The Little Things..
So when you tell people you’re going to South Africa, the first things they think of are the Big Five: Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard and of course the king of the jungle; the Lion. You ask a guide what their guests want to see and naturally the Big Five is the first port of call. I cant lie, travelling over here I was very much looking forward to laying eyes on these incredible animals. Thanks South Africa, you certainly haven’t disappointed… from seeing at least one of the Big Five per drive here on Karongwe to our big five day in Kruger, I have to say I’ve been amazingly fortunate.
However, since arriving and starting my internship on Karongwe, my perception of the wildlife has totally changed and on most drives now I don’t find myself keeping an eye out for an elusive leopard or shy rhino. I am looking at the ground, or in trees for something obscure. It’s incredible how many ‘smallies’ share this eco system, and how many people are totally unaware that they even exist! I’ve managed to clock up four of the Little Five; Buffalo Weaver, Rhino Beetle, Lion Ant and Leopard Tortoise… Elephant Shrew I’ll get you one day!
From taking a little more time to appreciate the little things, I seem to have developed a love and fascination with the humble Dung Beetle. They’re just such cool little guys. When asked what their most memorable drive was, lots will opt for experiences that have taken their breath away; getting close to the herd of Elephants, seeing a Leopard climb a tree or seeing an actual real life Pangolin… and with absolutely no flippancy I have been 100% blessed to see and share these experiences. But for me, a stand out drive is without question one where we stopped at a very fresh pile of Rhino dung and just watched.
We spent about half an hour laughing, commentating and just observing Dung Beetles doing what Dung Beetles do best… Spending ten minutes lovingly constructing the perfect ball of poo only to have it nicked by a slightly bigger bully beetle. Fights broke out, balls were broken. There were lucky escapees frantically pushing their precious cargo across the road, stopping only to perch on top and complete a navigationary circle… And of course there were a few unfortunate souls sulking at their loss. A few individuals kept the South West a productive sector, and new arrivals were welcomed with attacking legs hell bent on defending their little patch… not that Dung Beetles seem to have much control over where they fly or land… or how gracefully they do either. The low loud hum signals their presence, and like a drunk bouncing down the road after a heavy night they unceremoniously hit the deck and get to work. Once they’ve recovered from the concussion mind.
As unlikely as these thirty minutes were, they will be one of my best and favourite memories from Karongwe, and will never fail to make me smile.
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