Kruger sojourn helps clear the mist

Getting to know the neighbours

Yellow Billed Kites pirouetting in the air, frenetic nest building and chattering going on among Weavers and the like, and the cacophony of noise from every testosterone-filled male frog in the pond below my spot, tell me there’s no question, Spring, she has sprung.

While enjoying my recent sojourn alongside the Crocodile River next to Kruger Park, there was ample evidence of this, because despite the shortage of rain, one could see the greening of the vegetation. I’ve been privileged to visit Kruger twice, but this trip was a whole lot better than my first. This time though, I wasn’t technically in the park – I was looking into it from the opposite side of the river.

From my vantage position on a viewing deck in a private estate, by the third day I’d seen the much vaunted Big 5 (including Black Rhino if we’re to be technically correct) and judging by the almost common traffic jams I could see across the river within the park, I think I saw more wildlife than they did, without moving – except to get another beer.

Fish on the line and a mamba in the mind

The problem as I see it, arises the moment you stop to look at something interesting. You immediately get surrounded by 4-wheeled rubber-neckers, hemming you in on all sides all trying to see what you’re looking at – often frightening the animal away. It’s more like the opening of Woolies summer sale – absolute mayhem with bad manners thrown in. Eishh!

The following is not a punt for new business, merely an illustration of what a bit of uncluttered knowledge can do for your mindset. My eight-day trip was essentially a busman’s holiday, working and having fun at the same time. On two of those days, I spoke to a whole bunch of people from all cultures – most of whom were phobic in the extreme – telling and showing them how to cope with the presence of a snake whether in the bush, workplace or home.

Helping to lift the ‘mist’ and inspire a fresh approach to snakes.

Whoever it was who installed the almost obligatory and mindless fear of snakes into the heads of just about every human being on this earth, did a damned fine job.

Where do those snakes go? The murky world of animal trafficking

We used a reasonably representative mix of common species, long and thin, short and fat, Puff adders included, to get the various basic points across – don’t panic, stand still, be rational not fearful etc.- and by the end of the training, we had the greater majority expressing their delight at having had so much of the “mist” cleared from their heads.

Amazing creatures

Apart from the general and key estate staff, some of the people I spoke to were game guides, the ones who take tourists – international and local – on game-viewing drives into the surrounding bush, showing them the amazing creatures that we are privileged to live among.

I’m confident, that from now on, those tourists will get a slightly less jaundiced viewpoint next time they’re fortunate enough to see a snake while out in the bush.

Contact Pat: herpet@eastcoast.co.za; 083 303 6958