The Hunting Blackbeards of Botswana – Marsh Brian (editor)
Unlike Kenya and Tanzania with their traditional tented-camp safaris, Botswana is thought to be a latecomer to the modern safari industry, which is actually not true. Although Botswana started blooming only when hunting became more restricted in East Africa, it has always been a top-notch location for a host of specialized antelope and all members of the Big Five except for the rhino. From the time Francis Blackbeard first settled in Botswana in 1820 to his modern-day descendents, father Dennis and sons Gavin and Ronnie, this family with their passion for hunting have been leaders of the safari industry in that country. Set in the dry and thirsty Kalahari as well as in the beguiling environment of the Okavango Delta, this book about the professional hunting lives of the Blackbeard family is a fascinating read. The Kalahari, known as “The Great Thirst” is a low rainfall semidesert where new techniques for judging trophy animals, like the gemsbok, must be learned. Distance magnifies and in those flat, wide-open areas a warthog can look like a buffalo. On the other hand, the Okavango Delta is a vast swampland filled with reed and papyrus beds where red lechwe and sitatunga can be hunted.
The Blackbeards have always relied on the expertise of the Mosarwa desert-dwellers, traditional hunter/gatherers who live in the wilds of the Kalahari, for their natural ability to hunt and track. The Blackbeards’ special relationship with the Mosarwas has enabled their clients to bring in many a fine trophy. The supporting photographs in this book, the majority of which are in color, that depict these people, the trophies from the hunts, and desert scenes are superb.