I have been battling with a summer cold since we arrived in Selinda. Can you believe it! I haven’t had a cold in years and now in celebration of the start of true summer I am walking around sneezing and croaking, and taking med lemon at night. Hah.
At first I thought it might be an allergy or hay fever, but it just carries on – not getting worse nor better. ho hum.
Yesterday was a day of storms. Great atmospheric benefactors cruised all around us distributing their heavy loads of purple rain to thirsty grasslands and animals. Pans are replenished, and fresh green leaves sprouting forth like a miasma of neon gasses softening the landscape.
Impala nurture their increasing nursery of young; tsessebe too have softly pliant youngsters in tow. Tsessebe are the fastest antelope of all despite their almost ungainly appearance and extraordinary colouring of burgundy red, with tawny flanks and purple overlays. Their youngsters are the colour of yellow grass – a perfect camouflage like lions – in the half light they are invisible. I wonder why the adults bothered to change colour at all except maybe to find each other after a long run.
This morning three wildebeest galloped past the house like forwardly mobile rocking horses. The first wildebeest had a tiny newborn calf running at its flank like a miniature shadow in brown.
The elephants are still looking a little on the thin side. Pelvic bones protruding and in some cases rib cages visible through toughened hides. With green grass starting to appear they are feasting again and soon will not have to travel so far between feeding grounds and water. Although eating tiny grass shoots is like feeding a hungry giant with a teaspoon.
Today started fresh and cool, but as the sun rose half way up the sky, humidity began a sudden climb. We are surrounded by purple storm clouds again behind the bright sunlight. Thunder grumbles and groans as if the clouds are complaining about the weight they have to carry now. Grey veils of falling rain trail behind them leaning left or right with the prevailing wind.
We have planted many of the new baby trees around the house. Most of them are baobabs and so will probably outlast both us and the house before they reach maturity. However, our plan to rehabituate the forest island, which has been depleted by hungry elephants, is at last in progress.
Planting new trees is a very satisfactory pastime. Especially when in semi urban areas such as Kasane, and the rural villages around it, there seems to be a campaign to bring down as many of the giant hardwoods and riverine forest as possible. A big shade tree acts as an environmental coolant equal to up to twenty air conditioning units at a time.
One would think in a continent of extreme heat and desertification, shade trees would be valued as much as rivers and waterways. However, on our way out of town this week we passed a place near Kavimba where a whole stand of massive umbrella thorn trees (acacia tortillas) have been ring barked presumably to make way for a small field.
While I am at it, I have another sad tale to share – blame it on the summer cold! The kasane rubbish dump has been an eyesore for years, with unmanaged dumping of waste plastics, tins bottles and all manner of soft and hard ware. It is now under extensive remodelling but the problems persist.
Situated on the main road leading to the entrance of Chobe National park it has become a source of attraction for wildlife species that live on the edge of the town. Marabou Storks, baboons, hyenas, honey badgers, vultures and even elephants can be seen there rooting amongst the plastic bags that drift around the periphery.
Recently elephant droppings have been found containing plastic bags, and last week three elephants died of gastro intestinal blockages due to plastic waste. Shame on us all!
Plastic bags are such useful items but they must be disposed of properly. I hate that dolphins and turtles mistake them for jelly fish in the sea and also die as a result of ingesting the indigestible material. Now we can add our magnificent elephant friends to the toll of human toxic waste. When will we ever learn that we cannot exist alone in a desert on this wonderful planet?