Sunday, July 28, 2013

Billy on Safari - Back In The Bush 1

Nottens Bush Camp, Sabi Sand, South Africa
If we get one more crappy room I won't be responsible for my actions.
A large spotty pussy cat. This one has a cold so he's wiping his nose on the grass.
A rattling cistacola.
As you can see, he's one of the most vicious predators in Africa.
Tawny Eagle
I would have uploaded more photos for you but the internet connection here is sooooooooo slow. I think an elephant must be standing on the cable or something.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Billy On Safari - Back In The Bush 2


The African moon. Funny, it looks just like the Australian one.

A white backed vulture waiting patiently for my male staff to decompose a little. 
Actually it smells like he won't have to wait long.

A medium sized pelican.

We had some excitement this morning. A large male lion approached a pride of fourteen,
 comprised of mostly females, but also three juvenile males and a half grown cub.

He was still quite impressive, but probably getting close to his
 "Best Before Date".
Nevertheless he was easily up to the task of chasing the three young males away.
Which he tried to do, slightly injuring one in the process, and traumatising the cub.

The females of the pride weren't going to put up with such loutish behavior
 and turned on the big old male. An incredible fight ensued,
 snarling and roaring so loud that I could feel my furry little chest vibrating.
Suddenly there were lions running in all directions all around us.
When the dust had settled the old male limped away with deep wounds to his hind quarters 
and what looked like a slightly damaged muzzle and a partially closed eye.

My male staff wanted to take him to the vet, but unfortunately
 our guide said it might
 not be such a good idea. Spoilsport! 
Anyway, he said that lions are tough and that both the big male and the
 juvenile would be as right as rain in three or four days.

A mother comforts her traumatised cub after the fight.

We came across the big male again a little later, recuperating in a nice spot of shade.

Still, at least while the lions are scrapping amongst them selves they're not
 eating cute little bush bucks like this.....................................

 ...............................Or cute little guinea pigs like this.

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Wedding And A Guinea Pig

Wedding. What images does that word conjure up for you humans? A beautiful bride in a fluffy meringue dress? A nervous groom looking dashing in his rented tuxedo? Tearful mothers? Six year old bridesmaids alternatively picking their noses and tentatively nibbling at their bouquets? A droning vicar - "Dearly beloved we are gathered here today in the sight of God blah blah blah"? Maybe when you hear that "W" word you think about the reception. The embarrassing speeches, the endless toasts. "Finally I'd like to propose a toast to the pigeons in the rafters of the church for not crapping on the bride. So please raise your glasses. Ladies and gentlemen...........The Pigeons." Then there's the drunken dancing after dinner. I hate loud music, but I must admit that I do love to watch my male staff dancing. Try to imagine Frankenstein clumping about the dance floor, waving his arms about and singing Y....M....C....A at the top of his hoarse voice (although the song playing is actually Boney M's Daddy Cool) and you'll understand why I find it so entertaining.
There are elephants with more sense of rhythm than my male staff.

Anyway, my male staff's lunatic niece's wedding had all of the above and more. It started promisingly when the groom went to the lavatory at the church just before the ceremony and managed to splash water down the front of his trousers as he washed his hands (or so he claimed). This meant that he had to go through the entire ceremony looking as though he had wet himself with excitement, or maybe fear. It was my male staff's Dad's job to give the bride away, but he's more than a little hard of hearing, so when the vicar asked "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" there was utter silence. So the vicar raised his voice a little. "WHO GIVES THIS WOMAN TO BE MARRIED TO THIS MAN?" He also nodded and winked and my male staff's dad to indicate that this was his cue to say "I do." My male staff and I were in the pew behind and we suddenly realised his his Dad had fallen asleep. My male staff nudged his Dad's shoulder. No response. I thought to myself - Holy bush chocolate! The old boy's karked it. Maybe we can get a two for one deal here - a wedding and a funeral. My male staff nudged him again, this time with a little more force. This time he came to with a loud snort and a cry of "Bugger me! Where am I." This surprised the vicar because it wasn't really the response he was expecting. Nonetheless he regained his composure and asked the question again.
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Still no response. My male staff and I could not see his Dad's face but he certainly had a blank expression on the back of his head. The vicar tried shouting again with more nodding and winking. "WHO GIVES THIS WOMAN TO BE MARRIED TO THIS MAN?" Finally, my male staff's Dad cottoned on and yelled back at the top of his voice.
 "I DO!" The vicar was a little taken aback at the volume and looked slightly annoyed. For a moment I thought we were going to have a shouting match, but the vicar controlled himself admirably and completed the ceremony without further ado, while I curled up and had a nap on the pew next to my male staff while the vicar rambled through a seemingly endless sermon.
The Reverend Michael Roedabote having a cigarette break 
after his shouting match with my male staff's Dad.

I was woken by the organist playing, just in time to see lunatic niece and her new husband walking back down the aisle arm in arm as elegantly as a pair of wet trousers will allow. My male staff notice that while I'd been asleep I had deposited numerous pellets of my finest bush chocolate on the pew, (A guinea pig's digestive system never sleeps.) so he scooped them up in one hand, holding me in the other. Numerous photographs were taken and then it was time to throw confetti at the bride and groom as they made their way to the car that was to take them to the reception. Unfortunately though, my male staff forgot that it wasn't confetti he had a handful of, but my bush chocolate and pelted the bride and groom with that instead. This appeared to annoy his lunatic niece and it may be some time before she speaks to him again.
The groom suddenly realising that he is being pelted with bush chocolate.

Anyway, the reception went very well, and when it came to the disco at the end, my male staff was a great hit with his break dancing. He span on the floor on his back and performed all sorts of impressive handstands and back flips. The other guests all stood around clapping and cheering and it wasn't until he continued his dance when the music changed to a smoochy rendition of "Feelings" that it dawned on his mad sister that he was actually having an epileptic fit brought on by all the flashing lights. I can't wait until the next family wedding.

There is no Badger's footnote this week because he's at home looking after my female staff. It's a full time job because she's always demanding glasses of chardonnay and trips to the shops. Anyway, here's a cute picture of him to keep his fans happy.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Giraffe's Sad Tale

Occasionally the African bush tells a sad, sad story. On one of our Mala Mala game drives we came across female a giraffe and her calf. The female was browsing on an acacia tree and the calf was trying to nibble a smaller bush nearby.  On closer inspection we could see that there was something wrong with the calf. His lower jaw was hanging open all the time, it was apparent that he was unable to close his mouth, making feeding impossible.

Then we noticed deep and extensive scratching around his throat. It seems he had been attached by a lion. The predator had seized the calf by the throat - the usual way of dispatching prey, closing off the windpipe and thus suffocating the animal fairly quickly. However, on this occasion the mother must have been close at hand and attempted to rescue her calf, raining powerful kicks on the lion with her front legs. The lion reluctantly relinquished his prize under this assault, but it seems that one of the mother's desperate kicks had landed on her calf's jaw, breaking it irreparably.

Giraffe calf with damaged lower jaw and deep scratches
 on his throat caused by a lion attack.

As we watched, the calf gave up with his bush and tried to suckle instead but his mother kept moving away, not allowing him to feed. It's likely that would not have been able to suckle in any case with such a badly damaged jaw.

Two large male giraffes then appeared on the scene and began sniffing at the mother's rear end, tasting her urine with their long tongues. They evidently decided that she was in in oestrus and was ready to mate again.  Instinct told her that her calf would not survive and her body began producing hormones so that she could prepare for the next calf.

The two big males, the mother in the centre and the calf
trying to browse on the bush. 

Meanwhile, she would not waste valuable resources feeding the her injured offspring who had no chance of survival. And yet there were tender moments between mother and calf that made the scene all the more heartbreaking. She would bend her great neck and gently lick and nuzzle him. It was as if she was trying to explain to him that although she loved and cared for him she would have to let him die. It was just the way things were.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Billy On Safari 4

Day 4
A glorious African Sunrise.
Another day, another crappy room........
.......another huge crappy deck and another private crappy plunge pool.
Indoor and outdoor shower. My male staff couldn't make his mind up which to have so he turned both on, went inside and stuck one leg out of the door. 
Not only did we have our own private plunge pool, but we had our own private elephant too.
Big spotty pussy cat up a tree.
Trees grow very quickly here. This is what happens if you stand still in one place too long.
Roadblock African style.
You don't argue with African roadblocks.
A very unsociable bird. He kept telling us to "Go away".
A klipspringer. Africa's only legless antelope. He escapes predators by rolling down hills.
Donkeys in pyjamas.
A very cute baby pelican.
Brothers in arms. Sorry they're a bit blurred - they were drunk.
Africa. The most romantic continent on earth.  Male male staff even kissed my head.
Lastly.........Africa's most vicious predator. Especially if you happen to be a sprig of coriander.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Billy On Safari 3

Day 3
Mala Mala

Dawn start as usual. Cold enough to freeze a guinea pig's bush chocolate.

Someone who looks down on everyone.

Fork tailed drongo. Very similar to Australia's spangled drongo.

This is what my male staff calls "a nippo"

What a noble fellow.

 Three adult giraffes and a very shy baby.

Breakfast in the bush.

Relaxing on our private deck at Mala Mala.
The smell of my male staff's feet is keeping the predators at bay.

Why do we always get the crappy rooms?  
Mala Mala.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Billy On Safari 2

Day 2
Lion Sands

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge room. Not too shabby eh?

Private plunge pool Lion Sands Ivory Lodge.
No good to me at all. I hate having wet fur.

He's almost as handsome as me isn't he.

 A flying banana

Two large pussy cats admiring a bull elephant.

 Mum and baby leopard.

A pelican.
(Someone might believe me.)

Being charged by a savage baby elephant.

Humans admiring a leopard.
(The leopard is the one without the silly hat at the foot of the tree.)

The end of a perfect African day.