Under the brazen afternoon sun, that only looses its bite once the lengthening shadows have stretched into a gift of gratefully received shade, I wiped a bead of sweat from my face. “Sho, it’s hot” I offered to the team of waiters and chefs setting up for the ‘bush dinner’. By way of explanation the chef smilingly shrugged ‘this is Region 5. We are used to it”.
Buck and I were in the heart of Region 5, shooting promotional material for Zambezi Hunters to convey the treasure that is Sango and the critical role the Save Valley Conservancy plays in ensuring the survival of wilderness in the province. Region 5, it sounds so grave, so harsh, so low on the list. For the most part, it is. Named last in the index of land quality in Zimbabwe, Region 5 is known for it’s sporadic rainfall, unyielding soils and an alternating history of famine and flood. However, within it is a gem of sustainably utilized land that has seen previously overgrazed pastures transform into spaces teeming with game and covered with indigenous trees.
The Save Valley Conservancy, formed in 1991 is made up of 15 dedicated wildlife properties – that is a 340,000-hectare, internal fence-free conservancy in which wildlife such as both species of African rhino, elephant, leopard, lion, wild dog and pangolin roam freely. The presence of these key species ensures the survival of the whole ecosystem and protects the concept of ‘wilderness’ as we know it. Within the Conservancy is Sango, an award winning, exclusive lodge and wildlife property built upon a model of sustainable utilization through hunting and photographic tourism. We were there to capture the essence of Sango, portray the warmth of Sango’s people and the freedom inherent in the place through the medium of video. Buck shot everything from mountain top sundowners to Belgian Malinois dogs on their anti-poaching exercises. He can’t wait to start editing together the videos!
*NB – faces have been purposely blurred in some images to protect the identity of anti poaching rangers.