Friday, April 30, 2010

Chameleon hunting

Last week I went to Welgevonden game reserve in the Waterberg, three hours' drive north of Joburg - and therefore practically next door, in terms of SA distances; and yes I know I've said in earlier posts that I've already been on enough game drives to last me the rest of my life, but at least it's a way to get out of the city and see some countryside - the animals are a collateral bonus - and once I'm there I find I can't resist the five a.m. wake-up call (someone blowing a kudu horn, in this case) to go on the dawn drives.

Our ranger, Dean, happened to mention that there were a lot of chameleons in Welgevonden. This is perhaps my favourite creature in the whole of existence so I asked if he could find us one. "Difficult," he said, and that seemed to be the end of it it, but then on the evening drive Dean was shining a lamp around while driving (a talent that all rangers have to develop) and he suddenly stopped the land rover, jumped out, crashed through the bush for twenty-five metres, and came back with a flap-necked chameleon. I'd already been impressed by this ability to spot chameleons in the dark during my first ever game drive in the Kruger, and I asked Dean how he did it. The secret is, he said, that chameleons don't bother to camouflage themselves at night-time and revert to their "at rest" colouring, which is the beautiful bright green you see above. If they're hiding in a tree with dark green leaves they'll stand out as the lamp passes over them as brighter patch against the background. This is the theory - however Dean found another chameleon the next night, closer to the road, and even with the lamp shining full on the tree I couldn't see it. I'll need a few more lessons before I can become a successful chameleon hunter.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The long Easter

A break in the blog.... I had an extra week in the UK due to the venomous volcano and got back to a rainy, autumnal Joburg yesterday.