Successful leopard baiting, learning Afrikaans, SiSwati and Tsonga, and a big party

Today we had a lovely lie in until 8. It was my roommate’s birthday so we had quite a chilled out day! We were meant to be doing an Afrikaans and SiSwati lesson, but we swapped it to the afternoon because Mark returned at 10 to try leopard baiting again. Hopefully we would be more successful this time! We were meant to do firewood collection this morning but unfortunately we ran out of time.

We set off with Mark to the rifle range so he could get some practice in and adjust the sites on the gun. Then we drove around for about an hour and a half looking, but we couldn’t find a suitable impala out on the reserve. However, when we were returning to Gazebo there was a perfect herd right by the dam so one of those was shot and loaded into the back of the game drive vehicle. We then drove the short distance to Gazebo for a lunch of salad and jacket potato with melted cheese and bacon pieces on top, as well as a roux sauce over the top. It was very filling and tasty, John is just a brilliant chef. It should keep the hunger at bay for a while!

Leopards like to chill out up trees. Image from: Wikimedia Commons by Wegmann

After lunch we drove out into the bush, got the impala out onto the road, tied wire through its feet so we could attach it to the back of the vehicle and drag it through the bush. The task was then to cut open its belly to allow the internal organs to fall out, which would leave a scent trail that a leopard would hopefully pick up. The tricky part was cutting it open without making a hole in the stomach, because you’ll be hit in the face with gas and a horrible smell. It smelt bad enough just opening it up, most likely because we had left it over lunch in the back of a hot vehicle! Anyway we finished this and dragged it along the road behind us and the guts fell out like we had planned. Then one of the guys pulled it up a tree which had a perfect branch for a leopard to laze around on. The hope is that we get leopards used to the smell of humans so they aren’t afraid of coming near the road and visitors are more likely to see them. We checked two more bait sites but the meat had only been eaten by ants.

Tying leopard bait up a tree; in this case it is a wildebeest leg. Image from: eebplymouth.blogspot.co.uk

After we got back we had our language lesson, learning SiSwati and Tsonga from Boyboy and Afrikaans from another ranger. I picked up the pronunciation of Boyboy’s quickly after writing it out in phonetics. African languages are usually written as they sound anyway, so they aren’t too bad to learn. Boyboy said I was the best and gave me thumbs up! I’m glad he thought I was doing his language justice! The other ranger asked if I spoke German because Afrikaans has a similar harsh sound. I guess I am just good at languages because I went to school with quite a few German people and speak French and Spanish.

The day had been a hot one so I went for a shower after the language lesson. That has actually been the trend for the last few days. Sweat is literally pouring off most of us! We then started the party preparations! We laid four tables out in a square in the boma, put banana leaves on them and flower arrangements in pots. There were really pretty placemats and we had our plates put out on the table all ready for later. There was even a banner saying ‘Happy 19th’ as well as balloons hung with fish wire from the ceiling. I feel we managed to rustle together some pretty good decorations for being out in the bush. We ate all the normal braai food with a nice salsa sauce and a bean mix thing which was very good!

The pool people jumped into. Image from: psamarketing.co.uk

Then we started the party with the big speakers plugged in. We danced a bit and had some great chats. A few people decided to go into the pool in just their underwear. Someone pushed Jo and Shaun, the elephant guy who lives in Kingfisher just over the other side of the dam, in. One of the guys made us toast as we were hungry. How can such a simple thing taste so good? I went to bed at around 2 tired from the day’s activities.

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