February 7, 2012

CAMP DIARIES: THE BUFFALO HAD OTHER PLANS – MAKULEKE, 7 FEBRUARY 2012



The inhabitants of the natural world march to their own beat; do whatever they want whenever they want, even if the text books may suggest something else.  And sometimes the best laid plans get thwarted by animals just being animals. Exactly like the group of students (FGASA Level 1) at our wilderness camp in the northern Kruger National Park found out. Instructor Mark Gunn tells their story:

27 January: We tried to go frogging this evening followed by a star session. Plans were made and the cooler box packed for a drink afterwards. Upon arrival at the chosen site we were greeted by a herd of buffalo. While waiting for the buffalo to move off a leopard came walking down the road and passed within two meters of the vehicle. We followed the leopard and when it walked off into the bush we went back to try for the frogs. The pan was too far from the road though and the grass too long. We went to the water trough instead, but there were only tadpoles and mosquito larvae.


The next option was to do a star talk. This was about the only thing that went to plan. The sky was clear, the moon had set and there was no light pollution.

Lesson learned – when an interesting distraction happens, adapt to the new situation. Can you imagine the reaction if I had ignored the leopard just because we were on a frogging trip?

29 January: One of the students planned a walk to the jackal berry forest. She had heard of it and as part of the course organised the walk. We started early by driving to the Manqeba windmill and then planned to walk at an angle across the flood plains of the Limpopo river to the forest close to the banks of the river.
A herd of buffalo seemed to have other ideas though.  We could not occupy the same piece of real estate as the buffalo and because they are bigger and more numerous than us they had the land, we had to wait. Two pauses for the passing herd and we were off again.

By the time we got back we had added eight buffalo encounters to our score. We unfortunately scared a large herd and they thundered off across our front. The stampeding buffalo were quite a sight.


What a fantastic forest! We rested under the jackal berry trees for about an hour before returning to the vehicle.

(Thank you Mark Gunn for the photos!)
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