Kruger Park Game Ranger, Andrew Nicholson, shares one of his strangest game-drive “sightings”! Read more to find out exactly why you need to be careful about where you shine your spotlight…
Tracker Herbert switched on his powerful spotlight, the sun having long since disappeared below the horizon. This was a clear sign to the rest of us that it was time to throw back the last of our sun-dowers that we were enjoying in the Timbavati Riverbed. The occasional call of the African Scops Owl pierced the quiet of the African night. We jumped back onto the vehicle in the hope of finding some interesting nocturnal animals on our way back to camp. A great time of the day as the temperature begins to drop and the anticipation of what awaits around the next corner seems to increase. Perhaps this is only because of my love for leopards? Such elusive cats that love to spend time in thick vegitation so as not to be spotted by any other animals.
The sound of the V8 engine of our Land Rover began to purr as we slowly started to climb up out of the river and onto a very productive road for game viewing. After just a few minutes, Herbie shook his spotlight vigorously. This was his way of telling me to stop as he had seen the reflection of an animal’s eyes from the small tracker seat bolted onto the front of the vehicle. At the base of a large Tamboti tree sat a Small-spotted Genet nervously glancing in our direction before scurrying off into the bush. These cute little animals are so majestic in the way they manage to manover over the dense foliage without a sound. We continued, winding our way home along the road that followed the river. The Milky Way was clearly evident each time we we able to sneak a view through the small gaps of the canopy of dramatic Tamboti trees that lined the river.
Again Herbs shook his spotlight, this time noticing a strange shape at the base of a Magic Quarri tree. As it took me a while to stop, the shape became hidden to him, but clearer to the rest us sitting further back in the vehicle. Herbs was still proudly shining his spotlight in that direction, hoping to identify the animal. Slowly but surely, the penny began to drop… white rear, long mane, squatting behind a tree! Realising our huge blunder, I quickly tried to tell Herbs to switch off his light. Seconds later, the animal sounded her alarm call as we sheepishly drove off, passing the rest of the “herd” at their evening drinks stop a little further along the road.
Fortunately for us the poor lady, that must have been dying from embarrassment while trying to use the lavaTREE, didn’t know which ranger and tracker we were. I say this because she was certain to be blinded by the bright rays that were cast from the spotlight of an extremely talented and proud tracker.