August 2021

Safari with a difference

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Safari with a difference

Alex Kadziyanike
By Alex Kadziyanike
Field Guide

After having our afternoon tea and snacks we set off for our safari experience, as planned with my guests. It was their first activity as they had arrived mid-morning so I gave them the briefing and asked what their expectations were. I was expecting to hear, "We would love to see the Big Five," but to my surprise they wanted us to look for signs and tracks, and to learn about trees and herbs and their medicinal uses as it reminded them of growing up in the
village.

My guests were local Zimbabweans and knew most of the common plants. I was so impressed - it was really a safari with a difference! We proceeded and, just like any bird watchers, we were stopping at almost every plant that would catch their eyes to find out whether it was of any medicinal value. At one stage I thought they were sangomas, (traditional healer) because they really valued their culture and had excellent knowledge of the plants. We covered a lot of trees and plants which included the magic guarri bush or local toothbrush tree (Euclea divinorum). They both had an amazing experience of chewing  and fraying the twigs to form the brush. The tree has been used for many years by locals not because it forms a good brush but also because it has some chemical components that makes the teeth white and also treats the gums.

I also learnt a lot from what they knew. Yes, we saw good game as we were driving but the focus was different! They were also fascinated by the elephant dung which they believed can treat nose bleeding after burning it and inhaling the smoke. At the end of the safari I gave them each new twigs fashioned into toothbrushes from the toothbrush tree.