just another rough day in Africa…

6 05 2012

There is a lot going on at the moment and we are getting wonderful pictures to share but I will focus on just one day this week, so this is how Thursday went.

We had a visit from this handsome dude at breakfast time.  I could not find him in any of our books, but I call him Trump-worm.  I think Donald would be jealous!

He was about 8cm long.  I did NOT feel like a good cuddle, though!

I had arranged to go help in the Lissataba admin office: I have to feel like I am doing something worthwhile, and I have a need to be around people fairly regularly.   This will require some effort when we settle in the bush permanently, but we will make a plan.  Thursday’s plan was to help sort records of camera trap data.  The farm uses these amazing gadgets to keep track of animals and to see what is happening when people scare away animals by their presence.  We intend getting a camera trap for our house in time and will share some of the magic with you.

Unfortunately the hard drive was corrupted so my efforts to sort out and help were limited, but about an hour after getting into the office farm manager radioed to ask where one of the spare camera traps was: they had discovered leopard “drag marks” and had found an impala killed by leopard.  It looked to be the work of a mamma with cubs that is being monitored by the farm staff.  

I got to be part of the scene: we got into a vehicle and went in search of the kill.

We found the drag marks:

The larger section is where the body of the prey was dragged and closer to the front you can see the leg/ feet drag marks.

Then we saw what got Michelle really excited:

These were little paw marks of leopards! It looked like this was all a lesson from Mamma to teach her two little ones how to kill! 

We carried on following the trail to find the impala carcass.  * WARNING – AVERT EYES NOW IF YOU ARE SQEAMISH – GUTS PICS TO FOLLOW! ***

Adult leopards begin eating at the rump, seen in the pic on the right.  It looks like the cubs had a go at the stomach. We could also clearly see where the leopard had strangled the impala, to kill it.

OK, That’s it.  All the gory pics done.

Matt set up the camera trap

and I was part of a real bush experience!  We tracked to where the kill had taken place, about 70 meters to the other side of the road.  We saw where the leopard had crouched to watch the impala and where the prey had kicked and squirmed as it was being taken down.  All totally fascinating! 

We did not see the leopard, but the chances are good that she could see us!  Leopards are highly secretive and even the way the impala had been tucked away in the middle of a bush showed that these gorgeous felines just do not like to flaunt their stuff!

From there we went to see Matt’s passion: vegetation.  They are busy revegetating a sodic site, and the process is rather intensive!

A mat of hessian type substance is laid down and then packed with encroacher plants.  This will then keep the surface protected as grass and other vegetation makes its little home underneath.  Within about 5 years it should begin looking good.  Destruction of vegetation, which might just take a few hours, takes years and years to recover.

 

In the 2,5 years that Matt and Michelle have been involved in the farm the overall condition of vegetation has risen from 24% to 39% – they are doing a fabulous job! 

We had a great potjie dinner on Thursday with the management staff of the farm, and we were treated to a new visitor to our house. (Sorry – he was very busy and did not want to sit still to pose!)

The honey badger, or Ratel, is a ferocious little creature – although it is about the size of a Scottish Terrier, is able to bring down a buffalo and even lion. (scarily, one of the main tactics it uses is to grab the big creature by the testicles.  EEK!  But does this mean females are safe? ^_^)

We have been warned to be aware that these creatures become more active in the winter and that they are quite happy to walk up to a grill where one is braaiiing and steal the meat from the grill!  Deon heard the honey badger early this morning on our verandah – it looked like it had climbed onto the table to look for anything left behind!  We will try NOT to lure this one for visits! 

Those who love the bush will often sit around the fire at the end of a day, commenting – ‘Just another k*k day in Africa’.  Thursday was one of these great days for me.

I conquered my Rusty fears and drove him to the house, got the fires started for food while Deon was taking care of the car in town. I got to be with the workers doing important ecological activities. And I was around people. 

This coming week we are set to pack up our home here, go back to Joburg, see doctors and sort out things, so that we can move to our third country for living in in three months.  Not bad! 

These are some memories to be stored in our treasury to be hauled out on difficult days:

Leopard drag, veg programme 017

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2 responses

12 05 2012
Slowvelder

Hi Karen. Your furry fellow is Eupterotidae. I also did a post on one I found 🙂
Glad you are having so much fun in the bush. It’s great isn’t it?

23 05 2012
karenanddeon

Thank you for identifying Mr Trump for us – love them!
Bush life IS awesome… but we are now back in population, in Tanzania. Post will folllow soon!

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