08 December 2010 by Julienne du Toit

Sleeping Under Canvas

There’s nothing quite like crawling out of your tent in the morning and finding fresh hyena tracks all around it. Or even more uncanny, elephant spoor.

These enormous six ton animals delicately pick their way, in the dark and in complete silence, over guy ropes and any other obstacles you may have left outside.

What is it that makes a nanometre of canvas or nylon so sacrosanct to a wild animal?  A peckish little genet could easily unzip the whole affair with a half-sharpened claw. A jackal could shred it. An elephant could crush it, but for reasons nobody can explain, they almost never do. You’d be just as safe in a stone-walled fort.

As a result, tented camps have become wildly popular. Canvas is more romantic and lighter on the environment than permanent buildings.

But these tents are entirely different from the sagging, flapping ones I knew as a girl scout. These days they’re really sophisticated, Hemingway at one end and en suite Versailles at the back.

Certainly nothing like my camping attempts. You’d recognise my little nylon blue dome tent anywhere - it’s the one with guy ropes attached to the car, the fence, the tree and the braai stand.

Category: Wildlife

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