Yesterday presented me with a lot of kalahari ammunition to contemplate and grind through the old grey-matter cogs. Let’s start first and foremost with the meerkats.
Cleo and her family spent the night at their Northern burrow, and endured a very rare monstrosity of a rainstorm during the course of the night. Changes in the weather and surrounding environment can often lead to changes in the meerkats’ behaviour. So for instance, if it is a particularly windy day, the meerkats will be more alert as they will not be able to hear approaching predators over the noise of the wind. Another example is if there has been a rain storm or it is a rather chilly morning, the meerkats will stay underground until the surrounds really start to warm up before they decide to pop out and say hello. This is exactly the scenario that our little 1ft high protagonists found themselves in on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. A rainstorm of biblical proportions (in context of the kalahari) broke open right over the Gosa gang territory at dusk on wednesday; forcing them underground at Northern Burrow earlier than usual. However, on thursday morning when they eventually popped their heads out, there were only four? An obvious question is…”WHAAAT!? Where are the rest!?”. The answer is “WHAAAT!? You’re asking ME that!?”. And so the whole of Wednesday left us wearing down the kalahari sands as we paced up and down near the burrow waiting for the others. By midday we gave up the chase and returned back to Gosa camp. However, Thursday eve saw the arrival of the rest of the Gosa gang and the entire family were re-united.

Now, time for a bit of Kalahari Cluedo. What we think happened was that the gang were on their way back to the burrow when the storm broke; causing some members to zip back to their Northern Burrow whilst the rest of the gang found shelter in a “bolt hole”, which is basically and nearby hole big enough to house a few meerkats in case of an emergency. And bolt they did! And so, the Gosa gang weathered out the storm in two separate groups and re-united later during the day while we were snacking on brunch. They never cease to amaze me!

Aah, now we come to the vultures. In the bush, we place our weekly food order with the lodge quartermaster who then packs off to town every Thursday morning to essentially buy the general shopping list for the entire reserve. Upon arrival back at the lodge from an arduous day’s shopping in a one horse town with no horse, one may see a very strange phenomenon play out at the storehouse. Likened to the great emergence of red crabs on Easter Island at certain times of the year, the kalahari spontaneously starts sprouting all manner of persons from the depths of its belly. Ground staff, rangers, researchers, chefs, game guides, drivers, managers and other kalahari careers-men stream in from places only the Gods must know about! They swarm like vultures around the delivery lorry, eagerly awaiting their lodge orders, supplies, spare parts, and the holiest of holy’s…the special orders. These items, worth their weight in gold in the bush, are more valuable than a cigarette in the front lines at the battle of the Somme. They are heavily guarded by all, and may include: lollipops, milkshakes, chocolate bars, full cream milk, ice cold beer, and the latest development in the Kim Kardashian story in People Magazine! Like the talons of their very nature they descend upon the lorry and take dashing grabs at their rightful prizes and then simply melt away into the surrounding bush. Fascinating! This event is worthy of some epic nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough as he is pushed aside roughly in order to get to the condensed milk tin! Strange days indeed, and yet I too became a vulture, for no-one shall lay their hands on my Coco-Pops Chocolate Cereal! And thus, we end yet another day in this strange place of Meerkats and Men, the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.

My song choice for today: Scatterlings of Africa – Johnny Clegg

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