Every year, millions of people visit the continent of Africa to take in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of its fauna and flora. Whether it’s the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya, the roaring cascade of the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe/Zambia or the vast deserts of Namibia, Africa has long since had a hold on man’s imagination. The routes we traverse across this great continent, metaphorical and otherwise, were mapped out by the intrepid men and women of yesteryear – explorers with a notebook and a thirst for adventure. In this series, we’ll profile a safari icon of the past one by one and pay homage to the work they did.
We’ll begin by taking a look at the Zambian conservationist, Norman Carr.
Norman Carr was born in the busy port town of Chinde, in what is now modern day Malawi, in 1912. He received his education in England and returned to Africa in 1930 where he worked as an ‘Elephant Control Officer’ in the Luangwa Valley. This majestically titled job entailed mitigating the damage done by the resident elephant herds on the crop of farmers in the area. After serving for four years in the Kings African Rifles, where he attained the rank of Captain, Norman became one of Africa’s first Game Rangers in the Luangwa Valley’s newly formed ‘Game Department’. It was in this role that Norman started implementing conservation measures which would be adopted throughout Africa.
Norman Carr persuaded the then Chief Nsefu to set aside some of his land for game conservation use, and this became Nsefu Camp – the first camp of its kind open to the public in what is now Zambia. Some years later a spinal injury, caused by a run in with a buffalo, necessitated a withdrawal from the scene for a year or so. After making a recovery, Norman returned to work as a Warden for the Kafue National Park. It was here that he famously adopted two orphaned male lions – characters which left an indelible impression on all who met them. Norman lovingly raised the pair to adulthood and later successfully reintroduced them in to the wild when they were about three years old (inspiring the novel and movie “Return to the Wild”). After cofounding the first hunting operation in the Luangwa Valley with Peter Hankin, it was in 1968 that Norman Carr’s next revolutionary idea came about…
Growing up in the wild, Norman was always very at home in the African bush. His deep understanding of the dynamic between man and animal meant that he read situations between the two very well. For Norman, a walk in the bush amongst the Big Five was part of his everyday life. So much so in fact that he decided to extend the opportunity of a Walking Safari to visitors of Chibembe Safari Camp. The safari walks were a smash hit! Never before had people experienced wildlife in such a manner, where man and nature interacted so harmoniously in such close proximity.
In his later years, Norman Carr continued in his unwavering quest to conserve and protect all wildlife. In 1979 he devoted two years of his life to the ‘Save the Rhino’ campaign aimed at eradicating the rampant poaching of the Valley’s rhinoceros population. Through the Kapani School Fund, Norman provided scholarships for many children in the area all the while engraining in them the importance of wildlife conservation. These were to be amongst his final acts as the great conservationist, Mr Norman Carr, passed peacefully in 1993.
Norman Carr’s pioneering spirit led to him becoming one of the most important figures in Zambia’s recent history, in the fields of tourism and conservation. His philanthropically inclined nature meant he was well liked and respected amongst his peers, and people in general.
Next time you’re out on that amazing Walking Safari, tip your hat to Mr Carr…
*If you’d like to see more images of Norman and the lions, check out our Pinterest board here.