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This Land of Ours
Paul Meyers
~As I sit quietly attempting to marshal my thoughts, I am disturbed by the degree of difficulty as my concentration wavers, it tends to wander through a labyrinth of memories. I am besieged by a lifetime of pleasant recollections and as I reflect on the years that have passed, I realised how fortunate we are to have been born, and to have lived in this very land of ours - Zimbabwe.~

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I am however, at a loss to explain what has compelled me to reveal my inner most thoughts, but I suspect that it is my love of the land and the multitude of animal species found here, the areas which offer scenes of such uncompromised beauty, and provinces which boast vistas of such staggering contrasts that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy, and these have been many for I am after all, a hunter. To those who may not understand my feelings or beliefs, I offer no apologies and would seek no compensation. My love of the veld is an all consuming affair, but those that are opposed to hunting may in their ignorance see me only as a symbol of destruction, but I will stand proud for I believe that foremost I am a tool of conservation, and will attempt to share but a few of those precariously treasured memories.

I have stood on the rim of the Zambezi Valley escarpment and marvelled at its beauty, felt the gentle breeze against my body, the same breeze that gave my body its first breath of life at birth, and the same one that will surely take my final breath into its gentle embrace when my time is done. I have lifted my eyes and gazed with awe at our beautiful clear skies still untouched by the poisonous pollution of man. How often have you experienced that clarity and definition, like the eyes of a child that have been washed by the tears of sorrow. There are, I suppose, very few places in the world that can boast of being such a paradise. I hope that readers the world over will not hold me in contempt for this is not intended as some arrogant criticism of their beloved countries, but I am certain that this is Godís country. For all its faults and shortfalls it is our land, rich in wild life and beautiful sights that will make you catch your breath and force you to gaze in awe.

I have visited Gota Gota, that beautiful hidden gorge in the Makuti Safari area. It is a sudden rift in a series of hills, as though an axe man of the gods has given vent to his fury and slashed this valley in his anger. If this myth has any truth to it, then the gods have surely paid their compensations in full, for the valley is now a botanical paradise with enormous Red Mahoganyís towering above all and reaching into the skies. The slopes are a choked mass of tangled plants and under-growth, with sprays of combretums and creepers that seem to cascade down the slopes in tangled confusion. This is a haven of birds and beasts alike and should you take the time to admire this paradise, feel as though you are a small part of it. One should not be surprised to hear the call of the crested francolin as they move around in the vegetation, or if the gods choose to smile on you, the challenging cough of the resident leopard, an enormous old male that presides over the area. The natural spring at the base of one of the mahogany trees supplies visitors with a deliciously refreshing drink of chilled water, untainted and pure, sustenance of all the inhabitants. Should you sit quietly in private audience, the reward will be a symphony of nature, birds singing with the unrestrained joy of freedom and the spirits of the wind gently filtering through the trees like a monastic chant, accompanied by the ever-present chattering of impish vervet monkeys. If you are fortunate enough you may be serenaded by the beautiful Hueglins Robins that abound in this valley, their haunting calls emanating from secluded havens and filtering through the undergrowth with ethereal clarity.

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I have been to the Doma Safari area with its rugged terrain that has earned the dubious reputation of having made grown men cry and reduced the uninitiated to exhausted wrecks. This area is not one to be trifled with, its erratic topography a challenge to any that may dare to venture through, but where this area is totally unforgiving to those who may wander within its borders it compensates with enchanting landscapes of unparallelled beauty and awe-inspiring wonder. After a gruelling day in pursuit of what I consider the most tenacious adversary on Godís earth, the buffalo, (an animal near to my heart and a topic which I shall relate to shortly). As is the custom in our land, we have grown accustomed to whiling away the evening hours around a camp fire and savouring what is said to be the best hours of the day. This is a time to reflect upon oneís ways, consider the worth of oneís existence and ponder the values of whatever impact our individual lives may have had on those around us, those present and those yet to come. What better time is there to search the inner recesses of your heart, to truly find its passions and its pain; it is a time to strengthen friendships, to form that special bond of camaraderie; it is a time when one may stare deep into the embers of the fire and judge the balances of good against evil, our successes against failures, and Iím sure that deep down in our souls, we all have our own demons to fight, some perhaps more than others but I would consider these the ideal conditions in which to challenge them, and with a little guidance from the Almighty emerge victorious, and purged of ill conscience.

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.5 October 1999
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