The Bush Times – A Bitter Sweet Release

Compliments of the season to all fellow bush fundi’s. It is that time of year again where many fresh goals are set as we prepare ourselves for another 365 days at the batting crease. There are many lessons we can take from the last year and I have a feeling 2017 is going to roll off the tongue much easier than 2016.

Our environmental president, Mother Nature, has won yet another term in the driving seat and all those influenced by her decisions are very interested, I am sure, to see what she has on offer for us in the year to come. Unfortunately, she works very much on a day to day basis without much insight as to what is on the agenda. I suppose it keeps us on our toes at least and keeps the brains working to use what we are given as best we can.

Our dearest Mother Nature has been hard at work on a strengthening programme the last two years. Conditions with the drought were drastic to say the least, ensuring that all those both mentally and physically strong enough would survive. Nature, as we know, can be very unforgiving and one needs to handle death with some form of understanding. During times of hardship there will be death but those able to fight through and survive should take with them a level of confidence for knowing that they have what it takes.

Dust. This was the main theme of the bush for 2016, right up until the 28th of December. The dry year caused problems for the animals as well as the people fighting for their survival. It was a two-way struggle and both entities were slowly coming to the end of their reserve strength.

Then on the 28th of December 2016 the Heavens opened. Within a few hours, 100mm of rain had fallen onto the barren landscape of Sabie Game Park as well as surrounding areas. As the rain fell one could feel two years’ worth of suffering being released. It felt like a brand-new country the next morning, fresh sounds, fresh smells and the feeling of a fresh start. For the animals, this was a transition into a new phase of life.

As much as we, at Sabie Game Park, would have loved to ingest this new beginning it was straight back to the grindstone. Two years of drought had hardened the top soil layer allowing water to flow over it as if it was a tar-mac road. Rivers filled up and took all debris with them. This meant that any fence line met by a river would stand no chance. Extensive damages to our fence lines have kept us hard at work but it becomes easier knowing that our precious wildlife has been given a breath of fresh air. It was also enjoyable working in the mud instead of the dust for the first time in a long time.

In terms of development, 2016 saw an explosion of infrastructure and new ideas for both the anti-poaching unit as well as the main camp. Foundations were put into place and 2017 will see us gathering momentum as much can be expected for the year to come. Keep an eye out for photographic safari bookings as well as fishing safaris.

Just to add a note from my side, summer has kicked off the tiger fishing season in a big way with fish not far off four kilograms being caught and released on a fairly constant basis.

From Sabie Game Park we wish you all a successful and joyful 2017.

The following pictures show the contrast in the pre and post rain times. I took the first two pictures in September during the height of the drought. I feel the black and white adds to the feeling of how barren the land had been. In contrast the last pictures were taken after the recent rains, the green flush was almost instantaneous.

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I wish i had noticed the buffalo skull above the jackal in this picture. Would definitely have tried to position myself to make it more prominent. This picture was taken on our lake-shore where there would usually be water. It felt like a desert.

 

vulture

Another picture from the lake-shore. We were finding buffalo carcasses on a daily basis that were pinpointed by circling vultures. Here a young white headed vulture is picking at what is left on a buffalo skull.

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The power of water should never be underestimated. Our fence never stood a chance much to the delight of us that had to do the repair work.
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During my entire time at Sabie Game park, I had never seen water in this stream-bed. One night of heavy rain and it swept parts of the fence more than 50 meters away. Have a look how high the debris is in the large fever tree on the left, that just gives an indication of how high the water was during the night.

 

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