It was weird doing duty without my side kick Ben but with only four guests it wasn’t onerous at all. When they went on their game drive we, the Back Ups, drove to Lala Palm flood plain and spent the best part of three hours pulling out the invasive Datora, luckily we started early as it got very hot very quickly.
I went about various other duties including the emptying of the fat trap which is just gross. Once everything was done we had time to ourselves which I put to good use, I attended the guest’s lecture on animal behaviour, did some tree revision and then did the usual “Brutal Bruce’s workout”.
After lunch we went walking, this was my first as a qualified Back Up so I was both nervous and excited. The feedback from my assessment was still fresh in my mind so I had lots to work with. Jomi took the lead with Bruce in the party too, we walked from the vehicle down to one of the pans. The walk was just two hours and we had no encounters, so it was a gentle introduction.
Whilst we were taking a break at the pan I placed a round upside down in the muzzle to stop any dust from getting in the barrel. This seemed sensible, it’s actually what everybody does. The only difference is that they remember they’ve done it. We were crossing the flood plain when I realised I was one round short. This is not good at all, I confessed and headed back to fetch it, luckily I found it straight away. At dinner Bruce presented me with a dummy round on a piece of para cord which I now need to wear around my neck for the foreseeable future.
The journey back was the highlight, I was in the hot seat with the spotlight getting splattered with countless insects. The splattering was worth it, first a pair of black backed jackals and then an unbelievable leopard (female) sighting. We spent a good ten minutes with her, she came up close to the car which was interesting given my legs were dangling from the tracker seat. We then followed her up the road watching her scent mark. The drive back was topped off with a genet lounging in the fork of a dead tree beside the road.