Rhinos without take-off clearance

1858 • • • 2003 • • • 2018

May 27 2003 was one of the most exciting days of my life: After decades, black rhinos would return to North Luangwa in Zambia! But, despite years of planning, nothing went according to plan. The chartered cargo plane, which was to deliver the rhinos from South Africa, got stuck in Angola on the big day. This postponed the entire transport and with it the planned reception ceremony. From the Zambian minister to the German ambassador to the food supplier - everyone involved in the event had to make new arrangements on very short notice.

One day later it finally happened. When the plane's wheels dug into the short and bumpy runway, our stomachs again flipped from anxiety. But, a few seconds later the machine came to a stop and with it the precious cargo. The first black rhinos were back in Zambia. The VIP’s were so delighted to be part of the rhino return, that no one missed out on the ceremony – despite the delay.

Elsabe van der Westhuizen worked for us in Zambia from 1997 to 2007. Today, together with her husband Hugo, she heads the FZS project in Zimbabwe. Since 2003 further rhinos have been settled in North Luangwa. Meanwhile the population is stabilizing and we are registering the first births in the wild.

House cat

1858 • • • 2009 • • • 2018

One morning in 2009 I was shocked to discover leopard footprints in the kitchen of our house, located in the middle of North Luangwa National Park, Zambia. They zigzagged through the kitchen, into the living room, and up to our sofa which was entirely covered in leopard hair. A cushion was missing. I found it in our office next to the generator, fluff torn by claws. The spoor continued: from the office the sneaky leopard made its way to our bedroom and even stole one of my pullovers from the wardrobe! I found the chewed-up corpus delicti in front of the house. By then, of course, the thief was long gone.

Claire Lewis and her husband Ed Sayer have been our programme managers in North Luangwa National Park, Zambia, since 2007. In North Luangwa we are conserving Zambia's only population of black rhinos.