sun drinking and wallowing. This place was also an advantageous vantage point to view the river bed east and west as the river was strait for a good way in either direction. They could lay up and watch for anything moving either way and as the land lay flat all around it was a good place to launch a stalk.

This day they lay in the road bed I was traveling and as I approached they perked up a bit but continued to lay resting mostly. I will always think they could recognize the sound of my Cruiser and knew me by that as I would sometime do a little bark to see if they were around in the river bed, they would always send a sentry out of the bush to investigate and when they knew there was no danger I would just sit there and usually curiosity would get the best of most as they would peek out here and there take a look and vanish. But this morning was different as I got closer within about 50 ft I stopped but left my engine on. Some of the males even got up and approached closer and I barked a little low yelp. A few answered some lay back down and showed no sign of moving. I just sat and breathed it in wishing I had my binos out of my bag. I must have set there for a good 5 minutes when a little further down the road I could see two females moving from the bush to the road. One was a young bitch and the other seemed to be apprehensive as she would look at me and then glance over her shoulder sit a while go a few paces back towards the bush then toward the road. The other looked thin and had a very low hanging belly, eventually I realized she had probably just whelped not long ago. Anyway my attention being on the two I began to catch movement low to the ground behind her
an eventually she persuaded several young pups to follow her out into the road where she lay down and began to nurse. At this several of the males rose and began to get a little flustered as they would yelp look at me and then at her as if saying this isn't a good place for that but eventually they settled again with some still standing and two approaching the truck first on one side then on the other sniffing the air constantly. I deducted they were trying to get my sent, there was no wind but we were so close I knew they could smell me. I decided to cut the engine and see what goes. Cutting the engine brought a few pricks of the ears and some long stares but all was good and I was prepared to sit there forever. Another five minutes and the Bitch stood up, licked a few pups and moved off in the direction she had come, the nurse following, then one by one and then two three and more they all moved off following her and disappearing like ghosts except one old male grizzled around the mouth. He stood off at a right angle to me at about 30 ft. sat down and just looked at me as if he was waiting for something. I spoke to him and told him I appreciated them visiting with me. At this he gave a little yelp as he was turning to go and never looked back but just walked away. I gave them a little time and cranked up and drove away. I have contemplated many times over this event and I would like to think they had come to realize I was no threat to them, that they recognized me and felt safe around me. I will really never know for sure but at that moment my thoughts were that they were saying goodbye to me in their way. That thought is now more meaningful than ever because I haven't been able to return for several years for various reasons. Maybe that was the last time I will ever be there a thought that brings a terrible sadness, all I can say is that on that morning I was right where I was supposed to be, below are pics from other times.

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About Me

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I’m a Southern Boy, just 56 last November, I get around here and there, Central America, Africa, Red Bay. I’m a Father, Grandfather, Husband, Artist and general flunky of sorts. Live in a little historic town in an old building I remodeled. Just wanted to hear myself think I guess, talk about the need of simplification, show some art, express an interest or two, brag on my dogs and see where it goes. That’s it!, That’s the deal, Thanks