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Sunday, August 27, 2006











Okavanga Delta, Botswana: Leopard sighting at Little Kwara

This morning we had our porridge and went off on a mokoro (a kind of dugout canoe using a pole to navigate) trip into the delta. We launched out of Kwara (we are Little Kwara) which was older than ours. Martin had a handgun and I asked what that was for. He said “Just in case…” I really didn’t want to know just in case what but we soon saw what “Just in case..” meant.
As soon as we left, in the mokoro, we saw about 5 hippos in the water so we stayed in the shallows. Not that they won’t go into the shallows. They can live on land and water but prefer the water and will only come out at nights when it’s a bit cooler. After buffaloes, hippos are the most dangerous of the jungle animals because they need no particular reason to charge at you and they are known to eat morkoros - or more specifically the occupants of mokoros - for lunch or dinner or whatever else. They don’t exactly eat you but they can hurt or kill you and then leave you for the crocodiles to finish you off as soon as you bail out of the mokoro. The top of the mokoro sits about 6 inches above the water so any sudden movements and you are capsized. Since I was sitting in the front, Martin said that if I wanted to talk to him or Robin, I should turn only my neck, not my whole body or we’ll capsize for sure. Can you believe how still I stayed? If I had a question, I would ask it without turning even when I knew that Martin could not hear me well. I started to worry that he would lean forward to hear me and tip us over so I shut up – for a time anyway.

We paddled over to a small island (not a true island – depending on the amount of rain in the rainy season. Right now it’s an island because the rain was plentiful this year. This is a good thing for the delta area which depends on the rains to sustain the environment.

Martin took us on a nature walk for about two hours and there was not a plant he could not recognize. The man is brilliant. I asked him how he knew all this stuff and he said his father is a guide in the Delta and he learned guiding from his father. We were about 1 km from where the lions killed the buffalo so we were looking very carefully for any sudden movements. I don’t know why because quite frankly if a lion decided to stalk us, we would not have a tiny chance. Some of the trees looked like you could tie a hammock under and have a peaceful nap but it is dangerous to do that. Elephants can come along and scratch their backs on the bark or even strip the bark off some of the very hard trees. There is one tree in the forest that is called a leadwood tree because of the incredible hardness but there is another parasitic tree that is called the strangler fig which can wrap itself around almost any tree and sap the life out of it. The deadwood tree can be known to live for about 1000 years and when it dies, it can remain standing for another 500 years and after it falls can remain on the ground for almost 300 years before starting decay. I saw a similar tree like that in Mount Alishan in Taiwan.

We got back to the camp in time for breakfast and then it was preparation to leave the delta for Maun where we would fly back to Gaborone. I forgot to mention that yesterday when we went into the powerboat, it was into the Moremi Game Reserve where I wanted to see but didn’t think we’d have time to go so it was nice to see it by boat.

We left for the airstrip with a bit of sadness because the time in the delta was too short. Suddenly we heard the radio buzzing with “Kwara, Kwara...” Our driver Steve stopped in his tracks to respond so obviously it was urgent. The were speaking in Setswana so I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Steve turned around and said “hold on to your seat!! A leopard was sighted!” He was so excited that it was hard for us not to be too. We took off like speeding bullets into the tall grasses and about 200 metres from us was a young leopard!! They are usually not out at this time of day but there he was (Martin spotted the grass moving and knew where to locate him). He was a bit far and I used my now familiar “Psst” call and he turned and looked at me. Then as if he knew that we were leaving, he stopped long enough for me to take another perfect picture. He bid us farewell and walked off into the tall grass with what I was sure was a little sadness in his face. What a way to finish a most fabulous 6 days. I could not ask for anything more than what I got.
Comments
1. September 2nd, 2006 by Pat Mohr
“Psst” — I love your blog!
Love, Pat

2. September 2nd, 2006 by Brent
I can’t wait to the see the photos of your adventure!

2 comments:

  1. 1. September 2nd, 2006 by Pat Mohr
    “Psst” — I love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. September 2nd, 2006 by Brent

    I can’t wait to the see the photos of your adventure!

    ReplyDelete

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