An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Thursday, October 30, 2008

SNAKE!

You'd be forgiven, Legion of Fans (LOF), after spending some time reading my blog (get back to work, the lot of you), that the most dangerous thing that can happen to you in Africa is being hit by a falling monkey turd, or harrassed by immigration officals at obscure border posts.

Not so...

When we arrived at Tinga (I won't put the link in again as I don't want to rub our good fortune in too much) I said to the head guide, Mr Q, who was hanging around reception: "Hey, did you hear about the dude who got nailed by the lioness?"

The news at the time was full of the story of Kruger Park trails ranger Rudi Lorist who had been mauled by a lioness while leading a walking safari. Realising the lioness had cubs, and was therefore very protective of them, Rudi had tried giving her a wide berth, but she went for him anyway. She charged him and Rudi got a shot off, hitting her in the lower jaw. Sadly, she died, but not before raking Rudi's arms with her upper teeth. Happily, father-of-two Rudi and all his tourists lived.

"Yes, dude," replied Mr Q, "here's his brother." And sure enough, there was Rudi's brother, who is the manager of Tinga's Narina Lodge. Small, dangerous, world here in the Kruger Park.

I've been on plenty of walks in the Kruger Park and other parts of Africa and even went tracking lions in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. There was nothing about Rudi's story that turned me off the concept of walking in lion-infested bushveld. Far from it. As sad as it was that an animal died, Rudi's training saved his life, and possibly the lives of the people in his care.

I'm not scared of much at all, in fact, LOF. I've parachuted and bungee jumped, spent time on warlike operations (which is what we call going to war these days - although admittedly I spent my time in Afghanistan sitting at a desk typing and drinking coffee and listening to my iPod), been chased by a black rhino and had lions sniffing around my tent in the middle of the night (OK, that was a bit scary). Me, I'm not even scared of spiders or mice.

However, the one thing I am truly, utterly, deeply, madly petrified of (other than death) is snakes.

I can't think of any more words for scared, but if I could I would insert them. Mortified.

I wear boots and socks in the evenings, I keep my tent flaps zipped up all the time and I even roll our bedding up each morning just on the off chance that some snake might have found a way around my defences and snuck in, to lay in ambush between our sheets.

So, imagine, if you will, my surprise when the other night, after consuming a good deal of beer and red wine, I approached the ablutions block in Pretoriuskop Camp in the Kruger National Park at about 9pm and discovered a thick bootlace wrapped around the door handle.

"Odd," I may very well have said out aloud. Why would someone wrap a thick bootlace around the door handle of the toilet block? Even odder, LOF, was what happened next. As I reached for the door handle the bootlace started squirming.

When I (and this will tell you how drunk I was) touched the door handle, the bootlace reared up and struck at my hand with its small pointed head and tiny but sharp fangs.

Clearly, this was no bootlace.

'Snake,' I thought to myself, looking down at my hand as I kicked open the door. I walked into the ablutions block and thought I should find something I could use to knock the small snake off the door handle and shoo it into the grass, lest some other unsuspecting drunkard be attacked.

And then I stopped.

In the middle of the empty ablutions block I looked around me, catching my reflection in one of the mirrors. What's wrong with you, Mr Blog, I asked myself? Why aren't you crying like a little girl and running around in circles? You have just been attacked (kind of) by a snake and here you are, standing calmly, thinking of ways to shoo it away.

'It must be the booze,' I replied to myself.

I found a mop, and carrying it by the yucky end I went back to the door, kicked it open and brushed the snake on to the stoep (as we call the verandah or patio here in Africa). It squiggled around a bit, finding it hard to gain purchase on the slippery concrete, to I nudged it with the end of the mop some more.

"Off you go," I said to it, and burped.

It was a small snake, but like a little man it was full of anger and aggro. Instead of realising its lucky break - that I wasn't going to kill it (as I probably should have) it reared up to its full 20 centimetre height and started striking and attacking the end of the mop.

"So much for being more scared of me than I am of you," I said to it. "Off you go, you disgusting little thing." I pushed and prodded it - the snake continuing a fierce rear guard action all the way, until it finally realised it couldn't kill the mop, or me, and it slithered away.

I went back inside, replaced the mop and thought I had better see to myself. I inspected the knuckle of my right index finger and saw that I had recieved a tiny, but noticeable scratch. The skin wasn't broken.

It occurred to me I should wash the wound but then as I was holding my finger uder the water I remembered an Army lecturer from some decades ago telling us not to wash the wound if bitten by a snake as if it turned out to be a dangerous one then the traces of venom could be used to identify it if the body of the snake wasn't handy. Not being particularly environmentally-friendly in the Army (in the olden days at least) we were also taught to kill a snake that bit us, if possible, for identifcation (and manly payback) purposes.

I remember, as a wide eyed, slightly terrified 19-year-old infantryman wondering how I would be able to kill a snake that had just bitten me. Surely I would have passed out from fear or be crying my eyes out by this stage.

"Damn," I said out loud. Not only had I failed to kill the snake, I was washing away the venom that might identify it. How would the doctors know which anti-venom to administer? Perhaps I might die here in the Pretoriuskop ablutions block.

This was more the real me. "Mrs Blog!" I called (using her real name, of course). She was next door in the ladies. "Err, come in here."

"What, what?" she squealed, knowing something must be wrong.

"OK, first, you won't believe this. There was a snake on the door handle and I chased it away and didn't kill it and I haven't panicked or cried or anything." I was quite proud of myself.

"And...?"

"Oh, and it scratched me."

She said she was off to find the camp's night duty manager and would call a doctor. Feeling remarkably calm, very brave and still quite drunk I said, "No, don't bother them."

Mrs B insisted and I insisted back, but I won the day, until I started walking out of the ablution block. I felt my finger start to throb. A weird, pulsing, constricting kind of numbness started shooting up the inside of my arm. I felt the gland in my armpit swell and pulsate. "Um, maybe you should call the manager, after all."

We walked the short distance back to our tent and Mrs B called the duty manager. While we waited for him to arrive I supervised her in wrapping a pressure bandage around my arm from armpit to hand, to slow the passage of any poison. The army training was kicking in and the alcohol was kicking out.

"I want a beer," I said.

"You'll get no such thing," she replied.

I felt I needed to return to my prior level of intoxicaiton, lest I revert to type and start crying and weeing my pants, but she would have none of it.

The night duty manager, a very nice man named Philip, arrived a few minutes later. He asked me to describe the snake and then called the senior ranger on his cellphone. He spoke rapidly to the ranger in Shangaan. I only a know a few words but I picked up "nyoka", which means snake in various African dialects and, to my great concern, the word "cobra" in English.

Gulp. "Cobra?" I said to Mrs B.

Philip passed the phone to me. It sounded like the Ranger and his family were watching TV. He advised me to sit still and wait and see what happened. He would also get Philip to call the doctor. "Um, OK," I said.

Philip called the doctor and from the background noise on the end of the line it sounded like we had interrupted a dinner party.

"It's highly unlikely you've been invenomated or that it was a deadly snake," the Doctor said. I wondered how he could tell all this over the phone, but it was nice to hear someone say all that anyway. I also recalled from my military training that you should always reassure the patient they are going to be OK, even if they have been bitten by a Taipan (certain death sentence) or had their stomach blown out by a mortar shell.

"Just sit still for an hour and call me back if you develop any neurological signs."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"Tingling around the lips, numbess, spasms... that sort thing..."

That sort of thing? What about, like, paralysis, necrosis, organ shut down, that sort of thing? I felt the doctor needed a little more info, so I repeated the bit about the numbess in my fingers, the shooting, throbbing sensation up my arm, the swelling in my glands...

"Hmmm, he said, that could just be..." He seemed reluctant to finish the sentence.

"Psychosematic?" I ventured.

"Ja," he replied, with a you-said-it-not-me tone, "psychosematic."

I thanked him and relayed his Rx to Mrs Blog. 'Lie down for an hour and see if you die.'

Mrs Blog laid me to rest on our foam camping mattress, propping my banaged arm up with one arm. She relented and acceeded to my last wish, to have a beer, and I propped myself up in bed, with a beer in one hand and an excellent Deon Meyer book in the other.

When the lip tingling, necrosis and organ shut-down began I would know that I had died happy, in a beautiful place, with the woman I love, a beer in one hand and a good book in the other.

I would go out knowing that when it came to the crunch I had looked the snake in its tiny beady eyes; I had been environmentally PC and not killed it; I had confronted my worst fear in life; and I had not peed my pants.

After an hour, with no change and me feeling absolutley fine and (once more) pleasantly inebriated, Mrs Blog (who was also quite drunk by now) and I made a joint decision to remove the bandage, just to see what happened (you can see how pissed we both were). I braced myself for the rush of poison into my system, but nothing happened.

Philip stopped by the next morning, and the next evening, and the following morning to make sure I was still alive, which was very nice of him and I assured him, as I will do again this evening when he drops by, that I am 100 per cent alive and well.

And still terrified of snakes (when sober).

What about you, LOF? What are you scared of, you bunch of nancy boys and girls?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eye raising experiences with the pirates

Remember this cute-as-abutton little criminal, Legion of Fans (LOF)? He is, or was, the Pirate Broken Hand, a member of a particularly scuzzy band of piratical primates that inhabit Pretoriuskop Camp in the Kruger National Park.

In all my travels on the Dark Continent I have yet to come across a band of scavengers as mean, as cunning, as low down and as dirty as the Pirates of Pretoriuskop. Vervet monkies tend to be a problem wherever you travel over here, but the Pirates sailed through the trees in a league of their own.

We had a love-hate relationship, me and the pirates. I loved to hate them and would spend many hours, while washing monkey pooh off my tent or assisting Mrs Blog in stitching rents in the fly where someone's foot had trampolined through, coming up with novel ways of making the pirates walk the plank - for good.

But I am sad (just a teeny bit) to report that this year there is no sign of the leaders of this beastly band. As far as I could tell the pirate crown was jointly held by Broken Hand (above) and his brother, One-arm-one-leg (OAOL). OAOL was so fast that I was never able to get a picture of him. He was a will'o'the wisp who had lost his left leg and left forearm in some kind of accident.

He was the brains of the outfit - the first one to learn how to open monkey-proof bins (and him, a mobility-challenged monkey - quite amazing). He had also perfected the skill of decoy-and-ambush. Many a time I watched him hamming it up for a bunch of tour group tourists, sitting there all cute and helpless, the little armless and legless beggar, waiting for scraps of food and posing for photographs. All this time the heavy mob - Broken Hand, Blue Balls and the rest of the scoundrels, would be raiding the tourists' open-top safari vehicle, stealing their lunch boxes and crapping on their seats.

But they are gone. Broken Hand and OAOL are no more.

I doubt there has ever been a pirate who died of old age and although I haven't been game to ask the camp staff I fear that Broken Hand and OAOL may have been tried and executed under Rule .22.

I've never killed an animal in my life (well, there was that mouse in the back of the land rover) but there has been many a time I wished I had a .22, during a monkey raid. But my sights, LOF, would have been firmly fixed on that fellow camper or tour group attendant who was feeding the monkeys. They are the real criminals in this piece. When people feed monkeys, monkeys go bad. When monkeys go bad, national parks people have to shoot monkeys.

On a brighter note, the Pretoriuskop troop of monkeys is alive and well and flourishing. I've noticed lots of evil-eyed little babies clinging to their mummies' bellies, paying particular attention to lessons about how to open rubbish bins and how to select branches overhanging the very tops of tall dome tents so that when you pooh it is virtually impossible for the owner of the tent to clean it off without removing the entire fly sheet.

A safari guide told me that if you raise your eyebrows - theatrically - at a vervet monkey it will take it as a sign of aggression, and back off. I'm not totally convinced by this (and suspect the guide may have been having a lend of me) as I have tried this tactic a few times and had very mixed results.

The other day I did my best Groucho Marx at a young apprentice Pirate and he scampered off, tail between his legs. When I tried it on a grown male (son of Blue Balls by the size of his gonads), he climbed one branch higher up the tree, fixed me with a killer stare, raised his own eyebrows at me and started coming down towards me. I backed off. Vervets are tiny - a fully grown one is less than half my height if it stood erect - but they have sharp teeth and a pugnacious attitude that would do any little human man proud.

My most vexing encounter using the eyebrow method, and one I still haven't fully recovered from, occurred last year when a large party of Australians gathered at Pretoriuskop to celebrate one of Mrs B's significant birthdays.

Responding to shrieks of panic I found four of our lady guests bailed up inside their bungalow with a large blue-balled male vervet (the original Blue Balls, I believe) staring at them through their window.

Cautiously I approached and arched my eyebrows, as high and as confrontationally as I could.

The monkey stared back at me, lay back on one elbow, crossed his legs and proceeded to develop the largest, pinkest erection I have ever seen on a monkey.

I'm careful, these days, about how and where I raise my eyebrows.

As to the pirates, I don't know whether Broken Hand's hand was actually broken or if it was a genetic deformity due to inbreeding - these pirates don't get out of the camp much and they've always had a bit of a thing for their sisters in the troop.

The other day I saw a young male monkey limping as he scampered away from the rock I had pitched in his general direction. He paused atop a garbage bin and began working at the lid, using his supposedly injured appendage.

Dead pirates tell no tales, but I'm sure the legend lives on...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Scroll down for some new pics

Confusing, this blogging caper, Legion of Fans (LOF). I've just posted some new leopard pictures but because I started work on this post on Sunday, October 19, and archived it as a draft it has slotted itself into that date. If you wish to view, then please scroll down to "Goose, you big stud" for some pictures of spotty cats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Achtung, Namibian branch!

Attention, Namibian branch of the Legion of Fans (LOF)... you know who you are, all one of you.

DH, can you please email me at mail at tonypark.net

I tried sending you a message by my email bounced back, so I must have the wrong address. I want to set part of my next book in Namibia and have a couple of research questions that I hoped you might be able to help with.

I thank you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

See me! Hear me!

OMG, I am such a big head. Not only was I just doing a bit of shameless self googling (now that I am back in reasonable internet contact in South Africa), I've just been watching myself on an internet video!

No, it's not me with Pamela Anderson, it's me speaking at Sutherland Shire Libarary in Sydney's southern suburbs.

So, if you missed my recent tour of library visits or if, as in the case of the entire state of South Australia, I missed you, and you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time, then click HERE and see me giving my talk.

(If you did see me, then don't bother, as I gave the same talk at every venue. Also, Gregory David Roberts, author of Shantaram, if you've found your way here via a bit of self googling then... sorry).

Goose, you big stud...

Been catching up on things these past few days, Legion of Fans (LOF) after our near-incarceration experience at the border, and three days of gluttonous luxury at TINGA PRIVATE GAME LODGE , but more about that in a future post.

For now, I just wanted to bring you up to date with the latest piccies from the trip. Mrs B and I have been doing some downloading and came across a few leopard pictures from our time in the Okavango Delta that I don't think I've shared with you.



This handsome chap (above) is called Goose (for reasons unknown) and he is one of a couple of leopards Mrs Blog and I encountered during our stay at a luxurious (I mean, hard-working, spartan) research camp in the Okavango Delta. Unfortunately, Goose sports a GPS tracking collar (which is how us researchers find our animals), so I have had to crop him rather dramatically to keep the collar out of the pic.
Goose had been feeding on the rather smelly carcass of a giraffe that had died of natural causes when we found him, and then proceeded to climb a tree, which is where I took this pic. He spied some impala nearby from his branch and slunked (slank, slunk?) down the tree and stalked them for about four metres before rolling over on his side and falling asleep. "Goose!" I wanted to rail at him, "you big pussy!" (a prize, LOF to anyone other than Jimbob who can pic the fill-um from which these Goose references come).

Moving right along, here is the cute-as-a-little-killing-machine baby leopard ner Xakanaxa that I mentioned in an earlier post. This pic has not been doctored... he his running vertically.





And here he is with his Mummy. Awwwwwwwwww.




And here, finally, is Clarence the Cross-eyed Leopard. He's actually the same one that featured earlier being hassled by a pair of diminutive jackals. Pussy.

We are 10,000, Legion of Fans!

In fact, we are 10,018 according to an email I received from sitemeter.com the other day, Legion of Fans (LOF). That is, there have been 10,018 visits to this blog since I started it in... well, whenever I started it.

How about that?

OK, it may be that the split is me: 5,000 visits; Ali G 5,000 visits; and the rest of you: 18, but, what the hey... it's a milestone.

So, from me to you, a big Tatenda, Dankie, Grazie, and thank you, whether you're a regular or you've just dropped in looking for those naked ladies in Gorilla masks. I love you all, LOF and without you, well, I wouldn't be here doing this instead of working now, would I?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alive and well and grateful to be in the R of SA

Greetings, Legion of Fans (LOF) from Letaba Camp in the Kruger National Park, where I am exceptionally pleased to say (big head that I am) that the camp shop is (finally) stocking my books! Well, they're stocking SILENT PREDATOR at least, which makes sense because as you should very well know much of the action is set in Kruger.

Not much to report, I'm afraid, since I left you in the midst of some important research and beer drinking in the Okavango Delta. That's because there is not much to see beween Moremi and Kruger - just MMBA - miles and miles of bloody Africa. Botswana, with its stable government, urbane and progressive president, strong currency, and enviable health system, also boasts the longest and most boring drives in Africa.

The verdict is in on the Okavango, by the way. It definitely is worth a visit. On our last night living the life of spartan baked-bean-eating researchers we went for a drive along the Gomoti River floodplain and I don't think I've ever seen so many animals of so many dfferent types in the same place at the same time. Hard to find the words for just how beautiful it was, so you'll just have to go there and have a look. If you're not a qualified wildlife researcher groupie like myself, then check out Moremi Tented Camp which has a safari operation in the same concession, on the edge of the actual Moremi Game Reserve.

It was with a heavy heart that we returned to Maun, Donkey and Goat Pooh capital of the world, but we beat it out of there pretty fast, staying at the divinely clean and funky Planet Baobab at Gweta, en route to Francistown and the Republic of South Africa.

Planet Baobab, with its immaculate campsites and bar chandeliers made of empty beer bottles, is owned by a Mr Ralph Boussfeld, scion of one of the great safari families of Botswana. He had his own wildlife show on cable for a while called 'Uncharted Africa'. Ralph is a good looking devil (if you're into blokes) and each of the episodes of Uncharted Africa somehow managed to feature a shot of him nude (from behind), usually diving into some crocodile and hippo infested river or waterhole.

Mrs Blog was a big fan of Ralph Boussfeld, for reasons that escape me. (However, on thinking about this I remembered a scene from "The Saint" starring Mr Val Kilmer. Long term readers may recall that I suspect Mrs B has a bit of a thing for Val and there is a scene in the Saint where he is impersonating a world-weary long-haired South African traveller who owns a game farm in Africa. I remember thinking at the time that Val looked like he was doing - or attempting - a Ralph Boussfeld impersonation. Soon after that scene, where he meets the delectable Elizabeth Shue - hubba hubba - I believe he also bares his buttocks).

So, imagine if you will, Mrs B's excitement when she rushed back to the campsite saying: "I've just seen Ralph Boussfeld, I've just seen Ralph Boussfeld, I've just scene Ralph Boussfeld."

"Are you sure?"

"Well he had the phone in his hand and he was saying, 'hello, it's Ralph Boussfeld here'."

"Was he nude?" I asked.

"No, but I hung around for a while in case he decided to strip off and dive in the swimming pool."

Sadly, Ralph remained clad I didn't get to see him or (even more sadder) his wife, who is reportedly an ex super model.

From Planet Baobad, at Gweta, to the brder of Botswana and South Africa in the Mashatu Game Reserve there were no more naked men or supermodels, though still plenty more donkeys and goats.

Stayed in a beautiful campside called Molema, on the edge of the Mashatu Reserve, on the banks of the Limpopo River. It was well kept and on the drive out to the border we saw Eland (something you don't see everyday) and two porcupines - something we've only seen three times in 13 years.

The next morning we reported at the tiny border crossing of Pont Drift, where one crosses the international boundary by driving through the dry sandy bed of the Limpopo.

Hmmm how to put this next instalment... if at all.

The South African Department of Home Affairs now has files opened on Mrs B and me, so I have to be very careful in how I put this (lest their crack unit of internet surfers is monitoring me).

The lady from home affairs at Pont Drift was very....... efficient. So efficient was she that she decided to give me a seven-day visa in my passport because I had been so very polite and acquiescent when she informed me that under no circumstances was she going to grant my wish for a 30-day visa.

Mrs Blog was also very... understanding... but fortunately the large crowd of police who had gathered outside the immigration office to witness our... polite... discourses with said official, eventually decided not to arrest us and lay charges.

Dr Tammie Mastson, who I will mention again in future posts as she is an all round good chick, is an Australian who worked as a wildlife researcher for a number of years in Zimbabwe and Namibia. She wrote an excellent book called 'Dry Water, Diving Headfirst into Africa' which I commend to you all, even though it is not published by my very good friends at Macmillan (though she is writing another book, this time for Macmillan). In Dry Water Tammie says you know you are having an 'adventure' when you have stopped having fun.

Pont Drift was an adventure. My own definition of an adventure is 'last year's nightmare'. Roll on next year, I say.

To cut a long story short (and maintain my tenusous hold on my South African visa) I can report, hand on heart, that the Department of Home Affairs staff at the regional office at Musina, 100km from Pont Drift, where we had to go to apply for visa extensions, could not have been more helpful, friendly, compassionate, honest and obliging if they tried.

So here we are. Street legal in the Kruger Park, Tonka chugging along in fine (if somewhat smokey) mettle, and swimming pool and an esky full of cold beers waiting.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Done like a wild dog's dinner

(WARNING: AN ANIMAL WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS POST. NASTY PICTURES BELOW)

You know that scene, Legion of Fans (LOF) in my fourth book, SAFARI, with Michelle Parker and Fletcher Reynolds? No, you filthy minded lot, not the open air bath tub scene, the one where they follow a pack of wild dog (painted hunting dog to my conservation-minded friends) when they're chasing an impala.

If you don't know what I'm talking about then you clearly haven't read SAFARI and have no business being here as there are no pictures of naked ladies wearing gorilla masks on this blog (not yet, at least).

Anyway, in the said scene Michelle takes Fletch in hot pursuit of a pack of doggies as they expertly chase, coral and bring down an impala.

Well, bugger me if that didn't happen to Mrs B and me last night!

We are currently staying at a predator research camp on the boundary of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Getting an invite to a research camp conjured up scary thoughts of ragged canvas bell tents and intense young things with too many copper and elephant hair bangles living on sadza, two minute noodles and baked beans.

Imagine our surprise, then, LOF, when we emerged from two hours' bush driving to find a neat row of permanent safari tents with en suite bathrooms, well appointed kitchen (loaded with food and grog, AND a swimming pool! To top it off, as this is an official research establishment we have to go game viewing (with our own private tracker) in the mother of all research vehicles, a lavishly appointed Land Cruiser fitted with every gadget known to man. Best of all, we have to ride around on the (padded) roof.

So there we were, 'researching' this pack of Wild/painted dogs, with Windhoek Lagers in hand (us not the dogs). Two game viewing vehicles full of American tourists were nearby and they were also intently studying the dogs, in between telling each other about the snow in Wisconsin and how one of their sons was studying radiography and had met a nice girl. Another was asking their guide if a rhino was the same thing as a hippo.

But after they could take no more of Africa's second most endangered predator (some wolf thing in ethiopia is the most hounded hound on the continent) they cleared off, leaving us to our beers, peanuts, and important research work.

Being a research 'team', we were allowed to stay out after dark, so we hung around until just on dusk the seven puppies and 12 adults got up and at em. We followed them at a respectful distance as they trotted down the sandy road to the airstrip that services the resarch base and Santawani camp.

Once on the airstrip they assumed attack formation (just like they did in my book, I noted with some relief, as I have never actually seen this happen in real life). The alpha female picked up the scent of an impala and led the way. A couple of other adults branched off as flankers and the chase was on.

Our guide had to put foot (as we say in southern Africa) just to try and keep up with the pack now. Just as we caught up with them Mrs B screamed "on the left" and we say the last death throes of the hapless grass eater.

It was over, literally, in seconds - the killing bit, that was. The pups, interestingly enough, were given first crack at the carcass, and they got stuck in - literally - climbing their way inside the body of what was left of Bambi. Not nice, LOF, but real life ain't.

We watched the whole thing, from start to finish, when the adults came in to clean up all the crunchy bits. A sneaky little jackal came sauntering through the bush and loitered around the site of the kill with intent to steal a morsel for himself, which he did.

Amazing stuff. The skill, co-ordination and effortless teamwork of the dogs; the mercifully quick death (unlike a buffalo we saw killed by lions, which took two hours), and the interesting way in which the hounds divvied up the spoils.

Mrs B and I will not be returning to Australia. We have decided to become researchers and live at our rugged, spartan base in the bush.






Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Slide night II, Botswana

And so we travel, via computer and armchair in your case, to Xakanaxa Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana, courtesy of my very good friends at the Africa Safari Co. and my other new very good friends at Xakanaxa Camp.



This leopard wandered in the territory of a couple of very cranky black backed jackals and they harrassed him for about half and hour. I don't know why he didn't just eat them.

That's my boy... near Xakanxa



Being poled through the delta. Who is that mysterious woman in the dark glasses behind me?



Yes, the Okavango Delta is a very pretty place.

Slide night

OK, by popular demand (that's you, Redcap), here are a few piccies from the current safari...

Starting in Kruger, early on, we have...


Cheetah, near Pretoriuskop in the south of the park... and people say there are no animals around Pretoriuskop...


Croc and Birdie at the Sweni Hide, near Satara



The Lilac Breasted Roller which is, in case you didn't know, the national bird of Botswana. A nice segue into the next post, I think...