Memo: To the Animals
Re: Keep Up the Good Work!
As the guide for the American guests on the their safari here at Sabi Sands, I want to thank all of you animals who participated and provide some feedback. I know some of you came over from Kruger National Park and some of you were already nearby, but thanks to all of you. These guests were at the lodge for eight game drives, so you had plenty of time to impress.
Special thanks to the Spotted Leopards for outstanding participation! The guests really loved that first sighting when one of you held the standoff with the Warthog. It was fine that you decided not to engage, and the departure of the Warthog with four little ones trailing was a terrific cameo appearance. It also set the stage for me to detail dramatic examples of what fierce fighters you Warthogs are. Leopard, thanks for staying around after the confrontation with the Warthog to stalk those Impalas. Your tail flicks indicating your various levels of desire to pursue those Impalas was dramatic especially since the rest of your body remained completely still. Too bad the birds warned them of your presence before you could attack.
Your appearance by the riverbank on Day 3 also impressed, Spotted Leopard. You were clearly relaxed and a bit sleepy, so we could drive very close and study your markings in detail. You are one magnificent Leopard, and I know those who have seen you will never appreciate fake leopard apparel again after studying your rosettes, creamy underside, powerful muscles and beautiful face.
Six appearances in eight drives! Good job, Spotted Leopards!
But while I’m talking to you big cats—-where were you, Lions? Not so much as some tracks for us to follow! After your big kill in Kruger last week, and your appearance at the watering hole, you simply disappeared! Fortunately, the guests were so excited when the Giraffes finally showed up on Day 4—and a “journey” of Giraffes the next day— that they didn’t care about not seeing you. In fact, they decided the Giraffes were more interesting than you would have been, so your significance was diminished by your absence. This was bad PR.
Kudos to you, Elephants. It was very nice that a herd of eight participated many times at different locations. They loved seeing the little ones, and, Mom, having that tear in your ear made it easy for them to identify you by themselves. They feel so proud when they do that. All of you were impressive, especially coming so close to the land cruiser. You could have given them quite a thrill had you lifted your trunk just a bit closer to them. You could even have touched them if you had been inclined. But perhaps it would have been too much for some of the more timid guests. I think the Americans would have appreciated it, though.
But your kids! What showmen! Thanks to your little one for blowing bubbles in the pond with his trunk! You might ask him to do this again for future guests. It was a hit. As you know, I have a bias towards you. You always entertain, keep moving so you provide action, and charm your audience.
Thanks also to the two males who visited us one day. Everyone enjoyed seeing them play together, since the human males also wrestle sometimes.
Impalas, I know we are prone to take you for granted because there are so many of you, but please remember that we love your beauty, your grace and your antics. When a hundred of you came to the watering hole, all lined up like a parade, everyone watching from the lodge was charmed. But, when you repeated the performance the next day and added all that running and leaping, it was a wow moment—or moments—since you continued the show for so long.
And thanks to the Bachelor Impala Herd for putting in a few appearances. Good for everyone to see that you males are still around, even though only one of you at a time gets to be with the ladies and the kids.
Spitting Cobra. Quite a surprise to see you! Thanks for being on your good behavior and keeping your appearance short. I was a bit concerned that you might spit at one of our guests—-and most of them were not wearing glasses to protect their eyes—so I did need to move us away quickly.
Chameleons, you livened up the drives, especially that first night. It was a bit of a slow night, so your appearance gave me something to talk about. You may be small, but you are very charming. The guests liked that I could pick you up and bring you over for close viewing. Always good to have you participate.
African Buffalo and Crocodile—quiet but satisfying performances. A bit more activity would have enhanced the wow factor but, hey— sometimes it is enough to just show up!
Hippos, same to you. Wish we had seen your pod closer, but you did make a few dramatic bellows and leaps in the water—enough to whet their appetites for more hippo viewing.
Monkeys, thanks for staying out of the Honeymoon Suite at the lodge. While we had warned the couple to keep the doors shut, it was good that they were able to open them and get some air. We love you, but sometimes, quite frankly, your respect for boundaries is questionable.
White Rhinoceros—good job. It’s a shame that two of the guests missed the final morning drive and did not get to see that “crash” of you close up, but that was their loss. I know their designated photographer did take many shots of you, so your participation was captured. Good involvement on your part.
Wildebeest and Kudu, you must have been disturbed since every time you appeared, there were references to how tasty you are! You could almost hear them salivating. Having that Warthog carpaccio for dinner their first night set a tone, I guess. However, Kudu, your spiraled horns are a showstopper, and they enjoyed seeing you and seeing you frequently. It’s always good to have you here. George, thanks for hanging around the watering hole. You are an awesome representative for all Wildebeests.
Waterbuck, sorry you had to hear me talk about how smelly you are. Oh, well, they loved your markings. The white ring on your rump makes you especially memorable, although there is always that joke about “pinning the tail on the waterbuck.”
I apologize for forgetting to mention you, Zebras. Your “dazzles” dazzled, and your little ones are scene stealers. Thanks for presenting a group with diverse markings. The guests did not know you could have brown “shadow stripes,” so good to have those of you with this coloring represented. You never cease to add a dramatic element to the wilderness.
As always, you birds fill a special role in these drives, Nice to have you here in profuse numbers, adding to the soundtrack, calling your warnings to the animals, and often staying in position long enough so you could be clearly identified.
They were thrilled to see you, Saddle-Billed Stork, on their very first drive and glad you remained at the watering hold for the next day. Always good PR to see endangered species, southern ground hornbill. cape Glossy Starling, despite your profusion, your magnificent blue-black iridescent feathers always glitter.
Grey Go-Away Bird, your ‘mohawk” is memorable. Lilac-Breasted and European Rollers, your pastel colors always draw ‘oohs and ahs.” Thanks also to the two unidentified small yellow-breasted birds who appeared to drink from the infinity pool most days. The guests were delighted that your routine always includes this stop.
To those of you who put in an appearance, or appearances, that I have not mentioned, you also filled in otherwise quiet moments of the game drive. From the smallest of you—Rabbit, Ground Squirrel, multiple Mongoose, and Tortoise—-to those who leaped or loped by—Side-Striped Jackal, Spotted Hyena, Nyala, Steenbok, Grey Duiker, I thank you for your participation.
Well, that’s about it. I know our American guests took a lot of pictures and will give good reports to their family and friends. With all the German tourists present that week, it is useful to know that news about us will also be shared in the United States.
Photos by Daniel Kobayashi
Read Susan Kobayashi’s article on Nkorho Bush Lodge.