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Harry's Tales: A Gravel Highway To Paradise

Thousands of elephants. A jackal hunting for its breakfast? Harry Wroth goes driving in the African bush.

We left Olifants Camp as the morning gates opened en route to piddle stop .... Balule Camp. On the gravel road we were stopped by a large herd of elephant crossing the road, there were literally thousands. Our wait lasted an enjoyable 45 minutes. There was a colony of vultures on the tops of trees for an extent of about half a kilometer, on the east bank of the river as we approached Balule. At the time, the ablution block, which was new, was located along the southern boundary fence with the gents flush loo facing the fence, the ladies loo faced inwards on the opposite side of the building.

As is normal on arrival the sexes split.

We continued south eastwards towards the Mocambique border. We came across our first Gymnogene, (a large grey bird with swivel leg joints), and watched it deftly feeding in the crevices of a dead tree. We stopped in the middle of nowhere for the usual tea and rusks, on a slight downslope. The long straight gravel road was visible for 2 kilometers behind us and some 3 kilometers ahead of us. An excellent stationary viewing locale. We were well into enjoying our little repast while a small flock of blue waxbills, at first not noticed, sunned themselves on a bush next to us.

Far ahead appeared a small spot followed by a larger spot running down the road towards us. Within 30 seconds we realised that the spots were a Scrub Hare pursued by a black-backed Jackal.

We packed away our tea things, waited for them to pass and made a rapid shuttle turn to follow them. The hare jinked to the left and right but kept to the road with the jackal foxtrotting on behind it and keeping to the middle of the road.
After about two kilometers of following the duo, the hare suddenly darted off the road into the bush and disappeared. The jackal stopped in its tracks and over his left shoulder gave us a look that made us totally embarrassed. We really felt small Had we come too close, upset the chase and cost him his breakfast?

We turned once again and continued our tour with much discussion about the incident. We came to these conclusions.

The jackal's last sly look at us was not one of disdain.

He was going that way in any case.

The hare did not know that.

We thought we were onto a kill but had only witnessed hareing and foxtrotting with no malintent, on a gravel highway in Paradise.


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