The Greatest Show…

It seems to me that the natural world 

is the greatest source of excitement;

the greatest source of visual beauty,

the greatest source of intellectual interest.

It is the greatest source of so much in life,

that makes life worth living¨
– Sir David Attenborough

Be honest, we all love a good performance! Whether it is the circus, classical theatre, a rock concert or even martial arts. The list is endless…. Each of us has our own preferences, however, the award winning play of nature has a satisfaction of personal taste for every single person. All we have to do is sit back, on a lovely, open deck at the Deception Valley Lodge, while sipping on a warm, steaming mug of Amarula coffee – the signature liqueur of Africa. And then enjoy the show!!

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN….

I PRESENT TO YOU A THEATRICAL PERFORMANCE BY THE ANIMALS OF DECEPTION VALLEY CONSERVANCY!!!

It is dark. You are waiting in anticipation for the lights to go on and excite you! The introductory music from the Helmeted Guineafowls´ call is like a drum roll, igniting the suspense and excitement. Then there it is! The warm light of the winter sun casts the perfect soft glow for the Guineafowl choir.

One is amazed that the Guineafowl can produce such an astonishing amount of noise, that echoes through the Kalahari. All of a sudden, you have to duck down, since out of nowhere the Yellow-billed Kites come swooping through the air like Trapese artists. They definitely caught your attention. Now your senses are tuned to every bit of the show. There must be more up in the air or banisters… Two Yellow-billed Hornbills are doing a romantic comedy version of a tight rope walk. Firstly, they pretend to be all lovey-dovish, but as soon as there is a snack in sight, things are becoming heated! The male grabs the item from the female, she chases frantically after him with furious love. Then a clapping of wings and a muttering of confusing sounds. Quite comical…but yet you are amazed at how they manage to stay on the banister during all this craziness. The rumpus is taken into the treetops…

A huge group of Red-billed Queleas fly past with precision and an impressive swooshing sound, like a heavy curtain being drawn. The new surprise is on its way! After the comical excitement, it is time to relax a bit. Lazily, a silent giant makes his approach. What will this African Elephant enlighten us with? Maybe presenting us with a fancy walk on the new walkways or spraying water like it is glitter. A big treat is, that he does BOTH!!! And then, he even shows off by proving to us that he doesn’t need all four his feet to balance his big body! Our breaths are taken away…. 

The Elephant gives way to a more graceful and classical act. Soft music of the White-browed sparrow weavers compliments the dainty, quirky bodies of the Slender Mongooses on the wooden poles. At different levels and intervals they alternate between ¨reaching to the sky¨ and ¨bend down as far as you can go¨. Reminds one of a typical ballet performance. Thank goodness without the tutus!!

It does seem that our conservation team wants to join in on the greatest show, and practice their ballet skills. They are slashing grass around the lodge area, for fire prevention, when all of sudden one of the ladies moves a couch in a chalet. To, Tshota, an impressive tracker and lovely soul, the sound reminds him of a lion! He does an impressive 1metre high jump into the air, and then the rest bursts out in laughter!!! He does have good reason to, since the lions are not too far away…

When will we get to see these magnificent beasts? We are so inclined that they always provide a frightening, gasping act, which earns major respect. This time they left the act in the paws of the sub-adults, who are just over a year now. And of course they are extremely mischievous! They still have to become acquainted with the whole glorious and royal show business. But starting off as the palace Joker will do for now…. All of them want to participate, showing their athletic skills. Yet, how do all participate with one Yoga Mat? The poor yoga mat does not survive the show, and the sub-adults still have a while to go before perfecting the gracefulness of their parents. Practice, however, does make perfect!!

Lastly, a show that is full of energy and unique to this time of year. This should have a lasting effect on you, since a lot of people cannot believe the behaviour of the Impala during this season. It is Rutting season!!! Time for the male to win over as many females as he can for the mating season. Similar to a rock star!! And the terrifying grunting he presents, does remind you of a rock concert (some affiliate the sound to that coming from lions)! The running, chasing, jumping and then fighting to keep the other males away from his females are beyond believe. Unfortunately, the intensity of the May Rut is such that males are so busy herding females and warding of intruders, that they do not feed or groom and they can thus only manage to hold territories for 8 days.

It is time for the show to end!!! As the sunlight is fading, the Blue-Wildebeest comes to fare you well. They are acting like the energetic, fun-filled clowns, putting a lasting smile on your face…. As the sun sets, the Owls and Nightjars are playing the closing theme…..

A show to remember forever!!!!

Thank you for joining us in soul and hope that we can have you here in person very soon!!!

Keep well and safe!!

Janie Swart