The state of the park

27 08 2010

We did not get off to a good start. I had instructed Lucy and Will to stay in the vehicle and not say anything otherwise we would have to pay extra entrance fees for foreigners and I was damned if I was going to do that. I walked to the gate “house” to make the entry payment. Of course the woman attending the gate did not have change and had no suggestions as to how we were going to overcome the issue. It was all of 11 dollars and 10 just would not do – the good old Zimbabwean attitude that it is best to have nothing and be inflexible than get something. I boiled, muttered and eventually scratched around to find the exact amount.

I reflected as we drove into Nyanga National Park that the state of a nation is reflected in its national parks. The roads were not good and a low clearance vehicle would have had serious problems with it. The once neat Nyanga Research Station was decrepit and abandoned, windows broken and doors ajar though curiously the adjacent orchard was still neat. I remember the Research Station as a child and was fascinated by the director, one Bud Payne who had the longest beard I’d ever seen. A bit further up the road we drove through the remains of a stand of exotic conifers. Once majestic only a few trees are alive now – the rest are dead, victims of poor fire management. Instead of being felled and sawn for some desperately needed revenue they have been left as a monument to incompetence and neglect. One had actually fallen across the road and was supported by another tree on the other side of the road. It didn’t seem likely to fall so we continued up towards the Mare Dam.

Wattle trees require fire to germinate so have invaded large areas of the park and little has been done to remove them – at best a mammoth task – but almost impossible with the negligable resources available to the Park. I did see evidence of controlled burning on the grassveld towards the north so maybe they are concentrating on what they know they can do. The 16th century ruins of a fort we visited were still in good condition (invasive species kept out) and I dawdled looking for flowers to photograph while Will and Lucy explored. On the way back down the hill we came across two waterbuck incongrously standing in the road like shaggy overgrown goats. They moved off unconcerned – at least the poaching seemed under control!

I noticed on the way into town this morning that the traffic lights on Harare Drive where I cross it had been repaired and were working! I suppose that is progress of a sort. But precious few lights were working on the way to the Tobacco Research Board. The electricity situation is definitely NOT improving.

Lucy, Will and myself on Worlds View



2 responses

29 08 2010
Big Blister

What currency were you using? US$10 seems a pretty steep entry fee!!

29 08 2010

$2 for the car and $3 per person for “Zimbabweans”. Mana Pools is much more expensive. This COUNTRY is expensive!

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