Gideon- Liuwa Plains Poacher turned Conservation Officer

Here is another small world story!

When I went to meet Njamba the first time in August 2011 I was told by World vision that I would get a tour of what World Vision has built and done in the community and that afternoon go visit my sponsored child for about three hours.

Well! I thought to myself( or maybe even said it out loud), that there was no way I was traveling all that way to meet with him for just three hours. I asked if there was something we could all do locally and I would cover the cost. I wanted to take the family to Livingstone to see the Victoria Falls, One of the seven wonders of the world but that was too costly and it was at least a 10 hour drive on a sand road.

So my wonderful David, Sponsorship Facilitator for World Vision, after speaking with Dominic, suggested we go to the remote Liuwa Plains National Park. I thought it was a great idea. Njamba, his mom, twin sister, Mualuka, David, Max, Jami and I all piled into the World Vision 4 x 4 vehicle and off we went.

It cost 40,000KW (about 8USD) to take the vehicle across the Zambezi River and then a 12KM drive to the park boundary. The cost to get into the park was 200,000KW ( 40USD) for Jami & I and 20,000KW ( about 4USD) for residents of Zambia. Well worth the cost!

You have to have a guide who carries a big gun just in case he has to scare an animal who gets too close. That rarely happens though as you have to be really quiet when you spot some animals so you don’t scare them away. This is a really remote park and one of the few ” Real Africa” experiences left . We didn’t even see another vehicle during our travels in the park.

We were fortunate to have Gideon as our guide. You can read more and see the video in the blog from last year at Plains National Park.

Gideon was amazing on our tour and answered all of our questions about all of the animals especially the Wildebeast Migration from Angola. Gideon told us that he had been there the day before and the Wildebeast had not yet started arriving. Well, I am blessed, because the day we were there, there were thousands. Quite a site to see.

I had hoped to see Gideon again on this trip and here is a prime example of “think and that is the way you shall go” because as we were walking down the street there was Gideon walking with his mother. I called out his name in the street and it was precious to see the look on his face. He remembered me as being the woman that was with “Jami”. He found her very attractive and asked how she was doing.

Unfortunately he had just left his fathers funeral and so I invited him to come back for dinner at Nyoka Guest House later.

Gideon showed up and we showed him all of the pictures from that trip. He asked if he could have the one of Jami and Dominic said it was OK as I had given all of the pictures, at least 200 of them to the family.

As I was cooking dinner, Carl showed Gideon the videos I had done in last years blog and Gideon told him how he became a conservation office. Apparently Gideon used to go hunting with his father. They were poachers. If you could see Western Province you would understand why. Not that I am condoning it by any means but the people have to survive. The closest grocery store” Shoprite” is 75KM away in Mongu. They have small shops in Kalabo with limited inventory.

Thanks to African Parks  they have hired the poachers to protect the animals and catch the poachers. Gideon is a perfect candidate. He already knows the park, where the animals can be found and how the poachers work. He is hoping to go to formalize his education and go to University and learn as much as he can about the animals he protects. It is very difficult for him to save money as he doesn’t take out tourists every day. Carl gave him $50USD towards his education. Carl said to me” You sponsor Njamba and I sponsor Gideon”. It is very easy to get attached and let these people into your heart.

While we were all sitting in front of the restaurant Nyoka guest house is building, Gideon told us about Herbert Brauer who originally came to Liuwa to film hyenas. When Gideon mentioned the name Brauer, I recognized it and exclaimed ” I know him” He is the one that filmed Lady Liuwa”! Mualuka laughed and I explained that I knew of him, I didn’t know him personally. Gideon told us that Herbert wanted him to get as close to the hyenas as he possibly could He was crouched down about 2 feet away from a hyena and it was captured on film. Hyena’s have the strongest jaw in the wild kingdom and they eat all of the animal. including the bones. They call Hyenas stool, African chalk as the calcium makes it white.

While I was cooking dinner in my make shift out door kitchen, ( it was pitch black out so thank goodness Carl lent me his head lamp) Gideon sat with me and told me all about his life in Kalabo and we talked about ” Lady Liuwa”. If you haven’t seen the video it is so worth the watch. “The Last Lioness” on U Tube.  I told him I was going to email Herbert Brauer to see if I could get a copy of ” Bonecrusher Queens” the video about hyenas for him.

When I got home I emailed the university in Johannesburg where he works and this is the response I got.

Morro Joanna,

good to hear you’ve been to Liuwa and clearly enjoyed it from what I gather.  Liuwa is an interesting place, very demanding, always do I walk away with more than I came but one has to be open and aware of her teachings.

Do you live in California?  A friend of mine from California comes visiting in November, I’ll ask him to take a copy of Bronecrusher Queens along and send it to you from San Jose.

All the best,


I forwarded this email to the Liuwa headquarters, as Gideon doesn’t have a computer, so he would know I had been in touch with Herbert.

I have not received the copy yet but my fingers are crossed.

I will let you know when I get it!


2 responses to “Gideon- Liuwa Plains Poacher turned Conservation Officer

  1. To whom it may concern: please assist me with the contact details for Nyoka guest house.

  2. Hello Maggie, The information I have is D.M. Nyoka Motel, Recreation Centre Company, P.O. Box 930 Kalabo, Zambia. For reservations call 0977-333 981. Hope this helps and say Hello from Joanne in Canada. Thanks.

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