Before JvR throws me off his TR.......
The eventful story of the warthog bolting from its hole with a earth shattering "roar" a midst the Bash group while we were walking on the final day was accurately narrated by JvR. The part he missed is how some of us (me), tried frantically to climb to the upper branches of the closest 4-foot tree, only to be poked in the ribs by one of the protruding branches - not as a result of my poor climbing skills, but as a result of sharing the tree with a fallow Basher
On a more serious note - it was later on that walk that we came across the anti-poaching personnel, the poacher's water bottle and the blood stained cloth that was written about earlier. I'm not sure if there is a forum policy about posting photos of these rangers, but I want to share this with you as a picture of one of the unnamed hero's out there.
The text I wrote with this photo on another social media platform:No............this is not a photo of a soldier in some war-torn country crippled by some political or ideological differences, land grab, disagreement, disrespect for human rights or genocide.
This is what I saw in our own Kruger National Park. I was lucky enough to briefly walk in Kruger over the past weekend. Two rhino were poached close to where we were on the night before my arrival. Another was shot close to where we were walking on my second day in the park. Heading towards the spot where we had seen vultures rising from a distant carcass we were turned around in the bush by this gentleman. The military had also deployed in a number of other areas and although I have always been shocked by the poaching, I think the reality of the situation has not hit home for most South Africans. I want to silently salute this man and his colleagues. It was well on its way to 40 degree C when we came across him as he was gathering evidence before heading off with another ranger to deal with the situation. Difference is that after another hour or two of walking I had a icy drink waiting in the vehicle that took me back to camp....a cold shower, snacks and luxury, while these guys were out there in the sun fighting a war for our rhino....hot, tired, away from their families, staring ruthless poachers in the face and under fire (literally).
By now we are all a bit punch-drunk with all the anti-poaching media and the save-the-rhino campaigns, and personally, I am not always sure which of these make sure that these soldiers are supported and honored. Be that as it may, I have had a reality check and the cliche phrase of "this is a war" is as true as toast. Perhaps I should end by sticking my head out there and saying: if the political will was really there to deal with this war, the picture may have been different.
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