Thursday, 29 July 2010

Change is in the Air!

Greetings fellow earthlings hope that you are all well and living your dreams. Been back little over a week now and while I was gone, a whole bunch has seemed to have changed. To start off we all have new vehicles, “very spiffy if I may say so myself!” It does however come with it's downside as we are all now a little apprehensive when it comes to driving off road, for fear of getting a scratch that may tarnish our perfect chariots. Something I'm sure that will pass quickly as the environment that we work in makes it an impossibility.

So before our maiden journey six days ago we got to name our big green machines. Naturally, “Shrek” sprang to mind, or NOT, something about there not being a Shangaan (the local language) equivalent. So after some debate it was settled upon that she, as it is a thing of beauty, be named Hlowa, meaning wild dog. Ok, so it may be a little more appropriate than Shrek, as like the wild dog we work as a team, are full of energy and are always on the move. So what if we a tad smelly, we all have our faults!

Our first drive started off somewhat slowly but it was not long before Johannes radioed in a very unexpected but very welcome find and something we were obligated to respond to, after all, we're one of the pack. Joining the sighting the wild dogs were up and mobile, some running on the road while others were making their way through the long grass beside the road, all running on a front, clearly trying to flush prey along their way. How fitting, our maiden journey and one of the first animals we see, not to mention our first predator! Coincidence I think not, more of a knighting, I dub thee, Hlowa!

It was great to have the wild dogs back even though their visit was brief. We managed to see them the next day before they crossed out of our traversing area, as is their nature to roam expansively. The beauty is we never know when or where they will next turn up, so when they do pop in, it's always an unexpected surprise!

Driving this last week has uncovered a change in the bush, well at least for me it has. There seems to be something under foot and I can't quite put my finger on it. It's a feeling that has been brought on by a number of animals behaviour. I have mentioned previously how Kuhanya has been pushing her boundaries to the East, she continues to do so and is as unpredictable as ever.

If not to be out done by her daughter, Mbali, who we have not seen in over a month and when we have it's been very sporadic to say the least, turned up a day or two ago the furtherest East that many of us have ever seen her. It is great to see her back again, as the question of her existence was starting to do the rounds, it does however raise the question of where has she been, and why the sudden interest in the East? Another Leopard that we are now finding regularly around camp is Shongile, who we think has been pushed from the North by Argyle Female and her cub. Still on the subject of Leopard, Rockfig Jnr and her cubs seem to be up to the same shenanigans in the South and also are exploring all the corners of their territory. Both mom and cubs are well and with every passing day the cubs become more and more independent, not only from mom but from one another, with the guys now finding all three of them separated from one another on occasions.

Another change that is of concern is the departure of the White Lions, they were last seen the day before I came back on drive a week ago. That night they crossed into the Klaserie and out of our traversing area. It is not the first time they have done this, as they have left our traversing area on all points of the compass before, but usually return within a week.

What makes it different this time is that they have steadily moved to the West after their encounter with what must have been one of the pride males. Should they turn to the North from where they crossed, which can be presumed, they will find themselves back in their original territory and effectively HOME! Personally this brings about mixed emotions, on one hand it's great that they feel confident and comfortable in returning home and maybe as I type this the whole pride is reunited and the Timbavati Pride reign supreme once more! On the other hand it's a realisation that there is a good chance that we won't be seeing them back any time soon. I know, a little on the selfish side. It's still early days and who knows how this will all play out, it's the great thing about nature, the unpredictability! However should we be correct in our assumptions, the least we can expect is the occasional visit, after all, we are neighbours! It's with this in mind, and hope, that we check the North Western boundary daily.

Subconsciously, ok, conscientiously, as I guess by writing it down it can no longer be considered subconsciously, I'm trying to manipulate “Murphy's Law” to our advantage. I hear by challenge the “Laws” to make me eat my blogged words! Here's hoping it's another occasion that I get to eat humble pie!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Motswari Zebra Hungry Lions!

Greetings all, back from my seven days off, hence the lack of updates. We all know how up to date I like to keep the blog, if it were possible, I would have all the action streaming to you live from Motswari! No doubt somewhere out there a “techno-geek” is shouting, “ but it is!” I tend to ignore these pesky voices in my head, more often than not to my detriment. Any ways I get distracted, what was it that I was going to tell you, oh ja (very South African phrase, means, oh yes, for the benefit of all of you that have not visited our fair shores), I ran out of time before going on leave to add a write up on our World Cup Final.

Not to be mistaken with the World Cup Final between Holland and Spain but more about The Final, as in please no more, between Motswari Zebra Hungry Lions, a blog in itself to explain, and The Venezuelans. I'm not to sure how it all came about, but I found myself being drafted, you would be correct in thinking of the compulsory as opposed to the voluntary definition of drafted. So there I was Football Friday, standing on the Motswari field, second only to Soccer City, a new member of the Motswari Zebra Hungry Lions starting eleven. The fact that there were only eleven of us will be dealt with at a later stage.

Before proceedings could start the pitch had to be prepared, note that not at any time do I mention the word soccer/ football and field simultaneously, as two sets of goals opposite one another across a distance of ground does not constitute a soccer/ football field. If that piece of ground was clear of all obstacles,than maybe, but when you have shrubs and the beginning stages of tress to clear along with hibernating wildlife, you liberally have a pitch of sorts! So after the necessary actions were taken to bring the field up to international standard we were ready to go.

Motswari Zebra Hungry Lion was made up of a collection of characters from all departments and in keeping with being a representative of The Rainbow Nation, it had all colours and genders, with three ladies being given the charge of strikers. The Venezuelans, a boisterous group of visitors, were more about age equality with its members coming from all age groups. They kept the theme of numbers going with a full bench at there disposal for rolling substitutions, a wise move!
The game was ready to kick off as soon as it was agreed upon that we play twenty five minutes a way. Time restraint, had nothing to do with our level of fitness or the lack there of! If that is not justification enough than the fact that it was midday on what must have been one of the hotter summer, sorry winters, days was another deciding factor. It was a good decision, as soon after kick off the temperature just got hotter.

The game got off to your usual final with both teams sizing up the opposition, while trying not to give away anything themselves but as time progressed things started to open up and flow.

Personally I went in with the attitude of how hard could this be, I'm fit, I run ultra-marathons, what's twenty five minutes! Even though I had not played since being in Junior School, a long long time ago, emphasis on long, how hard could it be. I should know better and be band from asking that question of myself, as it was soon answered! After what felt like sixty minutes, but realistically must have been ten at a push, I was seeing stars and looking to the bench for help. Alas where one would normally find substitutes was replaced by an ever expanding crowd, my immediate thought was they were gathering like vultures waiting for death, must have been the lack of oxygen. Regaining my focus and temporary sanity, I saw in fact that it was a number of supporters that had gathered, vuvuzela's and all! Great thing about “The Supporters”, as they will now be referred to as, was they were impartial and supporting anything and everything that occurred on and off the field.

Nearing the end of the first half and totally against the flow of play, “The Venezuelans” capitalised on a break down the middle that found us napping, and took full advantage scoring with superior numbers. Not the way you want to go in at half time, truth be told I didn't mind I'd take half time anyway it came, especially if it was sooner than later, as the black spots had returned but this time accompanied by a bout of light headedness, if there is such a word.

During half time I tried to resurrect or should that be resuscitate myself and mentally prepare for the second half. How was it that men three times my size were making it look so easy and appeared to be every where on the field at once.

The second half was peppered with chances on both sides but Motswari Zebra Hungry Lions took advantage of a defensive error and drew level with a great individual goal from our newly acquired trainee tracker come David Vila, otherwise known as Patrick. The rest of the game played out as it began with both sides becoming cagey and not wanting to slip up so near the final whistle.

Never thought the sound of a whistle being blown would sound so sweet, finally ending my afternoons agony. It had never entered my mind that the scores being level would entertain the crazy thoughts of extra time, what was wrong with a draw, nice neutral end to a FRIENDLY game. Guess, boys being boys there must be a result, so bringing in the issue of the lack of time, not wanting to sway the outcome of the decision, it was decided to go straight to penalties, mission accomplished! Avoiding penalty taking selection my work was now done, the result lay in the hands of others. Not having practised penalties, actually not having practised football/ soccer either was to be our downfall and after only three of the penalties the result was inevitable, with us losing 3 – 0!

All in all a great afternoon was had and it was a great way to bring “The Soccer World Cup” to a close! We won't mention the next day and the aches and pains that came with it!