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Tosca's Kalaroo Sequel, The Lions Foot By: | 2012-08-02
When i was growing up, we used to go to the Kruger National Park every weekend, seeing as we lived only 100km away. Sadly, we then moved away, which is why I ended up studying the completely useless degree of Drama, instead of becoming a game ranger. We should never have moved, but hey, who’s bitter? Kruger Park visits became a painful planning session, which were often not even executed.
In the good old days, we would go to Kruger for ten days and in those ten days we would not see a single lion. We asked everybody, looked at game sighting boards, spoke to game rangers etc. ad nauseum, yet still, nothing. One night, we spoke to a gentleman around a camp fire, and he very exitedly explained that no, he did not see a lion, BUT, he spoke to somebody else that morning who saw a lions foot peeking out of the tall grass.
So, that became the trip where we saw a guy who knew another guy who possibly saw a lion’s foot sticking out of the grass. This trip, it seems, is becoming the trip where we saw somebody who saw cheetahs. and lions and more cheetahs!
We have seen lions tracks, lots of them! My Mom will from now be known as !kxai, the Bushman tracker! One should actually put up a shop next to the road in the Kgalagadi, as foot traffic should not be a problem, according to the amount of tracks she was able to identify! And of course, !kxai, the Bushman tracker, is convinced that they are all lion tracks. Lion, she says, have big fat flat tracks and they are going in THAT direction! And are they fresh Mom? Yes, very, just this morning. They must be around here somewhere!
This was how our day started. Lion track following, expert sand sprinkling into the air to check wind direction (with hurricane strength wind, not really that difficult to do) but more track following and basically checking under every bush, tree and rock. All of this took place in 4 degrees celcius, and no professional lion I know of would be caught dead in the shade at 4 degrees!
Have I mentioned that my mom has a plastic lens over one eye? And that she accidentally stuck the Eye drop bottle into her good eye when the Bullet hit a massive corrugation, and as a result, can't see so well out of the other eye? We officially had enough of all the lion spotters, cheetah spotters, and naysayers we had met in the last five days of spotting goschickens, mice rallys, gemsbok altercations, and seven trillion Cori Bustards (not a Brad Pitt war movie, heavy flying bird).
So, mission inpossible, spot any type of meat eater. This has now became a matter of pride, and professional honour, and this will happen! Even if I have to make a straw lion and stick needles in it and dance naked around a decapitated goschicken and chant silly songs!
And then we saw it. Not a lion, not a cheetah, not even a hyena but an African Wild Cat! Yes! Cat! Meat Eater! Endangered! Rare! Nobody ever sees one! I saw It! Go home lion spotters and cheetah hunters, you try and pull out an African Wild Cat from your day and then we can talk again! It was far away, and we didn't see it for long, but I saw it. This will be mentioned tonight to anyone who dares to mention the dreaded "L" word. Little did I know what was to come!
Very exited with our exclusive find, we drive up to one of those view points where one is always expecting to see a zoo at the top, and then have the sinking disappointment to see only rocks. As we make our way up the incline, Mom points upwards, and I spot a log that looks suspiciously like the front of a Lion matches box picture, and my mom says, naaa, can't be. And I shout "LION!!" and charge up the incline. Two metres from us, a lion! It was not an impressive lion, just a young lonesome male catching some early morning rays, but it was like we had spotted the Masai March Lions on a kill mission!
I was taking photos of my mom’s hand, nose, Bullets side window, and even some of the lion, who was now calmly walking past Bullet (Mom thoughtfully closed her window, just in case young Mr Lion decided to get into Bullet and catch a lift to the picnic spot) and then disappeared into the bush.
In less than ten minutes we had seen our two meat eaters! The rest of day day was filled with a family of Ostrich, with Dad in front and Mom at the rear, with five chicks inbetween. Dad got a little impatient with the slow movers (but seriously, they have legs of about 3cm long, and he can do the Comrades in 1 hour with his long legs), but very cute all in all.
On the way back, after a long day of spotting lion tracks, wild cats (and I don’t care if it was a small spotted Genet, or a house cat, I am sticking to my story, it was a Wild cat) and Ostriches out for a stroll, I spot a moving head in a weavers nest, which looks suspiciously like my Jack Russel. "There's a dog in the weavers nest" I say to my Mom. She looks at me, shakes her ear a bit, and says, "pardon?" "There's a dog in the weavers nest." She later told me she kind of suspected that I had lost the plot there, but sagely said nothing. In hindsight, it was rather enthusiastic to think that there was some kind of dog in a weavers nest, but what with the wild cat and the lion, who can blame me! The dog turned out to be Barn owls. They barely have a beak, so one can see where I went wrong.
We saw lions. Tomorrow we work on the cheetahs.