peaceful sleep

6 Dec 2011

The nights have become quieter.

The herd of about twenty elephant that used to rev the river at night with their watersports must have moved on. After the rains, with lush green now everywhere and water available in more places, they’re no longer dependent on the river. A lone bull passed by late yesterday and another one at six this morning, but the nightly bellows are no longer so common. Still, the big guys are around, as proved by the dumps of recycled forest that they drop almost everywhere.

The frogs too, have piped down. During November there was an outburst every night when one species raised their mating call. Wark, wark, wark, they’d go; hundreds or thousands of them, for hours. Every twenty seconds or so their random calls would find a common rhythm and build to a huge co-ordinated tumult that set the river, if not the whole planet, rocking for a brief few seconds.

wark, wark, WARK, WARK, WARK, WARK, WARK, WARK, wark..

It was a mass call so formidable that surely no female could resist. There must have been a lot of frogging going on in the reeds during November, and very little housework done.

Then, almost suddenly, it was over. Except for a few sorry voices who must have missed out, but kept trying. Now they too, have fallen silent. Did they get lucky, or did they give up? I don’t know, but it must be tough if the next good time only comes round next November!

The little bushbabies, whose soft feet I sometimes hear on the roof of my tent, still call, and so does the odd hyena. Bushbuck or kudu bark occasionally and the nasal blows of impala are quite common in the daytime. Lion, although they pass by, haven’t advertised their presence.

Most vocal, besides the rich birdlife, is the troop of baboons that live on the opposite bank. I never tire of watching them troop home leisurely at dusk before they scale the big fever trees that are their roost for the night. It’s almost like the evening soapie.

Every night the little ones lag behind and get so playfully sidetracked that they eventually have to be pinched to get them to bed amidst their wailing protest. Equally human is the casual air with which the big guys lord it while the mamas have to put up with the kids. Until, of course, a wife or a kid steps too far out of line and the man feels he has to put his foot down. Once in the trees, they settle down to occasional chattering, with a gruff bark or the pained wail of a tiny voice breaking the silence every once in a while.

These hairy folks are quite good neighbours, I’ve found. So far they’ve never ventured close to camp and they haven’t caused me any problems. Other than their domestic tiffs at two in the morning, that is.

Bright white balls of foam over water - this is how one type of frog lays its eggs.

Shortly after the first big rains I saw these strange purple stains on the ground one morning. Closer inspection showed it to be zillions of little hopping insects that had sprung from the soil.

And then there are the ones you don't inspect too closely, especially if it has small pincers and a thick tail.




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