Steve Pope: Professional Guide Extraordinaire

by Wild Zambezi • 21 June 2011

It is with deepest regret that WILD ZAMBEZI reports the tragic death of Steve Pope, one of the Zambezi Valley's most experienced professional guides of long standing.

Steve succumbed to cancer on 15th May 2011, aged just over 60, after a long and successful wildlife safari career.  Through his semi-participatory safaris, bushwalking, camping and canoe trails, Steve introduced literally hundreds of visitors to Zimbabwe's wilderness areas, and inspired all of them with a deep respect for the African bush and its inhabitants.  His focus since the mid-1990s was on Chitake Springs near the Zambezi escarpment in the southern part of the Mana Pools National Park and World Heritage Site, where his uncanny relationship of mutual trust with the resident lion prides became legendary.

Steve was a man of few words, but a bushman par excellence.  He will always be remembered fondly by those who knew him, for his laid-back attitude to life, his consummate photographic skills, and his deeply-held beliefs about aspects of Zambezi Valley ecology.  His passion for his world was shared by a controversial old friend - another skilled bushman, the ex-ivory hunter, Ian Nyschens, who, when he died, left his estate to Steve for the creation of the Ian Nyschens Zambezi Valley Conservation Trust.  In his last years, Steve worked tirelessly through the Trust, seeking funding to achieve his various projects in an extremely difficult economic environment.  Cancer caught up with him during this time, and, although he appeared to recover for a while, it returned to claim him finally this year.     

Steve lived in Kariba for many years and will be sadly missed by that community as well as by his safari operator and, conservation colleagues, his motor-biking mates and the many, many clients and friends who have benefitted from his extraordinary passion and knowledge over the years.  We salute him for his uncompromising determination and passion for the African places and animals dear to his heart.  Go well, old friend and rest in peace.

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