Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Galagos Adventure

Following our three nights in Hluhluwe, it was time to go back on the road. By this time we had learned that Road Warrior Zane did not have infinite patience for being imprisoned in a car seat, so we planned a rest stop at a Wimpy’s. While Zane, Betsy and I were enjoying a healthy  snack, Becky and Kurt went off to visit the local town. They returned with some basics: pineapples, whiskey, Amarula and some mangos (a key part of this adventure).

We arrived at the Itala Game Reserve and checked into our cabin, rejecting the first choice and opting into the second. The normal signs were posted: “Keep your doors and windows shut – the monkeys and baboons enjoy human food”, and “Stay inside after dark – rhinos wander through the camp”. They didn’t mention the monitor lizard and the snake I encountered on a path to the camp store. I digress.

Some of the windows had wire panels covering them, allowing us to keep them open for the breeze while keeping the vervet monkeys and the baboons at bay. The cool evening breezes are welcome despite the few mosquitoes that blow in. Remember that this area is identified as one with possible malaria. Zane had a mozzie net; Betsy and I used a plug-in repellent, Becky and Kurt used blankets and stick repellents.

When we got up the next morning it was to the news that we had been raided during the night. Kurt had cleaned it up so he related the story of finding some of our bananas and mangos had been taken, eaten, with bits of peels strewn on the floor along with small animal droppings. We suspected very young vervet monkeys even though it would have been unusual for them to be afield at night. The alternative suspects would have been bush babies but we had heard none calling the previous evening and so ruled them out.

We operated on that assumption until we checked with the reception desk. They finally mentioned that other guests had experienced similar raids and the culprits were Galagos, bush babies, a small primate. They are cute, but can be troublesome. That evening, when Becky began setting out our dinner, she let out a shout to chase the bold little critters away from the dinner table. “It was sitting on the bench, paws on the table, looking at me like I was the problem.”

We finished our meal, watching over our shoulders. The mangos weren’t that great so we decided to sacrifice a few in the name of photography, placing them in strategic location for good photos. You can see the results in Kurt’s photos.

Inspecting the area in the light of day convinced us that we probably should not repeat the mango feast. There were bits of peel, seeds, and droppings everywhere. We cleaned up, primarily because it was a problem for Zane crawling around and putting things into his mouth. Another good reason was to avoid being reprimanded by the camp personnel for feeding the animals.

That night our dinner included some gooseberries. These are not the gooseberries you may be familiar with in the States. They are yellow, larger, and much sweeter. We had let them age a bit too much so there were leftovers. Kurt took them out to the porch and tossed them, strategically, into areas we could observe from inside. Minutes didn’t pass until we saw a grey streak pass the door. We stood and watched the gooseberries disappear.

Curiously, one of the bush babies climbed straight up the wall to the rafters of the roof as if being pursued. I walked over to another window and saw what I thought was a ring-tailed bush baby nosing at the path where Kurt had tossed some berries. It moved into the light and I called for Becky to come and see. It was clearly not a bush baby. She immediately identified it as a genet, a small carnivore. We never got a picture of the genet so I’ve included a picture from the web. They do not normally prey on bush babies but the disappearance of every one for the balance of the night said something. There were still gooseberries on the path the next morning.


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