Nyalla Cordon Bleu

This post includes some trophy hunting and I know that it could be offensive to some of you. But, before you move on, I would encourage you to read this post….. thanks!!

On Wednesday afternoon, we went out looking for Nyalla and Michael took a nice trophy.


Lest you think that the animal is just left there, I want to tell you about what happened to this particular trophy.

Francisco and Dolish loaded him into the truck and we headed to the skinning shed.  There the coat was removed and salted, ready to be cured for the trophy mount….

ALL of the rest of the meat was then taken to the kitchen to be used in our upcoming meals.

A portion of it was ground for mince but the two backstraps (the long pieces of meat that lie just to the side of the spine)…..

…..were kept for a special meal…..Nyalla Cordon-Bleu!!

The next day we had the opportunity to watch the meal being prepared and it was an interesting process.

The camp chef, Lorenzo,  has worked there for 27 years….

 He spent 6-months at a cooking course in Maputo to learn his trade, and he has perfected it well!!

He alone worked on the meat while one aide washed dishes and his “sous-chef”, (Shiku) chopped green beans for the vegetable rice that would go with the meal….

Watch as he stuffs the meat and prepares it to be marinated.   I apologize for the flashing thru the video, we were trying to get still photos at the same time as the video!!

The female voice in the background is Poppy….the camp manageress. 

As he finished stuffing the second piece of meat, I enjoyed a wander around the kitchen.   First I found all of the ingredients that had gone into the marinade…..

…followed by these cabbages that were waiting to be chopped into coleslaw…..

We have coleslaw at every meal, and it is a cool, palette cleansing addition.

I loved this basket….

….and am wondering if I can find one when I travel into the nearest town, but I have NO idea how I would transport it!!

Finally, they have a jar of garlic paste used on many things, and I was not surprised to see a LARGE bag of cloves waiting to be peeled and chopped.

Dinner is served buffet style and the first dish contained the meat specialty…..

There was a gravy/sauce to pour over the meat and the meal was finished out with vegetable rice, roast potatoes, and steamed vegies….

Desert were crepes….yes, you heard that right.   In deepest, darkest, Africa, we have eaten flan, crepes, apple crumble, cake with custard and other amazing “puddings” (the British term for sweets). 

Thus ended the saga of the Nyalla hunt.   It started out as looking for a trophy to hang on the wall and ended as a meal fit for a king!!

The training run…..

As I have mentioned before, the Zambeze Delta Safaris operators are extremely interested in the reintroduction and preservation of the wildlife that was lost during the fifteen-year Mozambique Civil War.

They quickly realized that, unless the villagers were properly fed, they would continue to kill the animals so that their children would not be hungry.  As parents themselves, they understood this desire, so the first step was to find a way to provide meat and other food to the villagers.  As I mentioned in THIS POST, they have solved that problem by providing meat throughout the year.

The second problem were professional poachers….those who killed the animals and sold the meat and hides at local markets or even those who were part of a broader poaching syndicate.

To battle this, ZDS hired some of the village poachers and employed them to set up an “Anti-Poaching” team.  In their duties, this team of “rangers” use every resource available to them, including electric motorbikes, helicopters and satellite technology.

Their goal is to provide a “fast-response” to any poacher sighting with the goal being the arrest of such individuals.

Michael and I were invited to go on a training run with the APS (Anti-Poaching Squad) and it was an interesting experience.

They started by using their GPS systems to locate the general area where the poacher had been sighted….

They started walking slowly down the road….

watching for these footprints in the sand……

The squad was interesting to watch as they used almost imperceptible signals to relay what they were seeing.  When one signaled for them to duck, they all went down…..

Funnily, Michael and I did as well.   I guess that we have been well trained!!

They finally reverted to crawling the last few yards….

…before bursting into the “poacher’s” camp…..

The poacher ran away but the APS captured him and returned him to his camp in handcuffs.

After taking photos of him and the killing tools that he possessed, he was told to show them all of the traps that he had set.

Do you see a trap in this photo?

This is the hiding place for a gin trap……

And, this is what happens when an animal steps into the trap…..

Then the “poacher” went on to point out several snares that had been set.   These were pieces of entwined wire that circled the path.  When the animals get stuck in them, the wire noose closes on the animal and it is held there until the poacher can kill it with a spear or knife.

Honestly, the setting of these snares is an art form as the poacher uses vines and branches to hold the snare in place and to camouflage it, but the art side of it fades when you realize how much pain it an inflict on the unsuspecting animal!!!

Once the traps were cleared….

…..the training exercise was over and it was time for a curtain call…..

This team provided us a front-row seat into the world of poaching and the efforts to stop it.

Now it was time to release the “prisoner”.   But where was the key???

They searched everywhere but couldn’t find it and even tried to pick the lock with a stick!!  I felt bad for the man who was supposed to be holding the key!!

They finally found it on the ride back to camp and the prisoner (ie….APS member with the least seniority) was set free.

We appreciated these guys allowing us to experience their work…..

As we were driving back to camp, I snapped a selfie with everyone in back of the truck….

They didn’t smile in the photo but laughed after it was taken!!

It was great to see yet another example of the great work that Zambeze Delta Safaris is doing!!

A Visit with the Village Chief….

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.

Hungry stomachs no more…..

Today I am talking about taking the meat from the buffalo that Michael had hunted and providing it to the villagers. If you want the WHOLE story start HERE…..

After our victorious lunch, we headed to the local village for the meat distribution.

On our other excursions from the camp, we have worked our way further into the bush but this afternoon we were heading toward civilization.  I started to see various huts and shacks…..

And then we started seeing children……

A TINY little boy with a BIG stick!!!!

I felt a bit like the Queen as I sat on the elevated seat in the back of the jeep, waving and smiling to every child that I saw.  

Word had gotten out that a meat delivery was imminent, and the crowds were already forming when we arrived.   It started out mostly as children….

….and we enjoyed watching a heated game of dodgeball.  Believe me, these little girls could THROW that ball!!!

And what is it about little boys and tires……

The village representative….

….came to us and shook our hands (one firm shake) to tell us thank you for providing the sustaining meat.

And I know that this photo may look gross to us…..

….but to these villagers, it’s “what’s for dinner”.

The village representative had to sign saying that he had received the meat………

……and then he and his son took the lead in organizing and handing out the meat. They know who received meat from the previous buffalo and ensure that it is shared between all of the villagers.

While we were waiting for the villagers to arrive, we did some videos that will be used in an upcoming Ted-X talk that Michael will be presenting in September……

The women soon arrived and the doling out of the meat took place…..

They then picked up their pans of meat, put them on their heads…..

And returned to their homes…..

The meat will be smoke-dried over a fire and eaten later.   Julian told me that they will boil the dried meat first to get rid of any mold or other toxic substances that have formed during the storage time, and then cook the “cleansed” meat.

It was a humbling experience to visit the village and even more to see their excitement and gratitude for two white people who were supplying food that will give nutrition to their children and strength to themselves and their families.

Please enjoy this video montage, but be warned that there are two scenes where the raw buffalo meat is shown. If you think of it as walking down the butcher aisle of your local grocer, you should be okay!!!

Cape Buffalo here we come…

If you haven’t been following along on this journey, please start with this post and move forward……

SO……on Wednesday morning, we did it all again!!  Today we took the BV even further onto the flood plain and within an hour of driving, the trackers had spotted the buffs.  While they figured out which way to go, I enjoyed the scenery….especially the white-barked “Fever Tree”.

The are was also populated with many Palm-type trees…..

I managed to get one shot of the fruit as we rolled past…..

When I was off of the truck and taking photos, Julian commented that he heard a leopard call (called a “saw”) and suspected that there was one in the brush just ahead of us!!!……YIKES

It was interesting to see the tracks that the BV left on the soft ground…..

Julian and Dolish would look for the highest point so that they could see further over the plain.  Julian used the BV cab as his ladder……

…..while Dolish preferred a HUGE termite hill…..

The trackers would also listen for the buffalo.  When they heard Oxpeckers (a bird that sits on the buffalo), it caused them to turn and go in a different direction!

We walked/slogged on their path for about an hour and then came upon the herd.  Now it was a waiting game!!  Julian had to find a bull that was appropriate for a “community meat buffalo”.  It couldn’t be a huge trophy but also shouldn’t be a young bull.  Once he had found the proper one, he now had to make sure that Michael knew which one he was looking at!! 

There were two possible bad outcomes….the first is that Michael shot the wrong buffalo and second was that he would wound it rather than making an outright kill.

The trackers took a seat while this process was going on and I joined them on the ground as it was much easier than sitting on my knees!!

We heard the distant sound of a helicopter and all of us prayed that it wasn’t coming our way because it would definitely scare the buffalo away!!  Fortunately, it stayed closer to the camp, so we didn’t need to worry.

After an interminable time, Michael was able to take the shot.  Buffalo are hardy, thick-skinned animals and are not easy to take down.  When the buff didn’t go down immediately, Michael worried that he had made a bad shot, but Julian told him to just wait a bit and see what happened.  The buff ran a few yards and then fell.

Now we had to wait until the other buffalo wandered away!!   I expected them to all flee once the gun sounded but they just kept on grazing around us, apparently unconcerned with their fallen comrade.

By now we were all standing up and I was surprised to see a bull about 50 yards away…..just looking at us.  Needless to say, we did not make ANY visible movement and after a few minutes, he simply wandered away.

When we got to the now-deceased buffalo, they worked hard to push the 1500-pound animal onto his chest so that we could do some photography…

If you want to see the photo, please click HERE.

Francisco was dispatched to bring the BV and we enjoyed looking around the plain……

….although there wasn’t much to see!!

The next part of the day wasn’t pretty but was necessary for us to transport the buffalo back to camp. We watched as the trackers skinned and quartered the big guy.

They stopped often to sharpen their knives and I was intrigued with the sharpener…..

It was so simple in design but was extremely effective!!!

Julian and I enjoyed a laugh while we were waiting….

….and the vultures wondered why it was taking so long!!

They attacked the leftovers as soon as we pulled away….

Francisco had worked hard this morning and took a well-deserved nap as we headed back to the road…..

The ride back to camp was victorious and lunch was eaten with a light heart, knowing that we had conquered the “dangerous game” and, more importantly, that a village was going to be fed!!

Come back tomorrow for the meat delivery….it was a blast!!!