|Dr. John Condy: That infamous smile!|
These calls came in frequently, but I was not always available to respond, being occupied twenty to thirty days per month on elephant hunting in the Tsetse Corridors. A weekend spent at my home base, Chipinda Pools on the Lundi River, was supposed to be a “rest and re-supply” break. With a bit of luck, a visit by a girlfriend would remind me that life did not solely consist of hunting dangerous game!
One hot, hazy, lazy Saturday afternoon in 1968, a Land Rover drew up at my little shack, and big, smiling John Condy climbed out. Oh boy, I thought, here comes trouble. I was right. Dr. J.B. Condy, a senior researcher with the then Rhodesian Department of Veterinary Services, had achieved world recognition with his work on Foot and Mouth Diseases (F.M.D.). His casualness and sense of humour belied a sharp intelligence and determination to achieve his goals.
We had settled down over a few beers, catching up on news, when John asked me to come over to Hippo Valley Sugar Estates next day.
“Sure, John. I would like to see your domesticated buffalo herd. You’ve got wildebeest there too, haven’t you?”
“Yes, but I need the buffalo shot, so that I can take saliva, tongue and throat scrapings”. “No problem”, I said unsuspectingly. “Will they be in holding pens?”
“Well, no. There are some small herds of wild buffalo on the Estate. I have arranged to take ten head for the F.M.D. tests, and the meat will be given out to the labourers”.
“Hold it, John”, I exclaimed. “How the hell am I going to do this, or is someone else coming on this rabbit shoot? Have you ever tried shooting ten buffalo in a day?”
John gave me his broadest grin. “Not in a day actually, Richard. You have to shoot them tomorrow afternoon between 2pm and 5.30pm. Then I get the specimens onto the evening plane from Buffalo Range airport to Salisbury, and they’ll catch the flight tomorrow night to London, to arrive fresh at Pirbright Research Institute on Monday morning. The guys there are expecting the samples”.
“You’re totally nuts, Condy”, I spluttered. “How can you make all these commitments and then give me the impossible task of meeting them? If we find some buffalo on the cattle section of the Estates, the first shot will certainly be the last for the day. Over those tens of thousands of acres, where do we start looking anyway? Forget it, John”.