Tag Archives: Liuwa Plains National Park

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 http://www.colalife.org.

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 Greenpop.org 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.

RippleAfrica.org has been a great inspiration and source of knowledge. Check out their web site. http://www.rippleafrica.org

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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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 medwoman.wordpress.com/Liuwa 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!