Ok, here it is. We told you we would tell you about what was so important that we neglected our faithful wildlife quiz fans.
The morning started at 5am – just as dawn was breaking, the golden light casting dappled shadows on the leaf littered floor. We were stalking our Nyala.
Our little Nyala population has exploded and now we have in excess of 20 Nyala, many of these male. So, we thought, lets sell some to another reserve and then we can get some new blood in and strengthen the genetics.
The process is easy, locate the Nyala, shoot the dart containing the sedative, watch the Nyala so you don’t lose it, get to Nyala and sit it up so that its stomach acids don’t fill its lungs. Put it on the blanket with carry handles, carry to boma, inject with reverse drug. Rinse and repeat.
Easy peasy, hey?
Well, actually – No!
Find them, no problem! Everyday when we do the fence check we are greeted by Bella (the impala), mummy and baby Nyalas and and a handful of protecting bulls. Then around the corner we find the rest of the bulls doing whatever it is that Nyala bulls do when they aren’t looking after the little ones…
So we switched to stealth mode (before we ran out of petrol) and decided to walk around the fence line instead. Then we glance them, through the trees, some of the relaxing bulls. Picking our way through the barbed wire fence we then have to battle with the harder obstacle, the trees themselves, thankfully the lightning storms we have had have cleared a few dead trees here and there and we managed to find a way in. And the bulls are still there so we wait for the shot, then one of the bulls takes a step forward as Anton squeezes the trigger – crack! –
the dart is in and the Nyala bulls run.
But there he is, stumbling, before turning a circle and laying down.
Thankfully he fell in a fairly open part of bush, making our way to him quickly, radioing in for the others to come and help us carry him. They are not small animals by any means, they stand taller than me!
This all seems too easy…
Johan arrives at the scene to inform us that this bull is too small, his horns are not long enough, we must let him go again. So in goes the reverser drug, and the animal that was previously so paralysed that he was unable to keep his tongue in his mouth nor even grunt, was on his feet and charging us in less than 5 seconds!
The next three hours we spend traipsing through the bush, it is not even 8am yet and already we are hot, grumpy and tired as the humidity climbs higher. From one fence line through the bush to the other we clamber, gorse, sickle and buffalo thorns pulling on our clothes and catching at our skin. We even found new sections of the property, various parts look like Jurassic park and there is even mud and soil – in a Sand forest this is most unusual.
We stumbled upon a pair of sleeping Suni, walked past 6 red duiker, drove past possibly 3 more Suni – and had one run past us, saw Bella the Impala lots and even saw a big Natal hingeback tortoise. Whilst hot and humid it really was beautiful seeing all of these little and lesser seen animals – we need Nyalas!
But enough traipsing in the bush – off to the vet with the Forest Cobra – who still needs a name…