Journeys in the Wild
Janine Scola, Monday 8th April 24

Journeys in the Wild? Wild Journeys more like!
Janine Scola a member of Dorchester took us on a roller coaster ride of two journeys. The first half in Zambia and the second into Uganda to meet our distant cousins.

Janine, an inveterate traveller since a very young age, mainly on her own, organising trips that take her exactly where she wants to go and with the animals she is aiming to see, together with the curiosity of seeing a new area in this part of the world. Researching, planning and precise preparation are an essential part of her raison d’etre. She works with a few travel companies who provide the observational experiences she wants, as well as the travel and accommodation requirements of such a trip. Flying in small aircraft to make these large countries accessible is part of the excitement along with some very long and bumpy jeep journeys as well as the occasional boat ride in boats of doubtful states of repair!

Starting with a map and lots of names of places and parks and a rough outline of the journey Zambia began to come to life with the range of its animal life, impala, waterbuck and warthog to name but a few. The elephant shrew raised an ahh.. he was very cute! The wild dog experience was a dramatic one with the clearing of the impala carcass by the pack of 30 in next to no time.

The birds were amazing and though admitting to not ‘being a birder’, Janine reeled off the names and details of many of the individuals she had managed to frame with their iridescent colours, wonderful songs or more ugly heads such as the vultures who had their uses for the big clear up.

As she made her way to see the Southern Migration so many other hair raising stories were told in the special way Janine has of making it not seem TOO terrifying. The loo stop with an elephant approaching; the hippos around the camp while trying to make it to her lodge; the lions spending the night under one lodge, it did have wooden floorboards… but still! And the trump story while travelling as usual in open jeeps, guide and guard with shotgun, and the female lion who decided Janine looked the perfect person to sit beside, hopped aboard the jeep and did just that!! Janine talked to her as she would her dogs and eventually told her it was time to go… and she did!! Unbelievable!

The sight of hundreds of wildebeest on their Southern Migration brought the end of that particular adventure to a close. What an adventure it had been.

The second journey to Uganda, again with map and names of places such as Kampala, one of the most polluted places Janine had ever visited; Entebbe and Murchison Falls, with a volume of water that overtook all your senses and became mesmerising as she watched it fall. The introduction to the shoebill stork, with a face that made it look prehistoric and rather comical!

The scenery was very different from Zambia with lakes and hillsides full of agricultural endeavour. The Kabali Rain Forest was the main destination to see the families of chimpanzees and followed by probably the main event, the Katme Gorilla family. Travelling with a stick for balance and a porter with the camera gear it was a trek involving energy and determination and a guide with a machete, but oh so worthwhile. The emotional connectivity felt to these, our closest relatives was palpable. Janine shared her misgivings as far as habituating the families which can take anything up to five years but then the primates are protected here somewhat from the bush meat trade and money is brought to the communities for treks such as she was doing. The balance is always difficult.

What a wonderful evening seeing places and animals many of us will never see for real. Janine brought it to life in her quirky humour way which made us go ‘oooh, ahhh, eeee, and oh no. Really?’ We look forward to another traveller’s tale in the future, though we gather it maybe somewhat colder!
Thank you Janine for a superb evening journeying in the wilds of Africa with you.

- Jane Tearle.