There has been blogger interuptus for far too long, and its high time for a chat. Its not that the monkeys have been silent around here - or even absent. Quite the opposite in fact. Yesterday the big male monkey ( with the splendid blue dangly bits that proclaim his status) sneaked into the kitchen around lunch time and tried to cram the rest of the roast chicken into this mouth. The sound of glass smashing as the pyrex bowl took a hit, brought us running into the kitchen. The chicken fell to the ground and the monkey fled to the lounge to bounce off the walls a bit before making it to the door - not before his backside was peppered with a bit of snakeshot though. Just enough to give him a clear message.
The monkeys have been very invasive lately, and we need to reassert our territorial rights to the kitchen. They have learnt to stay calm when in the house, and if we approach, just to hide under a table, or under a bed, or in the ceiling, while we pass by - resuming the raiding tactic behind our backs. There has been hide and seek in process. But its those tell tale calling cards that always give the game away.
Winter is here with its delicious coolness and wide blue skies. The grasses are yellow and whispy and the warthogs are all around the house. We are in safari season which means travelling long distances on rickety roads, billowing dust, bright sunlight, and sparkling waters. It means elephants, and lions, and all the myriad creatures; dark velvet night skies and the whiff of wild sage brush.
well now here is a strange and mystifying thing. We keep finding baby frogs in the toilet cistern. How do they get there? the inlet pipe is tiny. Perhaps they come in as eggs and grow there, but what do they feed on. How are they alive in there, in that chamber of sensory deprivation?
Yesterday we fished one out again. He was small and brown and shiny, with a mottled pattern. He sat quietly in the hand, and 'walked' rather than hopped. He seemed slow, then we realised that all he had known before was the dark interior of the cistern. Suddenly he was riding a human hand into a brightly lit and brightly painted kitchen filled with strange smells, and stranger giants.
We took him out to the waterhole, and rather reluctantly he fell off the hand and into the water. He bobbed at the edge of the pool, watching us. Funny, it was as if he said 'take me back inside!' but we must have been imagining it. Later we found an identical frog in the same bathroom, inside the bucket. It was a bit confusing - surely it couldnt be the same one?? but we took him out to the waterhole even so.
Twenty years ago, when speaking to a prominent kenyan naturalist, he said that trying to keep rhino's alive on this continent was like 'trying to keep ice cubes in the lake'. We were saddened by his defeatist attitude but was he defeatist or realist? It can seem that if you are in any way involved in trying to protect and conserve our planets precious natural resources you are destined for days of heartache and hopelessness .
In the intervening years so many dedicated people have focussed their life's efforts on trying to preserve rhinos and other endangered species. And there are wonderful success stories that we rarely hear about, or give any major credence to. Valiant rangers have given their lives to poachers bullets in the field, in remote and little known wildlife areas.
Responsible fundraising efforts go to equipping these rangers with hi-tech communications and basic uniforms and even salaries. They are on the front line of a nasty war, that is getting nastier. The illegal trade in wildlife products (rhino horn, ivory, tiger bone etc) is today included in the same cartels as drug trade and human trafficking.
The more attention, funds and manpower we throw at stopping these heinous crimes, the more they seem to flourish. Tigers are still critically endangered; rhinos are on the brink of extinction AGAIN; elephants are being slaughtered in their thousands. We know where the market is for all these products, and yet we cannot seem to address it directly. We have increased security at seaports and airports, and yet still, massive shipments are uncovered, suggesting an unknown quantity that slips through undetected to supply an ever growing demand.
They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Perhaps in these days of regime change, climate change and enhanced global communication networks; there will be a respite for Africa's beleaguered creatures - great and small. We need to think outside the box - and fast.