Sketching on the deck at Chilo Gorge…….

. Sketching on the deck at Chilo Gorge…….
As I drift in my thoughts, sketching an African wild dog in preparation for a larger painting, I become aware of splashing in the Save river far below me. Hippos, I guess- it must be the resident pod of three mothers and youngsters…I will watch them later once my sketch is done. It is background noise, intent as I am on my work. I add a puppy to the sketch. This is the time of year that the Alpha females of the various lowveld packs that we know of, will be heavily pregnant and searching for suitable den sites.
The intensity of the splashing increases, pulling my eyes off my page, and I see two young bull elephants rolling in the olive-green water below me!


They play and tussle for long minutes, submerging and keeling sideways, like toddlers in a play pool. Delight is mine, and I share this with nobody- all is still but for me and the elephants – that charmed hour between day and night.


The bulls splash over the shallow sand bar to the bank, stand a while and begin to browse slowly along the vegetation in front of me. The joy of watching wild animals undisturbed, is mine.


A monstrous crocodile draped on a sand bar does not impose, she is merely a silent and awesome presence. Part of the landscape. As is the gigantic and equally silent baobab behind her…


Silence is broken only by the crunchy munching of the two elephants as they tear at green stuff, and then one elephant’s flatulence is let loose on a grand scale! Laughing, I wonder at how lucky I am to be in this place at this time…

A leopard begins its rasping grunt on the far bank. I peer intently through the decorative railing, entranced. I imagine the hidden spotted cat watching the elephants….and they seem to do the same, lifting heads high and cocking their ears, but relaxed in the knowledge that a mere cat is no match for them.

The baboons coming sneakily in to roost on the rocks think otherwise, and set up a hullabaloo, anxious to get to bed before the cat begins prowling. A golden glow to match the depth of the leopard’s rasp throws a warm mantle over the rocks. The name ”Chilo” means ‘baboon roost’.


As dusk falls, the occasional squeal of a chastised baboon baby punctuates the air and the two elephants continue to browse along the edge, stretching far with extendable trunks to reach into the high branches of desirable trees. More impressive flatulence is loosed by the stretches of the two.

Then comes a fly – past, a band of raucous Hadeda ibis – oh- three only! They make noise enough for seven! They fade upriver to find their favourite night roost. Just a little taste of paradise, as I peer through the railings of the deck, suspended over the pristine wilderness that is Chilo Gorge on the edge of Gonarezhou National Park…


And to top it all, I know that somewhere out there in the half-light, the African wild dog pack which resides in this area is hunting their supper! Hopefully, they will successfully den this year, as they did last year. A satisfying thought, which fills me with warm anticipation of months to come, spent in this special place on the edge of Gonarezhou. I will use this sketch of wild dog and pup to adorn the Jerabohm, the huge 3 litre bottle of Painted Wolf Wine that Jeremy Borg is donating for auction to our Taste of Africa event on 29th June at the Mukuvisi Woodlands in Harare. An awareness and fundraising event for the conservation of all African wild dogs in Zimbabwe!


About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie 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.
This entry was posted in Africa, African wild dogs, african wildlife, art, art exhibition, beauty, Chilo Gorge, conservation, dogs, eco-tourism, elephants, gonarezhou national park, landscape, Mukuvisi Woodland, Painted Wolf Wines, painted wolves, Rivers, safari, wine, zimbabwe and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sketching on the deck at Chilo Gorge…….

  1. Janet Woodward says:

    A beautiful sketch, love the photos and descriptions!

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