After a peaceful night, listening to the sonorous hummimg of a giant eagle owl in the riverine trees downstream from our tents, and staring happily at the myriad stars through the high mesh windows of my tent, I sit writing my notes by the warmth of a campfire. Peter and Victor are already busy, the milk churn is warming bath water and a pot of coffee is brewing as the wintery lemon sunrises behind the ramparts of the Cliffs.
Thomas has heard lion and hyena calling distantly this last night.
The guests seem to be quite relieved not to have heard same!
Clive and Thomas gather the guests, and we proceed downstream on a walk, Thomas in the lead and sharing his gentle but extensive wisdom with our engrossed guests, David, his wife Raviro, son Solomon and daughter Ruvarashe.
All is of interest to Thomas, from the mud caked on a tree metres high, (an elephant rubbing post) to the old buffalo skull and jawbone that we find lying on the red earth (telling the months old story of a lion kill). He transmits his enthusiasm to all who listen…
We spend a fascinating morning, inspecting various animal scats, tracks and the stories therein, and seeing special birds such as the Bohm’ s spinetails, flying above us in tandem with Mosque swallows. We then observe a reptilian monster- a fifteen foot crocodile cruising just meters below us in the clear Runde river, as we hang, mouths agape, over him on the high bank.
Below him (or her?! ), the perfect circles of Tilapia nests, each guarded by large female fish, form abstract delights in the sand. Fish are everywhere, gentle spawning Tilapia and those fierce hunters, the Tiger fish. None seem too concerned by the leviathan hovering above them- do they know they are too nimble for serious pursuit?
The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues.
This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil.
Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation.
Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas.
Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.