I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. – George Washington Carver
Included in our stay at Lookout Lodge was a game-drive. We went out at 7am on the Sunday morning and really enjoyed it. The Game Ranger was so informative and we really were fascinated by everything he had to say. Nature and how clever it all is astounds me every time!!
I wish I had recorded everything he told us but here are three things I noted:
1. Nature will get you high.
This cactus is poisonous in the sense that it “makes your mind go crazy” (the words of our ranger).
Problem: it is not indigenous to South Africa and the farm needs to get rid of them. Solution: Host a trance party, inform all attendees of its psychedelic properties on arrival – farm will be cleared of all plants within one weekend.
Interestingly enough the Kudu, appropriately nicknamed the “Queen of the Night”, has adapted to be able to feed on this hallucinogenic cactus when food is scarce. The ‘hippie’ of the animal world.
Another tree was also pointed out to us that many people use as firewood: a fatal error. The bark of this tree is so poisonous if you inhale the fumes or eat food that has been cooked on the fire you will be dead within minutes.
2. Animals have fascinating communication channels as well as eating habits.
The white colouration underneath an Impala’s tail is used as a “follow me beacon” for their young. They also have a darker spot on their back where most ticks will go to feed off of them, this dark spot is easily accessible by their tails to swat off the ticks.
Waterbuck are predators. They are rarely hunted by other animals because they have glands under their skin which secretes an oily substance into their meat which makes it go off immediately and as such the effort to hunt them is futile.
By the river bank where we had some coffee and muffins there was a huge piling of Impala droppings. The ranger explained to us that this is the “BBM” of their world. Herds gather information from other herds here such as how many females are in the herd, when the herd was last in this area, where they are heading next, what they are eating etc.
The reason Wildebeest and Zebras are always found together is because the Wildebeest are grazers and feed on the taller grass because the Zebra, more selective in their choice of grass, follow them and eat the shorter more succulent and greener stubs at the bottom. Wildebeest have mud baths often because when the mud dries it squashes and kills on the ticks and flees.
Wes asked the game ranger what the most dangerous animal in the bush is and his answer – The Honey-badger! I don’t know about you but I picture a cute little honey suckling teddy when I hear the word “honey-badger” so we googled it on our way home and found this picture.
I can now believe the stories of how a python bit a honey-badger, it passed out for 45 minutes woke up and proceeded to eat the python and of how a lion attacked a honey-badger only to have the honey-badger turn around quickly and bite it in his neck. “Do not mess with this thing”.
3. Nature is a pharmacy
This tree here is the “toothbrush tree”. You break off a little branch chew on it and it cleans your teeth.
There is a bush called a Sickle Bush which is a great anti-septic and is used to cure all kinds of ailments from stomach aches to head aches.
Nature deserves our respect and awe!