Published: October 21st 2011September 19th 2011
The eyes of hippos popped up and submeged again as we tucked into a huge cooked breakfast overlooking the glassy water. The resident cats tumbled and played rather close to the waters edge oblivious to the dangers of crocs as they rolled. Today we were off for a game cruise by 2 storey boat along the Olifants river. As the German tourists filled the remaining seats on the top deck and the Aussies started drinking (8am) we steadily chugged upstream binoculars at the ready. The hippos peered at us, their eyes just breaking the surface of the water and their huge bodies submerged. Hippos walk along the riverbed eating grasses and as we passed we saw the muddy footprints the hippo had kicked up rise to the surface rising like brown dinner plates as he walked, his pathway given away by this and the wake of his motion. A family of elephants came down to the riverbank on the opposite side to drink. The driver had spotted them and slowly approached maintaining a safe distance so they did not become agitated. They family plodded along rumbling to each other and a brave baby flared his ears and lifted his trunk towards our funny looking boat. I could have watched the elephants for hours - loving seeing them interact with each other. The baby stumbled along behind his sister - tripping over his trunk and hurrying to keep up. It is horrific to think that these animals are still hunted, that poachers set traps causing slow painful deaths just for their tusks! Ivory is unneccessarily used in potions and lotions - mainly in Asia. The guide informed us that often poachers are corrupt safari guides - these are the guides that watch the animals everyday - they know their behaviours and habitat -they know where the water is - a scarce resource for many animals. Without this knowledge and help from corrupt guides - the poachers would be less successful. Education is the key with problems arising when people are living for the moment in desperate times and want to provide for their families - not realising that poaching will do far more damage to the people long term when the tourists stop coming as there are no animals left to see! Most safari guides are fantastic and very passionate about conservation.