A poacher snared and killed a hippo a few days ago. He sold the meat to the villagers and went off to the pub to celebrate. There are no local cattle, because of trypanosomiasis by the bites of tsetse flies. Some villagers keep chickens, ducks and goats, for special occasions or to be sold to raise cash. That means eating a hippo steak is a real treat. The meat is not tough and sinewy like “bush meat” from antelopes.
Someone informed the wildlife authority (ZAWA) and the poacher’s house was raided. They found stocks of meat waiting to be sold, but by the time they had reached his watering hole, the poacher had vanished. The penalty for poaching inside the National Park is a year in gaol.
Perhaps he had been drinking the local hooch. Chibuku is beer, made from fermented sorghum. I passed a line of Zambians large containers, crowding around a truck, selling chibuku. It is cheap if you buy in bulk. Twenty litres costs just Kw25 (about £2). Buying just a litre costs Kw3 (25p), so the locals club together to buy in bulk. The women carry the beer home on their heads.
During the cold season (now), the beer remains fresh for upto three days, slowly fermenting and becoming more alcoholic, until it becomes sour. In the hot season, the beer is already fully fermented and ready to drink immediately.
There are other kinds of local booze, beer made from maize and distilled into “gin”. This is drunk neat, needless to say, without ice and lemon. But if the fermentation goes wrong, and the spirit has a bad taste, the distiller will add lemon juice to disguise it. A litre costs about Kw7 (60p).
The lab technician, Trognes, told me that there would be lots of people with headaches coming to clinic tomorrow.