TAMARA Guhrs, niece to the late Judy Carr has described her fallen aunt as someone who was gifted with a combination of relationship building and diplomacy.

And Cheswa Kaunda Silwizya, daughter to the first Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda, says Judy was committed and dedicated to the community of Nyalugwe and beyond.

Judy Carr, founder and Chairperson of the board of Trustees of the Norman Carr Foundation, passed away on December 2, 2022, in Cape town where she had been evacuated for treatment. She worked immensely for many years in wildlife and nature conservancy and dedicated her last 10 years to the Nyalugwe Conservation restoration project.

During her memorial service at St Ignatius Church in Lusaka on Friday, January 27, 2023, Guhrs spoke fondly of her aunt’s work in the Nyalugwe chiefdom.

“When they started the project in Nyalugwe, the area’s natural resources were depleted. With Damien Gatin as a private investor partner, traditional authorities and community leaders, and government backing, they were able, in 2015, to change from a hunting area into a conservancy. The habitat began to recover. I have SMSs from Judy from this time, describing with great pride that these animals had started to return, buffalo, antelope. Judy’s gift and contribution were, I believe, a combination of her relationship-building and her diplomacy, her humour, her tenacity and her vision. People respected her. People sought her guidance. Even when she got frustrated, in meetings, she never allowed the conflict to escalate, but had a talent for smoothing out situations,” Guhrs said.

“Community conservation is when the people who live in the villages and communities surrounding wildlife-rich habitats get the most benefit from making sure that the wildlife survives. They make the decisions about how to manage the wildlife, trees and fish. A GMA, or game management area can bring in money not just from hunting but in other ways – and all partners can benefit. It sounds simple – it’s not. There are many competing agendas and many models that have failed. Chiefs, government officials, poachers, charcoal burners, fishermen – all need to be fully convinced that not burning a tree is better than burning it, and any money that comes in has to be managed without it disappearing”.

Guhrs said Carr was one of the first to actively promote black African models and actors in what was then still Apartheid South Africa.

“In 1943 Judy was born in Zomba, Nyasaland. Her mother and her mother’s father were government people, working for the colonial administration. But her father was a lover of wild spaces and animals, an adventurous soul whose work as a wildlife officer – took the family to all different parts of Zambia. Judy spent her early childhood in Ndola, Nkana, Kasempa, Kasama, Fort Jameson (now Chipata), Chilanga and Kafue. She spent much of her schooling life in Johannesburg after her mother Barbara moved there with the children,” she said.

“My own memories of Judy from when I was a child were that she was my cool, beyond-stylish Joburg aunt –– her confidence in the world of fashion and photo shoots. She worked as a model in a boutique in Sandton City, and started her own casting agency, one of the first to actively promote black African models and actors in what was then still Apartheid South Africa. To me, a bush girl visiting the big city? Her life was the pinnacle of glamour.”

She said Carr established the Norman Carr Foundation for conservation across boundaries.

“To understand Judy, you have to know that she loved and admired her father, my grandfather, Norman Carr, whose name is associated with the Luangwa Valley, with pioneering walking safaris, raising lions and wildlife conservation. She believed strongly in his legacy. When she established the Norman Carr Foundation, the vision was for conservation across boundaries, and partnerships between private investors, government and local communities. Judy was truly inspired by this, but the work would only really start to come to reality when she met Damien Gatin – her friend and colleague, for whom she had such love and respect,” Guhrs said.

“Her WhatsApp’s to me is peopled with all those she was making contact with, reaching out to; what a pleasure and honour to host the Zambian Ministry of Tourism, the Permanent Secretary, and the Director of Parks and Wildlife from Mozambique, condolence messages to Colonel Panji Kaunda when former President Kenneth Kaunda died, messages from former president Rupiah Banda. Former presidents and DGs, Permanent Secretaries and Ambassadors, wildlife trusts and children from Chongololo Club are now grown-up conservationists, meeting after meeting, negotiations and trust-building. But also seeing results. Stories of boreholes and toilets being built, bicycles and motorbikes bought, committees formed, governance structures set up, and funds disbursed. This word – rewilding – is a buzzword on the interwebs, but it is an actual reality in Nyalugwe today”.

Guhrs revealed that Carr thought publicity would bring an unwelcome disturbance to what she was building.

“She wrote to me – ‘I vehemently believe we are leading the way, or soon will be leading the way in Africa’ I too believe this – that this partnership, the project in Nyalugwe – is already a well-respected community conservation model – I think in time it will be the one that people will copy. I wanted to interview her formally, but she thought publicity would bring an unwelcome disturbance to what they were building. ‘When we’re ready, I’ll tell you, and we’ll do it’,” she said.

“Judy really saw people, she saw people’s fragility, she saw peoples’ talent, their beauty, their hidden promise. Maya Angelou said ‘in the end people will not remember what you did or what you said, they will remember how you made them feel’. I think Judy made people feel seen. She treated people according to their humanity, not their status or what they might do for her.”

She asked those who Carr saw and recognised to continue the work of good governance in Nyalugwe chiefdom.

“And so it is right that we ask those who she saw and recognised to continue the work of good governance in Nyalugwe. Moses Thembo – Area Councillor, Obister Katacher – CRB Chairman, Isaac Sakala, Chibale Thembo, Kemson Tembo – she saw in you the potential to keep this project going. You have seen what can happen when the habitat recovers, when wildlife returns, and when governance systems are in place…. If she recognised one of you as being good with finances, or another as being good with meetings, then that is the legacy she would hope for you to continue to grow. We can all play our part,” Guhrs said.

Meanwhile, Silwizya said Carr was committed and dedicated to the community in Nyalugwe and beyond.

“I stand here on behalf of Col. Panji Kaunda who was unable to travel due to work commitments in Malawi and sends his sincere apologies. Some of you may remember that many years ago, the late Norman Joseph Carr, Judy’s father and my late father Kenneth David Kaunda were very close friends. They shared a common vision- the conservation of game parks. During many of his visits to the South Luangwa game, my father often stayed at Norman Carr’s camps. Judy, like her father, was committed and dedicated to the community in Nyalugwe and beyond. Judy supported people wherever she was able to, and today is a testimony of the wonderful person Judy was”.

And Norman Carr Executive Director, Yande Chama said Carr had done a tremendous amount of work in Nyalugwe area.

“Judy has done a tremendous amount of work in Nyalugwe area. We have the Chief representative here Chieftainess Mwape, representing chief Nyalugwe through the Nyalugwe conservancy. Apart from working on wildlife conservation, we have also done programmes that help in needy, the children, women, and we have a lot of plans to expand this not only in Nyalugwe area, we want to go into Luapula Province for example, we had a plan to go into North-Western Province, and we had a plan marked out on how we would achieve this but as fate would have it, she had to answer the lord’s call last year,” said Chama.