Tom and a wildlife rescue…Load shedding and…water outage…

Yesterday, our local monitor lizard had quite an ordeal when he couldn’t get out of the pool.

Yesterday afternoon, when we were both sitting at the table on the veranda on a scorching day, I looked toward the splash pool and noticed activity in the water. We both jumped up to investigate to discover a monitor lizard trying to lift herself out of the water. We could see she was panicky when she flailed about at the four edges of the pool, unable to lift herself out.

The water was off in Marloth Park due to load shedding, which prevented the reservoir from pumping sufficient water for the homes in the area. Due to this situation, Marloth Park has no water until the problem is resolved by pumping. The backup generators don’t have adequate power to keep the reservoir full, supplying the lines in Marloth Park.

As a result of no water, we couldn’t add water to the pool, and the level was low, just from evaporation in the hot weather. Nor could we fill the birdbath as a water source for many animals who stop by. Many couldn’t reach the low level in the pool.

If a lizard could look panicky, this one did after countless attempts to get out of the pool.

After watching the lizard for a few minutes, fearful she would eventually drown, Tom went into action and got a bucket and a broom, wondering which way would be least traumatic for the monitor lizard. In only a minute, Tom scooped her up into the bucket and gingerly placed her on the ground.

We both moved back to avoid frightening her further, but she lay completely still on the ground for some time. We placed a raw egg nearby, hoping she’d see it and come back to life. But she didn’t move. She must have been stunned by the close encounter with humans. We gave her space, and several minutes later, she scurried off at a fast pace.

She tried all four sides of the pool to no avail.

From this site:

“Monitor Lizards in Africa

Did you know that all species of monitor lizards can swim? It is speculated that monitor lizards swam and island-hopped from Asia and Australia over to Africa. In Southern Africa, there are 2 species of these large lizards that some herpetologists say are more closely related to a snake than a lizard. Like the rest of their genus Varanus, the Nile monitor lizard and the Rock Monitor lizard stand on their hind legs to monitor their surroundings, hence their name. These fast and fierce creatures are sometimes spotted at our lodges in Hwange National Park and we recently captured one of these monitor lizards on video in the Zimbabwe bush.

At one point, she was close to the step but didn’t realize it was a means of escape. The frustrated flailing continued while we watched with concern.

Monitor lizards can grow to be incredibly large, in fact, the famous Komodo dragon is a species of monitor lizard. Of the 2 species found in Southern Africa, the largest size they can grow to is 2 metres long, although this is rather rare. Nile monitor lizards are actually Africa’s largest lizard. The Rock monitor lizard is a bit shorter and stockier but has a longer tail. The monitor lizards use these long tails as oars when swimming and whips when defending themselves.

She was struggling to pull herself up and out of the pool.

Monitor lizards are interesting in that they are very similar to snakes, with their distinctive forked tongues that they use to detect scent molecules from the air. They also hiss when they feel threatened. They are also considered the most intelligent of all lizards, when kept in captivity they can be trained to count to 6 and in the wild, they are able to remember where their hiding places are, specifically the various routes to get there. They are also the only lizard species that don’t regrow their tail after losing them.

They are also excellent hunters and will work together to raid a crocodile’s nest, with one lizard distracting the mother and the other stealing the eggs. Monitor lizards have incredibly strong jaws and will grip tightly without letting go, they also secrete poisonous toxins in their saliva that harms their prey. Being carnivores they’ll eat anything from eggs to small mammals, fish, other small reptiles and birds.”

Tom to the rescue. He scooped up the monitor lizard into a bucket and gently placed it on the ground.

“Monitor lizards are oviparous, laying from seven to 38 eggs, which they often cover with soil or protect in a hollow tree stump. Some monitor lizards, including the Komodo dragon, are capable of parthenogenesis.”

“Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction in which an egg can develop into an embryo without being fertilized by a sperm. Parthenogenesis is derived from the Greek words for “virgin birth,” and several insect species including aphids, bees, and ants are known to reproduce by parthenogenesis.”

Someone ate the egg. It might have been her, a genet, a porcupine, or a mongoose. We never know since it disappears during the later part of the day when the trail cam wouldn’t pick it up.

Once on the ground, she froze in sheer terror and didn’t move for a while.

Last night and this morning we were without water. A few weeks ago, Danie installed a JoJo (a water storage tank run by an electric pump) to ensure we’ll have water during an outage, but apparently, the pump wasn’t working. He and the electrician were here last night trying to figure out what was wrong. This morning they replaced the pump with a new one and as of a short time ago, we have water!

Last night, we ate our salad and pork tenderloin on paper plates since we didn’t want to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight when surely insects would appear overnight. We cooked the pork on the braai, well seasoned using disposable tin foil pans. We ate dinner in the dark at the dining room table since, it’s impossible right now to eat outdoors with all the bugs. Tomorrow, we’ll shop in Komatipoort and buy some yellow bulbs which don’t attract the bugs, like white bulbs do.

Her left front leg was tucked under her body, but she didn’t move to adjust it. She looked like she might be full of eggs with her belly enlarged.

We’re thrilled to have water and soon, I’ll take the shower I missed this morning. Tom will do the few dishes we had to leave last night. We’ll no longer have to haul a bucket of pool water into the bathroom when the water isn’t running in Marloth Park. If the water is off for many more days, we could easily exhaust the water in the JoJo. Fortunately, yesterday, only an hour before the water supply ceased, I’d finished a few loads of laundry.

The load shedding continues and based on reports from Eskom, it will continue indefinitely, especially as the weather heats up and more and more people use aircon. It will be a hot summer ahead, especially at night when the power is often off for 4.5 to 5 hours during a 10 hour period and we can’t use the aircon.

TIA…This is Africa…all of the above, “goes with the territory.” We aren’t complaining. We are reporting to our readers that this blissful life in the bush has some downfalls, but it never drives us away.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2021:

A small band of our mongoose friends. For more photos, please click here.

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