"Safari and ketchup are similar, sometimes you shake the bottle of ketchup and nothing comes out, you shake and shake and shake and all of a sudden everything pops out. So don’t stop shaking the bottle, there’s a lot inside." According to this quote what should you expect to see on a safari?
game reserve, lodge, ranger, habitat, vulture, digestive, matriarchal, lactate, herd, bolt, bleat, meander, nifty, juvenile delinquent
James wakes us at half past five. He is our game ranger and works at the lodge. It is pitch dark. Fifteen minutes later it is dawn and time for coffee and warm muffins. We head for the jeep. And, right there, in the middle of the path, huge round foot prints and broken trees. ”An elephant visited last night," James says matter-of-factly, as he enters the open vehicle. It is six o’clock. We are all set for our morning drive.
We have only been driving for five minutes when we come upon a herd of bleating impalas. They are all gazing in the same direction. Alert. “They are frightened,” James says, “probably a lion or a leopard.” Really? We hope, we wish. Will we get a glimpse of a leopard? But no such luck. Just a lone hyena gracefully crossing the road, not paying any attention to our whereabouts. The impalas spot him and bolt. In an instant they are gone. The hyena meanders back the way he came. Disappointed.
James takes “ a road less traveled by” to increase our chances of seeing a lion on kill. But today only spiders are to be seen here. They have woven their webs across the road. Big spiders anticipating their prey. “This is why I usually do not take this road,” James explains. “I hate these spiders.”
We travel along and soon giraffes appear, along with wart dogs, hippos, kudus, zebras, rhinos, shongololos, bamboos, ostriches and a tortoise. Suddenly, James exclaims: “Wild dogs!” He is gasping. “Awesome." This is the fourth time in my entire life that I have seen wild dogs. They are rare. People would gladly trade 20 lion sightings for a wild dog.” We aim through our lenses and shoot them with our cameras as they run alongside the road. Like wolves. Quickly and quietly, they completely disappear into the bushes. In seconds, it is as if they were never there.
And then the elephants are upon us. Enormous. Magnificent. With some babies too. James asks us to sit still. “You never know about these elephants. One might be bad.” He stops the car and we watch them eat, their trunks centimeters from the car. My heart seems to stop beating as I think "Is this the end?" But the elephants pay no attention to us. They simply keep eating and flopping their trunks. What a noise! “They seem all right,” James whispers.
Listen to James talking about the elephants as they are crossing in front of the vehicle.
- Why do elephants eat so much?
- Why do elephants love roots?
- How do elephants communicate?
- What is a matriarchal system?
- What happened to the elephants that were brought up without a matriarch?
- What is a juvenile delinquent?
We continue down the road. This is where the "Walking Safaris" are usually conducted. However, since we chickened out and canceled the walking part, there are no walking safaris today. Thus we can explore this area with the luxury of wheels. Though even with wheels, we nearly get stuck crossing a muddy creek.
We are searching for lions. Reportedly, nearby there are three lionesses with eight cubs possibly all together, hiding in the bushes. Our eyes are focused. We are concentrating. But only vultures are to be seen. “That is a very good sign,” James says, "I really think I catch a whiff of something. A kill, perhaps.” We want to see a lioness, but there are none to be seen.
Just as we are about to give up, she is right in front of us. A lioness. Just five meters away. She is barely visible in the yellow grass. Resting, but breathing heavily. Showing her teeth. Eyeing us. “Do not get frightened if she attacks the car,” James whispers, “ they sometimes do when they feel pushed.” Getting up slowly, she crosses in front of the vehicle. Maybe she is checking on her cubs.
Listen to the sighting of the lioness.
- According to James, what can be a quite frightening experience?
- What are James and Evan talking about on the walkie-talkie?
- How many cubs and female lions are reported in the area?
- Why should one not push for sightings when the lioness has cubs?
- How are the cubs habituated to vehicles?
- What is meant by lactating?
We continue our drive to ”The Sleep Out” – a camp where tourists like us can sleep under the open sky – at an extra ZAR 2000, of course. James tells us he will sleep here tomorrow night for the first time. He shares with us why he likes working as a game driver in Kruger National Park, a job he has had for just one month. Previously, he worked two years at a private game reserve – “something completely different,” he says.
- What are the differences between Kruger National Park and a private game reserve?
- Why are sightings almost guarenteed at a private game reserve?
- "Here [Kruger] it is more of a surprise. You never know what you are going to bump into," James says. What does he mean?
- What has been his biggest surprise so far?
Returning to the Lodge, three hyenas cross the road in front of us. “Something really must have happened here in the early morning hours,” James explains, “The hyenas are a sure sign. I wonder...”
What really happened, we will never know, but it might have been our leopard devouring his impala kill, while our hungry hyenas watched from a distance, awaiting the scraps.
Tasks and Activities
Genre and Style
- This text may best be characterized as a personal essay or a blog post. What is typical of such texts? Give examples.
- Compare "Morning Drive in Kruger" to Safari in South Africa. Both texts deal with the same topic, a safari in South Africa, but they are written in different styles. What are the main differences in outline and language in the two texts? How do they communicate?
In your writing it is always a good idea to use synonyms. In "Morning Drive in Kruger" the verb say occurs several times. Sometimes the verbs whisper, explain and exclaim are used instead. Other verbs that could be used are boast, complain, suggest, snap, cry, stammer, insist, demand, shout, inquire, claim, reply, add, suggest, imply and express (You can consult a thesaurus for more synonyms). However, all these synonyms have an added meaning and are not completely interchangeable with say. Find out what they mean and explore what happens to the text if you change some of the verbs with a synonym. Would you use the same verbs in a personal essay as in an article?
Write an Article, a Personal Essay or a Blog Post
- Make the necessary changes and rewrite "Morning Drive in Kruger" into a magazine article using a formal, objective style and complete sentences. Remember an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Read How to Write an Article if you need to revise.
- Write an article about some of the wild animals mentioned in the text, or your favorites, for a wildlife magazine. Information about the wild animals in Kruger National Park can be found on these pages. See "How to write an article" above.
- Write a personal essay or a blog post called "Ferrari Safari." Be sure to look up the meaning of the term before you start writing.
Learn Some Nifty Words to Impress Your Teacher
- predator – animal that hunts/eats other animals (e.g. lion)
- mammal – animal that gives birth to live babies, not eggs, and feeds them on its own milk (e.g. lion)
- reptile – e.g. snake, lizard
- carnivore – animal that eats meat (e.g. lion)
- herbivore – animal that eats grass/vegation (e.g. elephant)