It is possible to walk onto Livingstone Island from the Zambian side when the river level is low. It was from this island that David Livingstone first saw the Falls in 1855 when he was paddled downstream by his local guides.
Livingstone first measured the height of the Falls from Livingstone Island. He lay on the precipice and lowered a string weighted by some bullets held in a square of calico down over the edge. It got lodged at 90m, still some way off the bottom. Livingstone had great hopes for the island, which he named Garden Island. He planted apricot pips and coffee seeds, hoping to create a nursery. However, these were eaten by hippos.
Livingstone Island is a profoundly sacred site in local tradition. During the dry season, tourists from the Zambian side of the river can cross the low waters and experience a bush breakfast or lunch laid on by tour operators.
The rare Schalow's turaco (Tauraco schalowi), whose old name was Schalow's lourie, is remarkable in that its colour is directly related to the amount of copper in the soils of the area.
This fruit-eating bird was observed with interest by 19th century prospectors - excess copper is deposited in the pigment of the feathers, giving them a purplish tinge, thus indicating whether there are reasonable copper deposits in the surrounding area.
Schalow's turaco is very secretive, and the best chance one has of seeing the bird is the flash of red wing as it flies between the trees of the rainforest.
Illustration: Chip Snaddon