River, River on the Fall


Since I arrived in South Luangwa six weeks ago, the water level in the river has plummeted. The rains have been less than average for the past three years. Already great swathes of sandy mudbanks have emerged midstream. The flow seems to have lost its urgency. If we don’t have early rain in November, the river could stop flowing altogether, shrinking to a chain of filthy, stinking pools, filled with hippos. And their excrement.

Here are some photographs of the same location, taken a month apart.


And upstream:




By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.


    1. Yes, Judy, some water is taken out for irrigation, but not enough to cause this reduction in flow. It is too low for navigation, but I have heard of intrepid explorers braving the hippos in small boats.

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