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  • Writer's pictureRafael Bloch

The Uwritten Rule

Updated: Jun 18

“What was that?”

Ears perk up.

People sit up straight.

“There!” a student whispers loudly and points in a direction.

I catch a glimpse of the instructor who shakes his head and subtly waves his finger in a different direction.

“There it is again!”

We all hear it now.

The tension builds.

We start exchanging intense glares as we lock eyes with each other for a moment. Like a scene out of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

“What are we waiting for?”

Papers flying, coffee spilling. A dust cloud forms around us in the commotion as a wild dash to the Land Cruiser ensues. You grab what you can and just hope you have everything you need.

There are couple of sounds in the bush you can really trust according to Sevara Katstotso, one of our head instructor, “a kudu and a vervet monkey” and they have both been alarm calling just outside of camp for days now. The leopards are back and it seems like they’re here to stay. It’s no surprise that they are here too, considering we are approaching the height of the dry season and camp has a constant, delicious supply of fresh water. As we’ve seen from our recent camera trap footage in an isolated section of camp.

But there seems to be this perennial question here at Kwapa.

When you hear the call, are you answering?

It’s this unwavering passion and curiosity in us all, student and staff, that when we hear it, there’s this unwritten rule that everything goes on pause and we go and find the culprits.

Sometimes this is at the cost of missing lunch, other times it means we are losing out on our much-needed siesta time. But to hear the bark of a kudu, drive out, scan the area, successfully find a leopard and then sit with it while its in full-on stalk mode for two-hours balances out the perceived losses we may incur.

Then, just for good measure, another leopard clambers down from the tree behind us while we were focusing on the one in front of us.

There is natural rhythm in the bush. Encounters slow down and pick up again. Animals move off and others replace them. A constant push and pull between resources, predator and prey.

But this never really gets old, the excitement of knowing that right now as you read this, a kudu barks in the distance and a vervet monkey is calling.

There is a leopard is lurking.

Photo credit: Rafael Bloch
It's Go Time

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