Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year

We look forward to bringing you new updates, news as well as wildlife photo's and video's in the year 2013 until then enjoy ur holidays and keep safe!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kruger 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 27)( Page 3 ) His Duty

"Go on!  Finish it!"  Tom muttered grimly; "I'll have you this time if I wait till morning!" So he stood at the window waiting and watching, until every sound had died away outside.  He listened intently: there was not a stir; there was nothing to be seen in the moonlit yard; nothing to be heard; not even a breath of air to rustle the leaves in the big fig tree. Then, in the same dead stillness the dim form of a dog appeared in the doorway, stepped softly out of the fowl-house, and stood in the deep shadow of the little porch.  Tom lifted the gun slowly and took careful aim.  When the smoke cleared away, the figure of the dog lay still, stretched out on the ground where it had stood; and Tom went back to bed, satisfied. The morning sun slanting across the yard shone in Tom's eyes as he pushed the reed gate open and made his way towards the fowl-house. Under the porch, where the sunlight touched it, something shone like burnished gold. He was stretched on his side--it might have been in sleep; but on the snow-white chest there was one red spot. And inside the fowl-house lay the kaffir dog- dead. Jock had done his duty.
                                                                                    The End.

Birds Of The Kruger National Park Part 2

Brown Snake Eagle
Tawny Eagle


Birds Of The Kruger National Park

African Fish Eagle
Bateleur Juvenile
Bateleur Eagle near to Pretoriuskop Camp


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 27)( Page 2 ) His Duty

There were two small windows looking out on to the yard, but no door in the back of the building; thus, in order to get into the yard, it was necessary to go out of the front door and round the side of the house. On many occasions Tom, roused by the screaming of the fowls, had seized his gun and run round to get a shot at the thieves; but the time so lost was enough for a kaffir dog, and the noise made in opening the reed gate gave ample warning of his coming. The result was that Tom generally had all his trouble for nothing; but it was not always so.  Several times he roused Jock as he ran out, and invariably got some satisfaction out of what followed; once Jock caught one of the thieves struggling to force a way through the fence and held on to the hind leg until Tom came up with the gun; on other occasions he had caught them in the yard; on others, again, he had run them down in the bush and finished it off there without help or hindrance. That was the kind of life to which Jock seemed to have settled down. He was then in the very prime of life, and I still hoped to get him back to me some day to a home where he would end his days in peace.  Yet it seemed impossible to picture him in a life of ease and idleness--a watch-dog in a house sleeping away his life on a mat, his only excitement keeping off strange kaffirs and stray dogs, or burrowing for rats and moles in a garden, with old age, deafness, and infirmities growing year by year to make his end miserable.  I had often thought that it might have been better had he died fighting--hanging on with his indomitable pluck and tenacity, tackling something with all the odds against him; doing his duty and his best as he had always done- and died as Rocky's dog had died.  If on that last day of our hunting together he had got at the lioness, and gone under in the hopeless fight; if the sable bull had caught and finished him with one of the scythe-like sweeps of the scimitar horns; if he could have died--like Nelson--in the hour of victory!  Would it not have been better for him--happier for me? Often I thought so.  For to fade slowly away; to lose his strength and fire and intelligence; to outlive his character, and no longer be himself!  No, that could not be happiness! Well, Jock is dead!  Jock, the innocent cause of Seedling's downfall and death, lies buried under the same big Fig Tree: the graves stand side by side.  He died, as he lived--true to his trust; and this is how it happened, as it was faithfully told to me: It was a bright moonlight night- Think of the scores we had spent together, the mild glorious nights of the Bushveld!--and once more Tom was roused by a clatter of falling boxes and the wild screams of fowls in the yard.  Only the night before the thieves had beaten him again; but this time he was determined to be even with them.  Jumping out of bed he opened the little window looking out on to the fowl-house, and, with his gun resting on the sill, waited for the thief.  He waited long and patiently; and by-and-by the screaming of the fowls subsided enough for him to hear the gurgling and scratching about in the fowl-house, and he settled down to a still longer watch; evidently the kaffir dog was enjoying his stolen meal in there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Safari Starting 16th December Ending 18th December 2012

16th December – Dean collected guests from the Balaika Hotel in Sandton and continued onto Nelspruit going through Numbi Gate.  We stopped off at Pretoriuskop Camp for lunch before starting our first game drive for the day. After lunch we left Pretoriuskop and drove down Napi where we got good sightings of Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo. 700m past Transport Dam Junction we got a large male Leopard lying on a Termite mound this made for a great afternoons game viewing. We then continued on to Klipspringer Koppies and 400m past the H3 Junction we came across a male and female Lion with 3 cubs lying in the drainage line. We then got a call on the radio telling us about another female Lion on the H3 1.9km down from the Napi road. After that sighting we turned around and headed for camp due to heavy rain. On the Nkambeni entry road we got Buffalo walking in the road in front of us. Clients got to camp enjoying the first days sightings.

17th December – After breakfast we left Nkambeni and got to see good sightings of Waterbuck, Impala, Kudu, Giraffe, Elephant as well as a male Lion 700m from the Watergat Junction. We also got a pair of mating Lions 1km down the H3, after this we made our way to Skukuza Camp for a break. After a bit of a break we made our way down the Marula Loop were we got another two male Lions lying next to the road, after spending some time with them we made our way down to Jones Dam were we got good sightings again of Elephant, Buffalo, Hippos and Waterbuck. We then made our way back crossing Low Water Bridge getting good sightings of Crocodile, Elephants and Hippos. Due to it being still to early for lunch we decided to make our way down River road to see if there was any action going on. We Managed to find 17 Wild Dogs 1.5km before Doispane which was awesome to see. We Returned to the camp of Skukuza for lunch after which we made our way back to Nkambeni with general sightings along the way. All in all a good days game viewing.

18th December – Today our last days game viewing we saw Buffalo, Elephant and general game before leaving the Park at 10h00 and making our way back to Johannesburg. The next safari will start the 19th December we look forward to bringing you their sightings until then…  

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 27)( Page 1 ) His Duty

And Jock? But I never saw my dog again.  For a year or so he lived something of the old veld life, trekking and hunting; from time to time I heard of him from Ted and others: stories seemed to gather easily about him as they do about certain people, and many knew Jock and were glad to bring news of him.  The things they thought wonderful and admirable made pleasant news for them to tell and welcome news to me, and they were heard with contented pride, but without surprise, as "just like him": there was nothing more to be said. One day I received word from Ted that he was off to Scotland for a few months and had left Jock with another old friend, Tom Barnett--Tom, at whose store under the Big Fig Tree, Seedling lies buried; and although I was glad that he had been left with a good friend like Tom, who would care for him as well as any one could, the life there was not of the kind to suit him.  For a few months it would not matter; but I had no idea of letting him end his days as a watch-dog at a trader's store in the kaffir country.  Tom's trouble was with thieves; for the natives about there were not a good lot, and their dogs were worse.  When Jock saw or scented them, they had the poorest sort of luck or chance: he fought to kill, and not as town dogs fight; he had learnt his work in a hard school, and he never stopped or slackened until the work was done; so his fame soon spread and it brought Tom more peace than he had enjoyed for many a day.  Natives no longer wandered at will into the reed-enclosed yard; kaffir dogs ceased to sneak into the store and through the house, stealing everything they could get.  Jock took up his place at the door, and hungry mongrels watched him from a distance or sneaked up a little closer when from time to time he trotted round to the yard at the back of the building to see how things were going there. All that was well enough during the day; but the trouble occurred at night.  The kaffirs were too scared to risk being caught by him, but the dogs from the surrounding kraals prowled about after dark, scavenging and thieving where they could; and what angered Tom most of all was the killing of his fowls.  The yard at the back of the store was enclosed by a fence of close-packed reeds, and in the middle of the yard stood the fowl-house with a clear space of bare ground all round it.  On many occasions kaffir dogs had found their way through the reed fence and killed fowls perching about the yard, and several times they had burgled the fowl-house itself.  In spite of Jock's presence and reputation, this night robbing still continued, for while he slept peacefully in front of the store, the robbers would do their work at the back.  Poor old fellow!  They were many and he was one; they prowled night and day, and he had to sleep sometimes; they were watchful and he was deaf; so he had no chance at all unless he saw or scented them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Safari Starting 13th December Ending 17th December 2012

13th December – Our guests arrived in Nelspruit where they were met by Mark who then proceeded to the Kruger National Park entering at Numbi gate. The route taken was straight down Napi into Skukuza for lunch. Good sightings were experienced such as Elephants just past shithave, 8 Giraffe together on the road at the Boulders entrance, 2 White Rhino which approached an elephant bull  and got the fright of their lives when the Elephant flapped its ears, a herd of buffalo at the Napi Boulders exit walking down the road and 3 wild dogs just before Transport Dam access road. We then proceeded to Nkambeni Tented Lodge for the evening.
14th December – After a good breakfast we set out for the day when we spotted a male Leopard just past the Sabi River Low Water Bridge. We then proceeded on the Marola Loop where a Male Lion was marking his territory.  Other sighting for the day include Elephants, Rhino, 5 Giraffe lying down, a female Leopard who was stalking a Serval cat but after the chase the serval got away and the Leopard gave up, another 11 Lions down the S37, 3 male lions as well as fantastic sightings of general game.
15th December – On this day we set out for another day in the Kruger. We turned onto the Kruger Gate Road where we got 17 Wild dogs lying in the road after a kill, still bloodied faces and stomachs full, we then made our way to watergat where we found 2 Lioness and 1 male Lion, after some time we proceeded onward with our route when we got good sightings of Rhino, Giraffe, General Game, another 3 Lions lying in the shade of a tree, a Leopard cub relaxing on a Silvercluster tree branch, a Buffalo herd of about 100 and Elephants.  After an exciting day we then made our way back to camp.

16th December – Our route today is Voortrekker- S114 – Napi then back to camp. A great day experienced by our guests with a herd of Buffalo on their way to the first historical sight, 3 Wild Dogs on Voortrekker marking their territory, a Female Leopard walking parallel with the road,  5 Elephants on the S114, mating Lions on gwatamiri, 3 Lions on Napi, a Leopard in a morola tree just before the Transport Dam access road, 2 Rhinos and a female Cheetah having a afternoon walk before the Shithave entrance. After dinner we said our goodnights so our guests could have a rest before leaving the Kruger on the 17th.

Dean enters the Park today with new guests. Sightings of Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, 2 different sightings of Lions, as well as Buffalo on the Nkambeni  access road to camp was spotted within two and a half hours of arrival.
17th December – After their morning drive on their last day of their safari guests leave at 10h00 where they were handed over from Mark to Verity who would be bringing them back to OR Tambo to catch their flight.

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 26)( Page 5 ) Our Various Ways

Hours had gone by in hopeless effort; but the oxen stood out at all angles, and no two would pull together in answer to the feeble efforts of the fainting men.  Then there came a lull in the shouts from the waggon and in answer to the little voorlooper's warning shout, "Pas op, Baas!"  (Look out, Master!), the white men looked round and saw the Zulu driver up on his knees freeing himself from the reims.  In another moment he was standing up full height--a magnificent but most unwelcome sight: there was a thin line of froth along the half-opened mouth; the deep-set eyes glared out under eyebrows and forehead bunched into frowning wrinkles, as for a few seconds he leaned forward like a lion about to spring and scanned the men and oxen before him; and then as they watched him in breathless silence, he sprang lightly off the waggon, picked up a small dry stick as he landed, and ran up along the span. He spoke to the after-ox by name as he passed; called to another, and touched it into place; thrust his way between the next one and the dazed white man standing near it, tossing him aside with a brush of his arm, as a ploughshare spurns a sod; and then they saw how the boy's madness had taken him.  His work and his span had called to him in his delirium; and he had answered.  With low mutterings, short words hissed out, and all the sounds and terms the cattle knew shot at them--low-pitched and with intense repression--he ran along the span, crouching low all the time like a savage stealing up for murderous attack. The two white men stood back and watched. Reaching the front oxen, he grasped the leading reim and pulled them round until they stood level for the straight pull out; then down the other side of the span he ran with cat-like tread and activity, talking to each and straightening them up as he had done with the others; and when he reached the waggon again, he turned sharply and overlooked the span.  One ox had swung round and stood out of line; there was a pause of seconds, and then the big Zulu called to the ox by name--not loudly but in a deep low tone, husky with intensity--and the animal swung back into line again. Then out of the silence that followed came an electrifying yell to the span: every bullock leaned to its yoke, and the waggon went out with a rush. And he drove them at a half-trot all the way to the store: without water; without help; without consciousness; the little dry twig still in his hand, and only his masterful intensity and knowledge of his work and span to see him through. "A mad troublesome savage," said Harry Williams, "but one of the very best.  Anyhow, we thought so; he saved us!" There was something very familiar in this, and it was with a queer feeling of pride and excitement that I asked: "Did he ever say to you `My catchum lion 'live'?" "By gum!  You know him?  Jim: Jim Makokel'!" "Indeed I do.  Good old Jim!" Years afterwards Jim was still a driver, working when necessary, fighting when possible, and enjoying intervals of lordly ease at his kraal where the wives and cattle stayed and prospered.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Leopard with Impala Kill

Animals Of The Kruger National Park

Elephant Walking Across The Road
Giraffe Standing In The Bush
African Fish Eagle


Cats Of The Kruger National Park

Cheetah's Walking In The Road
Male Lion Being Chased By Baffalo
Baby Leopard


Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 26)( Page 4 ) Our Various Ways

They had failed to find the mine; the native who was supposed to know all about it had deserted, with all he could carry off; they were short of food and money, and out of medicines; the delays had been great; they were two hundred miles from any white men; there was no road but their own erratic track through the bush; the rains had begun and the fever season set in; the cattle--they had one waggon and span--were worn-out; the fever had gripped them, and of the six white men, three were dead, one dying, and two only able to crawl; most of their boys had deserted; one umfaan fit for work, and the driver--then delirious with fever-- completed the party. The long journey was almost over; and they were only a few treks from the store and camp for which they were making; but they were so stricken and helpless it seemed as though that little was too much, and they must die within reach of help.  The driver, a big Zulu, was then raving mad; he had twice run off into the bush and been lost for hours.  Precious time and waning strength were spent in the search, and with infinite effort and much good luck they had found him and induced him to return. On the second occasion they had enticed him on to the waggon and, as he lay half unconscious between bursts of delirium, had tied him down flat on his back, with wrists and ankles fastened to the buck-rails.  It was all they could do to save him: they had barely strength to climb up and pour water into his mouth from time to time. It was midday then, and their dying comrade was so far gone that they decided to abandon one trek and wait for evening, to allow him to die in peace.  Later on, when they thought it was all over, they tried to scrape out a grave for him, and began to pull out one old blanket to wrap round him in place of a shroud and coffin.  It was then that the man opened his eyes and faintly shook his head; so they inspanned as best they could and made another trek.  I met the man some years afterwards, and he told me he had heard all they said, but could only remember one thing, and that was Harry's remark, that `two gin-cases were not enough for a coffin, so they would have to take one of the blankets instead.' In the morning they went on again.  It was then at most two treks more to their destination; but they were too weak to work or walk, and the cattle were left to crawl along undriven; but after half an hour's trekking, they reached a bad drift where the waggon stuck; the cattle would not face the pull.  The two tottering trembling white men did their best, but neither had strength to use the whip; the umfaan led the oxen this way and that, but there was no more effort in them.  The water had given out, and the despairing helpless men saw death from thirst awaiting them within a few hours' trek of help; and to add to the horror of it all, the Zulu driver, with thirst aggravating his delirium, was a raving lunatic--struggling and wrenching at his bonds until the waggon rattled, and uttering maniac yells and gabbling incessantly.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Safari Starting 9th December Ending 13th December 2012

9th December – Our guests were collected from a guest house in Melville by Dean we then made our way to Nelspruit going through Numbi gate to the camp of Pretoriuskop camp for lunch. After lunch we were told about a leopard sighting near Transport Dam but by the time we got there he had already disappeared. We stopped off a Shithave Dam as well as made a turn around boulders on the way we had good sightings of Impala, Zebra, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo we then made our way to the camp of Nkambeni for the night.
10th December – After breakfast we headed out again along the Numbi Gate road with numerous sightings of Impala, Zebra, Hippos, kudu, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino and Lions on the watergat road we then made out way to Pretoriuskop camp for lunch while awaiting for two new guests to join our group. We then travelled down Napi Road, stopped off at Shithave Dam, going further down Napi and driving on the Napi Boulders loop, then making our way back voortrekker link, and taking the Faye Loop going over to Shabeni Koppies, Shabeni link road then up the Albasini road to the camp. All in all on this route we spotted Impala, Zebra, Rhino, waterbuck and a large elephant bull in musth, that proceeded to charge the vehicle, Dean let him get about four feet away before he moved the vehicle forward just out of his reach. The elephant proceeded to walk behind us in the road.
11th December – Today once again after breakfast we travelled on the Numbi Gate Tar and Napi road, we then stopped off at Skukuza Camp for a short break before proceeding down the Paul Kruger Gate road onto Doispane then to watergat to see the lions lying next to the reservoir. We then spotted a female leopard 2km from Shithave Dam as well as a male cheetah walking in the road. Other sightings include Rhino, Elephant, another male Leopard 300m down Transport Dam access road, Impala, Baboon, Zebra, Buffalo, Vervet monkeys, hippo and crocodile, after an exciting day we headed back to camp for the night.
12th December – This morning we did a small drive with general sightings of General game before making our way back to Numbi gate where we handed over two guests to Mark while the rest of us headed out the park to Nelspruit and onwards to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport. The two guests left with Mark continued their game drive for the day. Mark decided to drive Voortrekker where he came across a herd of Buffalo walking next to the road he then joined up with the H3 where 3 Female lions were walking in the road close to the vehicle they were so close he could put his hand out and touch them, he then turned onto the S114 where a good sighting of 4 hyena pups outside their den their ages were about 2 months old. Mark then continued onto Rinoster Koppies where a large male leopard was lying on a granite out-crop this was indeed a great sighting. The day was an enjoyable day with lots of cloud cover. The rest of the day was rather quiet as we made our way back to camp for the afternoon.

13th December – Another cool day in Kruger with lots of cloud cover. Guests had sightings of general game before leaving at 8h45 in order to catch the shuttle back to Johannesburg. Mark will await the arrival of new guests today in Nelspruit.

Hippos Fighting for Dominance - 21 November 2012 - Latest Sightings

Save Our Rhino

Buffalo keeping watch while these two rhino's sleep
The new aircraft in the Kruger National Park to stop rhino poaching
Rhino enjoying the sun


Wildlife Is Unpredictable

This crocodile did not enjoy being on camera
4 male lions watching a herd of buffalo in the Kruger National Park
You can only push a elephant so far.


Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 26)( Page 3 ) Our Various Ways

In camp--Barberton in those days was reckoned a mining camp, and was always referred to as `camp'--the danger was due to the number of sounds.  He would stand behind me as I stopped in the street, and sometimes lie down and snooze if the wait was a long one; and the poor old fellow must have thought it a sad falling off, a weary monotonous change from the real life of the veld.  At first he was very watchful, and every rumbling wheel or horse's footfall drew his alert little eyes round to the danger point; but the traffic and noise were almost continuous and one sound ran into another; and thus he became careless or puzzled and on several occasions had narrowly escaped being run over or trodden on. Once, in desperation after a bad scare, I tried chaining him up, and although his injured reproachful look hurt, it did not weaken me: I had hardened my heart to do it, and it was for his own sake.  At lunch-time he was still squatting at the full length of the chain, off the mat and straw, and with his head hanging in the most hopeless dejected attitude one could imagine.  It was too much for me--the dog really felt it; and when I released him there was no rejoicing in his freedom as the hated collar and chain dropped off: he turned from me without a sign or sound of any sort, and walking off slowly, lay down some ten yards away with his head resting on his paws!  He went to think--not to sleep. I felt abominably guilty, and was conscious of wanting to make up for it all the afternoon. Once I took him out to Fig Tree Creek fifteen miles away, and left him with a prospector friend at whose camp in the hills it seemed he would be much better off and much happier.  When I got back to Barberton that night he was waiting for me, with a tag of chewed rope hanging round his neck, not the least ashamed of himself, but openly rejoicing in the meeting and evidently never doubting that I was equally pleased.  And he was quite right there. But it could not go on.  One day as he lay asleep behind me, a loaded waggon coming sharply round a corner as nearly as possible passed over him.  The wheel was within inches of his back as he lay asleep in the sand: there was no chance to grab--it was a rush and a kick that saved him; and he rolled over under the waggon, and found his own way out between the wheels. A few days after this Ted passed through Barberton, and I handed Jock over to him, to keep and to care for until I had a better and safer home for him. One day some two years later there turned up at my quarters an old friend of the transport days--Harry Williams--he had been away on a long trek `up north' to look for some supposed mine of fabulous richness of which there had been vague and secret reports from natives.  He stayed with me for some days, and one evening after the bout of fever and ague had passed off and rest and good feeding had begun to pull him  round, he told us the story of their search.  It was a trip of much adventure, but it was the end of his story that interested me most; and that is all that need be told here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Safari Starting 7th December Ending 10th December 2012

7th December – Guests were collected from the Da Vinci hotel in Sandton at 8h30 and transferred to the shuttle in Pretoria for their transfer to Nelspruit where their guide Mark met up with them and continued to the Kruger NationalPark entering the Numbi gate. On the afternoon drive sightings of rhino, elephant and general game were spotted, before making our way to Nkambeni for the night.

8th December -  After enjoying breakfast at 6h00 we departed for the day when we spotted a herd of about 300 buffalo on the Numbi tar/Albasini junction. Rhino was also spotted along the way. We continued on Napi to Transport dam where 5 male lions were relaxing on the dam wall. All in all a great days game viewing of more lions near Lower Sabi, a herd of 30 plus elephants near Klipspringer Koppies, rhino and general game.

9th December – Route taken for the day was Voortrekker – Biyamiti – S114 – Napi – Transport Dam – Watergat and back to camp. Very quiet morning with sightings of general game. Then we got black rhino and close to the dam access road a male leopard relaxing in a Maroela tree. At Watergat great action took place between a pride of lions and a herd of elephants which was quite entertaining after which we made our way back to camp.

10th December – On the guest’s last morning drive general game was spotted as well as a bull elephant and a fleeting glimpse of a honey badger. Guests left the park after enjoying their stay and headed back to Johannesburg for their onward journey to Australia.

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 26)( Page 2 ) Our Various Ways

"Goodness knows what the row was about.  As far as I can make out from your heathen, it is because the other boy is a Shangaan and reads the Bible.  Jim says this boy--Sam is his name--worked for you and ran away. Sam says it is not true, and that he never even heard of you, and that Jim is a stranger to him.  There's something wrong in this, though, because when the row began, Sam first tried to pacify your lunatic, and I heard him sing out in answer to the first few licks, `Kahle, Umganaam; Kahle, Makokel'!'  (Gently, friend; gently, Makokel'.) `Wow, Makokela, y' ou bulala mena!'  (Wow, Makokela, you will kill me.)  He knew Jim right enough; that was evident.  But it didn't help him; he had to skip for it all the same.  I was glad to pay the noble Jim off and drop him at his kraal.  Sam was laid up when we left." It is better to skip the change from the old life to the new--when the luck, as we called it, was all out, when each straw seemed the last for the camel's breaking back, and there was always still another to come. But the turn came at last, and the `long arm of coincidence' reached out to make the `impossible' a matter of fact.  It is better to skip all that: for it is not the story of Jock, and it concerns him only so far that in the end it made our parting unavoidable. When the turn did come it was strange, and at times almost bewildering, to realise that the things one had struggled hardest against and regarded as the worst of bad luck were blessings in disguise and were all for the best.  So the new life began and the old was put away; but the new life, for all its brighter and wider outlook and work of another class, for all the charm that makes Barberton now a cherished memory to all who knew the early days, was not all happy.  The new life had its hours of darkness too; of almost unbearable `trek fever'; of restless, sleepless, longing for the old life; of `home-sickness' for the veld, the freedom, the roaming, the nights by the fire, and the days in the bush!  Now and again would come a sleepless night with its endless procession of scenes, in which some remembered from the past were interlinked with others imagined for the future; and here and there in these long waking dreams came stabs of memory--flashes of lightning vividness: the head and staring eyes of the koodoo bull, as we had stood for a portion of a second face to face; the yawning mouth of the maddened crocodile; the mamba and its beady hateful eyes, as it swept by before the bush fire.  And there were others too that struck another chord: the cattle, the poor dumb beasts that had worked and died: stepping-stones in a man's career; the `books,' the `chalk and blackboard' of the school--used, discarded, and forgotten!  No, they were not forgotten; and the memory of the last trek was one long mute reproach on their behalf: they had paved the roadway for the Juggernaut man. All that was left of the old life was Jock; and soon there was no place for him.  He could not always be with me; and when left behind he was miserable, leading a life that was utterly strange to him, without interest and among strangers.  While I was in Barberton he accompanied me everywhere, but--absurd as it seems--there was a constant danger for him there, greater though less glorious than those he faced so lightly in the veld.  His deafness, which passed almost unnoticed and did not seem to handicap him at all in the veld, became a serious danger in camp.  For a long time he had been unable to hear a sound, but he could _feel_ sounds: that is to say, he was quick to notice anything that caused a vibration.  In the early days of his deafness I had been worried by the thought that he would be run over while lying asleep near or under the waggons, and the boys were always on the look-out to stir him up; but we soon found that this was not necessary.  At the first movement he would feel the vibration and jump up.  Jim realised this well enough, for when wishing to direct his attention to strange dogs or Shangaans, the villain could always dodge me by stamping or hammering on the ground, and Jock always looked up: he seemed to know the difference between the sounds he could ignore, such as chopping wood, and those that he ought to notice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 26)( Page 1 ) Our Various Ways

When the trip was squared off and the boys paid, there was nothing left. Jim went home with waggons returning to Spitzkop: once more--for the last time--grievously hurt in dignity because his money was handed to my friend the owner of the waggon to be paid out to him when he reached his kraal; but his gloomy resentment melted as I handed over to him things for which there was no further need.  The waggons moved off, and Jim with them; but twice he broke back again to dance and shout his gratitude; for it was wealth to him to have the reims and voorslag, the odd yokes and strops and waggon tools, the baking pot and pan and billies; and they were little to me when all else was gone.  And Jim, with all his faults, had earned some title to remembrance for his loyalty.  My way had been his way; and the hardest day had never been too hard for him: he had seen it all through to the finish, without a grumble and without a shirk. His last shout, like the bellow of a bull, was an uproarious goo -bye to Jock.  And Jock seemed to know it was something of an occasion, for, as he stood before me looking down the road at the receding waggons and the dancing figure of Jim, his ears were cocked, his head was tilted a little sideways, and his tail stirred gently.  It was at least a friendly nod in return! A couple of weeks later I heard from my friend: "You will be interested to hear that that lunatic of yours reached his kraal all right; but that's not _his_ fault.  He is a holy terror.  I have never known such a restless animal: he is like a change in the weather--you seem to feel him everywhere, upsetting everything and every one the whole time.  I suppose you hammered him into his place and kept him there; but I wouldn't have him at a gift.  It is not that there was anything really wrong; only there was no rest, no peace. "But he's a gay fighter!  That was a treat: I never laughed so much in my life.  Below the Devil's Kantoor we met a lot of waggons from Lydenburg, and he had a row with one of the drivers, a lanky nigger with dandy-patched clothes.  The boy wouldn't fight--just yelled blue murder while Jim walloped him.  I heard the yells and the whacks, like the beating of carpets, and there was Jim laying it on all over him--legs, head, back, and arms--with a sort of ferocious satisfaction, every whack being accompanied by a husky suppressed shout: `Fight, Shangaan! Fight!'  But the other fellow was not on for fighting; he floundered about, yelled for mercy and help, and tried to run away; but Jim simply played round him--one spring put him alongside each time.  I felt sorry for the long nigger and was going to interfere and save him, but just then one of his pals called out to their gang to come along and help, and ran for his sticks.  It was rare fun then.  Jim dropped the patched fellow and went like a charging lion straight for the waggons where the gang were swarming for their sticks, letting out right and left whenever he saw a nigger, whether they wanted to fight or not; and in about five seconds the whole lot were heading for the bush with Jim in full chase.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 25)( Page 7 ) Our Last Hunt

In the morning we found the waggon still in the drift, although partly hidden by the flood, but the force of the stream had half-floated and half-forced it round on to higher ground; only the anchoring chain had saved it.  We had to wait some hours for the river to run down, and then to my relief the rested but staggering oxen pulled it out at the first attempt. Rooiland, the light red ox with blazing yellow eyes and topped horns, fierce and untamable to the end, was in the lead then.  I saw him as he took the strain in that last pull, and it was pitiful to see the restless eager spirit fighting against the failing strength: he looked desperate.  The thought seems fanciful--about a dumb animal--and perhaps it is; but what happened just afterwards makes it still vivid and fitted in very curiously with the superstitious notions of the boys.  We outspanned in order to re-pack the loads, and Rooiland, who as front ox was the last to be released, stood for a few moments alone while the rest of the cattle moved away; then turning his back on them he gave a couple of low moaning bellows and walked down the road back to the drift again.  I had no doubt it was to drink; but the boys stopped their work and watched him curiously, and some remarks passed which were inaudible to me.  As the ox disappeared down the slope into the drift, Jim called to his leader to bring him back, and then turning to me, added with his usual positiveness, "Rooiland is mad.  Umtagati!  Bewitched!  He is looking for the dead ones.  He is going to die to-day!" The boy came back presently alone.  When he reached the drift, he said, Rooiland was standing breast-high in the river, and then in a moment, whether by step or slip, he was into the flood and swept away.  The leader's account was received by the others in absolute silence: a little tightening of the jaws and a little brightening of the eyes, perhaps, were all I could detect.  They were saturated with superstition, and as pagan fatalists they accepted the position without a word.  I suggested to Jim that it was nothing but a return of Rooiland's old straying habit, and probed him with questions, but could get nothing out of him; finally he walked off with an expressive shake of the head and the repetition of his former remark, without a shade of triumph, surprise, or excitement in his voice: "He is looking for the dead ones!" We were out of the fly then, and the next day we  reached Fig Tree. That was the end of the last trek.  Only three oxen reached Barberton, and they died within the week: the ruin was complete.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 25)( Page 6 ) Our Last Hunt

In a little while he seemed satisfied that all was well, and with head thrown slightly forward and the sure clean tread of his kind, he took his line unhesitatingly down the hill.  As he neared the thicker bush twenty yards away a sudden impulse made me give a shout.  In a single bound he was lost among the trees, and the clattering of loose stones and the crackle of sticks in his path had ceased before the cold shiver-down-the-back, which my spell breaking shout provoked, had passed away.  When I turned round Jock was still asleep: little incidents like that brought his deafness home. It was our last day's hunting together; and I went back to the dreary round of hard, hopeless, useless struggle and daily loss. One day, a calm cloudless day, there came without warning a tremendous booming roar that left the air vibrating and seemed to shake the very earth, as a thousand echoes called and answered from hill to hill down the long valley.  There was nothing to explain it; the kaffirs turned a sickly grey, and appealed to me; but I could give them no explanation-- it was something beyond my ken--and they seemed to think it an evil omen of still greater ill-luck.  But, as it turned out, the luck was not all bad: some days passed before the mystery was solved, and then we came to where Coombes, with whom a week earlier I had tried--and failed--to keep pace, had been blown to pieces with his boys, waggon, oxen, and three tons of dynamite: there was no fragment of waggon bigger than one's hand; and the trees all around were barked on one side.  We turned out to avoid the huge hole in the drift, and passed on. There were only twenty oxen left when we reached the drift below Fig Tree.  The water was nearly breast-high and we carried three-fourths of the loads through on our heads, case by case, to make the pull as easy as possible for the oxen, as they could only crawl then.  We got one waggon through with some difficulty, but at nightfall the second was still in the river; we had carried out everything removable, even to the buck-sails, but the weakened bullocks could not move the empty waggon. The thunder-clouds were piling up ahead, and distant lightning gave warning of a storm away up river; so we wound the trek-chain round a big tree on the bank, to anchor the waggon in case of flood, and reeling from work and weariness, too tired to think of food, I flung myself down in my blankets under the other waggon which was outspanned where we had stopped it in the double-rutted veld road, and settling comfortably into the sandy furrow cut by many wheels, was `dead to the world' in a few minutes.  Near midnight the storm awoke me and a curious coldness about the neck and shoulders made me turn over to pull the blankets up.  The road had served as a storm-water drain, converting the two wheel furrows into running streams, and I, rolled in my blankets, had dammed up one of them.  The prompt flow of the released water as soon as I turned over, told plainly what had happened.  I looked out at the driving rain and the glistening earth, as shown up by constant flashes of lightning: it was a world of rain and spray and  running water.  It seemed that there was neither hope nor mercy anywhere; I was too tired to care, and dropping back into the trough, slept the night out in water.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 25)( Page 5 ) Our Last Hunt

I was still laughing at him, when he stopped and turning sharply round made a snap at his side; and a few seconds later he did it again.  Then there was a thin sing of insect wings; and I knew that the Tsetse fly were on us. The only thought then was for Jock, who was still working busily round the sable.  For some minutes I sat with him between my legs, wisping away the flies with a small branch and wondering what to do.  It soon became clear that there was nothing to be gained by waiting: instead of passing away the fly became more numerous, and there was not a moment's peace or comfort to be had, for they were tackling me on the neck, arms, and legs, where the thorn-ripped pants left them bare to the knees; so, slinging the rifle over my shoulder, I picked Jock up, greatly to his discomfort, and carried him off in my arms at the best pace possible under the circumstances.  Half a mile of that was enough, however: the weight, the awkwardness of the position, the effort to screen him, and the difficulty of picking my way in very rough country at the same time, were too much for me.  A tumble into a grass-hidden hole laid us both out sprawling, and I sat down again to rest and think, swishing the flies off as before. Then an idea came which, in spite of all the anxiety, made me laugh, and ended in putting poor old Jock in quite the most undignified and ridiculous plight he had known since the days of his puppyhood when his head stuck in the bully-beef tin or the hen pecked him on the nose.  I ripped off as much of my shirt as was not needed to protect me against the flies, and making holes in it for his legs and tail fitted him out with a home-made suit in about five minutes.  Time was everything; it was impossible to run with him in my arms, but we could run together until we got out of the fly belt, and there was not much risk of being bitten as long as we kept up the running in the long grass.  It was a long spell, and what with the rough country and the uncontrollable laughter at the sight of Jock, I was pretty well done by the time we were safely out of the `fly.'  We pulled up when the country began to fall away sharply towards the river, and there, to Jock's evident satisfaction, I took off his suit--by that time very much tattered and awry. It was there, lying between two rocks in the shade of a marula tree, that I got one of those chances to see game at close quarters of which most men only hear or dream.  There were no snapshot cameras then! We had been lying there it may be for half an hour or more, Jock asleep and I spread out on my back, when a slight but distinct click, as of a hoof against a stone, made me turn quietly over on my side and listen. The rock beside me was about four feet high, and on the other side of it a buck of some kind, and a big one too, was walking with easy stride towards the river.  Every footstep was perfectly clear; the walk was firm and confident: evidently there was not the least suspicion of danger.  It was only a matter of yards between us, and what little breeze there was drifted across his course towards me, as he too made for the river, holding a course parallel with the two long rocks between which we were lying.  The footsteps came abreast of us and then stopped, just as I was expecting him to walk on past the rock and down the hill in front of me.  The sudden halt seemed to mean that some warning instinct had arrested him, or some least taint upon the pure air softly eddying between the rocks had reached him.  I could hear his sniffs, and pictured him looking about, silent but alarmed, before deciding which way to make his rush. I raised myself by inches, close to the rock, until I could see over it. A magnificent waterbuck bull, full-grown and in perfect coat and condition, was standing less than five yards away and a little to the right, having already passed me when he came to a stop: he was so close that I could see the waves and partings in his heavy coat; the rise and fall in his flanks as he breathed; the ruff on his shaggy bearded throat, that gave such an air of grandeur to the head; the noble carriage, as with head held high and slightly turned to windward he sniffed the breeze from the valley; the nostrils, mobile and sensitive, searching for the least hint of danger; and the eye, large and full and soft, luminous with watchful intelligence, and yet mild and calm--so free was it from all trace of a disturbing thought.  And yet I was so close, it seemed almost possible to reach out and touch him.  There was no thought of shooting: it was a moment of supreme enjoyment.  Just to watch him: that was enough.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 25)( Page 4 ) Our Last Hunt

It must have been at the fourth or fifth stand that Jock got through the guard at last.  The sable was badly wounded in the body and doubtless strength was failing, but there was little evidence of this yet.  In the pauses Jock's tongue shot and slithered about, a glittering red streak, but after short spells of panting, his head would shut up with a snap like a steel trap and his face set with that look of invincible resolution which it got in part from the pursed up mouth and in part from the intensity of the beady black-brown eyes: he was good for hours of this sort of work. This time the sable drove him back towards a big thorn-tree.  It may have been done without design, or it may have been done with the idea of pinning him up against the trunk.  But Jock was not to be caught that way; in a fight he took in the whole field, behind as well as in front-- as he had shown the night the second wild dog tackled him.  On his side, too, there may or may not have been design in backing towards the tree; who knows?  I thought that he scored, not by a manoeuvre, but simply because of his unrelaxing watchfulness and his resolute unhesitating courage.  He seemed to know instinctively that the jump aside, so safe with the straight-charging animals, was no game to play against the side sweep of a sable's horns, and at each charge of the enemy he had scrambled back out of range without the least pretence of taking liberties. This time the sable drove him steadily back towards the tree, but in the last step, just as the bull made his rush, Jock jumped past the tree and instead of scrambling back out of reach as before, dodged round and was in the rear of the buck before it could turn on him.  There were no flying heels to fear then, and without an instant's hesitation he fastened on one of the hind legs above the hock.  With a snort of rage and indignation the sable spun round and round, kicking and plunging wildly and making vicious sweeps with his horns; but Jock, although swung about and shaken like a rat, was out of reach and kept his grip. It was a quick and furious struggle, in which I was altogether forgotten, and as one more desperate plunge brought the bull down in a struggling kicking heap with Jock completely hidden under him, I ran up and ended the fight. It always took him some time to calm down after these tussles: he became so wound up by the excitement of the struggle that time was needed to run down again, so to say.  While I was busy on the double precaution of fixing up a scare for the aasvogels and cutting grass and branches to cover the buck, Jock moved restlessly round the sable, ever ready to pounce on him again at the least sign of life.  The slithering tongue and wide-open mouth looked like a big red gash splitting his head in two; he was so blown, his breath came and went like the puffing of a diminutive steam-engine at full speed, and his eyes with all the wickedness of fight--but none of the watchfulness--gone out of them, flickered incessantly from the buck to me: one sign from either would have been enough!  It was the same old scene, the same old performance, that I had watched scores of times; but it never grew stale or failed to draw a laugh, a word of cheer, and pat of affection; and from him there came always the same response, the friendly wagging of that stumpy tail, a splashy lick, a soft upward look, and a wider split of the mouth that was a laugh as plain as if one heard it.  But that was only an interruption--a few seconds' distraction: it did not put him off or satisfy him that all was well.  His attention went back to the buck, and the everlasting footwork went on again.  With his front to the fallen enemy and his fore legs well apart he kept ever on the move forwards and backwards, in quick steps of a few inches each, and at the same time edging round in his zigzag circle, making a track round the buck like a weather chart with the glass at `Changeable.' "Silly old fusser!  Can't you see he's finished?"  He could not hear anything, but the responsive wag showed that he knew I was talking to him; and, dodging the piece of bark I threw at him, he resumed his ridiculous round.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 25)( Page 3 ) Our Last Hunt

And at last it came: there was another slight shake of the horns, and the whole figure stood out in bold relief.  It was a fine sable bull lying in the shadow of one of the thorn-trees with his back towards us, and there was a small ant-heap close behind him, making a greyish blot against his black back and shoulder, and breaking the expanse of colour which the eye would otherwise easily have picked up. The ant-heap made a certain shot impossible, so I lowered myself slowly to the ground to wait until he should begin feeding or change his position for comfort or shade, as they often do: this might mean waiting for half an hour or more, but it was better than risking a shot in the position in which he was lying.  I settled down for a long wait with the rifle resting on my knees, confidently expecting that when the time came to move would get up slowly, stretch himself, and have a good look round.  But he did nothing of the kind; a turn or eddy of the faint breeze must have given him my wind; for there was one twitch of the horns, as his nose was laid to windward, and without an instant's pause he dashed off.  It was the quickest thing imaginable in a big animal: it looked as though he started racing from his lying position.  The bush was not close enough to save him, however, in spite of his start, and through the thin veil of smoke I saw him plunge and stumble, and then dash off again; and Jock seeing me give chase, went ahead and in half a minute I was left well behind, but still in sight of the hunt. I shouted at Jock to come back, just as one murmurs good-day to a passing friend in the din of traffic--from force of habit: of course, he could hear nothing.  It was his first and only go at a sable; he knew nothing of the terrible horns and the deadly scythe-like sweep that makes the wounded sable so dangerous--even the lioness had fought shy of them--and great as was my faith in him, the risk in this case was not one I would have taken.  There was nothing to do but follow.  A quarter of a mile on I drew closer up and found them standing face to face among the thorns.  It was the first of three or four stands; the sable, with a watchful eye on me, always moved on as I drew near enough to shoot.  The beautiful black and white bull stood facing his little red enemy and the fence and play of feint and thrust, guard and dodge, was wonderful to see.  Not once did either touch the other; at Jock's least movement the sable's head would go down with his nose into his chest and the magnificent horns arched forward and poised so as to strike either right or left, and if Jock feinted a rush either way the scythe-sweep came with lightning quickness, covering more than half a circle and carrying the gleaming points with a swing right over the sable's own back.  Then he would advance slowly and menacingly, with horns well forward ready to strike and eyes blazing through his eyebrows, driving Jock before him. There were three or four of these encounters in which I could take no hand: the distance, the intervening thorns and grass, and the quickness of their movements, made a  safe shot impossible; and there was always the risk of hitting Jock, for a hard run does not make for good shooting.  Each time as the sable drove him back there would be a short vicious rush suddenly following the first deliberate advance, and as Jock scrambled back out of the way the bull would swing round with incredible quickness and be off full gallop in another direction. Evidently the final rush was a manoeuvre to get Jock clear of his heels and flanks as he started, and thus secure a lead for the next run. Since the day he was kicked by the koodoo cow Jock had never tackled an unbroken hind leg; a dangling one he never missed; but the lesson of the flying heels had been too severe to be forgotten, and he never made that mistake again.  In this chase I saw him time after time try at the sable's flanks and run up abreast of his shoulder and make flying leaps at the throat; but he never got in front where the horns could reach him, and although he passed and repassed behind to try on the other side when he had failed at the one, and looked up eagerly at the hind legs as he passed them, he made no attempt at them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 25)( Page 2 ) Our Last Hunt

I had on several occasions interrupted fights between angry rivals: once two splendid koodoo bulls were at it; a second time it was two sables, and the vicious and incredibly swift sweep of the scimitar horns still lives in memory, along with the wonderful nimbleness of the other fellow who dodged it; and another time they were blue wildebeeste; but some interruption had occurred each time, and I had no more than a glimpse of what might have been a rare scene to witness. I was determined not to spoil it this time: no doubt it was a fight, and probably they were fencing and circling for an opening, as there was no bump of heads or clash of horns and no tearing scramble of feet to indicate the real struggle.  I crept on through the rocks and found before me a tangle of thorns and dead wood, impossible to pass through in silence; it was better to work back again and try the other side of the rocks.  The way was clearer there, and I crept up to a rock four or five feet high, feeling certain from the sound that the fight would be in full view a few yards beyond.  With the rifle ready I raised myself slowly until my eyes were over the top of the rock.  Some twenty yards off, in an open flat of down-trodden grass, I saw a sable cow: she was standing with feet firmly and widely planted, looking fiercely in front of her, ducking her head in threatening manner every few seconds, and giving angry snorts; and behind, and huddled up against her, was her scared bewildered little red-brown calf. It seems stupid not to have guessed what it all meant; yet the fact is that for the few remaining seconds I was simply puzzled and fascinated by the behaviour of the two sables.  Then in the corner of my eye I saw, away on my right, another red-brown thing come into the open: it was Jock, casting about with nose to ground for my trail which he had over-run at the point where I had turned back near the deadwood on the other side of the rocks. What happened then was a matter of a second or two.  As I turned to look at him he raised his head, bristled up all over, and made one jump forward; then a long low yellowish thing moved in the unbeaten grass in front of the sable cow, raised its head sharply, and looked full into my eyes; and before I could move a finger it shot away in one streak-like bound.  A wild shot at the lioness, as I jumped up full height; a shout at Jock to come back; a scramble of black and brown on my left; and it was all over: I was standing in the open ground, breathless with excitement, and Jock, a few yards off, with hind legs crouched ready for a dash, looking back at me for leave to go! The spoor told the tale; there was the outer circle made by the lioness in the grass, broken in places where she had feinted to rush in and stopped before the lowered horns; and inside this there was the smaller circle, a tangle of trampled grass and spoor, where the brave mother had stood between her young and death. Any attempt to follow the lioness after that would have been waste of time.  We struck off in a new direction, and in crossing a stretch of level ground where the thorn-trees were well scattered and the grass fairly short my eye caught a movement in front that brought me to instant standstill.  It was as if the stem of a young thorn-tree had suddenly waved itself and settled back again, and it meant that some long horned buck, perhaps a koodoo or a sable bull, was lying down and had swung his head; and it meant also that he was comfortably settled, quite unconscious of danger.  I marked and watched the spot, or rather, the line, for the glimpse was too brief to tell more than the direction; but there was no other move.  The air was almost still, with just a faint drift from him to us, and I examined every stick and branch, every stump and ant-heap, every bush and tussock, without stirring a foot. But I could make out nothing: I could trace no outline and see no patch of colour, dark or light, to betray him. It was an incident very characteristic of Bushveld hunting.  There I stood minute after minute--not risking a move, which would be certain to reveal me--staring and searching for some big animal lying half asleep within eighty yards of me on ground that you would not call good cover for a rabbit.  We were in the sunlight: he lay somewhere beyond, where a few scattered thorn-trees threw dabs of shade, marbling with dappled shade and light the already mottled surface of earth and grass.  I was hopelessly beaten, but Jock could see him well enough; he crouched beside me with ears cocked, and his eyes, all ablaze, were fixed intently on the spot, except for an occasional swift look up to me to see what on earth was wrong and why the shot did not come; his hind legs were tucked under him and he was trembling with excitement.  Only those will realise it who have been through the tantalising humiliating experience.  There was nothing to be done but wait, leaving the buck to make the first move.