Answering the call of nature….

Answering the call of nature. A cheetah? Yeah right…..

A short while ago I was lucky enough to spend a few magical days with close friends on a visit to the Kgalagadi National Park.

We travelled in a convoy of several vehicles to that fabled wilderness, keen to take advantage of the magnificent photographic opportunities which make the Kgalagadi famous. An integral part of the visit was the camaraderie of sitting around the campfire in the evenings, sharing stories, and enjoying drinking down that epic cold one after a long day of game-spotting.

On this particular trip I was joined by two of my best mates. Let’s call them Jim and Bushy to avoid public embarrassment – and also to avoid getting beaten up if I let any identities slip. Suffice to say that both these guys were highly experienced in the ways of the veld. Bushy, for instance, had worked as a wildlife guide for more than 15 years.

Our routine was to wake up well before gate-opening time, so we could enjoy our coffee which we supplemented with a little something to ward off the late autumn chill. Our excuse for fortifying our coffee was that the approach of winter brought with it plunging temperatures in the dry riverbeds of the Kalahari.

After our first mug of coffee, we’d decide who’d travel in which vehicle. Leaving camp, we’d follow the single-track road along the dry riverbed, moving from waterhole to waterhole.

From time to time we’d stop and park so that we could pass around the hot flask of coffee and rusks to warm ourselves up and to keep hydrated.

As the morning wore on, we decided to pull over at an open area near a waterhole to watch for animals coming down to drink. At that time, the waterhole was deserted.

And it was around that time that Nature – and all that coffee! – asserted herself, with one of our group feeling a very familiar urge.

There was a measure of desperation in this particular urge. We knew and accepted that the rules of the reserve banned anyone from leaving their vehicles. The alternative, however, was a dreaded wet spot on the seat.

Well, Jim’s need grew so great that desperate measures were called for. We scouted out the open area around our parked vehicles and reported that all was quiet. Jim opened the door carefully, stood with his side pressed firmly against the metal of the vehicle (as opposed to walking away into the bush) and slowly relieved the pressure.

Boys being boys, his rule-breaking was greeted with all sorts of banter, resulting in Jim speeding up the activity.

Not surprisingly, when one of us added ‘Oh shit, there’s a cheetah’, Jim thought we were joking. he slowly turned around and suddenly the soft sprinkling sound stopped and Jim melted back into the vehicle looking pale and sheepish.

Call of Nature or Call of the Wild?
Image by: Image by Andrew Aveley

It turned out, the joke was on us. Our laughing stopped when we spotted – by the most unbelievable coincidence – a cheetah emerging from behind a dune about 100m away. We sat immobile as the cheetah moved towards us along the riverbed. The call of nature suddenly forgotten.

We hoped that it was heading for the waterhole but it had other ideas. It sought out the shade of a small bush, the only shade for miles around, and settled down to await any suitable prey arriving at the water hole. After a while, the cheetah moved off. We followed the animal for about an hour until it crested a ridge above the riverbed and disappeared.

The moral of the story: don’t take silly risks out in the wild. That said, I dedicate this post to the person mentioned above.

Thank you for your interest – Andrew

Andrews Website

Photo Safari’s and Travel

SAFREA Chronicle

Kindly edited by Blake Wilkins

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.

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2 Responses

  1. A Gary Larson cartoon springs to mind. A (silly) tourist leaves his vehicle with large fancy camera with a long strap around his neck, to take photographs of a leopard in a tree. The repleat, fat, lazy leopard with a bored look in his eyes takes no notice because he has had his fill. Over the branch of the tree there are half a dozen cameras hanging.
    I suppose that your friend might have been safe because he had no camera?

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