The Africa Journals
The Way of the Jackal
The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes ‘sight-seeing.’
—Daniel J. Boorstin
One day the Sun came to earth. Jackal saw that a little Sun Child was left when the Sun returned to the sky. He took Sun Child and put it on his back. When Sun Child began to burn his back, Jackal asked the Sun Child to get down, but Sun Child refused and stuck fast to his back. That is why Jackal’s back is black to this day.—African fable
We are entertained at lunch by a toddler exhibiting her flexibility. She seems more interested in her feet than eating her lunch.
|Chinese egg noodles, patty pan squash, aloo mutter, yellow dal, asparagus vinaigrette, Waldorf salad, and butter chicken, with chutney.|
Several female Nyala graze outside my room, beautiful animals with vertical white stripes.
I head for the meeting place. This is our last evening safari at Mabula. We’ll have one more safari in the morning, and then head back to Johannesburg, so this drive is something of a farewell. We have no expectations.
A Woodland Kingfisher in the tree keeps us entertained until it's time to load up.
We sit back and enjoy the ride. The lion sightings this morning were thrilling and we can’t think of anything that would excel. Perhaps a leopard, but leopards are not known to show themselves often.
|Francis is showing us an elephant track.|
|There is the hole of the tiny antlion in this one. It is about an inch across, which gives some idea of how large the elephant track is.|
|A Red Hartebeest. Note the heart shape of the horns.|
We see Kudu and Warthog. Francis spots a Rock Hyrax in, of course, the rocks. This rodent is also called a Dassie and is about the size of a ground squirrel. Its closest living relative, believe it or not, is the elephant.
|Warthog with big tusks.|
Francis heads onto a road above a broad valley with grass and trees. From our vantage point, we see numerous varieties of antelope, from the common Impala to Kudu, Oryx, and Eland. They seem to be all over the valley, grazing in the late evening sun.
|I waited a long time to get just this angle of the horns.|
|Of course it crossed in front of us.|
|And paused for a nibble, maybe showing us who was boss.|
|Eland, the heaviest of the many types of antelope.|
Leopard tracks have been seen, and Francis drives onto a ridge road, where he shows us the dessicated remains of an impala hanging in a tree, long after the leopard had dined. We never find the leopard.
Up on the ridge is where we stop for sundowners and photos with the guides and Brian. As usual, I start to wander, inspecting things at my feet. Francis comes after me. There are, after all, wild animals out there and having one of them chew on a tourist is not good for business.
|This is the Land Rover that Francis drives.|
|L-R: Francis, Sam, Arlene, and Brian, our tour director.|
|John standing by Sam's vehicle.|
|Grasshopper. Well, we don't have them in Alaska so they're exotic to me.|
|Overlooking the valley.|
On the way back to the lodge, we see a Black-backed jackal coming towards us on the road. It appears unconcerned until it sees a private vehicle a short ways behind us. Then it turns and runs, used to the safari vehicles but not private vehicles that are allowed in certain areas of the reserve.
I turns back to look again at the vehicle behind us, then spins and runs into the bush.
|The Jackal with its back burned black by the Sun Child.|
It’s been a pleasant, laid-back safari, with lots of animal sightings. Once again, we have dinner in the Boma, this time under a thatch roof with an electric light above the table. Francis joins us for dinner. His plate is heaped with salads and vegetables. This immensely tall and slender Zulu does not eat meat.