You saw nothing?

As with most people who work in, or have a passion for the bush and wildlife, I have an issue that peeves me off no end – and that is when asking people who have just returned from a trip to a reserve how it was and they reply “we saw nothing”. Come on! What they probably mean is that they didn’t see a lion or leopard. Lions and leopards are literally one of millions of components that make up and are needed for a natural area to function properly. (As I sit here in my office writing this a Drakensburg Prinia is flitting around in a tree outside the window and there are a myriad of insects darting around in the sunlight).
In my opinion it is the ‘little’ things that make a trip memorable and not the big-and-hairy. I especially like looking for nocturnal creatures that are seldom seen and by this I am talking about spiders, beetles, frogs, owls, genets etc.
To see the different grasses, trees, vegetation, geology, streams, dry riverbeds, dams, need I continue? are all part of a reserve and worth looking at. You don’t have to be able to name them all to be able to enjoy them. In Africa we are blessed with phenomenal skies often painted with breath-taking cloud formations and colours – stop and enjoy them.
Historical artifacts such as old bridges, dilapidated farm houses, hundred year old paths are something that I find totally fascinating and absorbing. I find myself spell bound by a broken down old house for example with thoughts of who built it, why on this particular spot, were the people happily married with children, what hardships did they endure, was game abundant in those days and what did this house ‘witness’ during the numerous African wars? The final question being why was it eventually abandoned?
There are many such places in most of the larger reserves as well as many cultural places where people like King Shaka lived, hunted, plotted, dreamed and ultimately died. To me it is nostalgic to walk along a game path in a Zululand reserve and to think that people like Shaka or Dingaan had quite likely treaded the same path and seen the same trees, rocks and views that I am seeing today.
My final comment to those who visit reserves and ‘see’ nothing is to start birding. I have seen so much more game since I started birding because you stop for a bird flitting in a tree and just off the road you see the lions and the leopards and the other big-and-hairy beasts that for many constitute a good trip.
Nigel Anderson
Guide at African Insight.

About Andrew Anderson

Managing Director: African Insight - Travel Experiences That Make A Difference African Insight - Explorations Tourism Concessionaire - Somkhanda Game Reserve
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