Friday, December 12, 2008
Last Stop, Botswana
Our last stop in Africa was at the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. After crossing the border from South Africa, we were escorted 45 minutes over sun-scorched rocky terrain to the reserve; (of our entire visit, this was the “bush”). The reserve gets its name from the magnificent Mashatu trees; which can be found throughout the immense tract of privately owned land (about 75,000 acres). Mashatu is home to seven of Africa's giants: the African elephant, the lion, giraffe, the baobab tree, the eland, the ostrich, and the kori bustard (a type of bird); all of which we saw and then some!
The staff told us stories of a female AWC who frequents the main camp. So far she has had two litters at the camp; one being on the bed of one of the staff members! They say she is semi-tame but still acts like a “wild cat”. The staff have also hand-raised another litter of orphaned AWCs and two baby caracals (type of cat); they were released back to the reserve, where they had litters of their own! On two separate night drives, our guide spotted AWCs with his spotlight, prowling the bush in search of prey. Mashatu also expressed interest in having AWCs relocated to their reserve.
As a side note, another highlight of our trip was meeting the president of Botswana! That’s right! One morning it was announced to us that he would be visiting the camp for a few days, and that we were invited to have lunch and then dinner with him…and we did just that. All three of us shook President Lt. Gen. Seretse Ian Khama’s hand, and Louise was treated to him signing her book on Mashatu. He is very down-to-earth and took a moment to listen to our project.
(leopard sleeping in a Mashatu tree)
(a pack of wild dog pups playing in a dry river bed)
(a herd of about 40 elephants!)