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A Wild Life: Adventures of an Accidental Conservationist in Africa Paperback – 2 Apr 2006
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"Inspired by the drama of Africa... a personal insight into the
perennially important subject of saving the animals"
-- The Irish Times, May 2007
"This inspirational, sometimes troubling tale illustrates the
value of conserving Africa's wildlife for future generations." -- Real Travel magazine, July 2007
'provides insights into the many conservation disasters and triumphs he's experienced'
-- African Hunter, June 2007
Poignant and compelling, Dick Pitman is an inspiration to all.
Wittily written and never boring.
-- FD Magazine (May 2007)
From the Back Cover
Dick Pitman was a British ex-patriot who moved to Zimbabwe in 1977, when it was still called Rhodesia. As the Zambezi Valley was threatened by development, Pitman stumbled his way into saving wild animals almost by mistake. But his sense of humor and love of animals made him a perfect candidate for this dangerous and sometimes frustrating mission. In A Wild Life, Pitman's tales from the bush mingle with poignant descriptions of the African landscape, and his conservation efforts are filled with both humor and heartbreak whether he's saving elephants in Matusadona National Park, tracking black rhinos, saving cheetahs, or, perhaps most dangerous of all, introducing foreign tourists to African wildlife. Inspired by the splendors and drama of wild Africa, A Wild Life is a lighthearted account of a quarter-century in conservation. Written with wit and charm, it is a hope-filled story about saving Africa's animals and Zimbabwe's natural future. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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The book starts with electricity cut off at Dick's house plunging them into darkness. The electricity board (as usual in Africa) had no fuel to come out and mend the fault and when the electricity does come on at 2am, it sets the home alarm on and the big security guards demand the 'code' or they would shoot ! It is best to get out off town into the wilderness of Zambezi Valley. In 1977, during Rhodesia's civil war, Dick had bought and old Land Rover and headed from Salisbury (Harare) south to Gonarezhou NP. At this time, all Parks had been closed to visitors. 4 weeks later, he moved to Matopos NP and later to Hwange NP and then back north to Lake Kariba. At Mana Pools a large elephant bull visits them, eats the acacia pods and deposits a large heap (after Dick says 'oh shit') and then quietly leaves.
Dick tries out the Fothergill Island at Kariba lake and Matusadona NP. They had to be careful of terrorists and large wild animals and poachers. Dick was writing up stories as he saw them. He took part time safari guide's job to help his finances. He also sold photographs of back lit elephants to tourists companies. This led to a Ranger's job with Zimbabwe NPs. Dick got a ban on people bringing oranges into Parks as the elephants were causing damage, going after these oranges. When the question came of culling 20,000 elephants, Dick resigned. He was asked to photograph rafts through Batoka George and Moetuba Falls, giving him bowel problems for days. He saw his 1st black rhino at Chizarira NP, dead because a snare had cut through its leg. Most of the politicians had no interest in saving the wildlife, as else where in Africa. Many Chief Wardens were imprisoned for arresting rhino poachers. In 4 weeks, they managed to move 14 black rhinos from Chizarira to the safety of Matusadona NP. The rhinos were radio collared.
4 cheetahs were re-located to Matusadona NP. More cheetahs were introduced, but did badly as predators. 3 cheetahs were charred in a plane crash blaze. Dick had met Sal once and now she was back to work with him 2 days a week. They went into air to elephant spot while the ground team darted them and collared them. Rescued rhino babies were taken to Fothergill Island. In 1998, National elections were to happen and white farmers were evicted, but Dick and Sal decided to stay. Many of their friends left, some to be killed in mysterious crashes. Foreign Aid stopped. School girls raised money for remaining rhinos by holding discos, making biscuits and cleaning cars ! No tourists came to Zimbabwe. They had gone across the Zambezi to Zambia.
By 2006, the things changed in the Parks management and conservation was important again. Dick left Zambezi Society and went into bush again with Sal.
AFRICA IS FULL OF LEADERS WHO DON'T KNOW WHEN TO QUIT.
Some other books of interest are:-
(1) Animal Dunkirk, Eric Robins, 1959
(2) Lake Kariba (Hobo), David Lemon, 1988 (1997) 2009
(3) Journey Through Zimbabwe, Amin, 1990
(4) Zimbabwe, Richard Vaughan, 1991
(5) Hwange, Nick Greaves, 1997
(6) When the Crocodile eats the Sun, Peter Godwin, 2007
(7) Rhodesia, Ron Morkel, 2011
(8) History of Zimbabwe, Mlambo, 2014
(9) Elephant Dawn, Sharon Pincott, 2017
(10)Great Zimbabwe, Charles River, 2017
Having born in Kenya, I found this book interesting.
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