Sunday, February 28, 2010

Banganek turtle tour...

This clip was the best I could do, given the limitations of actually viewing these very tiny potentially prehistoric giants. On our recent break to Maputuland, we headed off to Banganek, which lies as the crow flies directly opposite the Kosi Bay Camp, over Lake 3. It takes forever to drive there on the 2 track sandy roads that are the norm in this area. But most definitely worth it!

We reached Banganek just as the sun was setting and then waited for our guide, Victor, a local guy that knows his stuff when it comes to fishing the deep blue and showing turtles! Firstly, when you go on a turtle tour, you go with no light. Never did I know that turtles will follow the light and that it could potentially hypnotise them to a certain extent. Which is NO GOOD! The light confuses them and then they don't know where to go. They usually follow the reflection of the moon on the ocean and this is how they know where to go. But if some plonker comes along and shines his 1 million candle watt spot, you might as well jump on the turtle and save it from it's misery! This might sound harsh, but its the truth.

The tours aren't "conservation friendly" at all, as this is a public beach and there are people fishing and you do not require a permit as you do when you visit Kosi Mouth. Any plonker can go sit or walk there and interfere with these highly sensitive breeders and their babies when they make their way down to the big blue. They say the stats are 1 out of a 1000 babies survive to adulthood. I guess it doesn't take rocket science to work out that if people are picking them up and "helping" them around, they probably wont make it. My brows were seriously lifting at the effectiveness of the research that is being done on these amazing creatures. Banganek has one of the largest research stations for turtles on our coast line, but I cannot see how this is helping the turtles. It is helping the community to make some money by doing these tours, but I can't see the good side for the turtles in the way that things have been set out.

It really is a special experience and you should tread carefully so that you don't accidentally step on a baby loggerhead turtle like I almost did. Their chances are already so slim. Also don't pick them up and carry them to the water, you are aiding in a slow death of a baby turtle. They purposely have to trek across the beach to build up strenght before hitting the water! These turtles have an amazing journey through life and return to the same place where they were born, to lay their eggs when the time comes. It can only leave me in awe of the amazing creation that we live in, this place called earth. Our home.

Heroes as usual...


Have a look at the video clip above... so this is how it happened:

We were on our way back from fishing and having an idyllic day at Black Rock on our recent getaway to Kosi Bay, when we came across these 2 crazy old ducks in their Nissan Navara. Stuck, what seemed like for good. Of course, being a game ranger, you are used to saving the day and knowing your way around the elements of nature. Slamming on breaks, the boys jumped out, to start the rescue!

The two old ducks freaking out, begging for assistance made some comment, which I failed to hear, which provoked the response of:

Don't worry lady, we are game rangers, we do this type of thing everyday!

And thank goodness they do this type of thing everyday, otherwise we might have gotten stuck there with them, the cows and some locals bopping around with palm leaves and what not to try create traction under the tyres. Nissan Navara was put to shame. Brand new 4X4 means nothing, when an old game rangers Land Rover has to rescue your shiny ass!

So the boys saved the day and then managed to get an invite for a G&T back at their camp. Oh oh oh, is all I can say. Do not accept any invites from 2 crazy old ladies in a fancy shiny car in the middle of nowhere. You are probably getting yourself into some weird situation that will make you regret stopping and helping in the first place!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A game rangers holiday...

Ever wondered before what game rangers get up to in their spare time.... have a squiz above! Both these boys are now veteran big 5 game rangers as they have been doing it passionately for the past 10 years...and still going strong.

We headed off for a break in Maputuland and camped at Kosi Bay Camp which forms part of the Isimangaliso Wetlands formerly known as the St. Lucia Wetlands World Heritage Site. Kosi Bay is literally 10km from the Mozambique border post and when you are out there, it truly is OUT there.

The campsites are located on Lake 3's edge and has a pretty awesome feel to it. If you love water, this should most definitely be added to your list of destinations to visit before you die! We spent 7 blissful days, visiting Kosi Mouth (caught no fish), Black Rock (caught no fish), Banganek (the boys caught 1 very large sand shark on a night fishing expedition - but no we contemplate fisherman stories...)

For a different perspective on conservation Shane and Werner surprised us girls with a turtle tour at Banganek, which is one of the nesting sights where loggerhead and leather back turtles come and lay their eggs. What an experience...and what an eye opener. I never realised that walking on a sandy beach for hours at night time could be so disorientating. There will be a separate post on the turtle tour experience...

So with boys being boys, and game rangers taking a break from the bush, in another, well different bush... it stays the bush non the less and you can never soak up enough of the rhythm of Africa!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What we live for in Africa!

This sequence of photos was taken in January 2010, by yours truly, Shane van Niekerk.

It makes anyone who has a passion for the wilds of Africa, cringe!! How do some people just have the luck? Being at the right place at the right time to be witness to such an amazing encounter!

As we pulled up onto the dam wall, where the northern pride of lions where chilling for the morning we heard a commotion on the opposite side of the dam and suddenly this poor little impala came bolting through the bushes running from an enemy(which enemy we don't know)! He took a flying leap to save himself, completely unaware of the danger that awaits on the flip side of this situation he has found himself in! Desperately swimming for safety, as impalas are not keen swimmers, but do when they have to.

He reaches the bank! Can you just imagine the agony of realizing that you are now in deeper trouble than what you were and you are now even more exhausted and not able to get away from, well ultimately the final few moments of your life. A feeble attempt by the little impala to take another leap back to where he came from, just feeds the lions inquisitiveness and one cub that obviously could not be phased by the water, runs in after the free meal on four legs and snatches it up before any of his siblings realised that it was all over and they had missed out!

He trots off proudly, as if though he is the victor of some great hunt, and not just an opportunistic fearless predator. Of course he didn't share with his brothers and sisters, it was just enough to snack on for the morning and fuel him in his race of survival. This is they way of the bush, if you hesitate, you die!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Messy Mondays...

Rather messy than blue I say:) These photographs were taken on Monday this week and once again just proves that life in the bush, being a game ranger is never boring and always filled with unexpected surprises. Shane has never had this happen to him in nearly 9 years of guiding!

It was at a sighting of the breeding herd on the reserve, having some fun in the mud. Splashing around in one of the puddles that has been left by all the rain in the past month. We had 3 vehicles at this sighting and were thrilled to be watching these gracious giants enjoying being elephants. Snapping away in a frenzy Shane was half hanging out of the vehicle to get just that perfect shot, which I will be adding a bit later, to find himself within a blink of an eye sprayed with mud from head to toe! I guess the ellies thought that we should join in their fun and see how fabulous it is to be a prehistoric creature! Leaving the green machine full of funny smelling things also covered from tip to toe. Gasping at the thought process happening: “what just happened?” with stupid grins of uncertainty. One can’t help but get a smile on your face when nature voluntarily involves you in its daily course of events.

It always leaves me wondering how much these amazing animals actually understand and how much of a personality each individual has in the herd. Their intricate herd structure is a clear indication of some sort of intelligence with a matriarch leading the way, knowing each highway and footpath they should be walking on, with each tree, rock, bend and obstacle they are to encounter on their journey. They are mobile most of the time, eating as far as they go and stopping in between to have a drink of water, and making full use of the opportunity to have some fun in the sun! Having to consume 170kg – 300kg of food per day, one would think that they would be on a mission most of the time!

We just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to photograph these massive animals playing around like they are really having fun. We sat with them for a good while before the incident of having a mud bath, the African bush way! After which we headed back to the lodge to drop off some funny looking guests. Shane took most of the day cleaning up his gear including the very pricey digital camera and lens along with his .458 riffle, this is when it’s not that amusing, but if you really think about it, it all seems worth it. It’s a feeling that you can not describe in any sort of words that we know. Words will definitely fall short in this case.

These are events that people write stories of, and grips people like me to read each and every book that has anything to do with the African bush, stories that will leave you craving for the rhythm of the bush. We get to live it here each and every day, with all sorts of surprises and first time experiences just waiting to be had! What more could you want out of life? Everything that goes on around you in the bush has a mystical way of seeping through your skin and leaving you feeling inspired and alive. You start seeing things you never would have noticed before and you somehow get sucked into the timelessness of Africa.

That leaves me thinking how you may leave Africa, but Africa will never leave you…

Monday, November 2, 2009

Keeping up with the world out there...

Come now babe, you're my PA you should know these things... this is what my husband the game ranger, who doesn't even know where the power button on a computer is located, had to say to me when I asked: What would you like to say on your first post of your own blog, to the world out there?

So here we are, on the www for all to see. We decided to start this blog so that Shane and I can share what he does each day with those who he has met, those that he has gotten to know and those who would like to know what he has seen this morning on game drive! It is not everyday that one can have a first person view of a game ranger or rather a safari guide's life. I am not to sure how many of them actually live in touch with the world out there. The real world, that most of us live in.

Life to the rhythm of the African bush can encapsulate you in a dimension where dark tales are born around camp fires with lions roaring in the distant night, and as these tales grow to what becomes some of the most riviting stories ever told about life in deepest darkest Africa, I listen intently and share generously.

We look forward to sharing pictures and tales from Africa with those who are dying to be out here, in the wilderness, in a time that has stayed untouched by the world. Welcome to our world!