Thoughts on Leaving Madikwe Game Reserve

Lion and Tourists, this morning at Madikwe

I’m checking in this morning to confess that my supply of photos and impressions from Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa has far outstripped my ability to create and upload timely posts. This is partly due to funky Internet coverage in the lobby at Tau Game Lodge and partly due to simple fatigue.   I considered skipping our final game drive with ranger Morah-Leigh Cooper this morning, so I could get caught up with the blog.  Darlene rightly pointed out that this was a ridiculous option, so here I am with another 300 photos and just a few minutes available before we pack up to check out and drive back to Gaborone, Botswana, with Linda and Jim.

As we motored out today at 5:30 a.m., not much happened for an hour or so. (Something very exciting then happened, but I’ll save that for my next post.) The quiet spell gave me time to consider the sere landscape and unobstructed sky and to wonder if I will ever have a chance to visit the wild creatures of Africa again.  Maybe not, though we are telling ourselves that of course we’ll return to Africa after this powerful first taste.

I actually never had Africa among my dreamed-of destinations, but when Darlene and Deb put this trip together I was glad to come along, and their enthusiasm was infections.  We also had the advantage of Jim and Linda’s experience in Botswana, a huge advantage in making this African adventure a success.  My own experience here may have benefited from low expectations.  In the event, I leave energized even though I’m exhausted after three days of bumping over rocky roads in the bush twice a day, trying to keep my mind and my camera open for yet one more amazing sight or bit of information from Morah.

The wildness we’ve seen strikes me as powerful and fragile.  A six-ton animal with tusks and occasional bad moods is an awesome sight to behold.  But yesterday came news that poachers have finally managed to kill a rhino in Madikwe, which up till now had managed to be free of such tragedies.  They came in with a helicopter, killed the rhino and left with the tusks horns.   Yesterday afternoon I found myself wondering what it would be like to drive this same land in 20 years when it might be empty of elephants, rhinos, lions, and giraffes.  Just birds and fascinating insects.  What a loss that would be. And how much dedicated work and massive resources will be necessary to prevent that scenario from becoming reality.

More to come, once we’re back in Gaborone.

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