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ARTIST: Paul Augustinus
TITLE: Serondella
SIZE: 14in x 19.5
Oil on Canvas

The Salt Lick
Elephants on a flood plain of the Chobe River in Botswana
'At the time tourism was non existent and no one thought twice about the risks'

'Upstream of Serondella, the old and much loved campsite used by travelers to the Chobe National Park in the 1970s and 1980s, you will find a wide island-studded floodplain that separates Botswana from Namibia. These floodplains have district-sized dimensions and reach far beyond the horizon. In July and August, as the flood waters recede, elephants can be seen moving across the sea of grass like ships on a yellow coloured ocean. But it is the baboons of the Chobe that are so iconic. I have never been anywhere with so many baboons than has this stretch of the Chobe River. They are endlessly entertaining but they are also a pest, raiding tents for food and generally causing mayhem in camps. They leave dollops of the foul smelling dung everywhere and this ends up on your tires and in the wheel wells of your vehicle. And on the soles of shoes as well! But I forgive them for all that as they are a very evocative species. When I see a baboon I am immediately reminded of the Chobe River. And especially of the rocky calcrete salt-lick just upstream of Serondella where I spent a lot of time in wait for something interesting to happen. In the very early 1970s when Serondella still had a small occupied village next to it and the Sawmill had just been decommissioned and dismantled there was no track down on to the floodplain near this salt-lick as there is now and so you walked there from Serondella. In retrospect I can see how risky that was because you had to make sure that there were no elephants coming down to drink at the old dead fig tree bend, but at the time tourism was non existent and no one thought twice about the risks. So you walked there as I did on several occasions in 1971 when we were camped there during one of my school holidays.'

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A Paul Augustinus painting of baboon, elephants and impala on a floodplain in the Chobe National Park in Botswana