Rains down in Africa

By Chad Cocking

Driving back into the Timbavati after a day spent in town doing a few odds and ends for Tanda Tula, Antony and I were admiring the massive build up of moisture in the air to our east. This is a dry, unusually-parched landscape and now it shone yellow in the late afternoon sunlight. The weatherman had predicted the rain, but we have learnt not to trust his word too much these days, and both thought that this rain would pass us by.

I was literally taking the last few items off the vehicle when the first drops began falling. Amazingly, when I woke up the next morning the drops were still descending, leaving us with between 60 and 80mm across our concession and giving us the sort of rain we had been praying for since the beginning of the year. That amount of rainfall would usually get the rivers flowing, but the parched earth simply soaked up the gentle rain. This is in fact a far more beneficial precipitation for the bushveld of the surrounding Kruger National Park.

It was wonderful to watch how nature responded to these long sought after rains, and despite making safari a bit more challenging with no off-road driving for a few days, we still had a fantastic post-rain week of game viewing. As a conservation operation we always prioritize our natural environment, after good rains such as these the soil becomes much more sensitive and so it is imperative that we wait until the earth has dried up before we resume our usual off-road driving practices.

Frogs, snails, snakes, tortoises, termite eruptions, migratory birds and sprouting shoots filled the game drives as we meandered through a rejuvenated landscape. Certain parts of the reserve were covered with lush grass that had sprung up around natural pans and wallows, now full, resembling gorgeous emerald jewels. Zebras, giraffes and wildebeest are back in the area in abundant numbers and now herds of up to fifty animals can be seen regularly on the grasslands in the east, in fact bizarrely it is not uncommon to see more zebras than impalas at the moment!

The cooler, cloudy weather that followed ensured that the moisture in the environment was not sucked straight back out into the heavens above. Instead it had time to settle and assist with plant and grass growth, and the results were visible almost immediately. The concern still remains as to when we will get the next gift from the African skies, although the short-term forecast does not look that promising we are always eternally hopeful that the blessings are just around the corner. For now though, we will just sit back and appreciate a greener, more vibrant Timbavati.


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