August 5: An Aardorable Aardwolf Photo

(Sorry, couldn’t resist the cheesy title…)

In response to my epic aardwolf sighting last night, one of my friends sent me this photo that she took of an aardwolf while she was in Mashatu, which is a fabulous safari destination in Southern Botswana. She got to see Aardwolf twice in two days!

You can even see the dirt on its nose! That’s because it’s been digging up termites. Did you know and Aardwolf can eat 300,000 termites in one night?!

Thank you SUE!

Image

Aardwolf, by Sue James, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana

You can see more photos of Sue’s Botswana trip here:

 http://www.sooshine.com/page14.htm

 And even better, read about her recent trip to the KALAHARI here:

 ‘Green Dunes, Hungry Mice and Frozen Toothpaste!’

http://suejayjames-ktp2012.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

Vanishing Species

She looks dreamy now, but this leopard’s peace didn’t last long! With her in this tree was a Springbok she’d killed in the night. It was always bound to attract attention. A few minutes later, a Brown Hyena drawn to the scent, showed up and investigated the base of the tree. Despite what is commonly believed about Brown Hyenas, given the chance it would have challenged the leopard and stolen her kill. They’re much bolder than they’re given credit for! In the end, the hyena scent marked a blade of grass nearby and left the leopard alone to her daydream…

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July 9: A Wintery Night Drive

Ooh we’re getting colder! I’m not so thrilled when people remark that ‘winter is on the way’. I like to think it’s already here and it’s very much ‘on its way out’ .

Tonight I was asked about gestation periods, so it does happen. As guides we should, in theory, know the gestation periods for all of the mammals in our area. Fortunately, I happened to know the three I was asked about tonight- the Steenbok (7 months), the Springbok (5 and a half months) and the Oryx (9 months).  

We often joke that nobody will ever ask us about gestation periods, but they do! Although while watching a Scrub Hare through binoculars, the last thing i’d expect my guests to be wondering is, ‘Hmmm… but how long is it pregnant for?’ But i’ve decided i’m going to learn them all. A Scrub Hare is 42 days. I do hope your life is greatly enriched by this great sharing of knowledge.

Oddly, no foxes tonight, not even fake impostor foxes.

 

Sightings:

Eland

Small Spotted Genet

African Wild Cat

Black Backed Jackal

Steenbok

Springbok

Scrub Hare

Spotted Eagle Owl

Gemsbok 

Wildebeest

July 2: Bruised, Battered and Pronked

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.

insert default springbok image

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.

Sightings:

Springbok
Ostrich
Wildebeest
Gemsbok
Steenbok
Springhare
Scrub Hare
Small Spotted Genet
African Wild Cat
Bat Eared Fox
Cape Fox
Yellow Mongoose
Northern Black Korhaan
Tawny Eagle
Spotted Eagle Owl

A New Home

Welcome to ‘Love Kalahari’, a new home for my very weird writing. Taking right over where the old trip report on the sanparks forum ended…

Stick insects grow their legs back if they lose them.  When a stick insect loses an antenna, it always grows back as a leg. A leg, right in the middle of its face. It isn’t much use as a leg, but it looks darn cool!  

Reflections on a Lovely Day…

May 1

I’ve spoken before about the remoteness of this place and how it makes you appreciate everything you have. Every opportunity, every apple, every moment is yummy.

So today I went to town to do a big momma shop. It’s been nearly three months since my last trip and while I had enough food to keep me going for another month or so, my body was shouting for a few fresh goodies

And today I went all-out. I don’t yet know what i’ll do with 6kgs of flour or 35 packs of tomato paste, but it’s good to have around. I also bought my first spice- garlic. I might even start adding flavour to my food.

I’m starting to develop little shopping day traditions. Like having a chocolate crunch ice cream waffle for Breakfast at Wimpy and my soya ‘Goodie Burger’ at Spur with double cheese. Today I was joined for burgers by a good friend, whose refreshing, straightforward outlook on life filled me with joy and promise.

End the day with a doughnut from Wimpy because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu and  I only go to Wimpy because I want to use their bathroom. Try finding another bathroom in town!

I even found a hairdresser! She likened my hair to biltong, but she did a great job, so i’ll definitely be back.

And on the way home, I saw an Aardwolf! That merits its very own post.

Whatever is living in my roof sounds like it’s getting comfortable.

The results of a ‘big momma shop’. Should keep me going for a while…

In Recovery

May 13 PM

The Kalahari sky is looking a little stormy tonight and it’s meant no drives. I’m itching to get out there tonight! Storm or no storm. I want to be sharing my park! Itch itch itch.

But I got to walk a lot today and I look like a complete idiot, but I can’t walk past a stand of Silky Bushman Grass without running my hands through it and sighing.

I’m rather ashamed. I’ve spent the last 17 hours of my life re-watching Season 6 of ‘Lost’. Why I watched it the first time around is beyond me, but why I watched it for a second time, while in the Kalahari when there are much better things to do?

My lunch was terrible. I’ve discovered that Maize-based pasta is disgusting! No amount of cheese sauce could disguise it. Spend the extra R2 and buy actual pasta.

And it seems to be Mother’s Day again! I’ve very confused. Wasn’t it just Mother’s Day? My message to my mom back in the UK read something like, ‘Umm… people here seem to think it’s Mother’s Day but I don’t think it’s Mother’s Day because wasn’t Mother’s Day a few weeks ago but if it is Mother’s Day then happy Mother’s Day again but if it’s not Mother’s Day then try and have a great day anyway…’. I miss my mummy. She’s eccentric and weird and wonderful and I love all of the things about her that used to embarrass me.

This was my day.

May 14 

I’m off! I truly don’t know what to do with myself.

That Day

May 13

 

I woke up with a piece of Butternut stuck to my face. Must stopped eating in bed.

 

I dug out these lyrics last week, because they sum up how I feel- all happy and hopeful and contradicted. I don’t even know what the song is trying to say, but i’m loving it right now. It could be about toasters, but whatever it’s about, i’m probably not emotionally mature enough to get it. But I hear the words and I think, ‘yep, that’s me’. After yesterday’s little upset, the words are even more profound.

 

So here’s some words from ‘That Day’ by Natalie Imbruglia. It’s from a long time ago.

 

That day, That day

What a mess what a marvel

I walked into that cloud again

And I lost myself

And I’m sad, sad, sad

Small, alone, scared

Craving purity

A fragile mind and a gentle spirit

 

That day, That day,

What a marvelous mess

This is all that I can do

I’m dying to be me

Sad, scared, small, alone, beautiful

It’s supposed to be like this

I accept everything

It’s supposed to be like this

 

That day, That day

I lay down beside myself

In this feeling of pain, sadness

Scared, small, climbing, crawling

Towards the light

And it’s all that I see and

I’m tired and I’m right

And I’m wrong

And it’s beautiful

 

That day, That day

What a mess, what a marvel

We’re all the same

But no one thinks so

And it’s okay

And I’m small and I’m divine

And it’s beautiful

And it’s coming

And it’s already here

And it’s absolutely perfect

 

That day, That day

When everything was a mess

And everything was in place

And there’s too much hurt

Sad, small, scared, alone

And everyone’s a cynic

And it’s hard and it’s sweet

But it’s supposed to be like this

 

That day, That day

When I sat in the sun

And I thought and I cried

Cause I’m sad, scared, small

Alone, strong

And I’m nothing and I’m true

Only a brave man can break through

And it’s all okay

Yeah, it’s okay

 

So sweet, can you feel it?

Are you here?

Are you with me?

I can feel it

And its beautiful

 

This is where the thoughts go…

lFor several months now, I haven’t been posting anything here. Because i’ve been posting everything somewhere else. I regret this. wrong forum.

May 12

Today I had to cut my limbs off.  Or so it felt like. Limbs don’t generally grow back. Unless you’re a stick insect. If the stick insect loses a limb, a leg always grows back. If a stick insect looses an antenna, it still grows back as a leg! A leg right in the middle of its face.

I lost my antennas, but they’re growing back as legs. Since they’re in the middle of my face, I can’t walk with them, but they look darn cool. Love it!

Vanishing Species

We absolutely adore rhinos at Vanishing Species, and we’ll use any excuse to publish a rhino photo.

Take a good look at this photo. Can you see the little black bird in the bush and the Cattle Egret on the ground? It’s no coincidence that this rhino is traveling with an entourage. The black bird is a Fork-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis), and both birds know that the rhino is grazing for food. As the huge rhino walks about and grazes, it kicks up the earth and disturbs the surrounding vegetation. This is turn flushes out all sorts of little bugs, which are quickly grabbed by the watchful birds. In return, the birds may be the first to detect any threats nearby. Everyone wins!

The White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)
is on the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species  as “near threatened”.
The latest population estimate is 17,480 (December 2007)

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Newest Kiva Loan!


Well, if you’re going to sell flip flops in Togo…

…I’m going to support that!

This is Warama. She’s my third Kiva loan. This week, my previous two Kiva loans made enough money that I could finally ‘reinvest’ in someone else.

Meet Warama….

“Warama is a 48 year old woman. She is married to a retailer. She has 3 children. The oldest is 30 and the last is 18. Warama has worked as a retailer since 1975. She sells traditional dresses and shoes to everyone at the market. She buys her stock at the big market. She works alone. Her principal difficulty is the competition.

Warama has requested her third loan from WAGES in order to purchase dresses and shoes. She wants to extend her activity. Over the next few years, Warama would like to expand her business. She says that with the benefits, she plans to make her family happy. “

I was more than happy support ‘WAGES’ with another loan. I love their policies and outlook.

As of today, Warama is still trying to raise the money she needs: http://www.kiva.org/lend/333957

Love.

Fresh Fresh Start

I’ve been keeping a blog for years and years. Sometimes I lose interest, but I always come back. But I think I hold a record. No one has ever read my blog! I have access to stats that tell me this. At the time I wrote it, I wanted people to read it. I had an audience in mind. I imagined all of my friends would read it. I had it linked to my Facebook account and linked on the forums I visit.

But since 2005, i’ve had TWO people visit my blog. Has anyone ever written a blog with just two hits? How is that possible? Not being stalked is awesome and something to be thankful for. I can be reassurance that nobody has ever stalked me! But at the same time, everyone secretly wants someone to stalk them…. just a little bit. Over the years, the handful of people who I suspected might be stalking me, in fact, weren’t. And certainly, no one of those few people who i’ve ever wanted to be stalked by, has stalked me. One visitor to my old blog was my mother, who shamelessly seeks me out of the internet, instead of just asking me about my life. The other was a stranger from New Jersey who left a comment reading, ‘don’t be so sure that no one reads your blog!‘ Actually, I am so sure…

So i’ve archived and deleted the old blog, which was mostly a sea of negativity. It was a pretty big wake up call! A good reminder of the bad things i’ve left behind in favour of a life filled with love and joy. I’d leave it up, but it just doesn’t reflect who I am anymore, and much of it is pretty unpleasant. I’ll keep it to myself.
If no one read my previous blog, I can’t imagine that changing now. But that’s an advantage. Writing for an external audience restricts you somewhat. So my new blog is then for me and me alone. The audience I write for is myself. I can write about things that won’t make the tiniest amount of sense to anyone but me- Hooray! It’s a collection of my thoughts and a celebration of the things in this life that I absolutely love, from the smallest to the biggest. It’s another way I can know myself and understand what makes me who I am. Like a diary (but with very cool photos and videos- score!) this is something I can look back to again and again and smile the biggest smile.