Category Archives: Kafue National Park

When the Road is done, they will come!

Here is a little video I have done from footage in Zambia when we were there in August 2012.

I was trying to relate this video to The Silozi Seed Bank and Trees for Elephants but was not thinking I would be making a short film when I was there so I am limited with my choice of footage.

Obviously the Elephants are my love and I think will keep tourism in Africa. If we can grow trees to sell to private and National parks, maybe we can save the Elephants, reforest the land, reduce erosion and create an income for the people.

There are no Elephants in Kalabo or Liuwa Plains National Park so it is a perfect place to grow the trees that Elephants love to eat. We will also grow chilies to sell as chilies are a deterrent to elephants raiding gardens.

Millions of acres of grasslands are burnt in Africa to kill ticks and encourage new growth for their cattle but it has devastating effects by putting carbon into the atmosphere and drying up the earth so natural watering holes are reduced. A more holistic approach is needed by mulching the grass and using it with cow manure to replenish the soil instead of burning off all of the goodness. It is hard work turning soil by hand to make a garden.

It is also necessary to plant gardens in areas close to water. People will walk miles to plant gardens and set up grass huts to live in while the gardens grow. Sweet potatoes grow well in Zambia.

This is a 1.17 minute piece of the road that took us 7 hours to cross from Mongu to Kalabo. We had a 4×4 CRV but it was low and we got stuck twice. Construction on this road started in 2011 and once completed will allow easier access from Mongu  to Kalabo and even on to Angola. This new traffic will increase trade and commerce for the area.

And finally the children. I hope that The Silozi Seed Bank will bring fresh vegetables to many villages so they will have better variety and nutrition for all.


The Silozi Seed Bank and Trees For Elephants

An older giraffe with darker spots

An older giraffe with darker spots.

Notice the light spots

Notice the light spots on a younger giraffe.

Hello everyone!

I hope you are not suffering from cabin fever too much this year.

Spring is around the corner!

Here is something to warm you up. Think Africa!

This blog is to tell you all about two new co-operative projects I have started.

The Silozi Seed Bank and Trees for Elephants.

I thought of the Trees For Elephants idea in August 2011 when I went to Zambia the first time and The Silozi Seed Bank this winter.

Since May 2011, I have been saving and drying seeds out of the vegetables I purchase for personal use. I have saved all pepper seeds, both hot & sweet, pumpkin, squash, tomatoe, all herbs, avacado and my latest trial seeds are pomegranate, plum, olive and date pits. Basically anything that will grow in hot climates.

How many of you remember saving, or still do save,  the tops of pop cans to buy someone a wheelchair. Well if you would, I would really appreciate it if you could dry and save seeds for me to take to Kalabo, Zambia. Also if you have any unused, return utility envelopes and washed out clear milk bags I need those as well.

Here is how it will work!

The Silozi Seed bank partners ( meaning you) will collect seeds, unused utility bill envelopes and washed used milk bags. Approximately 100 seeds will be handed out to each participant( Villager). Interest paid on those seeds will be 50 seeds.When interest is paid participants will receive 100 more seeds for planting. Participants must also attend a training session on cultivating, drying and propagating seeds for year round growth. Interest seeds may be from vegetables grown by participants or from fallen tree seeds around their compounds.(note: each green pepper has approximately 250 seeds).

I am hoping to start a Silozi Seed Bank mobile unit as well to reach those participants in rural areas and schedule revisits according to projected harvest.

Colalife, in Zambia has a wonderful idea to deliver Zinc Aid Pods  to remote areas by utilizing the Coca Cola delivery people. There is a huge incidence of child mortality due to diarrhea in Zambia and  Zinc and a salt/sugar combination will easily combat the diarrhea.These Aid Pods fit perfectly in between the coca cola bottles in the red crates. Check out their web site

I am hoping that I may squeeze a few seed packages of peppers into their Aid pods as they are high in vitamin A & C to help prevent blindness but that is a whole other story.

This is where Trees for Elephants comes in.

The tree seeds collected will then be used for the Trees for Elephants Program & Nursery.

Chaminuka Aug.2011

Chaminuka Aug.2011

Note the damage done to the trees by the Elephants.

Note the damage done to the trees by the Elephants.

Private Game parks have to take their Elephants to designated areas to eat the trees so they can monitor the losses.

Private Game parks have to take their Elephants to designated areas to eat the trees so they can monitor the losses.

I would like to have local people collect seeds of any trees but in particular the trees that Elephants eat.


Sausage Tree










Paw Paw ( papaya)





I would like the villagers to collect ONLY the fallen seeds from around their compounds.

I will provide growing containers (where possible milk cartons), training and fertilizing techniques for the villagers to grow these seeds. Say 20 trees per family unit. I would also encourage them to plant trees in their own villages for shade to help stop global warming.

I will trade these seedlings with the villagers for vegetable seeds (The Silozi Seed Bank) and reissue containers to start the process over again.

I will then sell these potted trees to National Parks, Private Game Reserves and any tree planting organizations like in order to sustain the program and cover costs of containers and distribution.

I will set up local people to run the program and just supervise the project via email and yearly visits to replenish the vegetable seeds. I know the seeds will grow there as I found out from Njamba’s family when Carl & I went in Aug. 2012.

I have many great contacts now in Kalabo to get this project up and running. has been a great inspiration and source of knowledge. Check out their web site.

Western province has the highest poverty levels in Zambia. About 80% of the population in the province is regarded as being poor and at least 70% of those in the poor category are women. Kalabo, 75km west of the capital city Mongu,  is basically cut off from Mongu except by water from November to May due to heavy rains which flood the Zambezi River onto the Barotse Flood Plains. November to January are lean months. Stored produce from the previous growing season is almost used up and in any case would need to be transported during the rainy season, while the new season’s crops and grasses are not yet productive, and at the same time fishing stops for the spawning season. Hunting and trapping animals, which might have filled the gap, is no longer available to most people, and trapping water birds is one of the few alternatives to buying flour.

In Zambia private Game Reserves and National Parks have declining numbers of trees to support Elephants. In Zambia I was told by a local that if there is not enough bush to support an Elephant, then they shoot the elephant.

If we can start to grow trees now maybe we can save the Elephant, create local economic trade and ensure tourist income for Africa.

Note: There are no elephants in Kalabo so there is no risk of the seedlings being eaten prior to transport.

I would also like to grow chilies to sell due to the fact that if planted around vegetable gardens they are a deterrent to elephants who raid gardens.

I am very fortunate to have found a new partner, Ellena Andoniou.

Ellena is currently a PhD candidate focusing on Global Health and Development and has an abundance of field experience planning, implementing and coordinating community-based probiotic food projects in Tanzania and Kenya.  She has an extensive background in HIV/AIDS, nutrition, community health, capacity building, community mobilization and project management.  Her research has allowed her to work closely with the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania, The Kenya Medical Research Institute, and other development and health-care organizations in the region.

Here are some more innovative ideas that I will let you know about in future blogs.

Use old world technologies to produce food year round and give incentive to plant trees which also benefit the environment

-grass covered fencing to grow seedlings

-build hand made brick water cisterns as done in Greece using gravity and a spigot not a pump to get water

-use fish feces as fertilizer, aquaponics.

-make clay toilet foot stands and when removed plant a tree in that spot

The extra income and variety of seeds will improve health, overall well being to the people of Kalabo and these models could potentially be used in many parts of Africa.

So if you have any seeds, envelopes and or milk bags, please let me know by leaving a comment and I will make arrangements to pick them up.

I have saved at least 5000 seeds this winter so far.

Keep warm and thanks, Joanne

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The last filling Station before Kalabo

We passed through Kafue National Park and stopped at the only gas station between Lusaka & Mongu and guess what? There wasn’t any gas!

The truck was apparently on it’s way to fill the holding tanks.

While Frederick was speaking with the owner of the filling station a large white flat bed truck with sides on the bed pulled in. It was full of ladies with red dresses and white scarves on their heads. I had seen many such trucks last year and always missed taking their picture. There must have been 30 women sitting in the back of this truck.

I took this oportuntity and jumped out of the car and asked them if they would sing and I would video tape them. They smiled and started singing. In my haste I forgot to open the dust cover on the camera. This happened many times on our journey as Carl, being the more experienced camera man, always shut the dust cover. Me being the , don’t want to miss the shot, kind of person never shut the dust cover. So I only got their voices. It was the first time I had used the video camera on this trip and I couldn’t figure out why the screen was all black and didn’t want to miss anything just in case it really was recording.

It is really quite a sight to see & hear. Sorry you missed the visual but have a listen.

As you can hear I was holding up traffic as now the whole gas station was packed with cars trying to get gas and past me.

We headed on our way hoping to make it to Mongu before we ran out of gas.

No such luck!

Frederick called his friend in Mongu and asked him to bring us some gas. He would start on his way from Mongu and we would continue toward Mongu and hopefully we would meet. Worse case,   he would see us on the side of the road out of gas. Luckily Frederick’s friend found us and we had enough gas to get to Mongu. I gave him one of the oranges from the big bag I had brought as a thank you. They only grow oranges in South Africa so they are hard to get and expensive in Western Province.

We made it to Mongu around 4pm and had to make it to the Zambezi River before the last pontoon boat at 6pm. I was getting nervous as the sun goes down around 6pm as well and it is not fun driving on these roads in the dark. Actually I had never driven on them in the dark as I was warned that it was not a good idea.

We filled up with gas in Mongu and were on our way. This gas would have to get us to Kalabo and back to Mongu as there are no filling stations in Kalabo. I couldn’t remember exactly but I think we were looking at about 2-2.5 hrs of driving just to Kalabo. Now the fun starts!

Posing for carl to take my picture while Frederick put the emergency gas in the car.

Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park takes about two hours to drive through on the way to Mongu at about 110k/per hour and that is the thinnest part of the park. See the black line in the picture from Lusaka to Mongu. That is The Great West Road and that is what we traveled on.

Kafue National Park is Zambia’s largest National Park and the 2nd largest in the world. It covers an area of over 22,500 square kilometers in Western Zambia. (about the size of Wales). Although it is Zambia’s oldest Park it is still relatively undeveloped and always gives a feeling of true wilderness.

I was anxious to get to Kalabo as I know what a long drive it is and I didn’t want to have to stay in Mongu for the night. We had to catch the pontoon boat crossing the Zambezi River before dark, technically 6pm.

I didn’t expect to see many animals as it is a tarred road, basically 2 lane highway and we only saw elephants last year. It didn’t bother me not to see the animals as I had been on a morning & night safari last year at Chaminuka ( a private game reserve) but I hadn’t booked any safari’s this year as we were on a mission and pressed for time & money.

Poor Carl had said he had been to the Toronto Zoo enough times with his friend Dan the bird man so it really didn’t bother him but I think he was just being kind to me. As soon as we entered the park he was perched on the edge of his seat with the video camera in one hand and his camera on the seat beside him. This is a portion of what he recorded. I think we should have practiced with the video camera before we went to Africa. Oh Well!

The first animal you see is one of many antelope in Zambia. It is an Impala. Now that I know what it is I feel guilty as I ate Impala when we were there last year at Chaminuka. They are very plentiful in Zambia and were raised at Chaminuka so I don’t feel too bad.

To escape their pursuers they employ a confusing zig zag escape route, with sudden directional changes and exceptionally high leaps making it difficult for the  pursuing attacker to strike.

Carl was especially happy to see Elephants in the wild. We were about 4-5 metres from them and if you noticed at the end the big Elephant fanned out her ears. That is a sign that they may charge so at that point Frederick said ” OK Lets Go”.

They were monkeys first, and I think  baboons in the group and the bird with the red and yellow on it’s head was an endangered Saddle-billed Stork. Not sure what the white bird was.

We finally made it to Mongu and stopped at Frederick’s home and met his son Lubasi and his youngest son ( sorry I forget his name).

Then off again on our way across the Barotse Plain. Wait until you see that ride!