Living with wild beasts
If you ever have occasion to fly in a small plane into the deep bush, you may notice thorn branches being arrayed around the wheels while your luggage is being loaded onto 4x4s for the ride to the lodge.
That’s to deter the hyenas, which find strange nourishment or satisfaction from shredding Cessna tyres.
If you’re a visitor, seeing the Big 5 is the thrill of a lifetime. If you work at a lodge though, they are constant and unusual hazards to negotiate.
Hyenas (which seem dedicated to the cause of finding nutrients in otherwise inedible substances) may sometimes be found munching thoughtfully on the outside furniture. A lion recently gave the pool man the fright of his life when he took the pool cleaner down to install it early one morning. The lion was drinking from the pool on the other side, and the pool man fled in horror, trailing Kreepy Krauly pipes behind him.
Once or twice when there have been floods, crocodiles have been found swimming in people’s pools. And the odd hippo too, from time to time.
In fact, lodge pools double up as interesting alternative waterholes for animals, especially elephants, which are also quite partial to carefully planted shade trees.
The little town of St Lucia just outside the iSimangaliso Wetland Park often has large beast invasions. There are 2 or 3 leopards living around town, which means that Jack Russell terriers are sometimes taken out in canine-leopard confrontations. Guide Kian Barker says there are hippos that roam through town every now and then, especially when it’s dry.
'They keep the lawns in the public areas short. And once or twice when there have been floods, crocodiles have been found swimming in people’s pools. And the odd hippo too, from time to time.'
Sometimes elephants walk through town. On one occasion, a young bull wouldn’t leave and had to be encouraged by means of a helicopter.
On a less dramatic scale, the African penguins of Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town also mount little invasions. A friend of mine who’d just moved there posted on Facebook today, delighted about the 3 knee-high tuxedo’d visitors who shuffled into her house.