9 Dec 2011
It took Robinson Crusoe something like 26 years to discover he was not alone on his island. It happened to me much sooner.
Kris and Leah are Canadian wildlife biologists who are studying predator populations in the Limpopo Parque Nacional. They have been here for three months with backing from the University of Pretoria and a few other organizations.
They are both wilderness veterans who have spent years venturing into really remote parts of the Yukon and places like Tanzania and the jungle of Central America. Before they studied wildlife biology they also owned and ran a wilderness trail business in Canada that took clients far into the frozen north on dogsled, horseback, canoe or hiking expeditions.
Here in Mozambique they set up camp in a remote, waterless part of the park with their tenyearold daughter Eden (who’s been a bushbaby almost all her life) and their specialist scatfinder dog Asar.
It hasn’t been easy for them. Logistical challenges took up much of their time, which was already stretched through the difficulty of getting around to place and monitor the infrared cameras that they use to get an idea of the numbers and movements of lion, cheetah and wild dog. Some of their cameras have been stolen, presumably by poachers who are opposed to surveillance, and they have also suffered a road accident. The final blow came when they arrived home one day to find their camp ransacked and robbed by people from Chimangue village who had chanced upon it.
They were in quite a dejected mood when I happened to meet them on the road, and gratefully accepted my offer to move their base to the comparative safety and luxury of my riverside camp. Their tent and trailer is now pitched in a lovely shady spot on the riverbank on the perimeter of camp, much to the surprise of an elephant bull who almost walked into it last night.
Although I don’t expect to see much of them with all their coming and going, things should hopefully now be easier for them and my island a little less lonesome for me.