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High Fliers!

7 min read

Updated 01 November 2022

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Picture of Chris McIntyre

By Chris McIntyre

Managing Director
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Phew! It’s been an extremely busy few months at Expert Africa.

As the number of our travellers to Africa reached its peak, so did issues at airports and airlines around the globe – and especially in Europe. This year, more than any I can remember, we’ve needed all hands on deck over the summer. All of our team have been fully occupied striving to ensure that our travellers’ final arrangements remained seamless, right up the wire. Very often we’ve needed to step in to lend a helping hand, preventing issues from becoming crises, for example when international schedules changed a few days before travel, or flights were delayed or cancelled.

We’ve been there to help our travellers, and it’s been amazing to read the positive feedback when they have returned! Thank you to all of you who have been in touch to share your wonderful safari experiences, taking the time to write reviews or tag us in Instagram posts. And many thanks also to those who have shown great patience in waiting for our help to make new safari plans during this especially busy period.

With the return to somewhat calmer times, and we hope smoother travel ahead, we bring you an eclectic mix in this issue of the newsletter: a flying rhino, a clutch of jet-setting cheetahs, our new charity initiative, and the opportunity to come and work with us…

We need you….Our Zambian Eco-Stove Initiative!

Eco-stoves in action, and making the mud bricks to build them.

Every now and again we come across a standout community project on our travels in Africa. Simple in concept, widespread in its positive effects and driven by a sharp, dedicated team. Project Luangwa’s Eco-Stove initiative is all of these things. In fact, it is quite brilliant!

From curbing deforestation to female empowerment and improved living conditions, there are myriad benefits to this neat stove-in-a-box. The key is fuel-efficiency: these stoves use much less wood than an open fire and cook well with relatively small twigs. Hence, it’s estimated that each Eco-Stove stops between two and four tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

It also saves the women of the household (it’s invariably the women!) hours of hard, daily wood-collection and the time waiting for inefficient, open fires to build up, thus affording them valuable extra time to embark on other projects, or education. The mud-brick surround, which contributes to the Eco-Stove’s efficiency, reduces the risk of fire injuries, whilst the small, contained burn produces less smoke, and so reduces the incidence of smoke-induced respiratory diseases which are all too common here, from pneumonia to lung cancer.

When we saw it in action in August, we were so taken by its ability to effect real and immediate change that we have pledged to buy an Eco-Stove for a Zambian family for every online review that one of our travellers writes for Expert Africa.

So if you’ve travelled with us at any point and haven’t left us a quick review on Facebook or Google, then just a few minutes of your time will directly benefit a rural family – making them and us very happy!

Simply go to Expert Africa’s Facebook page, answer the question: ‘Do you recommend Expert Africa?’ and write a few words about us or your trip. Or go to Expert Africa’s Google review page and click ‘Write a review’. Then drop us a quick email (replying to this newsletter is fine), telling us that you’ve done this.

We monitor these reviews regularly and will automatically gift an Eco-Stove in your name and confirm this back to you by email.

We want to gift as many of these stoves as possible, so please help us to help these communities. Track how many families have benefitted from our travellers’ reviews by clicking on Expert Africa’s Eco-Stove JustGiving page.

Needless to say, if you haven’t travelled with us yet, but want to support this great initiative anyway, you’re welcome to use the same JustGiving page to donate a stove directly.

We’ve long supported Project Luangwa in their myriad education, development and conservation projects, and are excited to be involved in this latest project. We’ll keep you posted on this culinary success story!

Jet-Set Cheetahs

Cheetah on Namibia’s Ongava Reserve

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, recently opened a new grassland sanctuary for big cats in Kuno National Park, 480km south of New Delhi. Why feature this in our Africa-centric Bush Telegraph? Because last month, eight Namibian cheetahs were flown 11 hours in cat class from Windhoek to Delhi in the world’s first inter-continental translocation of cheetahs.

These eight, jet-setting Namibians – five females and three males – are the first of their kind to participate in a major reintroduction initiative which has been decades in the making. Hunting and habitat loss caused India’s once widespread population of Asiatic cheetahs – a critically endangered subspecies now only found in small numbers in Iran – to become officially extinct in 1952. The creation of this 750km² park, championed by the Namibia-based charity Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), is part of a wider plan to reintroduce big cats around India. In the words of CCF’s executive director, Dr Laurie Marker, “Conservation of a species requires global cooperation”. The experience and dedication of the Namibian team in enabling this international reintroduction is an enormous accolade, and testament to their hard work and commitment to species conservation over decades.

If seeing cheetahs is on your wish list, we know the perfect places across Africa. Have a look at our cheetah hotspots sightings map. Then consider our Longclaw Safari to see these sleek felines roaming the vast Serengeti while you’re based at the stunning Namiri Plains Camp. Or head to Kenya’s Maasai Mara on the immersive Hamerkop Fly-In Safari for super, year-round sightings.

Bird? Plane? Superman? No…..it’s a flying rhino!

The rescue and team behind it. Pictures by Edward Selfe.

It is not uncommon for ranger teams, wildlife researchers, conservationists or camp guides to be called upon to rescue wild animals in peril. Antelope caught in snares, young elephants stuck in muddy waterholes and even giraffe trapped by rising waters all require careful, cautious, quick assistance.

While researching in Zambia recently, we spoke to some of those involved in the most complicated and marvellous rescue mission: the daring airlift of a male black rhino more than 220km back to the protection of his home in North Luangwa National Park.

Since 2001, the North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP) has been working tirelessly in this remote corner of the Luangwa Valley to reintroduce black rhinos to Zambia. It has been a highly successful programme, albeit one fraught with the challenges of keeping the rhinos well-protected from criminal gangs intent on poaching their horns. So when a young male black rhino went walkabout, the highly-trained Rhino & Elephant Protection Unit leapt into action.

Having trekked hundreds of kilometres south, into a remote southern area of the Luangwa Valley, this rhino was well out of reach for a road transfer to the monitored safety of North Luangwa. Instead, dedicated protection teams walked in and out of this challenging area for months to keep the rhino monitored and safeguarded. Meanwhile a team at the NLCP gathered expertise and equipment from specialists, neighbouring countries, helicopter companies and the Zambian Air Force before embarking on a unique airlift mission. Such an airlift had never before been attempted in Zambia, or over such a large distance. The airlift was so long that two stops had to be made for fuel and to check on the rhino’s sedation levels.

Nonetheless, this complex and risky operation was an extraordinary success. Dozens of people made the rescue mission possible: an assembly of pilots, vets, security operatives, conservationists, financial donors, community wildlife officers and many more showed outstanding dedication to rhino conservation.

Be an Expert. Work with us….

Meerkats in the morning sun near Camp Kalahari, in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans.

We’re currently looking to expand our brilliant team of Africa specialists.

If you, or someone you know, is passionate about Africa, conscientious, and a great communicator with superb attention to detail, then check out the Expert Africa Careers page for details of the positions available.

From graduate trainees to experienced travel specialists, we’re on the lookout for talented people who share our vision and enthusiasm for superlative safaris. If that sounds like you, get in touch with us at careers@expertafrica.com


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