Dust was kicked up into the setting sun

13th February 2014

Sunday 19th January 2014

For the last two years the floods have come on this day and forced the camp to be evacuated but luckily not this year. Instead we have blistering hot sun.

We walked eight hours today and I’m feeling it. The morning trail was uneventful but in the afternoon we had four buffalo encounters. The final encounter of the day came whilst we were watching about thirty buffalos grazing. What we didn’t realise was that they were part of a much bigger herd, 300 plus, and they were moving towards us.

In no time at all they were in front of us, down one side and moving along our open side. The sun was going down and we were running out of time. We decided to be patient and wait them out to see if it opened up in front of us, this was the direction of the vehicle.

They didn’t budge in a favourable direction and instead it was getting worse so we opted to walk back the way we came. It was going to be a hard slog back in the fading light and we had to be incredibly aware as we didn’t know whether this flank had been closed down too. As we headed east we heard a rumble which was getting louder, we looked over our shoulder and saw dust being kicked up into the setting sun.

We were momentarily convinced that the buffalo were stampeding towards us. They weren’t, instead it was our way out of the predicament, a lodge vehicle passing by. They drove us back to our vehicle through the buffalo, such an incredible sight to see so many of them, also a wake up call to see up close what we had been surrounded by in the long grass.

Just before we reached camp we saw another animal with a snare around its neck. This time it was a hyena which simply stood in the middle of the road looking at us as if it was asking us for help. There’s nothing we could do other than report it to the state vet. Subsistence poaching in Makuleke appears to be a big issue, since we’ve arrived we come across two impala, a zebra and now this hyena all injured by snares.