THE LEGEND OF THE KGALAGADI EAGLE OWL!
There is a Khoi legend about a very bad witch doctor, who lost his left eye in a ritual ‘fire dance’, once tried to cast an evil spell on a very brave young warrior that ran off with the witch doctor’s only daughter. He used the wings, feathers and blood of a Giant Kalahari Eagle Owl and stirred it into a brew that he concocted in a large black pot on an open fire one full moon night! He left it simmering on the fire for the night!
The brave Khoi warrior waited for the evil witch doctor to return to the broth to test his concoction. When opportunity ‘smiled’ at the young warrior, he pushed the evil witch doctor into the broth in the large pot. He disappeared without a sound. After a while, lots of feathers appeared to be floating out of the pot! A silent Giant Eagle owl flew out of the pot and settled in a Camel thorn tree where to-day is the Kgalagadi.
When you find this mysterious owl, take a photo and look close and you will see that the witch doctor is ‘trapped forever’ inside the body of this Giant Eagle Owl!
I found him in this camel thorn tree late one afternoon, looking down at me with an evil glance in his ‘only’ good eye!
When we decided to do the sundown night drive from Nossob in an open vehicle, we were all filled with a mysterious anticipation, especially after we spotted this rare legendary owl early that same evening!
An enormous thunder cloud formed just east of Nossob as we drove off in the direction of “Marie se Draai”!
The game ranger turned off into one of those “No Entry” roads and stopped after a while to give us an opportunity to enjoy the setting sun! I was more comfortable while the vehicle was moving and started fervently scanning the long grass on the opposite side while everyone else were taking photos of the sunset!
I’m not exactly sure what this is, but it could be a ‘Steenbok’ that was looking at us from the bush before it disappeared into the dark.
It was getting darker and the grass longer and everyone scanning the flanks of the Landie intensely for predators with a taste for humans!
The ranger turned back onto the narrow road towards “Marie se Gat”. He suddenly stopped to show us this ‘fresh footprint’ in the sand right next to the Landie. I was very keen to lean over the side of the Landie to take this picture, when everyone else in the Land Rover started ‘chirping’ all at once!
All pointing to where three lions were now in ‘stalk mode’ and their yellow eyes fixed on us, not more than eight meters away! They were on our right and a little behind us. The road was excavated so deep and the side of the road so high that they were at eye level with us (and me sitting on their side)! My SO still remarked about the very strong and unpleasant smell that was filling the air around us, she said was coming from the lions! I told her that it was NOT the lions she was smelling, but us!
When the ranger wanted to escape from the three on the right, two more came into the road at the back of the vehicle about 30 odd meters away, but now running towards us! Very scary! I read somewhere, that a lion can do 100 meters in 6 seconds when attacking. Our driver could not see the ones behind, approaching us, so all eleven of us told him so in one synchronised scream! By this time two new young lions closed the road in front of us in a perfect ambush!
When the ranger asked us to count how many lions we could see (we told him seven) and when he told us that he did not like the situation. When he said that, I stopped breathing…….and started praying! This was going to be my last photo before I died!
You will not be able to see anymore photos of this heart stopping encounter, because the rest of the photos were all just out of focus pictures of legs (of us under the seats), complete darkness and/or of the floor boards and seats of the Landie! We were all ducking down behind the seats when the driver told us to ‘hold on’ because he was going to rev up and speed pass the lions blocking the road! We made it, but I lost eleven Kilo’s.
When I recovered from the ‘shakes’ after about ten minutes and I was again able to press my camera button, I had to take this one of another owl!
Me and SO at Nossob, just before we left for our last drive to “Marie se Gat” to see if we could find the seven lions of the previous evening!
It was in this very narrow “loop” road on the way to “Marie se Gat” and about here, where we were stopped by the lions the previous evening. Look how high the side of the road is – about eye level with the lions…… but where are they now??
Wow! Look at this beautiful camel thorn tree!
Some very alert Red ‘Hartebeeste’, I wonder what they are staring at?
Oh, this is what was bothering them…..lions galore!
….and lions climbing camel thorn trees……can easily climb into an open land Rover!
Remember, the ranger (and us), were thinking there were only seven lions around us! BIG MISTAKE! We counted twelve here, including a couple of full grown males that we did not see the previous evening! Night drives at Nossob is a NO NO in future!
…..and another big black maned male lion approaching from the right!
More of them to the right! All of them in the river bed at “Marie se ‘Gat…..vol’ Leeus!”
Big male lion on a mission and not even interested in the ‘Springbokkies’!
OK, we had to say good – bye to our lion pride and we continued around the loop at Marie se Draai. Such a beautiful drive!
Just checking in the mirror if the Polo is still coming?
Not far after Kaspersdraai on the way to Dikbaardskolk, we saw these relaxing lions!
Then back over the top dune road from Dikbaardskolk to Kamqua on the Auob!
We stopped at Vaalpan for a while!
There were quite a few young ones amongst this herd.
From Kamqua we drove north (for the last time), where we found the giraffes beyond Dertiende Boorgat, but far out in the dunes.
To be continued........!