The Bush Times

Caught in the Act

We are now well into the cold, dry months of winter and the bush is changing almost in front of our eyes. Brilliant yellows and oranges flood the landscape and fine dust makes its way even into the pores of your skin.

These sorts of conditions are expected during a southern African winter, however, the lack of summer rains has made the situation even more bleak and the struggle has been intensified.Besides a few boreholes running dry there is still sufficient water on the reserve, but water alone is not enough to support even the most hardy characters.

Food is the next most important resource needed for survival and the animals are having to venture farther and farther from precious water to find it. Heavyweights such as hippopotamus and buffalo are feeling the struggle as the weak cannot keep up. Their carcasses are pinpointed out by vultures and are becoming an ever more frequent sight.

The buffalo are now making a habit of exiting the reserve across the lazy stream that has become the Sabie river. In their minds the grass is greener on the other side. Unfortunately this is not the case and we have yet to find a buffalo whisperer to convey this message. This new foraging ground is riddled with snares and it is a very dangerous and expensive operation to herd the buffalo back. With four men on the ground and and the helicopter in the air it can take up to three hours to herd these brutes back across the river. Once we are out of sight the buffalo, like naughty children, make their way back into the booby trapped valleys beyond.

In three patrols we have collected 30 snares with new ones popping up on a weekly basis. With rains only expected in late September it seems as though this could be one of the toughest winters in recent history.

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Yours truly standing next to a set up snare
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It is not uncommon to find the remains of other animals such as water buck and this zebra skin

It is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.” – Wendell Berry

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