There are no hedges, walls or fences except around buildings so at first we thought that most of the land wasn’t farmed. In less fertile places the land sometimes appears to be unused but it’s actually lying fallow to recover naturally some fertility. Farmers who can afford fertiliser may plant crops every year on some of their land. In any case the whole district has about half a year of non-productive drought. The exception to this is land close to the rivers which flow all through the drought from numerous Makonde Plateau springs.
Lush vegetation for half of the year, otherwise dry and often literally burnt up, the seasons are very marked. The bigger wild animals were hunted to extinction though lions and leopards may roam around occasionally. In the nineties we saw impressively huge footprints of a crocodile on the banks of the Lukuledi River near Nangoo. Baboons are living on the bigger hills and the Makonde Plateau. They are wary of people but one day when we sat having a picnic deep in the wilderness, a troup of small yellow baboons came jumping from tree to tree and some of them came to inspect the strange creatures below them. Birds and insects sing, call or chirp to liven up any walk and they are the most common wildlife. Scuffling in the undergrowth you may hear a giant shrew but it’s more likely to be a lizard. The big ones grow a couple of feet long (60cm). If you are very lucky you might see red and brown bush squirrels as we did in November 2010.