Greetings and Salutations,
Recently Cyclone Irina blessed us with a vast quantity of rain. In fact more than 300mm, but less than 400mm. It was spectacular. Over the past few years all the resident weather watchers had followed a number of cyclone paths, a recent one being Dando. This wet cyclone attacked the Kruger dumping more than half their annual rainfall overnight - ouch! And they are just not used to this quantity of rainfall. On the other hand St. Lucia Village and our World Heritage Site can accommodate a huge amount of rainfall in a fairly brief period of time.
The relevance here is that all this wetness has filled a fairly empty lake St. Lucia and the surrounding swampland. Where to the resident animals go? An easy answer if you are in the know and work in the dark. They come to us. Fortunately the Eastern Shores considered the Cinderella of conservation and has an impressive range of sand dunes. All the wet footed animals head for the dunes and the higher ground adjacent to the coastal Dune system. Good news is that all the predators follow suit and it would not surprise me if leopard were in the lead. Cats and too much water -nah.
Anyway there we were in total darkness admiring a large dry footed male leopard lying next to the road. Just the odd insect and frog chirping in the darkness. No one really saying much after the initial excitement. He was about 5m from our vehicle really close with little or no vegetation blocking our view. A great sighting by all standards. But what we did not realize is that we had parked on his pig! Pigs in game ranger terminology are either warthog, bush pigs and even the odd hippo. In this case it was a warthog. This large spotted fellow kept staring back at us and in retrospect he must of been thinking "get off my pig!"
Well ten minutes later the pig broke cover or burst out of it's pipe. Everyone panicked, spotlights, there were two, flashed around looking for the sound of a really frightened and aggressive pig. Then we shone back on the leopard and saw it crossing the road in front of us. Only an expression of intent in it's body language. A few spots in the spot light and it was gone. Sheesh and then some. Then I realized the pig/warthog had been sleeping in a storm water drain under the road. When we stopped for the leopard, the pig must have been disturbed by our overhead presence and bolted. Before our arrival, the leopard had obviously located the pig and was waiting for it to emerge. After we calmed down, because you never expect a noise to erupt from under your feet, I said we should wait a while. Not long after, we heard a pig screaming, animals crashing through the bush and a leopard hissing in frustration. It missed the pig! Ten minutes later the leopard reappeared on the road behind us. But by this time we had changed our underwear and were ready for more photos and hippo en route back to a quiet slumbering village of St. Lucia! But it takes about a thousand or more sheep before you can fall asleep after an evening like this.
Hasta la vista
The Knait Wrhydah
Greetings and Salutations,
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