NINE HOLES IN MUFINDI

No. 1. PAR 4,400 YARDS
The 2,000 metre contour passes through the tee, which is at the foot of the clubhouse lawn, affording a commanding view – and a daunting prospect – of the first and ninth fairways.

If you pull your tee shot you are likely to find your ball tucked in behind a forest clump containing a plant of the climbing – Adenia stolzii (Passifloraceae). This is a food plant of the acraeid butterfly Bematistes scalivittata, whose range is confined to mountainous country from the Nyika Plateau in Malawi to the Uzungwa and Rubeho Mountains in Tanzania. Crossing the fairway from here into the rough the other side – all too easy – you may find the pretty little iris Romulea_ campanuloides down among the grass.

Golfers (and others) are advised to wear shorts. These give advance warning of ‘siafu’ (safari ants – Dorylus sp) which otherwise tend to climb up the insides of trousers before turning to bite in unison. A golfer seen dancing a hornpipe in some distant rough is probably trying to divest himself of these ant sand possibly also of his trousers. Be warned, siafu are no respecters of persons, nor of parts of persons for that matter.

No. 2. PAR 5,541 YARDS
This is a dog leg from right to left. Brave and powerful golfers may be tempted to cut the corner, but if they fall short and end up in the trees, as I do, they may find themselves under a Syzigium masukuense. This is the first record of the tree outside Malawi – bang goes another endemic! This group of trees is the home of several epiphitic orchids, including Mystacidium pulcnellum, Diphananthe meliantha and Microcoelia stolzli as well as of occasional shade-loving butterflies. These may include the endemic skipper Chondrolepis obscurior. whose white antennae contrast sharply with the sombre brown body and wings.

On the right hand side of the fairway towards the green are white flowered Rutidea fuscescens (Rubiaceae) whose flowers are occasionally visited by the blue butterfly Virachola montana – so rare that only the female is known to science.

No. 3. PAR 4,293 YARDS
To the right of the tee is a small Bersama abyssinica, larval food plant of the powerful butterfly Charaxes ansorgei our subspecies is levicki.

The best line to the green is directly over the top of a solitary Cassipourea gummifera (onionwood) in the middle of the fairway. All too often, however, the ball ends up in what must be a magnetic clump of forest on the left. This contains Catha edulis, otherwise known as khat its hallucinogenic properties apparently unrecognised locally. A fine Syzigium overhangs the green and a careful search of this tree will sometimes yield larvae of Charaxes druceanus, the Foxy Charaxes.

No. 4, PAR 3, 163 YARDS
There is a fine view from the tee over rolling grasslands and scattered cultivation to the north, with the green nestling in the trees below. These trees are host to the loranth Englerina inequilatera, food plant of the beautiful little blue butterfly Epemera congdoni (After the author of this paper – Editor). The larvae of this insect are truly weird, with hunched and ridged foreparts, and with three fleshy curved and pointed tails. These break up its outline making it next to invisible on its food plant. The pupa is an exact mimic of a small piece of foliate lichen.

Another well camouflaged creature is the Uzungwe endemic chamelion Chamaeleo laterispinis which can defy detection while in full view on a lichen covered branch.

One day while searching a loranth for butterfly larvae, the way one does, I heard a rustling in the undergrowth. Quietly parting the branches I found myself looking down on a zorilla, vivid in his black and orange stripes, fozzicking about in the leaf litter. After observing him for some while, and not wishing to disturb him, I tiptoed quietly away.

There used to be a family of puff adders in the grass rough between this hole and the next, all of which have long since succumbed to an assortment of woods and irons. These days the snake most likely to be seen is another endemic, the Uzungwa wolf snake (Lycophidion uzungwense), so called for its needle-like teeth. These are needed to grip its favourite food item, the smooth and slippery legless lizard Melanoceps ater which it hunts through the rough. Decisions on the rules of golf – Rule 18: “A live snake is an outside agency. A dead snake is a loose impediment”.

No. 5. Par 4,297 YARDS
This turns from right to left, uphill to a perched green. Walking the dogs of an evening they always approach this fairway with a keen sense of anticipation, hoping to catch our resident troup of vervet monkeys crossing from the forest into the maize fields below the boundary track. I think the monkeys probably enjoy the ensuing shouting match as much as the dogs, although the same may not be said for the golfers.

No. 6. PAR 3, 155 YARDS
This is the first hole after the turn, heading back along the ridge towards the clubhouse. It has a well guarded green and is the only hole to have been aced. The tee is overhung by a group of massive blue gums towering 150 feet above. One of these hosts a Loranth, Phragmanthera rufescens, which is a larval food plant of the brilliant blue Iolaphilus maritimususambara whose females may sometimes be seen fluttering round it. In March the wattle break on the right of the fairway is carpeted with the purple brown orchid Cynorkis kassnerana.

No. 7. PAR 4,257 YARDS
Another landmark for the dogs is a natural drinking bowl in a fork of a tree near the tee. They always pay this a hopeful visit, even in the middle of the ‘dry’.

Soon after the break of the rains in December the little Acanths Lepidagathis rogersii and Blepharis ilicifolia can be seen among the grass on the fairway, the former with its flowers half hidden in little pincushions of protective prickles and the latter with bright blue solitary flowers. Half way down the fairway is yet another group of forest trees in which you may find your ball sitting beside a delicate mauve iris Radinosiphon leptostachya, In the trees above is a colony of an orchid endemic to Mufindi. This is the epiphitic 5tolzia leedalii whose flowers hang down on threadlike stems like tiny brown cow bells.

No. 8. PAR 4,393 YARDS
One evening not long ago I emerged into this hole to see a very large wild pig in the middle of the fairway, Seeing the dogs he wheeled and crashed off into the forest below. The dogs of course gave chase but failed to push home their pursuit, running up and down the forest edge, hackles bristling, for fear of what they hoped might be lying in wait inside. The Mufindi pigs are shy and cunning, very seldom seen in daylight, although the results of their night’s depredations are often all too evident. Alas, we seldom see bigger game these days, although some years ago a lion, tiring of life on the Usangu flats, crossed our mountains (and the second fairway) on his way over to the Kilombero Valley, helping himself to an occasional cow on the way.

A small party of the blue Sykes monkey Cercopithicus mitis is sometimes to be seen in the gums to the left of the green. Along the forest edge behind the green the blue and black swallowtail Papilio thuraui dances delightfully in the sunlight. This is another montane butterfly of restricted range from the Nyika Plateau to the Uzungwas.

In the rough between the 8th and the 2nd there is a group of Australian Blackwoods, Acacia melanoxylon, which have been fighting a losing battle with Loranths for many years now. Here I have found the blue butterfly Epamera dubiosa, previously known only from the Usambaras and from a female from ‘Lake Bangweulu’. Its cryptic larvae feed on Phragmanthera rufescens and Eriantheum schelei (Loranthacecae)

No. 9. PAR 5,490 YARDS
A wide and spacious fairway runs down and across a valley before climbing ‘coronary hill’ to the green. The view is panoramic with glimpses of distant tea fields, pale green splashes in the darker forest.

After the rains have settled in there are evening hatches of white ants. Clouds of hobbies wheel and dip to take the feebly napping termites whose survival strategy is to swamp their predators in sheer weight of numbers. Among the hobbies are the occasional mountain buzzard and eastern red-footed falcon with bats, nightjars and wood owls waiting to take over for the night shift. We once saw a Livingstone’s touraco flying for its life across the fairway but exploding in a puff of green and magenta feathers as it was taken by a pursuing eagle.

The green is perched and protected by some wicked bunkers on the lower left hand side. The burrows are tricky and few indeed are the visiting golfers who sink a cross-hill put from any distance.

No. 10. THE CLUBHOUSE BAR, 100 YARDS FROM THE 9TH GREEN
Well stocked and well deserved after a gruelling round. Here can be found a cheerful log fire in the corner and congenial (occasionally convivial) company in which to relive the triumphs and disasters that make up the final score. As the man said “There are no pictures on the card”.
A pity really.
T.C.E. Congdon

Acknowledgements:
BOTANY: John Lovett, Mufindi.
The Director and staff, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
REPTILES: Prof. K.M. Howell, Department of Zoology, University of Dar es Salaam

Mr T C E CONGDON is Estates Director of Brooke Bond Tanzania Ltd. and has worked in Mufindi for over thirty years.

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