Anxious to get “back into the game”…

This dung beetle is on top of his ball, pushing it along to his preferred location, wherever that may be in the bush.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • Nine warthogs – inc. Fred, and Ethyl, Tiny
  • 8 bushbucks – inc. Chewy and Thick Neck
  • 44 mongoose
  • 1 dung beetle with a ball
  • Frank and The Misses

For the past several days, I’ve been wearing Tom’s sweatshirt, leggings, and socks, even when it was as warm as 90F, 32C. As a result, my head was foggy, my thoughts scattered, and my energy level was non-existent. Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will be myself again.

The dung beetle is contemplating his masterpiece, a well-formed ball of dung.

This morning I bolted out of bed, took care of some laundry, showered and dressed, and felt more enthused about a new day than I had in almost two weeks. With the sore throat gone, the cough less frequent, energy-returning, and my state of mind more upbeat, I am looking forward to resuming life as we knew it, such a short time ago.

I never took the antibiotics, which was a tough call, but I promised myself if I didn’t improve the day after I got them, I’d bite the bullet and do so. Fortunately, the progress was palpable day after day. So now, I don’t have to deal with the lingering effects of many days of taking big doses of antibiotics the clinic gave me when I came in for the second Covid test. I am grateful and relieved to have recovered on my own.

A female with perfectly matched tusks. She is new to the garden.

Today, Sunday, we’ll continue to take it easy rather than jump into a flurry of activities that could potentially set me back. Hopefully, I will be up to grocery shopping in the next few days, but if not, we have enough food on hand to last for several more days. We’re looking forward to seeing our friends again soon.

As we write here now, Tiny just left after spending a few hours in the garden. There are two bushbucks nearby, Chewy and Thick Neck, and one pushy female pig. We’d love to feed the bushbucks, but this female we call Lonely Girl is persistent, and if we toss pellets to the bushbucks, she chases them away.

So sorry about the less-than-original photos taken while I was under the weather. This is the mom of four babies.

This is a common occurrence that many residents of Marloth Park lament. How do we feed the bushbucks when the warthogs always hear the pellets fall, regardless of how gently we toss them onto the ground? Instead, they wait in the bush long after we’ve fed them plenty, hoping other animals will stop by and for pellets. Then, immediately, they charge into action, overtaking any possibility of the pellets for the other animals.

Of course, the wildebeest and kudus will overtake the warthogs, and pigs like Tiny of such massive size will overtake most of the other warthogs on the scene. It’s a constant quest for dominance for food. Sure, some say, “Don’t feed at all.” But, it’s hard for those of us who genuinely love the wildlife to stop feeding when we see how hungry they are.

This unknown male warthog arrived with the mom and four babies. Here he is with only two of the youngsters, politely sharing pellets.

We need rain. But, as the locals say, it may not rain for many months, as far out as September or later. As we look into the bush, we see mostly dried brown leaves at a level the animals can reach. Recently, we’ve watched Big Daddies tear down large branches from trees in an attempt to get to the remaining green vegetation at the upper limbs. Once the branch is downed, many other animals also partake of its lush leaves.

But, in a matter of a day or two, the branch is stripped bare. Yes, we understand…its nature. But sadly, the animals contained in this fenced conservancy, although fairly good-sized at 3000 hectares, 7413 acres, don’t allow for the natural migration of wildlife in search of food in distant areas.

A few mongooses,  and warthog mom, and four babies.

Although many animals are territorial and may not wander far even if given the opportunity, some locals have expressed that the fences should come down. This way, the animals could go in and out of Kruger National Park from Marloth Park. Kruger is only across the Crocodile River. But, in doing so, all the apex predators could enter Marloth, significantly changing the dynamic of the conservancy.

It is illegal to get out of one’s car while in Kruger, day or night. Can you imagine how dangerous life in MP could be if the fences were down? Many of the wildlife here now can easily cause fatal injuries if not respected. This would only be exacerbated without the fences.

Here is a mom and four babies and a friendly male. He could be “courting” her and on his best behavior.

No, there’s no easy answer. We go through three 40 kg, 88 pounds, bags of pellets a week, which translates to 120 kg, 265 pounds, not nearly enough considering all the visitors we see each day. However, in the interim, we’ve chosen to continue to feed the animals. Others, concerned like us, are doing their share.

I just received the following message from Louise that reads:

“Message from the Municipality: We are arranging a water tanker to assist the community; it will be collecting water at the Malelane water treatment plant. We request residents to please bring on containers, buckets, or anything you can use to collect some water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. It will be going along the main streets.”

At the moment, we still have water. We’ll see how that goes.

After all, this is Africa.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2020:

Umer, our driver, and guide insisted we stop for a photo op in front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on this date in 2013. For more photos, please click here.