March 13, 2014

THROUGH THE BUSH TELEGRAPH: A Sticky Situation – Selati

The best thing one can do when it’s raining, is to let it rain. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

And then let it rain some more and some more and some more.

EcoTraining’s wilderness camps in Southern Africa are all good and properly drenched after the persistent rain of the last couple of weeks. We are however glad to report that everybody is safe, even if a bit worse for the wear.

Assistant instructor Margaux le Roux sent through this update from our camp in the Selati Game Reserve:

“With the flood waters starting to subside, we are slowly managing to reach previously cut off sections of the reserve. With over 200mm of rains received, some roads are badly damaged, even non-existent, and certain areas which are normally dry, have turned into muddy swamps. This will not however stop us from taking the students out on activities, and to share the beauty of Selati. It might mean that in some places we will get stuck, and we might get covered in mud as we try to free the Landrover, but this is all part of the great adventure that is field guiding.

With this said, a call came in that the lions were spotted close to Galon Dam, and seeing that a new group of students had arrived, some having never seen lions before, I decided that we should try to get to these cats whilst we have the opportunity to do so. It took some serious driving skills to navigate through some of the muddy obstacles, and I even felt proud of myself for managing to get us this far, a feeling that was short lived…

We were driving on the Galon Link Road when one of the students spotted Mburri, Selati’s big male lion, less than 100 meters behind us. With all the excitement, and knowing that we might lose visual of him, I had to make a three point turn, and then it happened. I drove less than a meter off the road, before the soft layer of earth gave way and the Landy started to sink and spin deeper into the mud. I knew it would be futile to try and drive out, as we would end up spinning ourselves deeper into a sticky situation.

Darkness started to creep in, we were stuck in an open area with no cover and no rocks or means of providing grip to the spinning tyres, and most importantly with lions in the area (at that stage we knew there were still two lionesses in the area and yet we could not see them). We could even hear the odd growl erupting from the bushes, as the lionesses were having a minor dispute with each other.

Fortunately the guide that had called in the lions was still in the area, and I managed to make contact with her and asked her to assist in pulling us out. With great teamwork and with students doing a ‘cat scan’ whilst we tied the towing rope to the vehicle, we managed to get the vehicle out of the mud, and a feeling of relief flooded over all of us. Just as we had managed to get the vehicle out, the three lions casually walked behind the vehicles and disappeared.

Never a dull moment when you are in the bush!”

(Thanks for sharing, Margaux!)

NOTE: The pictures weren’t taken during this drive, but they are indeed of the same lions…
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