Mana Pools- Slowing down and What a Rush! Part 2

Lovily pool in the evening light on Mana flood plain

Everything changes after dark in the bush.  The hyenas came to within feet of us as we sat around the fire preparing wonderful smells.  And tastes.  The new style of rubbish bins kept the hyenas out of the waste that they love to get in but from the chemmering from that direction it was obvious that the honey badgers were not slowed down at all.  Doug and I walked up to see what all the noise was about and as my light hit the rubbish bin, two of the cheeky little things poked their startled black and white heads out of the small holes in the top of the cement structure.

Honey badgers are amazingly tough and tenacious. They will run away with their tail straight up as these did, but if they feel trapped or pushed or are tired of running, they will turn on you in the most ferocious of attacks, all teeth and noise and claws.  I have watched a lion working to kill one in some exposed roots in the banks of the sandy Sapi river downstream a bit, and in the hours-long battle got his nose and paws shredded before finally pulling the badger out of his hiding place and finishing it off.  It was a costly meal but his blood was up and he would not stop.  I have also been chased round and round a termite mound one night as one screamed his disapproval of my presence at Rukomachi before I could get back in the Land Rover.

We listened to the honey badgers chatter amongst themselves throughout the night until around 4:00 a.m. when the hyenas came too close and a truly awful noise came out of the badgers.  It was frightening and I am sure I would have given them some space.

Kitchen staff at Stretch’s camp on the Zambezi

The day before, Doug and I had driven down by Mucheni to where Stretch Ferreira has his beautiful camp by the river.  We had spent an hour talking as we waited for the arrival of his first visitors of the season.  It was great to talk again as he always has wonderful stories told in a humorous way.  You always come away learning something new about the bush as well, which I really appreciate.  I asked Stretch if he had ever used bearbangers in his guiding and he got all excited and said he just loved them.  He said, “In fact the only reason I still carry a rifle is to impress the women.”

Very nice tented camp at Stretch’s Goliath Safaris

We all laughed over that but he went on to tell of stopping a charging elephant in her tracks by shooting one over her head.  He was very impressed with their performance.

Famous Stretch Ferreira in his safari vehicle on a game drive.

After an early morning drive around the floodplain we came back and cooked a very nice breakfast, broke camp and headed out again.  We stopped by Chitaki Springs on our way out of the park.  There was a man killed by lions here only a few months earlier.  He went off to a shower a little ways from camp and by the time people came to the cries for help, it was too late.

Elephant digging for water in the dry Ruckomechi River. Notice the Albida trees growing in the sandy river bed.

On our way up the windy escarpment road a big Freightliner lori came around a corner in our lane and we used every centimeter of available space to avoid being hit.  The truck continued down the hill, weaving wildly and brakes smoking.  As we continued around the corner with our hearts in our throats there was another vehicle pulling a boat trailer that had actually been hit and the axle was ripped off.  It was probably the most dangerous thing about the whole time in the valley, including being charged by elephant!

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