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Mana Pools
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Eastern Zambezi Valley

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Click the image to see Dick Pitman's photographs

They have spent a large percentage of their lives in the Zimbabwean bush, have worked together on Zambezi conservation and publishing projects for many years, and in 2008 they put their combined experience and knowledge together to establish and operate ZIM4x4.

Dick has been an 'outdoorsman' all his life. He was a professional gliding instructor in the UK, and owned a fishing boat on the country's Channel coast. He arrived in Africa in 1977, rafted the Batoka Gorge in 1982, and took part in one of the earliest organised Zambezi canoe journeys in 1983. He is an experienced wildlife and wilderness photographer, holds appropriate Zimbabwe Parks Authority guide's licences, and is a qualified Lake Kariba skipper.

Dick's conservation and 4x4 careers began simultaneously in 1979, when he made a countrywide tour of the then Rhodesia's wildlife areas in a 1963 Series II SWB diesel Land Rover. This took him into many far-flung wildernesses, at the height of the liberation war. The wildlife areas, he notes, were in far better condition than the Land Rover. The result was a book - 'Wild Places of Zimbabwe' - which subsequently became a minor classic; and, he says, the trip inspired both his love of wilderness and wildlife and his respect for the capabilities of clapped-out Land Rovers.

The trip also inspired Dick to train as a wildlife guide, to join Zimbabwe's Parks department, and to establish the Zambezi Society to help conserve Zambezi Valley wildlife and wilderness. He chaired the Society until 1993, when he became director, and spearheaded campaigns to save Mana Pools and the neighbouring wildlife areas from inundation by hydroelectric schemes, uncontrolled oil exploration and tsetse fly eradication; and to reintroduce cheetah and maintain black rhinos in the Matusadona. He was also a volunteer National Parks pilot and flew Super Cubs and other aircraft on many wildlife projects including black rhino translocation and radiocollaring, elephant monitoring and habitat surveys.

His activities were focused on the Mana Pools, Matusadona and Chizarira National Parks, the Eastern Zambezi Valley area, and the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba themselves, and he acquired in-depth knowledge of the natural history, ecology, geology, cultural history and meteorology of these areas.

Dick stepped down from the directorship of the Zambezi Society in 2007, after 25 years of continuous involvement in Zambezi Valley conservation, and founded ZIM4x4 shortly afterwards. His latest book, 'A Wild Life' - a memoir based on his conservation work - was published in the UK and USA in 2008.

Sally worked with the UK Countryside Commission for several years before returning to Zimbabwe, where she specialises in writing and publishing in the fields of tourism, environment and wilderness conservation. She joined Dick at the Zambezi Society in 1995, as Information Officer and Project Manager in charge of the Society's Wilderness Conservation Programme, a post she still holds.

Sally has published many features and papers on wilderness conservation, but also has much experience of project management in the Zambezi Valley region, including participation in park planning initiatives and the provision of support for park management. She wrote, designed and produced the Zambezi Society's Wilderness Code, which ZIM4x4 adheres to in the course of its operations.

She also leads the WildZambezi initiative which was set up in 2009 to encourage regional and overseas tourists to visit the Zambezi Valley and Mana Pools areas. As the Parks Authority is dependent on tourism for its revenues, the initiative is seen as one way of increasing the currently minute budgets available to wardens for essential activities such as anti-poaching.

She has flown for hundreds of hours with Dick on Zambezi wildlife projects, becoming an adept and highly experienced 'spotter' for elephant collaring and other work, and handling radio guidance communications with the ground teams involved.

Dick and Sally have driven many hundreds of thousands of kilometres in the Zambezi Valley and Lake Kariba areas for both business and pleasure. They have both owned numerous 4x4s, including Series II diesel and petrol Land Rovers, Unimog, Toyota Hilux 3L and a 60 series Land Cruiser. They now lead ZIM4x4 tours in an 80GX Land Cruiser with a naturally-aspirated 1HZ diesel motor.

All ZIM4x4 tours are accompanied by Dick and Sally Pitman, acknowledged experts on Zambezi Valley conservation and internationally-published authors of books and magazine features on wilderness and wildlife conservation, illustrated with their own photography.
WildIdeas (Pvt) Ltd t/a ZIM4X4