Sometimes we just can’t physically get there, so this was the next best thing; a virtual expedition!
At first glance one would think that there was no life at the Djuma Game Preserve watering hole. Over eight thousand miles away, however, I was able to look through the lens of a camcorder and peek into the private moments of the South African wilderness. 16:39 Central African Time Zone (CAT), which is Greenwich Mean Time plus two hours had earned me a new title; I had become ‘the armchair naturalist’.
An oblong watering hole flanked by mounds of grey dirt and shrubby trees came into view. There was a slow almost deliberately lazy flow of water, which I sensed was rather shallow. Every now and again a disturbance by some water insect would set the surface in motion with the same rings that are set off by someone skipping a rock across a lake; and from the center outward small ripples ruffled the otherwise tranquil water. The background trees, some sparse of leaves while others like a full head of green hair were mixed together. I found myself being very still, as though my movement would rouse any animal or creature that might choose to make itself present. There was a constant caw of birds and the buzzing of insects; however, they knew when it was their turn to make a sound for not one seemed to interrupt the other. Crickets perhaps, and the coming and going of feathered fowl, some in flight and others taking a leisurely paddle in the grey murky water gave life to what seemed to be an uninhabited spot.
Yet, out of the background, as though the spindly tress had suddenly sprung legs, there was definite movement; not that of a bird, but yet a larger and more deliberate force that one could only assume was a mammal. Several tall and graceful beasts made their appearance, and though they were not easy to see, my knowledge of zoo animals clearly identified them as giraffes. Their colors were hazy and though these creatures came upon the screen ashen and white; apparitions they were not for the outline of slender necks reaching almost as high as the tallest branches gave way to their distinctly original features.
Within only a few moments, as if by invitation from the giraffes, a half a dozen shy nyala, appeared. Not taking any risks, they remained half hidden by the scruffy brush as they half-heartedly scurried about, only to be upstaged by a rather bold and curious water fowl that found a sumptuous meal by dining upon the very muddy banks of the shore. Its grey and white feathers blended in with its surrounding, while the only lively color on the shore was verdant green lichen attached to a rock that the water bird found flavorful; for between sips it pecked favorable at the mossy fauna with its long pale yellow beak.
And then, just as quickly as the watering hole had invited life, so did it abruptly become dormant. For suddenly the only conceivable measure of being came from a listless breeze, which carried the hum of insects and the startled cry of birds across the hemispheres while the view from my corner of the world once again became a game of hide and seek.
Here’s the site! Djuma waterhole