Serial safari-er and ex Engineer John Tynan used to manage the Elephant Orphanage in southern Kafue in 2007 and has visited Kafue every year since staying at Konkamoya Lodge.
He talks about his invaluable experience at the orphanage and why Kafue keeps surprising him.
How did you get involved in the elephant orphanage?
I was asked by Melanie Shepherd (CO of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation) in 2007 to volunteer to manage a new orphanage for baby elephants in Kafue National Park. The Phoenix Project was named after our first elephant who was raised in Mundawanga Conservancy (Lusaka). She was 6 years old when we transferred her to her new home in Kafue. I was surprised at her size having been told that she was a baby. I could just reach her shoulder on my tiptoes plus she weighed two tons.
Sum up your experience managing the orphanage
The journey went without a hitch. It would take many pages to explain how difficult things were during the initial weeks. During the months that I was managing we took on a further three babies Chamalandu, Chadoba, and Zama. The whole thing was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
What made you go back to the Kafue?
One of my duties at the orphanage was regular visit to the ZAWA village of Ngoma 25km from camp to collect drinking water. The wildlife was in abundance but unfortunately I never had much time to enjoy it. So I just had to return. So from 2008 I have returned to Kafue each year staying at Konkamoya Lodge.
What makes you go back to Konkamoya Lodge every year?
It has a location that’s second to none - on the shores of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi. Its tented accommodation overlooking the lake is extremely comfortable and hearing distinctive sounds of the wildlife throughout the night is just enchanting.
As you can imagine I have become great friends with Andrea and Laura and all of the staff. I love the food and the company.
Describe your most memorable experience at Konkamoya.
Over my visits I have seen most of the wildlife. Aardvark, aardwolf and pangolin. elephants mating in the lake, wild dogs in front of a backdrop of 100 elephants, serval, leopards and cheetah. Possibly the best sighting was a pride of nine lions bringing down a male buffalo by the lake.
I hope to visit many more times. Konkamoya has to be my home in Zambia.
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