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This little cub has a mother, father, and older brother. Africa Hope Fund helps support the Zambia Carnivore Program which tracks carnivores in three locations in Zambia. The knowledge they gain from radio-tracking collars, months spent in the bush, and air patrols from the plane they share with Conservation South Luangwa helps protect all carnivores in the South Luangwa Valley.

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We never seem to get tired of snapping photos of hippos, even though they are dangerous and tend to be cranky. This is actually a bird photo because the bird on the hippo’s head is one of my favorites. It’s a hammerkop stork. He always looks like he’s being blown by the wind and it’s messing up his hair.

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This leopard is just waking up from his afternoon nap. The sun is beginning to set, and he’s thinking about supper. Leopards tend to hunt alone. This guy is in a dry gully. Sitting above him in our Land Rover, we can snap tons of photos of him at just about every angle from his pink tongue to his rosettes of black that help distinguish him from a cheetah.

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Africa Hope Fund Board members Leslie Leggio and Steve Kuhn want you to see the spectacular Zambian sunsets along the South Luangwa River. You’ll hate to leave when you’ve been served delicious appetizers and the beverage of your choice while watching the sun set.

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Safari on the River helped build this library at Uyoba School in Mfuwe Village, Zambia where board member Debbie Lott volunteered to organize and teach for three months. We were there in June, and we were thrilled to watch Debby’s gifts of experience and pure joy in loving what she does pay off.

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Tired of Politics?

Vote for your favorite photo in the comment section below, and go to www.safariontheriver to buy your tickets for our Sunday, September 18, 2016 fundraiser.

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Conservation Lake TanganyikaNsumbu National Park (also called Sumbu) lies on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika near its southern extremity, in Zambia's Northern Province. It covers about 494,211 square miles and 50 miles of lakeshore including four bays (Kasaba, Kala, Nkamba and Sumbu), and Nundo Head Peninsula. Lake Tanganyika is one of the most astounding natural habitats on earth. Its great productivity and biodiversity support millions of people in the Tanganyika basin.

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Our guide said he’d never seen this before. A parade of 40-50 elephants walking two to three abreast in a long line. Males and females, calves and babies, aunts, cousins, including magnficient mature elephants with huge tusks. They looked like photos I’ve seen of  the old days when herds or clans this size made their migratory treks throughout Africa. Thank you. This is proof that the programs you support through Africa Hope Fund in Africa, especially Conservation South Luangwa and the Zambia Carnivore Programme are working. This is our logo in action.

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This was taken in the Mambwe District in Zambia, about a half hour or so from Mfuwe Village. There are small businesses like this in Mfuwe, but not enough of them. The businesses in Mambwe do not depend as much on the safari trade. Mfuwe Village attracts a lot of people who come to the South Luangwa Valley looking for jobs in the safari industry, but there are always more people seeking jobs than there are jobs.

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At home, our students don’t usually enter reading contests like this. Take a look at this little guy in a reading competition with eight other schools in the area, a first for Uyoba School. Just a year earlier, Africa Hope Fund provided a new reading program with books for each student. Their test scores jumped that year.

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Zambian Carnivore Programme’s (ZCP) Thandiwe Mweetwa who grew up in Mfuwe Village and earned her master’s degree in Arizona in wildlife management likes wild dogs the best of all the animals they research in Zambia.

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It doesn’t seem possible that a thirteen foot tall mammal weighing more than 15,000 pounds can sneak up on a person. But look how this elephant’s color blends in with branches and woods. And how this herd coming through the woods and preparing to cross the South Luangwa River blends in so well, it’s nearly impossible to count them.

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Yesterday I bought some salted peanuts in the shell. Today while I was waiting for water t boil for my tea, I grabbed a couple of peanuts, and a memory flashed past. I was very small and probably at a zoo, and feeding a solitary elephant a peanut as she reached her trunk over the metal fence. Finger-like tips at the end of her trunk first sniffed and blew warm breath on my hand, then gently took the peanut. I remember the moment clearly now, but I didn’t know what kind of a being was at the end of that prehensile trunk.

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Taken towards the end of the day, this photo of   a lagoon in the South Luangwa National Park is the very essence of the life elephants should lead. During the wet season, the lagoon is full of water, fish, and birds are abundant, herbivores like puku and impala are plentiful, and the elephants enjoy the luxury of spraying themselves with water.

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Before I traveled to Zambia in 2011, I had no idea how close elephants are to extinction. I never thought about how many elephants died so their tusks could become ornaments and trophies. I didn’t understand that they have been hunted for their ivory for centuries.

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In 2015, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) now called the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) completed a report based on an aerial survey of wildlife they commissioned. Funding was provided by Vulcan Incorporation as part of the Great Elephant Census, a Paul G. Allen Family Foundation project. 

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People ask Carol Van Bruggen and me, “Why Zambia? Why not do good work at home?" Our answer is that we do both and so do our board members/directors. Sharing our abundance with others doesn’t have borders.

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The word elephant comes from the Greek language for ivory. Elephants were hunted for their ivory before Egyptian King Tutankhamun, in power during the middle of the 12th century, was buried in a casket with 45,000 pieces of inlaid ivory. 

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Elephant extinction is a big topic. Here are ways to help:

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Do you have questions about the ivory stockpiles that Kenya burned recently? Many think the ivory should have been sold and the money given to anti-poaching or other worthwhile efforts.

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The South Luangwa National Park is nearly two and a half million acres of grasslands, riverine and riparian woodlands, rivers, lagoons, and semi-aquatic grasslands surrounded by bush in a country of one hundred and forty-eight million acres with mopane, mahogany, leadwood, winterthorn, sausage trees, vegetable ivory palms, marula, tamarind trees, and more.

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Mfuwe has a police department and a local clinic which is usually staffed by doctors who come for short periods and are hired by the safari industry. There is one gasoline station and one occasionally working ATM machine where a small herd of goats seems to like hanging around. Some stores sell minutes for cell phones or “Dongles,” the wireless cards we use with our computers for Internet service which is still spotty at best.

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Mfuwe (pronounced “muh” foo we) village has grown because of the many safari lodges in the area. People flock there seeking jobs, but there are more people than there are jobs in the safari industry which shuts down during the rainy season December through March.

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The connection between ivory and terrorism continues to include many terrorist groups. Boko Haram, a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq active in the north of Nigeria since 2009, (The name means “non-Islamic education is a sin.”) wants to impose Islamic law as the only law in Nigeria, and is also among the militants making money from trafficking ivory tusks from slaughtered elephants to pay their fighters and buy arms and ammunition.

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Many ivory traders are terrorists. Money from buying and selling poached ivory finances their campaigns of terror and destruction. Between 2012 and 2014, about 60,000 elephants and more than 1,600 rhinos were slaughtered by poachers according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and other organizations who work to protect endangered species.

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When an elephant dies, her calves, sisters, cousins, aunts, and grandmothers visit her body, using their trunks to examine every inch of her and touch her gently. They stay with her body for about three days. Part of this time they stand with their backs to her and occasionally touch her with a hind leg. I’ve seen videos of mothers nudging their newborn babies this way to encourage them to stand. It seems like the gentlest way an elephant can help a loved one.

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I love these guys. For all their fierce tusks, and annoyed looks on their faces, they are not aggressive to humans. Warthogs eat grass, fruit, berries, roots, and insects. When they are desperate depending on weather conditions, they also eat small mammals, birds, and reptiles and can live for months without water.

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Does a photograph of an adorable baby elephant pull at your heart? These little guys were in the back courtyard at Mfuwe Lodge while their elders ate mangoes. They got tired, and one fell asleep. Like a true sibling or cousin, the other wouldn’t rest until he had what looked like the best napping spot. He pestered the sleeping baby relentlessly until they both collapses in a tangle of limbs into what looked uncomfortable, and they fell asleep.

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Carol Van Bruggen told me a story that illustrates the tension between village life and conservation.

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In 2015 the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) which is now called the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in Zambia, commissioned an aerial survey of wildlife. Funding was provided by Vulcan Incorporation as part of the Great Elephant Census, a Paul G. Allen Family Foundation project.

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