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Legendary elephant Boswell leads the way through the magic light of Mana Pools National Park. Zimbabwe © Ana Zinger. Photographer of the Year 2024 entrant

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Akagera abundance + striking pics + photo safari

I had an awe-inspiring encounter with a giant elephant bull named Slot in the iconic Mana Pools many years ago.

I was chilling on the open roof rack of my Landy. It was a mild winter afternoon, the mattress was soft, and the plaintive hoots of wood doves had lulled me into a peaceful slumber. I woke when the Landy seemed to sink a few inches. Opening my eyes, I saw a massive tusk above my body and a large eye staring curiously at me. Slot (he had a large ‘key slot’ hole in his right ear) was resting his tusks on the roof rack – hence the sinking feeling. I would love to say that I nonchalantly greeted him and enjoyed this special moment. But in fact, I got the fright of my life and sat bolt upright, almost head-butting Slot. He jerked his head back and shuffled backwards at a rapid rate, stopping about 10 metres away and glared at me in indignation before clapping his ears and ambling off. I enjoyed several close encounters with this gentle giant over the years and was sad to hear of his death in 2012 due to natural causes.

Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools is one of those safari havens that should be on every bucket list – especially if you enjoy close, safe encounters on foot. Well, we have one spot left on an epic safari in late September – prime time for excellent sightings. See below for details. You will be guided by two of Africa’s best – an experienced walking guide and one of the best photographic guides. Safari njema!

Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic

From our Editor – Taryn van Jaarsveld

Did you know that giant ground pangolins have been rediscovered in Senegal – where they have not been seen in 24 years? A giant pangolin was recently photographed in Niokolo-Koba National Park by a camera trap, one of 217 set up to survey West African lions. The giant pangolin is the rarest of Africa’s pangolins – those fascinating prehistoric creatures that have been around for 80 million years, that are today the most trafficked animal in the world. Endangered giant pangolins are declining in their limited range in Central and West Africa, due to poaching and habitat loss. With many local extinctions of giant ground pangolins reported in recent years, this sighting is a small glimmer of hope.

For another story of hope, read about Kingsley Holgate’s Afrika Odyssey expedition journey to Akagera NP, Rwanda below. And don’t miss the striking pics in our Photographer of the Year gallery – the competition has now reached fever pitch!

Story 1
Kingsley Holgate & his Afrika Odyssey team are connecting 22 African Parks protected areas. Read about their trip to Akagera NP, Rwanda

Story 2
Our Week 11 gallery for Photographer of the Year 2024 is here. Check out these striking images. Entries close at midnight tonight!

Travel desk TRAVEL DESK: 

These thrilling Zimbabwe safaris will show you two very different sides of a fascinating and wildlife-rich country. Opt for a photographer-guided safari to Mana Pools, or a bucket-list adventure to Vic Falls – or why not combine the two?

Mana Pools photographic safari – 9 days – From US$10,795
There is only ONE spot left on this safari, where you’ll experience (and photograph) the best Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, has to offer. You’ll begin your safari in a private concession known for its thrilling wild-dog action, and then spend four days exploring the floodplains on the edge of the mighty Zambezi River. You’ll be personally guided by photographer Villiers Steyn and pro walking guide Carl Nicholson, who will lead you to some epic sightings and photo opportunities. 20–28 September 2024. Contact us to book, and enquire for SADC rates.
This safari offers a jam-packed three days of nonstop action in Africa’s adventure capital – ideal for a short break or as an add-on to another safari. Victoria Falls, one of the world’s Seven Wonders, is a destination well worth ticking off your bucket list. Experience the magic of “the smoke that thunders” in Zimbabwe – whether getting drenched while admiring the view or participating in the many activities on offer here, from white-water rafting, to gorge swinging, helicopter flights, boat cruises, game drives, canoeing and more.
Or in search of something completely different? Start planning your unique safari now.


Between 1,000 and 2,000 pangolins are electrocuted in South Africa each year. Pangolins often get caught on the trip-wire fences surrounding protected areas. These electrocutions can cause severe, if not fatal, injuries such as extreme facial swelling and bleeding from the nose and eyes. Thankfully, Provet Animal Hospital is helping to treat those pangolins that fall victim to fences.

These injured pangolins require immediate and aggressive treatment, including fluid therapy, and anti-inflammatory, pain-killer and antibiotic treatment.

If treatment and recovery are successful, rehabilitated pangolins can be released back into the wild. These pangolins are fitted with satellite and radio tags to help monitor and track their progress after release.

Your donation, big or small, will support the team at Provet Animal Hospital with the funds to deal with the seasonal influx of these precious creatures.

Note that all pangolins are housed at offsite locations for security purposes.

WATCH: Longing to explore marvellous Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi? Majete is one of Africa’s greatest conservation success stories and a premier Big-5 safari destination. Majete’s Thawale Lodge is a fully-catered lodge with all you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Exploring Majete by vehicle or boat is best – both activities are offered to Thawale guests. Learn more here. (09:56) Click here to watch

For more videos celebrating Africa, check out our videos here

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