One shot and no histrionics

11th February 2014

Friday 17th January 2014

I went out as back up guide this morning but unfortunately no encounters despite walking for four and a half hours. I’m not panicking yet but if they don’t start coming thick and fast I may have to. We did come across a very large African rock python but it was in a bad state with some of its inners coming out. Animals can be very resilient so we left it for nature to work one way or the other.

I spoke to Bruce last night about the possibility of doing my work placement at Makuleke and Mashatu as a ‘Back up trails guide’. This will further my knowledge and experience as well as enabling me to clock up the encounters and hours to hopefully qualify as a lead trails guide quicker than if I’d gone straight into a lodge.

I followed this up with a chat to the camp manager Dee today so fingers crossed I’ve set the wheels in motion. Now it’s a case of their being a vacancy and passing my exams and practicals with flying colours.

Probably my most enjoyable fitness session today as Cliff and I ran the outer fire break. It’s still close to camp but you do get the wilderness feeling more than when you’re running the inner one.

I was lead guide for the afternoon but we never made it out of the vehicle. The other group radioed to say that they’d found a zebra that had been caught in a snare and it was very much on its way out. We turned around and met them having had permission from the state vet to put it down. As soon as we got there Bruce went about the job quickly with one shot and no histrionics. We then had to load it onto the trailer so we could take it up to the Anthrax vulture project.

Once we’d unloaded the zebra we had to open it up so that the vultures could get into the carcass. Up until now my Christmas present of a sheath knife had only been used to spread cream cheese on a cracker and chop a branch down. This was its true christening as I had to cut it along its belly.

Instead of the walk we went for a drive and saw a large buffalo breeding herd and two other special guests. As I didn’t lead today I’ll be leading in the morning to see if we can pick up the tracks and get some very cool encounters.

On our way to our sundowner spot we came across a minor car accident. Bruce got involved in sorting it out with the police, rangers and anti poaching. For the wilderness it’s amazing how many people are lurking in the bushes. Once we made it back to camp I had to clean my rifle, wash my hands of dead zebra, do my pre-walk guest check and sort out the rota for the forthcoming walks (people are starting to skip these to concentrate on assessments and retakes). Then it was time for dinner and briefing those coming on the walk the next day.