Tuesday – Oribi hunt
I’m in the clan area of Mutata and because of the insanely tall grass (FYI: it tickles my armpits. Now that’s tall) it’s difficult to find any middle-sized, spotted, carnivorous creatures.
The tide turns when I stop for my coffee break and a familiar shape moving over some short grass catches my eye. I kickstart the bike, ride to the hyena and when I get closer I see not one, not two, but six! I look around to see four more of which one is undoubtedly one of my favourites: little Mercury! I haven’t seen her in four months and she has grown!
After photographing all of them, I happily resume my coffee-break while I watch them and they watch me.
When I move on, I find another hyena in the tall grass and while filling in a datasheet I hear a weird screeching cry coming from not too far away. My friend hears it too and points its ears. I watch the hyena intensely, I know it will do something, I just don’t know what. The wait is not long, within 2 seconds the hyena dashes off and runs to the sound. Datasheets, binoculars, cameras and backpack fly everywhere as I try to pack away everything as fast as I can. Some swearing and stashing later I start the bike and start following the hyena at a speed that is too high for comfort in this &^%*$ grass. We get back to the exact place where I had previously left the ten hyenas and now I can see three of them fighting over something. Then one takes a sprint with something in its mouth. Still not having all my fieldgear back in place I frantically grab around me until I find my binoculars. I can see the hyena has it by the spine, four legs sticking out and head dangling down, probably paralysed already… It’s an adult oribi.
This is odd, I’ve never seen hyenas hunt oribi. It’s not that they don’t try, but usually oribis are too fast and jumpy for hyenas to catch. Another odd fact: kill time is 09:22, it doesn’t happen very often that hyenas hunt during daylight.
The exact chain of events that lead to me witnessing an oribi being devoured by three hyenas I cannot give you. I have no idea what happened there and how they managed to catch it. All I know is that in 5 minutes flat nothing remains of the oribi except some contents of its rumen and some flat grass… And that my location is probably the only place in Liuwa where hyenas are seen without a problem.
Wednesday – Needles
It’s the season just after the rainseason, when the grass is at its tallest and life is everywhere.
When not a day goes by without your peaceful state of mind being interrupted.
When the problem is bad when you stay in camp, but 1000 times worse when you’re out in the field.
When at completely unexpected and random moments, it will turn you into a spastic of the highest class.
When not one part of your body, not one piece of clothing, not one tool or equipment is safe.
They will get everywhere. You will still find them months later. They will make you screech like a girl. At random moments you will feel the sting of their sharp end, like a needle piercing your skin.
It’s the grass-seed-season.
Friday – A time to remember
It’s memorial-day in the Netherlands. A day dedicated to remembering the people that have fought in WW2 and have suffered and/or given their life for our freedom. Every year on this date, at 20.00 hrs, the entire country is in a 2-minute silence. Although there is some discussion around the tradition, I think it’s a good one. Freedom is such a huge privilege. We have to realise how fortunate we are and remember the thousands and thousands of people that we have to thank for this ultimate gift.
So every year, whatever happens and wherever I am in the world, on the 4th of May, at 20.00 NL time, I will take 2 minutes to sit down in silence and realise how damn lucky I am to be free. Sitting on the Liuwa sand, gazing up at the stars, my endless train of thoughts is stopped and replaced by an endless gratitude to all of those that have fought to free my home-country and give my grandparents (and therewith, eventually, me) back their freedom, to be who they are and become who they wanted to become.
And the beautiful thing is, after I have sat there for 2 minutes in silence (which usually becomes 5 minutes because I never know when the 2 minutes are over), I feel extremely grateful and happy.
Because there is no better way to be, than to be in freedom.