I know there is a proverb about good intentions and some how like the proverb my intentions were good but I ended up doing half the letter, then camp life went into full swing with the Easter weekend, I went to the annual travel show in Durban (the Indaba) and I never got further than the first paragraph and then it was already middle May so I decided to just combine the two months and so herewith the news ….
Of elephants and squirrels….
I have a new mopane squirrel that squirms in my shirt and like any baby demands food when hungry and not to a schedule. I have lost track of the number of these babies I have raised but all I can say is that they each have such individual characters and I often wish that Penny (the major-domo of my house, also hand raised but never captive, and now has the whole house and garden as her territory – and I cant really remember when I got her but think she must be about five years old ) had more of a community spirit and would not encourage the youngsters to find their own space (well that was very diplomatically put, squirrels can certainly make formidable adversaries when defending their turf.) Now I know to many people a squirrel is not nearly as interesting or regarded in the same light as many of the larger animals but I have great affection for them and they are incredibly intelligent animals and just a few days ago I showed guests how Penny knows her name and comes running if called. I have not been able to find much data on these squirrels and wonder if any research has been done on them and can imagine that getting funding for this would be a lot harder than for some of the more well known and larger animals, somehow saying one was researching squirrels would not have the same wow factor as leopards or aardvarks! Many a guide will tell you the alarm call of squirrels is a great asset in the bush and often a pointer to leopard or other smaller cats.
As always when I have been out of camp, especially on a busy trip, it is great to come home and I always try and get into the park as soon as possible. On Monday I went out with some guests and we saw a large bull elephant that had lost his one eye, this was obviously quite recent and the wound was infected and obviously very irritating. The photos give a clear picture of the sequence of events. He first of all tried to rub his head against a tree and then he looked around and almost went completely on his hind legs as he grabbed a small stick with some leaves at the end and pulled this off the tree. Then with his trunk, he used this as a tool to wipe his eye and give it a good cleaning out. He then went over to some soft dust and sprayed this over the wound, actually trying to pack it into the wound. The whole time he was extremely calm and not bothered by our presence a short distance from him. In general these older bulls have a very calm demeanor and are the refined gentlemen of the valley.
A great way to end this news letter is to tell everyone how proud we are of Colleen, who has just passed her guides exam! She has worked hard and this and is now on a well deserved two week holiday in Holland.