Lancaster businesswoman takes on African river canoe challenge
Animal lover and businesswoman Anita Lowis took to the water on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to support a charity close to her heart.
Anita, who lives in Wray and is a director of Bay Vets, spent four days as part of a team which canoed down the Zambezi in Africa to raise vital funds for animal welfare.
The Zambezi Canoe Challenge was organised by the animal welfare charity Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS).
“I have had a life-long interest in natural history and I have been to Africa a few times watching and photographing the birds and wildlife,” Anita said.
“Perhaps my love of nature has been passed down to me from my ancestors – the Kearton brothers; Cherry and Richard, who were prominent naturalists and authors as well as pioneering early photography of wildlife.
“The challenge really did appeal to me as the Zambezi would be an ideal place to witness the abundant wildlife, birdlife and the stunning scenery via a water based safari and at the same time, raise funds for this very worthwhile charity.
“Having said that, I had never been in a canoe.”
The WVS is a registered UK charity and helps animals in places where no one else will by assisting other animal charities and non-profit organisations around the world.
In an average year WVS will treat 150,000 animals, deploy 100 veterinary volunteer teams, send 850 veterinary aid parcels, train 500 vets and support 250 charities.
Anita, along with 12 other volunteers, took four days to canoe 100 miles down the Zambezi river, which is the fourth largest river and runs from central Africa to the Indian Ocean.
They camped each night on the riverbanks or on small islands, sleeping on the sand under the stars, taking in the beauty of the natural landscapes and avoiding a few near misses in the river with a number of hippos and crocodiles.
Anita said: “I couldn’t believe how close we got to the game animals wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels and the bird species were amazing.
“We saw elephants, hippos, crocodiles, impala, kudu, giraffe, zebra, warthogs, waterbucks, bushbucks, vervet monkeys, baboons, mongoose, egret, cormorant, wagtails, white crowned plover, striped kingfisher, bee-eaters, pied kingfishers, ostrich, vultures, storks, buzzards, giant kingfisher, guinea fowl, tiger fish, bream and the national bird of Zambia, the African fish eagle.
“We didn’t see any cats although we did see prints near to our camp and could certainly hear the lions roaring throughout the night.
“The two guides, TK and Martin were brilliant; they were so knowledgeable and they looked after us so well ensuring our safety but above all that, they were fantastic cooks too.”
Once the challenge had been completed the volunteers then visited the Lilayi Elephant Orphanage in Lusaka that the WVS supports.
The elephant nursery is home to the youngest members of the rescued elephant calves; they receive the dedicated care needed to get through the vital, vulnerable early months and years of rehabilitation before they are ready for their eventual release back to the wild.
On the final day, the volunteers were given the unique opportunity to visit Khal Amazi flower farm a producer of super sweetheart roses.
The roses are grown in a controlled environment, cut, chilled and exported to Europe by air and are in our supermarkets within three days of being harvested.
Anita said: “What an amazing tour of the rose farm – a perfect way to end such a fantastic trip. What an experience, something I will never forget – a holiday of a lifetime.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped and supported me on this challenge – with your help I am delighted to have raised the sum of £4,538.15 for the WVS charity.”
To donate to the cause, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anita-lowis1