The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 25
The next morning they were up before daybreak, readying themselves for a days’ hunting.
On their way riding northwards over the grassy sand-hills passing under the broad Camel-thorn trees, through thick clumps of dark green k’gung bushes, past Raisin-bushes heavily laden with their sweet ripe berries and every now and then a tree nearly completely covered by a creeping vine full of plum sized fruit ranging in colour from green to deep rich scarlet.
The fruit looked very tempting, some of which had burst open and had birds feeding on the seeds. Farini imagined that they would be good to eat as the birds seemed to enjoy the seeds. He picked one and Gert warned that they were poisonous, he disregarded the warning and tasted the forbidden fruit, the pleasant juice was cool and refreshing. He plucked and had another.
They soon crossed the spoor of a Giraffe and followed it, they soon came across a spot of wet sand, the field-cornet dismounted and felt it, he said that it was still warm; therefore the animal must be close by. They were to be careful as the animal is tall and has very good eye-sight.
Soon the big animal came into their sight and it ran off, zig zagging across and over the sand. The chase commenced, soon the mare plunged into an Aardvark hole ploughing into the sand with her nostrils, without spilling her rider.
Up on the rise they again see the galloping long necked beauty, its head towering above the trees a hundred meters ahead of them. The filed-cornet yelled don’t shoot, ride him down and they chased, the plan was to chase it towards the wagons, however it would not turn. Soon the field-cornet dismounted, aimed and fired, almost simultaneously with Farini. The Giraffe ran on about five more paces and then collapsed. Farini ran closer to the kicking animal, there was despair in the drooping eye and it seemed to say “what harm have I ever done to you?” before it died. The animal was measured and Farini calculated that it would have been able to eat from branches of a tree 22 feet above the ground.
The horses were finished.
The Bushmen disembowelled the Giraffe and started cutting bushes to cover the dead animal while the wagons were fetched. Soon the carcass was covered and some paper was placed on top and gunpowder spread around to scare away any scavengers.
A fire was lit and of the meat grilled. Farini was given some liver and some fatty part which he found very good, upon enquiring which part this was, Gert replied that it was of the end intestine. Farini asked where it was washed as it seemed quite clean – the reply was that it wasn’t washed, it had been turned inside out, anything inside falls out and it is then put on the coals, when done it is fit for a queen.
Farini realised that his horse was very tired and offered to stay behind at the carcass while of the others went to fetch the wagons.
Gert refused the offer, saying that they always ride back to the wagons, after many arguments the group left on their way to the wagons, leaving Farini behind.
Farini climbed up a huge tree and was soon perched on a big branch, his feet resting on one just below and his back against a third. His gun was tied to a branch above. He tied himself to the branch behind him, so that he would have no fear of falling out of bed.
He was safe from all except possibly a Leopard. Sitting high up in his “crows nest” he could watch his fire and gaze into the clear cloudless expanse.
Soon his thoughts drifted and he started wondering what was happening the dreaming hills. Friends might be dead, Governments might have changed, and Empires may have been lost. He had forgotten about the luxuries of civilization, for something and exciting was always taking place.
He noticed a tiny speck in the sky, then another and another – soon a dozen were visible. As they approached they became larger – vultures. A few swooped down about a hundred yards away, followed by the rest, making a decent upon the heap of brushwood, the air seemed filled with their great heavy lumbering wings.
They took no notice of the paper that was supposed to have frightened them off, and started carrying away of the grass and smaller bushes till the head was uncovered. Some dived into the bush and appeared with entrails dangling a long string behind it. Another would make a dash at it, it would stop short and begin devouring as much as he can before his friends deprive him of his booty.
Soon the sand is covered by a swarm of gluttonous dark-brown birds pulling and tugging at the long leathery strips, flitting from point to point, snatching at the smallest morsel.
A large vulture started at the exposed head, pulling the eyes out, that was to much for the observer perched in the tree, who sent a leaden message that he was poaching. The vulture was so surprised to hear that it seemed top faint while the rest of the flock took to the air, giving up possession at once.
Farini climbed down and found the large vulture dead. It was a monster the wings measured from tip to tip across the back – ten feet six inches.
The carcass was again covered and Farini repeated the process of climbing and tying.
The twilight succeeded the day, ushering in a lovely warm evening, a bat set out from the branch from it was hanging, like a brown leaf, wafted by the breeze clinking and seeking its dainty supper of flies and maybe beetles.
The Jackals began to bark, notifying their intent to eat the Giraffe, as it darkened the night marauders got to quarrelling with one another around the bits exposed by their feathered friend of earlier the day. in the cool night air there came the long drawn out how – the cry of an Hyaena.
In the moonlight Farini could see the Jackals feasting on the entrails, he spotted the approaching heavy spotted body with the lowered rear and yelled, the Hyaena howled an apology and ran away into the tall grass, followed by the discontented Jackals.
The rest of the night was still, not a sound to be heard, not a leaf stirred; all of nature seemed hushed to sleep. Farini gazed at the moon making its silent silvery arch across the dark vault of heaven; counting the stars as they passed by in majestic procession, quietly listening for some sound to break the monotony of the solemn silence of the AFRICAN night, till at last his senses slowly fell under the same soothing spell.
He felt himself being lifted higher and higher by some soaring bird, towards the region of the stars. The sensation was that of most perfect enjoyment and peace.
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
Convenor of the AIKONA Group.
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
Done 142 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.