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- Building a Shared Future for All Life
The International Day for Biodiversity is one of the most relevant days in our calendar and it should be in yours too. "The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity... that's all there is. That's the whole economy. That's where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world." Gaylord Nelson If you are a fan and avid supporter of one of the bigger carnivores, elephants, rhinos, panda bears, dolphins or whales is immaterial if the biological systems that support these charismatic creatures fail. The intricate, interrelated and codependent webs of life which form varied vital habitats that supply everything that is needed for the survival of each of these very different animals. Every plant, insect and organism plays its own specific role. Together they create biodiversity. Each uniquely diverse habitat, in turn, contributes to a greater, global, biodiversity. They are what makes our planet so beautiful and rich in different forms of life and they are what makes it possible for all of us to survive. Biodiversity is under threat all over the world due to global warming, pollution and human encroachment. Protecting what is left of our planet's biodiversity and wild habitats at all costs is the ultimate priority in protecting the beautiful and charismatic species of which we humans are so fond. We need to be concerned about the roles of all the small and less beguiling players who contribute towards the overall health of the system. Whether it is a patch of flowering weeds in your garden that allows bees and insects to thrive or donating to an organisation involved in protecting one of the larger wild areas of the world, or both, it is in all of our interests to contribute towards building a shared future for all life.
- Introducing the Bright Lights of Birchenough Bridge
When it comes to buzz and bustle Birchenough Bridge is no New York or London. However, this is not to say that this small town does not have a charm all of its own... and plenty of both buzz and bustle. Birchenough Bridge is a small town to the North East of Chishakwe and is about a 50km trip to reach by road. It sits just to the side of the tar road which is overlooked by a row of small stores which sell anything from hardware to hair products. There are also a number of "beer halls" which serve clients throughout the day and night. The town is named after the should-be-more-famous bridge which sits on its Eastern side and which spans the Save River. The Birchenough Bridge is a masterful piece of engineering. The bridge was completed through the Beit Foundation in 1935 at a cost of £145,000. At a length of 329 meters it was the 3rd longest single arch suspension bridge in the world in its day. It was designed by Ralph Freeman, who also designed the much-more-famous but similar (though longer) Sydney harbor bridge in Australia. The ashes of Sir Henry Birchenough, who was chair of the Beit Trust at the time of the bridge being built, are buried beneath it and there is a commemorative plaque to one side of the bridge. Birchenough Bridge offers visitors, especially those new to the area, the opportunity to enjoy a uniquely Zimbabwean and varied shopping experience in this busy, somewhat chaotic, little town. Traffic jams are likely to be something different too ... an ox stubbornly blocking the road or a donkey cart parked badly. Half day excursions can be organised for clients staying at Chishakwe.
- HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY
Mothering can be a tough job. The demands are relentless and round the clock. Being a mother can be overwhelming, exhausting, frustrating and terrifying. It is also the most rewarding, heart and soul expanding job in the world. While it is not the most conventionally beautiful full colour photo; we felt this picture, taken by a camera trap late at night at a Wild Dog den, best captures the essence of motherhood. Despite it being late and her clear fatigue this mother is accommodating the demands of her litter of hungry pups. Wishing all the mother's out there (including the wild ones) a day of love and appreciation from their offspring.
- Ranch House
Ranch House is situated on the Eastern side of Head Quarters near the airstrip. It was likely built at a similar time to Hunter's House and Stone Cottage (circa 1930's). Upon first arriving at Ranch House, it may feel very "central" as it is next to the Stable Block (now converted into simple accommodation) and the office area. However, once one is sitting outside around the fire and listening to the sounds of the night it feels very different; especially as the airstrip is very popular territory for all manner of animals at night. An advantage for large groups is that some members may choose to stay in Stable Block and others in the house and they have close and easy access for shared activities and meals.
- Earth Day 2022
Earth Day was created in the spring of 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson in the United States. Today around 1 billion people in 193 countries around the world take part in Earth Day. This year's theme is "Invest in our Planet". For more on the many ways in which it is possible to invest in our planet and ergo all of our futures it is well worth taking a look at www.earthreminder.com which is packed with interesting facts and useful information. Another way to invest in our planet would be to make a donation to a group already directly working in an area which is making a difference to the health and biodiversity of our planet. There are many reputable organisations doing a great job in many different areas of conservation and parts of the world. Choose one that speaks to you personally. Of course, our own bias would be toward the overall conservation project of which we are a part; the Save Valley Conservancy www.savevalleyconservancy.org or alternatively to the research and monitoring project which is based on Chishakwe, https://www.africanwildlifeconservationfund.org/ . If you would like our any further help or advice with making a donation to either organisation please do not hesitate to let us know.
- Easter Holidays
We hope that you all enjoyed your Easter Holidays as much as we did ours. We are sharing some of the fun we had and delicious Easter lunch we all enjoyed at Chishakwe. All the decorations are hand made at Chishakwe and all the food homemade from scratch. Keep a look out and book for the next holiday we celebrate or ask us about how we can make your next occasion special at Chishakwe.
- HAPPY EASTER!
Best wishes from all of us at Chishakwe to all of you for a very happy Easter. At Chishakwe we like our food to be fresh and ethically and locally sourced wherever possible ... and of course delicious! The beautiful girls in the picture above are members of the flock of hens we keep for eggs. At night they are very securely locked up in a snug coop; safe from genets and other marauding animals. During the day they wander at will in a large fenced garden.
- Hunter's House
Hunter's House is one of the accommodation options in our popular Home from Home collection and is situated on the far West of the Devuli Head Quarters area on Chishakwe. It is a large house which easily sleeps 11 people and more if beds are added to some of the larger bedrooms. The wide veranda that runs the length of the house and overlooks the front garden is likely to be where guests will spend most of their time when they are "home" and not out on the ranch looking for wild animals and birds or at the dam fishing. The house was probably first built in the 1930's and was likely smaller and simpler than it was at that time as, over the years, rooms have clearly been added on both ends of the house. On the addition on the East end of the house there was a steep stairwell leading down to an underground concrete bunker which was added during the Rhodesian war. This bunker was thought to be the one mentioned by author Alexandra Fuller in her novel, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. The bunker no longer exists at Hunter's House as, during recent renovations, the decision to fill it in was taken. The reinforced cement slab which formed the raised roof of the bunker took up a significant space on the veranda and the bunker itself was providing habitat to scorpions and centipedes. Unfortunately, converting it to a wine cellar was not an option! On the kitchen end of the veranda there is a fire pit area where most of our guests spend their evenings, especially in winter. From here it is not at all uncommon to see the animals that roam the garden area around the house at night. These commonly include impala, bushbuck, kudu, jackal and hyena.
- Winter is Coming
If the shorter, cooler days did not confirm to us that winter is coming then a look at ant activity would surely do so. Once you start looking it is hard not to be fascinated by the activity and interactions of these tiny insects and impressed by the strength and level of energetic commitment they display. Like the fable, they are working hard to provide for the days ahead. However, we are not able to confirm the same for the grasshoppers. If the famous fable is to believed they are whiling away the last of the summer on enjoying themselves.
- Home from Home at the Historic Devuli Head Quarters
Devuli Ranch was once the largest cattle ranch in the world. It was pioneered by two brothers, Lucas and Despard Bridges, after the first World War. The two brothers, with the help of their cousin set about the very tough job of taming the wild African bush and setting up a massive cattle ranching enterprise. Despite their impressive success in this regard, the tough South East Lowveld with its endemic drought cycle, prevented true longevity of the project. Less than a century later, after a truly epic drought, Devuli was sold in lots and it is those lots the make up most of the Northern part of the Save Valley Conservancy. The headquarters area of Devuli sits centrally on Chishakwe and the houses which once housed the managers of the huge ranch have been sensitively renovated to retain the original Devuli ambience. Sturdily and practically built (though maybe a bit rambly due to successive farm built renovations over the years), with cool cement floors and verandas to shade the interior rooms. Tin rooves reflect heat and amplify the drumming of the rain on wet nights. The houses are not grand but they are comfortable ... and packed with character. They are set up with everything you need to make yourself at home and children are most welcome. They provide the perfect location for a gathering of the clans or a get together of friends, just as they did for many years before on Devuli Ranch.
- AUTUMNAL EQUINOX
It is official! Here, in the Southern Hemisphere, the writing is on the wall for summer with the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox on March 20-21. We are fortunate that, in our Lowveld area, this does not mean freezing cold nights and grey days. In fact, some cooler weather might even come as a bit of a relief after some scorching of the scorching hot days over summer. We expect big, open, bluer than blue skies and warmish days followed by nights which are cool enough to encourage vicinity to the open air fire after dinner. The colours of the bush change completely. Instead of abundant foliage and thick grass all in every shade of green imaginable, we get shades of gold, amber and russet brown. As the dry winter goes on these colours fade until (especially in a dry year such as this one) we find ourselves in a bleached out, almost monochromatic, world. In this world the impala stand out fiery orange against their background and one cannot imagine what on earth they eat in the harsh environment. It is always beautiful but rugged and wild. #biophilia #everydayisasafariday #Autumnequinox #SouthEastLowveldZimbabwe
- Rainy Season Butterfly Safari
While the much thicker and greener bush conditions in the rainy season make game watching, in the traditional sense, a bit more difficult; they create a great opportunity to observe all the smaller, less observed life forms that make up such an important part of overall bush ecology. Butterflies are particularly present amongst the abundant bug life and we hope you enjoy seeing a few of these beauties as much as we did. #ButterflySafari #RealLifeSafari #ChishakweSafaris #SouthEastLowveldZimbabwe #It'stheSmallThings #RainySeasonSafari