When guests are on a sunset drive and they see something of interest, there are a number of tactics they employ to get my attention. Most commonly used is the traditional ‘Stop!’, yelled just loud enough to get my attention, but not loud enough to alarm any animals. This is good. Then there’s the hushed ‘stop’, which by the time it’s reached the front of the truck has left an animal several hundred meters behind thinking it’s got away with it. This is not as good. Towards the more irritating end of the scale are the whistles and the hands banging on the side of the truck, but even that’s okay. Once, someone even yanked on my ponytail to draw my attention to a Jackal.
But tonight I came across two entirely new ways to alert a guide to a sighting! On the left side of the truck was a small boy who upon seeing anything, would begin a series of full-voiced violent screams. Eventually, with some gentle persuasion to be just a ‘little quieter to not scare the animals away’, he calmed. But much more interesting was the woman seated directly behind me. Instead of using her voice to get my attention, she used her hands… to hit me… anywhere she could reach… and not always lightly.
I soon learned to watch her spotlight closely and lunge forward out of reach whenever I saw something. And while i’m feeling a little battered tonight, i’m just happy that she was so darn excited to see animals. I’ve just never thought to add, ‘Oh and please don’t hit me’, to my pre-drive briefing.
But anyway, even with random violent outbursts, tonight was a great drive with a truck-load of great guests. Tonight’s gold star goes to the Springbok. We watched as about 60 of them launched into a pronking session. I’ve never seen it on that scale before and it was mind-blowing. Pronking is when they pop up into the air with their legs straight out beneath them. It’s something unique and special to Springbok. Other antelopes can ‘stot’, but that isn’t as cool.
There are some good theories about Pronking and why they bother to do it. The most plausible is that it’s used as a big show of fitness, both to other Springbok and to predators who may be watching. Kind of like saying, ‘dude, look what I can do, it’s awesome and i’m awesome so don’t even bother trying to catch me’. The word ‘pronk’ literally means to ‘show off’ and ‘strut’. And surely they also pronk simply because it’s fun. Being able to pronk must be like having a trampoline built into your shoes. Kind of like those ‘Moon Boots’, but way better.
Love Kalahari. Love trampolines.
Small Spotted Genet
African Wild Cat
Bat Eared Fox
Northern Black Korhaan
Spotted Eagle Owl