February 2023

Does a leopard’s tail, when raised, imitate a snake?

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Does a leopard’s tail, when raised, imitate a snake?

Interesting question, but no. That is not the case. Glad I have got your attention, but I am not here to chat about the millions of interesting and funny questions we get asked as guides! Instead, this month I am going to write about what keeps us guides going behind the scenes when we are not on game drive.

For me, my biggest motivation is talking to people who appreciate everything you tell them - big or small, any bit of information they are most grateful for. I also appreciate genuine questions with regards to work and us as individuals.

What keeps us busy, when the rifles are locked in the safe, is an array of different portfolios and tasks, from first aid to shooting practice, sightings reports, journal articles, vehicle viewing aids and everything in between. The end of the month is obviously a bit more chaotic with month-end and stocktake but many hands make light work!

We also spend time rehabilitating the environment, often giving us the opportunity to follow some of the high-profile animals off road. Environmental rehabilitation involves repairing ruts that we have left behind, or ‘brush packing’ to protect areas. We are very fortunate to have an environmental team that works tirelessly to, among other things, remove the larger trees that have been pushed over the road by the usual suspects, elephants!

When we have finally wrapped up our responsibilities, we can take a bit of time for ourselves, in between game drives. It’s enough time to go through and edit photos taken on drive, to go to gym or go for a 5km run. In summer, we are awake to get ready for drive around 04:00,

and in the afternoon we leave later, to avoid the heat of midday. This usually gives us the ideal opportunity between drives to take a quintessential nap, which we enjoy just as much as guests, I think! In the winter months, there is a much shorter gap between drives because the sun is up later. We leave later in the mornings and it is darker earlier on in the afternoon, so we are back at the lodge earlier - less time for naps but it allows for a decent night’s sleep.

Coming off a break now post the festive season, I am looking forward to getting back to the bush, which I am sure is looking green and lush, with my batteries fully charged! I certainly will not be missing the traffic in Johannesburg!

Matthew Durell
By Matthew Durell
Field Guide