William, our new guide, arrived in camp Wednesday night straight from fighting a large brush fire on a neighbouring farm. I have to commend Team 3 on their teamwork and bush relay communication skills, because Barbara and Diane had spotted the fire when they were in the mountains near Kuduposten. There’s no cell phone coverage up there, so they took the initiative to drive back to the lodge and tell Christian about the fire.
Fires are an extreme hazard here in the dry season, and can spread quite quickly. Normally everyone drops what they are doing to extinguish them because they gain speed rapidly. We volunteered ourselves and our team to help, but we were not needed. The fire was on a neighbour’s farm and many people from several other neighbouring farms went to help. Thanks Team 3 for being willing to do whatever is required out here!
Thursday Team 3 got up early and drove out to our respective start points for the vehicle game count. On Route 1 there was much excitement: the entire team heard a leopard in the distance and Ligeus saw it through the binoculars before the animal disappeared into the rocky hillside. Route 2 members saw the baby rhino near CS house. Route 3 members, well, we found an ostrich egg. Fun stuff for every team.
Friday everything hummed along as usual. It’s really getting hot here during the days, and the team suggested we start earlier. Good thinking! We’re now starting our morning activities an hour earlier in order to beat the heat. Those of you at home who have yet to pack don’t need that extra sleeping bag I mentioned at the beginning of the diaries, but still be sure to pack lots of layers because some nights here are still quite cool. The best thing you can bring now is a sun hat and long, light sleeves to protect you from the burning rays of the sun.
Saturday was our “day off”. The team volunteered to check box traps in shifts and then drove to see the rock art. Nothing exciting to report except for a reluctant porcupine that decided it was quite cozy inside our box trap. Monday was a stellar day for tracks and scats—seven cheetah and three leopard scats were waiting for Vera when she came to evening briefing. We’re seeing leopard tracks all over the farm, including some quite nearby our box traps, so it seems only a matter of time….