Thursday, 20 August 2015

Social Media And Wildlife

Mark and I were discussing whether it was a bad idea to post sightings of wildlife on Social Media. He thought it was a bad idea and I was in two minds. One it is encouraged to post sightings on the Facebook Page of the Reserve because it is good for marketing - it is free advertising and marketing. Two - you have no idea who can find your pictures on Social Media and it could be advertising for p0@chers. I came to the conclusion that p0@chers are aware that there are high-risk animals in the Kruger Park and other reserves anyway. They probably know more about the animals whereabouts than the actual staff working at the reserves. I did, however, agree that posting sightings as we see them was a very bad idea, because whether you have location enabled or not, there are ways and means of locating images - the downside of Social Media. I am going to post what we saw on my blog and what may appear to be typos are in fact intentional. I make so many typos that a few intentional ones won't even be noticed. I am sure if you are reading this as a blogger, you will know that some search terms that come up in your analytics makes you wonder at the type of person reading your blog and why on earth what they searched lead them to your blog. I have even considered closing my blog or make it permission-based for a couple of reasons, one being the search terms leading them to my blog. So I definitely do not want p0@chers reading my blog and hopefully my intentional typos will prevent that.

We booked a game drive when we arrived at the reserve.The game drives are R150.00 a person which really is not bad at all. The morning and afternoon drives were all fully booked so we booked an evening drive. A weekend was not long enough to appreciate and enjoy everything the bush has to offer and considering we arrived late on Friday and had to vacate the lodge by 10 on Sunday morning, we only had Saturday to experience everything. A long weekend is not even long enough. We did try to book a place for Mark's birthday in October, but his birthday is smack bang in the middle of school holidays, which suits us if we were going to convince Chad to come with, but at the same time doesn't suit us because it is peak season and already fully booked. The game drive was a pick up which means they come to your lodge and collect you and you don't have to drive down to reception. Walking is not an option because you are not allowed to walk around at night. I thought we should be ready by 6.15pm if the drive starts at 6.30pm. We ate early and then Mr impatient punctuality decided we should drive down at 6.24 because maybe we miss the game drive. The reception is only a couple of meters away from the lodges and when we arrived the place was dark and deserted, which made Mr impatient think that we had missed the game drive. There was, however, a game viewing vehicle there and as we stopped the Game Ranger came from around the other side. He was a bit confused because he was told it was a pickup, so we had to explain that Mark was still stuck in the fast paced Johannesburg zone and not the laid back it may never happen bushveld zone.

We were the only ones going on the game drive which was pretty cool for us because I don't like people all up in my personal space and being cramped in a viewing vehicle with an obnoxious person could be rather irritating and stressful. I don't think it was cool for the reserve or our game ranger John, because the more guests the more tips he will get, but Mark gave him a R200.00 tip so he didn't do too badly. He was a young kid of 22, very mature and polite and knowledgable. We thought he was between 25 and 30. He is passionate about wildlife and wanted to be a game ranger all his life and studied Game Ranging and a bunch of other courses and his knowledge and passion was evident on the game drive. The first thing we saw was a chameleon - I think every night drive no matter where, you will see a chameleon. It is like it is strategically placed there so at least you can say you saw something if the rest of the wildlife decides to hide away.

Mark's dream job is to work on a game farm/reserve and it is a wonder we saw any animals he was chatting so much. With all that chatting he surprisingly managed to spot a rh!n0 - there were, in fact, three of them. We stopped and just watched them for about 10 minutes. They were calmly grazing without a care in the world - so exposed to evil dangerous people. I cannot understand how anyone can shoot a majestic creature like that and then butcher it. I don't know how anyone can shoot any animal. If you can justify shooting an elephant; lion; rhino; buck whatever animal for fun, you can justify shooting a human being and look at cases of femicide and familicide, 90% of those men are hunters. OK there is the argument that 90% of hunters don't murder and 90% of murderers don't hunt and I also know it is very hypocritical of me to say that because I eat meat and a cow and a pig; lamb and chicken have as much right to live as a lion and a rhino and elephant. I am not arguing that point, I just cannot justify getting pleasure at shooting something so majestic and I am working on my meat eating and really would love to stop eating meat; chicken and fish. My photos are such bad quality, but I battle to see at night, even with my many pairs of glasses and contact lenses and refuse to wear varifocals but may reconsider after battling with my camera in the pitch dark of the night.

The rule of the reserve and the Kruger Park is that no animal is compromised or stressed out by a game vehicle or guests. Only the game ranger is allowed to have a flashlight/torch and no animal may be blinded by the flashlight. It is understandable without a doubt because you don't want to turn the bushveld into a discotheque in Hillbrow with lights flashing all over the place. It was only Mark and I in the game viewing vehicle but imagine a fully booked vehicle with chatter and lights all over the place. Our game ranger did give enough time to quickly take a photo, but we were told at the start of the drive when he goes through all the rules that if we come across elephant we don't stop and we don't shine the light at them, because they don't like it and we don't want them attacking us or compromising them in any way... and we saw elephant. Three of them, it was like our morning three were following us or us them or they just like to stay in groups of three. We moved on very quickly from them especially considering that one looked right at us.

We also saw the usual buck of different species and saw a herd of Waterbuck - they are stunning. I didn't take pictures of them or the other buck. We then went down to a hippo dam and sat watching the hippos for about 20 minutes. I finally got to see my hippo. There were so many hippo - yawning and playing and sleeping - so relaxed. They are so cute - and not forgetting very dangerous, but I got to see my hippo after all. I won't lie I kept imagining one sneaking up on us from behind but seems they were all in the water and content to stay there. On our way back to camp, we saw a hare running wildly and then stopped on the edge of the bush long enough to take a photo. We also saw the rh!n0 on the way back, they had walked about a kilometer from where we had first seen them. The game drive was very informative and enjoyable and was just over 2 hours long.

We had such a lovely weekend and if you missed my other posts you can find them here and here and here. These posts were written as part of my personal life journey and I was not asked to review the lodge or the reserve and writing these posts had nothing to do with the payment or agreement. Everything in these posts is my honest opinion of Mjejane; the African bush; the lodge and the Kruger National Park and no one involved even knows about the existence of my blog. My blog still is and will hopefully forever remain a tiny unknown speck of anonymity in the greater pond of the online world.

How stunning is the bathroom in the picture above? An inside shower with sliding doors to an outside shower. Probably the best outside shower I have ever seen. Mark and I both agreed that the roads to drive on to see wildlife in the reserve are very limited and they could open more roads. The staff members are all very friendly and helpful, but what was lacking and what they should have is a staff member taking you to your lodge, checking everything with you and not just leaving you to find your own way to the lodge. The lodges are serviced and also have a dishwasher so you don't have to spend the weekend washing dishes and cleaning. We also felt that the lodges were too close to each other and normal conversation from guests in other lodges infringed on the quiet enjoyment of guests in other lodges.

We were going to wake up early and go down to the hide to see what animals came down to drink water at sunrise, but we overslept and when we did go down at about 9 just before we left we just saw birds; a buck and lots of eyes in the water - I thought they were hippo, Mark said they were crocs. Probably both because hippo and crocs, strangely enough, live in harmony mutually respecting each other. The weekend was good for us, because we have always had different dreams - me pulling towards the ocean and Mark the bush and this weekend made me realise that the ocean no matter where it is, will always be busy. The only difference in lifestyle compared to Johannesburg would be the ocean, but the busy rat race will always be there whereas the bush will always have a sense of tranquility even during high peak busy periods. Chad says no matter where we go we always say we want to move to the place and it is true, we do and that is because everywhere is better than Johannesburg. We have taken a small tentative step towards our future that does not include living in Johannesburg. We just have to get Chad through his studies and on his own two feet, which more than likely will result in him living in a different country to us, which will be devastating, but something I have to accept as there is no way I will hold him back from his dreams and aspirations through emotional manipulation or any other means.

I am really glad Mark persisted and insisted that we get our weekend away... it was totally worth it even though not having Chad with us and having him driving around the streets of Johannesburg was a huge worry it was still an amazing weekend.

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