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Africa Geographic
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Africa Geographic Travel

Great news coming out of Zakouma National Park in eastern Chad (and yet another reason to go back!) is that the first photo of black-breasted barbet in the park has been recorded!

black-breasted barbet in Zakouma
© Zanne Labuschagne and Paul Benecke

This amazing sighting goes with a number of new records of birds not seen in this part of Africa before, one being the greater spotted eagle. No doubt there will be many more to come as the park gets better explored and understood.

black-breasted barbet
© Zanne Labuschagne and Paul Benecke

The black-breasted barbet is one of Africa’s mega ticks for any serious birder. We had the privilege of travelling with Callan Cohen from Birding Africa for part of the time we were there. Callan has to be one Africa’s all time finest naturalists and was a joy to travel with as he shared his knowledge so freely and interestingly. He GPS’d the locations of possible fig trees that could attract these barbets once they started to fruit.

Zanne Labuschagne and Paul Benecke have been living in Zakouma (working for African Parks) and travelled to these fig trees after our departure. They have now located a number of black-breasted barbets in the south of park.

black-breasted barbet drawing
Drawing of a black-breasted barbet © Gossipguy
Africa Geographic Travel
Colin Bell

Instead of going into the expected world of finance after completing his economics degree at Wits University in 1977, Colin landed his first job as a safari guide in Botswana. In those days a cold beer came out of a wet long sock, tied to the side mirror of his Land Rover and cooled while hanging in the breeze. That was as good as it got. In 1983 Colin co-founded Wilderness Safaris with one of the best guides in Southern Africa, Chris McIntyre. The two of them ploughed all their enthusiasm, energies and limited savings (and one second-hand Land Rover) into creating what became one of the most successful specialist safari companies in Africa. Many of these lodges gained their “bush cred” through partnerships with local communities: it was through those negotiations and relationships that Colin started to learn – by trial and error – what worked sustainably and what did not. He went on to co-found Great Plains a year later. Colin is now completely independent and this freedom has allowed him to immerse himself in the Africa’s Finest book project without any vested interests. The book profiles the good, the bad and the ugly of the tourism and wildlife industries. Colin’s operations have successfully re-introduced rhino into the wilds of Botswana and pioneered sustainable partnerships with rural communities in Namibia that ensure that rhino thrive outside of protected areas.