June Kay (June Vendall Clark) was taken to Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now, Zimbabwe) as a child in 1928, after her parents left India. Her father had been an engineer to a maharajah in India so he bought a derelict engineering firm in Rhodesia while teaching his daughter how to survive in the African veldt. At the age of 17, she ran away from home and married her first husband, Robert Kay and they bought a farm in the Matopo Hills.
Her philandering, unemployable husband decided to sell their unsuccessful farm and take off on an extended safari across Africa. So she began a new life as foster mother to a succession of orphaned bush creatures and campaigned with the locals to create the first African-sponsored game reserve. At long last, the marriage came to an end and the author left Africa for England where she remarried and became June Vendall Clark.
Okavango by June Kay (1963) is the account of the author's life in the Okavango Delta in the days of the Protectorate. She went on various expeditions with her husband, sons, pet lions, dogs, hens and cat in war-time DUKW, a six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicle, sometimes called a 'Duck'. In it they crossed the Chobe river, a tributary of the Zambezi, before entering the wilds of Ngamiland.
Wild Eden by June Kay (1964) is mostly focussed on the Maun area of Botswana. The author had a keen interest in the local fauna including a friendly lioness called Chink and the less friendly local crocodiles.
The Thirteenth Moon by June Kay (1970) is further account of the author's nomadic life and the wildlife of Botswana.
The following book was published under June Kay's married name, June Vendall Clark...
Starlings Laughing: A Memoir Of Africa by June Vendall Clark (1990) looks back on a life of adventure and personal difficulty in Africa. The author was raised in a Rhodesian mining town and she started a farm near Bulawayo, then lived for many years in a tent on an island in the Okavango delta in Bechuanaland (now Botswana). She and her first husband hunted crocodiles, ran safaris, kept pet lions and jackals, and convinced the locals to create the Moremi Wildlife Reserve. She survived encounters with leopards, wounded lions, pythons and veldt fires and paints a vivid picture of the land and the people of southern Africa during the final days of British colonialism.
Page Updated: Dec 2021