After twelve long disastrous and, at times dangerous, corporate years in Sub-Saharan Africa, who would have thought the author would have returned voluntarily. Well, a persuasive daughter and grandson can make a difference. Moreover, an adventure-seeking wife can have a strong measure of influence. The bottom line is Botswana is the best in so many respects. We will talk about the wildlife conservation a bit, which is massive, as well as the natural beauty and the people.
It should come as no surprise that one of our first experiences was with the elephants. As Botswana is beginning its dry, winter period, the water holes are diminishing rapidly. We placed ourselves at a water hole in the afternoon and some seventy elephants came for their afternoon drink in a span of thirty minutes. After so many years with Asian elephants, it was awe inspiring to see the size and herd instinct of these animals. They did not linger at the bar and bathe like most Asian elephants, as there are many dangerous animals lurking around Africa. Note the hippo and the bird below could not have been bothered.
In an effort to reintroduce rhinos into Botswana, twelve rhinos were moved from South Africa to the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Below is the first baby rhino conceived in this endeavor which we saw at the age of three weeks old.
Mound-building termites are a species that live in Botswana. The mounds can reach massive dimensions in well-drained areas and can long outlive the termite colonies themselves. The image taken below was taken at sundown and could well be the Buddhist stupas surrounding the plains of Pagan, Myanmar.
The termite mounds can also provide a playground for young lion cubs. Note the older male cub looks upon himself as king of the mountain compared to the younger females.
The most engaging creature we met was the meerkat which is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. We left camp early in the morning for them to awake from their evening sleep and come out to feed and warm up. The tracker kept assuring us they were in the burrows below where we sat but they seemed to have overslept a bit. Nonetheless, it was well worth the wait, as the alpha male emerged first, hopped on my leg to have a look around and was soon joined by a host of hungry ones anxious to dig up scorpions for breakfast.
Early one morning we met up with a group of Junxwase bushpeople to learn about them and their culture. It was absolutely fascinating to get a sense of how they live totally off the land eating most everything. Their knowledge of plants and herbs to provide water, nutrition, food and medicinal cures was amazing. In fact, they will burn elephant (Gxhou in their language) dung to take the ash and use it as an application for stiff joints. The logic was elephants eat many plants providing a wide range of curative powers. Their unwritten language includes a range of tonal clicking sounds in order to communicate. The elder is shown below who was the champion in an incomprehensible form of rock/paper/scissors game that can last many hours. You can see a video of the Junxwase bush people playing a game below.
Our grandson, Duke proved himself to be the chief of the meerkat tribe as evidenced below. He takes after his grandfather to be a qualified meerkat whisperer.
Alas, the sun finally faded after the ten-day trip and we had to make our various ways home. The image below has our long-time friends, Brian and Stephen as bookends with Sara, me and Joey to the right of Michael Lorentz, fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, co-founder and CEO of Passage to Africa. Michael is the best around. Thank you all for a most wonderful experience after twelve preceding years that did not work out so well in that part of the world.
Suan Lahu Organic Coffee Beans
(a fair-trade coffee)
Suan Lahu, meaning "Lahu Garden," is a beautiful stretch of sloped land located in the highlands of Chiang Rai Province in Northern Thailand.
Suan Lahu strives to bring the intricate culture of the Lahu people in the growing, processing, and slow-roasting of one of the best Arabica coffees you can find in the region. And, they are driven by the desire to see organic farming become a viable lifestyle in the highland. This lovely coffee product is offered right here at The Elephant Story.