Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts in many areas are paying off and certain species must have by now overtaken both the human population and its growth rate.
I am jealous, I do not know about you. Seated by my corner at my favourite spot at the weekend, this issue of rearing wild animals took centre stage, causing me to sit up and take a sip on my water glass while drawing closer to join the conversation.
There is this growing craze of rearing even tiny birds called quails(izagwaca) and many others, such as guinea fowl and different breeds of country chickens.
This other fella, the loudest of them all, said there was money to be made in the business and narrated the health benefits of eating the birds and their eggs.
Some guys were convinced while some laughed off the whole affair, and I could not tell if it was partly the effect of beer on the ones disagreeing with the preaching fella. I was reminded of the note collection craze, the cast iron pot lids, irons and other get rich quick schemes that time has since condemned to history.
And who remembers the time when almost every household used to have that algae- like fungus that was passed from person to person and always found floating in sweetened water.
The fungus was touted as the best thing that humanity had ever known since it cured everything (yes, you heard it, everything) in the human body.
I really do not have the full details of where the fungus disappeared to but I have no problems eating mushrooms, from the same family, as long as someone does not start claiming some medicinal properties that cannot be immediately proven.
So the bar talk heated up about the birds, with some asking where they could get the eggs and others arguing over what the birds were actually and their origins.
It is the medicinal and nutritional qualities ascribed to the little birds that got me thinking of other cure-all remedies our bodies have endured over the years.
And this other friend of mine uZo, swore that he had watched some report on some foreign news channel about the magic cures of the birds’ eggs, with Ugandans giving testimonies of the effectiveness of such.
The eggs, so our friend told us, normalise blood sugar in diabetics, lower blood pressure,boost immunity in HIV positive people, boost sex drive(please spare the poor birds’ eggs) and a whole host of other conditions.
And since so many have gone into this trade already and there could be a glut on the market, the barman chuckled that we needed to identify some other creature that we could infuse with some aura and make money before many people jump into it.
Talking about poor wild creatures, I am sure most of them have good immune systems that we envy and could easily ingest!
They are never vaccinated yet they survive. I am no doctor but it appears that is how some other creatures that live long are rumoured to transfer similar traits to those that eat them.
I remember my grandpa went to the extent of eating some snake that lives long just to borrow those qualities.
Unfortunately, my tribal elders have warned me against dabbling in wildlife rearing, saying it was taboo for people of my totem. And there is no appeal.
I could be making money also you know, I remarked to uZo, but my ancestors left that constitution that is not subject to review. It’s quite odd even for the elders because some of these birds were never eaten according to them. The last I checked with my grandpa, he was blaming all sorts of calamities on such, a lack of rain included. And since nothing is mentioned about rearing snakes and other scary creatures that Tsikamutandas have been fishing out habra ca dabra style from homesteads, I am persuaded to visit some of these people to learn more about rearing snakes and other creatures. We could make money by advertising such unique offerings to foreign tourists. It is also my firm belief that some parts of the country would record a boom in business if witchcraft tourism was allowed to flourish!
I have not heard those that keep monkeys, guinea fowl and now quails talk about acquiring licences to rear these wild animals. I thought it was a legal requirement.
While pangolins are lucky to be rescued and taken to safety by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, snakes found under beds under circumstances associated with witchcraft do not enjoy that luxury!
Inspired by the exciting developments of widening the sources of our protein by rearing more animal species, I am launching my research into a potentially rewarding adventure of getting an animal that eats once a week or month but still grows within a reasonable period.
Watch the space for my research findings. I can just imagine, the savings on stockfeed will be immense, what with this drought that some feel is caused by this diversification in farming. I take my research as part of efforts at drought mitigation.
Someone said they will commission their study on umayadi, that tiny bird that always picks pieces of sadza and leftovers elokshini, and who knows one day some curious discoverer might link it to some cure since it always hangs around human dwellings!