The owner of Zambeze Delta Safaris is Mark Haldane….
He is an amazing and extremely generous man who is concerned for the welfare of all the people around him and NOT just for the hunters that visit and inhabit his camp.
Over the years he has put many projects into place and today we visited several of those.
The first stop of the day was to speak to the village chief. Chief Thozo (pronounced Tozo) is 51 years old and arrived at our meeting spot in full regalia.
The chief first wanted to speak in Portuguese, but Mark convinced him that English would be better. However, there were several intervals where they reverted to Portuguese to more easily get the point across to the chief.
Before we go on, you need to understand a bit of Mozambique history. There was a civil war in country from 1977 to 1992….FIFTEEN long years. During this time much of the wildlife was wiped out as they were killed to feed the warring armies.
The chief started by talking about the changes that have taken place since the end of the civil war to now. Since 1992, the animals have slowly come back, with much credit going to Mark and to Zambeze Delta Safaris!!
The chief explained that this is good for the villagers because professional hunters have followed the increased game and now the government gives 20% of the concession and licenses fees that these hunters pay, directly to the village.
Also, the meat from the “sustainably hunted” animals is distributed back to the local community. In a normal season there are 50-52 tons of game meat given directly to the villagers.
During the war years, there was little food but now malnutrition has almost vanished. ZDS has encouraged agricultural plots and other ways that the villagers can sustain themselves.
When asked what the chief wants for the future, he said that he likes how things are going and wants things to keep going up and up for the 1200 people living in his village.
When asked if there was anything that he wanted to say to us, he said, “I want to tell how good collaboration with Mark and that I like the job that he do here. He transport when we have people sick, he build a school and a clinic, he build my house…..
He do so many jobs . I like very well the job of this man!!”
It was encouraging to hear his broken English words and to know that we are getting to be a part of this upward trend.
As we were returning to the camp, we passed a group of women heading home from a day of working in the rice fields. They sweetly stopped and showed us their wares…..
They are so stately as they walk slowly toward home…..
Watching their contentment makes me extremely thankful for the many blessings that I have in my life.