As a guide it is so nice to hear the students commenting on how blessed they are to be on-safari and to exhibit this enjoyment especially during periods where game sightings are few and far between. They loved the bush, the smells, the views, sunsets and sunrises and the wide open spaces that Imfolozi offers; even the few spots of rain and biting wind couldn’t dull their enjoyment.
Encouragingly white rhino were very prolific so many good sightings were had of these threatened beasts; with my group being lucky enough to be ‘charged’ about six times by a white rhino! Lucky? Yes, as it was a very young calf with more bravado than sense. The students loved him and all wanted to get out the vehicle for a hug.
Generally we all did very well with game viewing; large herds of elephants, buffalo, impala and unusually high numbers of zebra and giraffe. My group even managed a sighting of a black rhino from Sontuli Picnic site.
Hyena, true to form, made an appearance at the two evening braais much to the delight of the students – but not for Rejoice! I’m not sure if it’s a deeply rooted fear instilled from the Zulu culture or if she simply harbors a good old-fashion fear of this cunning nocturnal beast? (Zulus believed that witch doctors rode on the backs of hyena and some of the better ones even transformed themselves into them). Whatever the case, she doesn’t have much time for them and especially when the one ran at her when she threw out the water thinking that she was about to feed it. My hyena experience on this trip was almost having my shirt ripped off by one of the female students when one sauntered around the corner! We were trying to identify a photo of an insect that she had taken when it made its appearance. The first I knew of its presence was when she demanded “what do we do now”? while yanking me brutally between herself and the hyena; for such a slip of a girl it was quite an impressive and forceful maneuver that left no doubt to exactly where she wanted me! Walking towards it while clapping my hands had the desired effect and it loped off quickly melting into the surrounding darkness.
I am intrigued by hyena as they portray no emotion; their eyes are large, dark and expressionless. They skulk, they stink and they are silent as they wonder the camp on padded paws. They are able to eat rotten meat with absolute impunity, fearless as they challenge lions for scraps, yet excellent hunters should the need arise, and their bite is far worse than their ‘bark’, crushing solid bone with ease whilst carrying digestive juices potent enough to dissolve steel; a formidable opponent indeed.
Five days in the Imfolozi bush is far too short as there is so much more to be seen but, I believe that we did rather well overall seeing snakes and spiders, terrapins and elephants with a peppering of everything else in-between.
It was a pleasure guiding the Azusa students with Matt and Stef. Susi and Rejoice excelled themselves as always and again I’d like to thank Reg for giving us this opportunity to share and enjoy the bush with your fantastic students.