About Lake Kariba
This wildlife rescue operation from 1958-64 in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) was of biblical proportions and was caused by the creation of Lake Kariba on the Zambezi River. As the gorge was dammed, and the Zambezi Valley flooded, animals were trapped on ever-diminishing islands and more than 6,000 were saved, and relocated to the mainland, by a gallant team of rangers led by the senior warden Rupert Fothergill.
Elephant, rhino, lion, zebra, antelope, warthog and many other species were rescued, even many snakes including the deadly black mamba.
The Kariba Dam
In 1958 Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) became home to the world's largest man-made lake to provide hyroelectricity to Zimbabwe and Zambia. A monument to man's engineering skills the lake is 280km long, 40km at its widest and its surface covers 5,200 sq. km.
Built by an Italian company this mighty task took 7.000 people (86 men died) six years to build as they battled extreme temperatures and extraordinary floods. The wall is 128m (420ft) high and 579m (1900ft) long. The name Kariba comes from the local word kariva (a trap).
Tonga River God
In Tonga tribal, spiritual legend their river god, Nyaminyami, is a serpent-like creature and powerful force that lives near the Kariba Dam wall.
As the dam was filling in 1957 more than 57,000 Tonga people were re-settled on high ground forced against their will, to leave their ancestral homes. They swore that Nyaminyami would not allow such actions and, astonishingly, a year into the building of the wall the river rose to flood level, destroying equipment and roads. The odds against another such flood the following year (1958) were 1000/1 and yet this was 3m higher than the previous year, destroying the coffer dam and parts of the main wall.
The Tonga swear it was the angry force of Nyaminyami.