Last week I blogged about our stay at Mudumu National Park in Namibia. From that wonderful place we took a day trip further up the Kwando/Linyati River to the Mamili National Park (also known as Nkasa Lupala NP.) Mamili should be a great park to visit because its wetlands, river channels and islands form the Linyati Swamps and are host to an abundance of birds and animals. Sadly, we had a most unfortunate and harrowing experience there that disturbed us for days. It had to do with elephant poaching, which is always a nasty subject.
As we drove into the park we noticed a young elephant limping badly whilst making its way painfully in the direction of the staff quarters. It being early on a Sunday morning we weren’t too surprised to see that nothing was open, so we went to the staff houses to find someone to admit us to the park. To save time we offered the receptionist a lift back to the office and on the way pointed out to her the elephant that was in such distress, hoping that she could get someone to give it medical attention. She immediately phoned through to a ranger and told him about it.
By the time we had driven the few meters across to the Reception area, we heard a shot ring out, followed by loud bellows from the terrified elephant. Horrified we listened as the ranger took about eight more shots at the bellowing elephant before killing it. For animal lovers this was most distressing and put a damper on our entire trip. It seemed that either the ranger was a very poor shot, which added to the distress of the elephant, or the rifle he was using was obviously not up to the job. This is not something that a tourist wants to experience on a visit to a game reserve.
The young lady at Reception explained that four days earlier six elephants had been poached on a nearby island and this elephant was probably hit by one of the poachers’ bullets causing it to suffer for days. One can only imagine what this injured elephant must have gone through in its last moments, being shot at again and reliving the incident in which members of its herd had been killed days earlier. How traumatic.
One always knows that poaching is happening, but when you live in a city hearing about it is not the same thing as seeing the results of this despicable trend first-hand in the bush. It is very sad that humans can treat these magnificent animals so callously for their ivory.
Mamili has some wonderful community campsites which will soon be more accessible due to the tarring of the road leading to the park. Unfortunately for us, our day there had been ruined and we were only too happy to get away from the place.