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Israeli tourist toasts Zambian hospitality

BENEDICT Tembo.

Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
IN HIS travelogue in the Israeli travel magazine, Masa Acher, Peretz Giladi, a top game ranger with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, has described his unforgettable visit to the South Luangwa National Park.“Most of the safari travellers go to Tanzania and Kenya. Zambia, the more reserved country, can offer a traveller an immense wealth of true nature at any time and place,” Mr Giladi said.
He said with fewer tourists and with a chance of not seeing any tourists at all during their stay at the park, being alone in the huge and impressive park, Mr Giladi “enjoyed the wonderful nature that Zambia has to offer with great generosity and a big smile”.
His mission to Zambia was to study the African wild dog, a wild animal that has become endemic in Africa and around the world and the attempts to preserve it.
The African wild dog is also called the “Painted wolf” after the colours of its fur.
With the help of his Israeli friend Zeev Zacharin, Mr Giladi contacted two US researchers living in Zambia, who study predators and are active in the prevention of illegal hunting.
He was invited to join them on one of their projects in Zambia by Matthew Becker, who is the chief executive officer and programme manager of ZCP dedicated to studying, monitoring and following large predators in Zambia, mainly lions and painted wolves.
The study was conducted at three different parks throughout the country – east, south and north of Lusaka. The parks are Liuwa, Kafue and the South Luangwa.
Giladi was impressed by parks such as the Kigelia Africana, and evergreen tree with large leaves and fruit that look like large sausages, thus it is called the sausage tree (it was brought to Israel as a decorative tree and can be found in many gardens in Israel).
He said the Tamarindus Indica, a tree of the leguminous family, although its name hints that it comes from India – because that is where the Arabs and Persians found it and took it to their countries –originated in Africa.
He was mainly impressed by the huge baobab trees, many of which are over 1,000 years old, reaching immense heights with trunk diameters of several metres, subject of local legends and folklore and considered sacred by many. The elephants enjoy eating its trunk because of the fluids and sugars stored therein.
Giladi’s highlight of his trip to Zambia was the African wild dog (Lycaon Pictus). The name indeed reflects its classification – one classifies it as a dog and the other as a wolf, but in taxonomy terms it is neither a dog nor a wolf.
“It is a separate species in the canine family of which the dog and wolf are members. This species, which lives only in Africa, is at risk of global extinction. There are currently 6,000-7,000 individuals in six countries throughout Africa, including Zambia,” he said.
Mr Giladi has expressed his utmost gratitude to Mr Zeech and Nir Karin for connecting him to the ever helpful ZCP team led by Dr Becker.
Travelogues by Mr Giladi help market the country’s tourism internationally.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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