Full moon over thatched roof hut – guest quarters at Savory camp.
Path to Savory camp. I challenge you walk it alone. He he.
Cattle at dawn. Notice the ground is *not* muddy, but covered with beaten down grass, called “litter”. I.e. The ground is covered. It is cool and not oxidizing. Microbial activity is thriving. This is the site of the future vegetable garden for one of the villages working with the Center. The cattle are kept in a movable kraal (or stockade). Note, it is movable. The stockade is not in a steady place, but constantly moves, to allow for proper impact, and prevent overgrazing. Instead of taking the manure to the gardens, they move the the stockades to where the vegetable gardens are intended to be. This community does *not* set fires to clear bush. They use animals, as nature intended.
Note the health of the land around this watering hole. Indeed, this is a new spring that just recently appeared on the restored soil. Thus, there is now year round surface water where their didn’t used to be. The restored land improved the hydrology cycle. When Savory bought the land 9 years ago, this area was dry and patchy, and there were 200 head of cattle. Given the conditions on the land at the time, conventional thinking (still held) says there must have been too many cattle. However, he now runs 500 head and the land is completely healthy. What happened? As Savory has shown, proper management of cattle, in a fashion the replicates the herd impact, can restore land. Indeed, other than wild herds, it is the only thing that can. Thoreau said that in wildness lies man’s salvation. How right he was. Tame cattle destroy the land. Wild herds, or, cattle managed to impact land similarly, restore it.
Allan Savory sitting by the new spring which just appear a few years ago. Get it? This is new year round surface water (see above). There are no records of surface water being in this spot in over 100 years of records for this land. His only tool? Cattle management. According to conventional theory, given that he now has over twice as many cattle as the previous owner, this land should look more like Mars (see above). It should be patchy, capped, and dry, like most of Zimbabwe this time of year where people are lowering their stocking densities and using fire to clear bush. Instead it has full cover, a healthy reparian terrain, and new surface water. He has increased cattle and stopped using fire. As is clear, overgrazing and land degradation has nothing to do with animal numbers and everything to do with timing, or management. If we can create movement in the fashion of the original herds, we can actually restore grasslands and water cycles.
Villagers in the one of the communities the Center has been working in. They greeted us with song.
Patchy, capped land, with no grass and no cover. This is typical in Zimbabwe. You see it for mile after mile. It is also typical in much of Africa and other grassland areas of the world which have been mismanaged, including large swaths of the US, which, like Africa, used to have 100s of millions of herding animals keeping soils healthy. After a few years of proper cattle herd-behavior movement, land like this recovers. The villages that work with the Center have started with similarly depleted land before learning how to restore it. It’s the same everywhere. Orthodoxy would say there there are too many animals on this land. Indeed, there are too few.
Bush fire from air. A common occurrence and major contributor to global warming. Bush fires also deplete soil and wouldn’t be occurring in the dry season. There should be millions upon millions of wide herding animals clearing the bush naturally. Instead, we now have fire and soil depletion. This increase the carbon loading in the atmosphere and decreases the carbon sink capacity of the land. What a deal.
Bush fire near camp. This fire has been burning for three days now. Thousands of acres are burnt. A smoke haze is in the air. It stinks. I saw the haze from the plane and saw plums of smoke. Bush fires are way of life in much of the world, and unfortunately so. We don’t need them. They are contributing to global warming and land degradation. The land wants the animals to return.
Village lady carrying water to put out a bush fire. Notice smoke and charred land around her.
Village lady walking right through smoldering area with open flames. This was a hot a scarey situation. This isn’t how people were went to live with the land.
Morning haze? Think again.
Our cook, Mtah (pronounced Em Tah). He also serves as my tutor for the local language, Ndebele. Meals are delicious, or “kumnandi”. Thank you is “ngiyabonga”. Good morning is “uvukele njani”. I am learning to love the language.
An elephant lives in the camp. It was orphaned as a baby and just showed up. Those with the elephant are Zimbabwe government officials, visiting the center for a two-day workshop on Holistic Management. I spent some time with them.
Elias leading a workshop in land restoration. The healthy grassland behind him has been heavily impacted by cattle, as part of a grazing plan.
Savory demonstrating soil erosion. See where the soil line used to be? How much carbon do you think was oxidized as result of this? Times that by billions of acres the world over. This is their control plot. The land hasn’t been grazed in decades. So, is it overgrazed, or over rested? You decide.
Yours truly, replaying the taped interview with the village head. I’ve been helping to document the work of the Center. Note the healthy grassland cover at this community site.
Allan Savory, relaxing at this camp.\