Tuesday, May 01, 2007

John Barry Shenton. 30 April 1929, Eshowe, Zululand - 21 March, 2007, Mkushi

Front left: Barry Shenton, Johnny Uys on his right - with some of our guards behind, and members of the Natal Parks Board at a time when some black rhino were collected from Hluhluwe in 1961.

Barry Shenton, a quiet self-effacing man, served his adopted country for twenty years as an officer in the Game Department of Northern Rhodesia, ending his time in the Department of Game and Fisheries. At the time he joined the Game Department in 1950, there were only a few game reserves in the country, a populace struggling to defend itself against marauding elephant, baboons and wildpig, and little tourism to speak of. By the time he left in 1970, the planning was complete for the promulgation of 19 National Parks and a framework of 34 Game Management Areas, and the existence of a burgeoning hunting and tourism industry.

After a few years in the Natal Parks Board, Barry joined the Game Department in 1950 and was posted to Lundazi to join the newly established Government Controlled Hunting Scheme. This was the latest in the Provincial Administration’s efforts since 1946 to see that local people benefited from game cropping, paying hunters and properly organized and conducted hunting safaris. Barry joined Ranger Bert Schultz as one of the professional hunters, a man of great experience who had been hunting the valley since 1919. In May of 1949, the District Commissioner at Lundazi, Errol Button, suggested that it would be advantageous to nurture non-hunting tourism as well, saying that it would not interfere with the activities of local hunters. This was accepted, and the Director of the Game Department, T. Vaughan-Jones instructed Ranger Norman Carr to take over the Department’s camp in Nsefu, Chipera, and convert it for tourist use, with all revenue accruing to the Nsefu Native Authority. Senior Chief Nsefu, having been a willing partner in these important developments, then requested that his area be converted into a national park. This was refused. But with the assistance of Carr, Schultz and Barry, the move towards attaining game reserve status in 1954, and finally national park status in 1972, was inevitable. And it was Barry who laid out the boundaries.

Until 1954, Barry continued on with the hunting in the dry season, and in the wet season managed a number of crop protection guards. For this he developed policy guidelines - the same guidelines recently passed on to the Zambia Wildlife Authority as they now embark on a major new training of village protection guards, and in 1952, established a game guard training camp at Milyoti. Over the next five years Barry was a full time Ranger opening up the west bank of the Luangwa Game Reserve to tourism and also served at Kabompo, Kasempa and Lundazi, building the Nyika Lodge on the 8000ft plateau.

In 1958, Norman Carr was appointed Warden of the Kafue Game Reserve – until then run by Len Vaughan, former owner of the ranch which is now Lochinvar National Park, and was allowed to take two Rangers with him to develop the area for tourism. He was given a year to do it or see much of it lose its status. Norman chose Barry and Johnny Uys to assist him. In less than a year they constructed 900 km of road, built Ngoma Lodge and two safari camps. At the end of 1959, the Kafue was opened for tourists. In 1961, Barry married a Swedish national, Marianne, his first child, Rolf being born in 1963; and in 1964, he became the Warden.

These are some of the bare facts of Barry’s personal ulendo through his conservation life. What we are left with, apart from the existence of our National Parks, our hunting and tourism industry, his meticulous notes, photographs and correspondence - evidence of a life of reverential dedication and hard work, the orderly farm in Mkushi, is the remarkable family he has left behind: Marianne, Rolf, Allison, Derek and Clive, all, in one way or another, dedicated to conservation and the elevation of the rural poor, the selfless serving of the common good. Barry’s legacy to Zambia is immense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of experiencing the generous hospitality of Barry and his family during my visit to Zambia in 1991. The wildlife of Luangwe was truly remarkable and his work will not be forgotten.
Kalle SpÄngberg, Sweden