Stories from the Veld

Stories from the Veld

After writing more than 20 books on subjects ranging from mountaineering and hiking to safaris and even a wildlife encyclopedia, the “walking enviropedia” of Africa has turned his talents to writing paperbacks. “I never felt like I was a real writer until I had my first paperback published,” he admits.

The first was Running Wild: The Story of Zulu, an African Stallion (Jacana Media, 2017). It relates that the amazing story of a real horse, a black Boerperd stallion that went runabout from a horse safari camp located at Mashatu Private Game Reserve in the Limpopo Valley of southeastern Botswana.

Several years later he was discovered running as the alpha stallion at the head of a wild zebra herd. He was recaptured and returned to the safari fold, he was a very different horse – wise in the ways of the bush and survival –from the one who first went AWOL.

Thus was born the series “Stories from the Veld”. The second in the series is The Game Ranger, the Knife, the Lion and the Sheep, a collection of stories about 20 curious characters from southern Africa present and past. This book was published in 2018 and selected for the Exclusive Books as one of their Christmas List.

Currently (2018/2019) in the works is 20 Amazing Places in South Africa. More “stories from the veld” are in the planning stages.


Running Wild Reading & Signing at Kay and Monty Vineyards

This past weekend saw Plett bathed in soaking rain. Word on the streets was that the weather would dampen the crowd for a reading and signing of Running Wild to be kindly hosted by Kay and Monty Vineyards.

Pete Wallington and Patty Butterworth of Plett Tourism, which organised the event on my behalf, reckoned Plettenbergers were worse, or better depending, than Capetonians when it comes to social engagements: when the weather is either too bad or too good, they do not pitch. They also don’t pitch if there is something better happening, or there’s a full moon.

Well, who knew, pitch they did. Some even drove across from Knysna to the Crags and back (thanks Chris [du Plessis]) in the wet.

A good time was had by all. The Rare Earth wine was excellent, calamari delicious, and I eventually had to be dragged away so they could close the place.

I reckon that is the hallmark of a good night out.

Images courtesy of Timothy Twiddle.

Running Wild Media Launch at Mashatu Game Reserve

Earlier this week Jacana Media launched Running Wild to a posse of top South African journalists and book sellers in the inestimably wonderful setting of Nel’s Vlei on Mashatu Game Reserve.

Six handsome steeds from Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris (Zulu’s stablemates) thundered up to our launch site as I was reading an excerpt from the book.

The horses’ arrival was an inspired move, nothing to do with me. And real lump-in-throat stuff, given this extraordinary setting, featured in the book.

In summer it will be swathed in six-foot high elephant grass, a stark contrast to the dusty vistas now prevailing prior to the rainy season.

Here’s a short video of the reading…

Running Wild Media Launch at Mashatu Game Reserve

This weekend we head off to Mashatu Game Reserve for the media launch of Running Wild. Those who can tell the front end of a horse from the rear will be going on an out-ride into the Tuli bush were Zulu, the horse that became a zebra, roamed free for several years.

That, of course, is the matter of the book. In many ways though it was his life after those years of running free that are the most interesting. Zulu came back a much wiser pitse than the one that escaped in the big storm of 2000. He learned survival smarts from his zebra herd and also the use of bush muti which he passed on to Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris, knowledge they use still to control African horse sickness.

And now for a word from one of the sponsors: the 30 media, book store managers and VIP guests will get to enjoy the fruits of Painted Wolf Wines, courtesy of the generosity of winemaker Jeremy Borg who is a passionate supporter of wild dog conservation. During his time there Zulu would have seen wild dogs and they play their part in the story.

Running Wild: The Story of Zulu, an African Stallion

Today is an auspicious one as I was born on a Friday 13th some years back in a now distant town. It is also the day – this very one – when my first paperback “narrative non-fiction” book is being shipped to bookstores around the country.

Overseas copies, including those destined for Amazon and other mail-order options (Exclusive Books, Takealot and Loot) will take longer for slow mail land-sea delivery. The retail price is R240.

I will be able to courier signed copies pretty much anywhere in the world for between R350 and R400 a book if you cannot wait for snail mail. It will also be available as an e-book on Amazon, Kobo and Overdrive from next week.

About the Book

Following in the footsteps of Jock of the Bushveld, Running Wild is an African story for all ages. It is a tale of resilience, of courage and endurance, a book that will uplift, enrich and warm every lover of the African bush.

The story of Zulu is based on the life of a real stallion that lived on the Mashatu Game Reserve. The versions of the story of Zulu are about as numerous as the people who recounted them. The horse and the myth were at times indistinguishable.

In February 2000, tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline resulted in a storm so severe that the horses broke out of their enclosure and roamed wild and free before returning. Zulu was the only one that did not return. He was thought to be lost to the scourges of the Bushveld.

This account of his life has been stitched together from all those stories. Of the four years when Zulu ran free in the Northern Tuli conservation area virtually nothing is known, so that part was constructed from what is known about the place and the wild animals that live there. It all could have happened that way. It certainly happened, one way or another.

Years pass before Zulu is discovered to be not only alive and well, but running as the lead stallion of a herd of wild zebras. He is recaptured and returned to the safari stables as a much bolder and wiser stallion – knowledge he passes on to the other horses as well as the humans of Limpopo Valley.

About the Author

David Bristow started off with nothing more lethal than an honours degree in journalism: he was one of South Africa’s first full-time travel photojournalists and was the editor of Getaway magazine for the longest time. In between, David has written more than 20 non-fiction books about Africa, taking a three-year sabbatical mid-career to earn a master’s degree in environmental sciences.

He has travelled from Antarctica to Alaska, Hillbrow to the Himalayas. In spite of his first ride ending in tears (at the Santa Barbara dude ranch north of Johannesburg) he has ridden horse safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Kenya. David now lives on a lake close to the sea near Cape Town with his partner, one cat, two surfboards, three canoes and four bicycles. He has three children and a grand one.

So beware the 13th of the month, the Ides of March, and authors trying to sell you books.