Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kruger National Park - Interesting Sightings

Zebra + Giraffe

A huge crossing of zebras and giraffes.  Zebras are very watchful, each one when crossing the road, pauses and stares at the car for at least 3 seconds and then crosses.

One zebra started to cross, then a truck came, so he walked back.  He seemed to confer with three others and then crossed the road and galloped away.


At night they skulk around and you can see their shiny eyes.  They are not so much menacing as creepy, almost like the animal version of a leery drunk at 3am looking for a kebab shop.

Zebra + Elephant + Wildebeest + Impala

On an open space, these animals all mingle and graze.  It is amazing to see so many, so close.  
The wildebeest chase each other around in a big circle at a fearsome pace, and at times look like they are going to buck heads.  They kick up a lot of dust.  The zebra and impala do not raise an eyebrow.

Meanwhile, the three elephants are in the back, congregated around a water tank.  Cleverly they get up and are able to dip their trunks into the water.


An odd yet graceful creature.  Its neck is amazing, especially seeing it reach back to clean its hind legs.  As it is tall, birds often fly into the giraffe and feast on the ticks and insects.

Elephant charge I

Approaching a bridge, a solitary elephant was on the right side, occupying most of that side of the road.  We stoped to take photos.  As we drove closer, the bull turned toward us.  Mum knew the bull was angry because the tail was stiff.  Dad knew it was mad because the tail was swinging wildly.  We stopped the car.
Then we had a second go, driving towards it slowly.  The bull with the stiffly swinging tail swiveled around as we drove, hugging the left shoulder.  We were all tense and Dad floored it as we made our escape.
It may be good to note that Mum, who has been on jungle trips and seeing elephants since she was a child, is extremely nervous when she sees an elephant and often advocates reversing away from elephants who are on the road.

Elephant II

Coming back from a drive near gate closing time, we see a car stopped in the middle of the road.  A short distance in front of it is an elephant.  This elephant is quite large, even for an elephant, and most importantly, we are told by the passengers in the other car, he is angry.

Unsurprisingly, Mum is shrieking from the back to reverse.  Dad is a bit more laidback, or maybe he is still trying to figure out which is reverse and forward, but eventually we are going backwards.  The elephant is coming slowly, threateningly toward us.  His ears are flapping.

Aneka sensibly suggests to go down the gravel road to the side, where we had seen the buffalo before.  Mum's fear level is rising by the second, and she wants to stay on the main road.  It seems she possesses the traits of Nostradamus, which she has never shown before, as after going back up the main road we see the menacing elephant wander down the side road.

After this ordeal, Dad is able to relate how he personally outwitted the elephant.  See, by going partially down the side road, the elephant thought we were heading down there.  According to Dad, the elephant had identified our car as weak, and therefore, its target.  Dad's clever moves saved us from being another car toppled by elephants, which occurs about once a year.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kruger National Park - South Africa

A journal of events - OPINIONS NOT FACT

Aneka is really really really mean with (bad) hair & annoying.

Skukuza - 29th Jan - 1st Feb 2007

Morning drive 3:45 am

Driver: Godfrey

We arrived at 4am just when the tour was about to leave. 

Sunset drive 4:45 pm 

Driver: Hubert (Huey)

Dawn Walk 3:45 am 

Rangers: Iowert & Godfrey

Iowert is Dad's favourite ranger.  He's a little bit obsessed.

We see lions but they are scared of us.  They are only in the distance.  The rangers count 5, but I only see one, running away from a distance of 50 metres.  

Coming back to camp, someone tells us they saw wild dogs.  We go to find them, and see a pack of 9 coming back from a kill, bloody and messing up the road.

Aneka asks me if I am 4.  Arggh.  I am so mad.  I throw the book.  Mum, as usual, makes a fuss, asking what happened.  I want to go home, jk.

Letaba 1-4 (early) Feb 07

Morning drive 

Driver - Gordon

The most boring drive we had.  The countryside is much less rich than Skukuza.  Gordon has been at Letaba for a month.  We have a theory that because he is new, he is getting the lower end of the equipment.  As we go on our drive, Gordon instructs us all to be very quiet to not disturb all the animals.  I think that is a good point, except that we are in a vehicle that at 20 km/h makes more noise than a herd of elephants crossing.

Speaking of 20 km/h, that seems to be its cruising speed, and I fear that if it went much faster, this collection of nuts and bolts would collapse in a heap.

Auspiciously, within 10 minutes of leaving Letaba, we saw two lions by the side of the track, not more than 20 metres away.  They are very well camouflaged.  Once again, they are scared of us, and go away (closer towards camp).  You shouldn't worry, lions only have a 40% strike rate, and are more scared of us than we are of them.  When approached (attacked) by a lion, look it directly in the eyes.  For leopards, look away - courtesy Iowert.

Dad and I both fell asleep on this drive.  Gordon has a thick accent, especially words like area, and likes a smoke.

Morning Walk 4:45 am

Rangers: Saskia & Gordon

On this walk, we saw hippos and elephants.  Hippos get frightened easily, so we had to be quiet and keep our distance.  They still got scared, so we didn't see much.  Two hippos were able to turn a pond the size of 10 swimming pools into a brown-white yukky filthiness (their poo).

After Saskia found that the two other members of the walk were German, one a plant biologist (pathologist), the rest of the stops on the walk were for plants.  Typically, one German would take a really close shot of a small flower, while his friend would write the name down.  An odd arrangement because his friend is a graphic designer who knows nothing of plants.  Oh well, they are German.  We also saw the shepherd tree.  The roots are used to make porridge.  Not missing anything, Dad beat Aneka to proudly say that Aneka likes porridge.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Altruism is something that some people don't think exists.  Some people think that everything we do is out of self interest.  Everything we do is because the benefits outweigh the costs.

There are some problems with this counter-argument.  There are some things we do that are not out of self-interest. Suicide. Smoking. Abortion.

I think a better way of thinking about altruism is in terms of free will.  If we have a pure deterministic viewpoint of the world, then maybe, altruism doesn't exist.  But, if we have free will, if we can do things merely because we choose or will them to happen, then maybe altruism does exist.

I think another way of thinking about altruism is to think of it as the ultimate purpose/satisfaction in life.  I'm not sure about this one, but a lot of people tell me that the best satisfaction is from making other people happy, usually people like your kids.  

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Battye Boy

It's been happening a bit lately, and it's something I've still not got my head around.  It's sort of like deja vu, but not.  That feeling of seeing someone from somewhere else before.  I think the first instinct is to always smile, and pretend you recognise them.  It happens a lot on the phone, I've lost most of my phone numbers and so I have to pretend to recognise someone while I'm trying to figure out who they are... the clues of what they are talking about, their voice.

Sometimes, it's just walking along and seeing that same person who you've seen walking past the other way on your way to the train station, on your way to work.  Do they recognise you?  You recognise them.  Maybe those people in the MX paper who talk about that stranger that they had a connection with.... maybe those people have a one way recognition as well.

The worst though, is recognising someone you have no right to.  The person that you've seen on someone's facebook photo album.  

From what I remember, this is what happened.  The chain starts when I chat to my friend on Facebook.  She invites me out to have a drink.  I meet her group of friends, including a girl who I would see the next week when I'm out with work friends.   I and one of my work friends adds her on Facebook.  The next week, he sends me the link to a set of photos that she's tagged in on Facebook.  The photos are taken by Liv Battye (picture deleted).  

Two days after he sends me the link, I'm in the cross and Liv walks by.  Without thinking, I smile broadly and yell 'Liv'!  She stops and starts talking, with the obvious, 'How do you know me?'  And this is where it gets tricky... how to explain... how to get out of the situation without letting it slip... how to make sure that she won't stop posting pictures as lovely as these.  Unfortunately, I can't remember how I got out of the situation, all I know is that I'm a Battye boy.