Building bridges and relationships
Dion and Tigger had a joyous experience with Chief Chitambo opening a bridge at the park and strengthening relationships with the local villagers. Read Tigger’s heartwarming account of this occasion below.
“It has been a busy week for us here at Kasanka, with one huge highlight. Last Thursday we hosted Chief Chitambo IV and 30 village headmen and women, Community Resource Board representatives and Village Action Group delegates from villages surrounding the national park. We all gathered on Thursday morning at the newly-constructed Chantete Bridge which crosses the park boundary for the ceremony, which culminated with Chief Chitambo IV cutting the ribbon and declaring the bridge open for use.
The ceremony began with all the guests singing and dancing down the road leading to the bridge, accompanied by drumming – a very moving spectacle. The Chief’s vehicle followed the procession. Once everyone had gathered in the clearing next to the bridge, the Chief exited the vehicle and took his seat under a hastily-erected canopy. Jonathan proceeded to introduce the Kasanka team and then the guests introduced themselves. Next, the Chief gave a powerful speech, detailing the importance of Chantete Bridge in the Trust’s conservation and law enforcement efforts and urging the community leaders present to take a strong stance against poaching. After much cheering and clapping, Dion also addressed the crowd. His speech focused on the importance of establishing links and building on our existing relationship with communities surrounding the park in order to combat poaching, attract tourism and preserve Kasanka as our great, and shared, resource.
The chief then walked towards the bridge and was given the scissors – he cut through the ribbon on the second attempt to great cheers from everyone, and then proceeded to lead us all over Chantete Bridge.
Once we had all crossed, we piled into the waiting vehicles and drove slowly through the park back to Wasa, accompanied by joyful singing and ululations from our guests. It was quite a pageant! Many of our guests, despite living within several kilometres of the park boundary, had never been to Kasanka before – and many had never seen a hippo before, or used binoculars. It was incredibly special for us to see the majority of guests go with Bryton for a short walk along the lake prior to lunch and for them to see the pod of hippo in the lake putting on a good display of yawning and movement.
The lodge team did a superb job of making and serving an absolutely delicious lunch. Nsima, rice, beans, boerwoers, chicken and three beautiful fruit cakes, decorated with the words ‘welcome chief’ were enjoyed by everyone.
All our guests departed by about 14.00 and we were left to collapse into an exhausted heap! It was such a jubilant, happy day and we hope it will mark the beginning of a new and fruitful relationship with the communities surrounding Kasanka.
In other news – we’ve been seeing a young male sitatunga grazing around Wasa Lake for the past week or so. The rains seem to have begun in earnest – the showers are becoming more frequent and we’ve had some big downpours and overnight storms.
Fence-building between the staff and guest areas has been completed and we’re now starting on some grass planting and landscaping around the lodge. We hope you will notice a difference on your next visit to Kasanka!”