Frogs on my feet and spiders on my face

It is getting HOT in Zim now.  At 8.30am today the temperature was already 30C!  We’ve not had proper rains for a few weeks now but they should arrive within the next week or so, which will hopefully clear the air and refresh the atmosphere.

I went on my first “Night Encounter” at the weekend, which is basically taking the older lions out for a walk at night time to allow them to hunt some of the game in the park.  However, as they are too big for us to walk on foot, they are trained to follow vehicles, which they seem to do surprisingly well.  We drove around the park for over 2 hours but the only animals they tried to hunt were one steenbok and a zebra.  The steenbok chase was actually pretty good because the lions ran FULL PELT towards this steenbok (I have never seen them run so fast in my life!) and they very nearly caught the steenbok.  It even screamed out in distress (poor thing – I would do too if 4 subadult lions were running for their lives after me).  It seems like the prey have learned to keep well away from the sound of vehicles at night time, so we probably scared all the prey away before we got anywhere near it.  It was nice to see the lions so active though, as usually I spend the day watching them sleep!  Whilst we were following them, we used a red flashlight (so as not to interfere to much with the  chase) and they looked so eerie in the darkness as red silhouettes moving silently in the night.  It’s crazy that I’ve been here for 7 weeks now and not once seen a lion kill something.  King of beasts, my ass!

Yesterday evening we were actually allowed OUT of Antelope Park for once!!  Oh happy days!  I’ve only left the site twice before – once to go to the doctor’s, and the other to go protein shopping.  It was so nice to leave the compound and get back to real Zimbabwe, if only for a few hours.  We went to a Chinese restaurant and filled our bellies full of far too much food.  The portions were MASSIVE and the food was so cheap!  I hope we can make this at least a semi-regular occurrence.  I am also hoping to arrange a pizza and movie night next weekend with the volunteers, as they definitely seem to appreciate it when we organise evening entertainment.

I got to sleep in until EIGHT am today!!!  Wow!  This is the latest I’ve ever woken up since getting here!  Admittedly I didn’t actually sleep that late because I live in a busy part of camp where everyone else gets up at 5.30, 6 and 6.30, so I kept on getting disturbed by them.  But even so, being able to lay in bed until 8 was amazing.

The Ngamo pride are beginning to get HUNGRY.  They have not eaten something for 10 days and not made a kill for at least 4 weeks.  Hopefully today we are getting a shipment of 50 impala, but I’m not sure what good that will do, as the release site already has 34 impala in it and the lions don’t seem to want to kill them for whatever reason.  We are –fingers crossed- getting 15 zebra in a couple of days time too, so I think we might have to do a scavenge feed in between that time as the pride are beginning to look a bit too trim for my liking.  Plus with the heat, they are getting very grumpy at each other and starting to fight.  I am slightly concerned about Kenge’s cubs too, because Kenge keeps spending time away from her den in the hope that the rest of the (lazy) pride will actually make a kill.   I just don’t understand why they don’t go for the smaller prey they have available to them in the site.  You’re a carnivore for god’s sake, do what you were born to do!

We were sat at breakfast this morning and a load of fruit bats suddenly came flying into the dining hall.  They are so cute!  Quite large and with very fox-like faces.  I was in the shower the other day and thought the sponge fell onto my foot, and as I looked down, I saw a brown splodge on my foot, which then promptly hopped off.   It appears that a frog decided that the shower was a nice place to hang out!  I also seem to have a baboon spider that has made a web in my bedroom in the rafters right above my head.  I hope it doesn’t fall down onto my head at night!

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