Always looking for animals

Sam, Katy, and Noggs in Africa

Signs of life

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I drive a fair bit on my daily commute and see quite a few signs on the way. When I think of road signs I think of this really boring book I studied for my driving theory test. I remember reading this book while babysitting and falling asleep. Don’t worry I’d already put the kids to bed and don’t worry I passed my driving test. But in Africa the signs that are commonplace (at least in our part of the country) are a lot more exciting than ’roundabout ahead’.

Here are two animal crossing signs I pass daily:

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This above sign shows that kudus cross here. Kudu are massive antelope (males can weigh up to 270 kg) and they can jump over two meter high game fences. No fence too big, no kudu too small or something like that.

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Another uncontainable animal is the elephant. Elephants often break through the Greater Kruger electric fences and wander about on the road. It seems to happen fairly often. The traffic gets all mucked up and everyone tries to herd the elephants back into the protected area. I haven’t encountered this yet here, but I’ve stopped for elephant traffic on public roads in Botswana and Zimbabwe plenty of times.

I also pass plenty of signs on fences advertising that the property has de-horned all their rhinos in an attempt to deter poachers. In 2016, 1054 rhinos were killed in South Africa and a recent report suggests that three rhinos a day are still being killed in this country. The battle against rhino poaching is very real here and I’ve seen first hand how poaching devastates not only the rhino population, but also families who work on or own game farms.

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It’s not too surprising that a lot of the signs I pass are about wildlife considering that Hoedspruit calls itself a wildlife haven. The wildlife is one of the reasons we live here. Here’s the town’s sign which I drive pass daily. It has warthog busts on it.

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I often see warthogs munching away when I enter Nogg’s school. When I entered Balule Game Reserve today I saw four lions about 50 m from the road. This was awesome and certainly makes a day of office work more exciting!! It’s not the best photo though because I only had my phone to hand. When I drove out in the afternoon the lions were just getting up after a long lazy day of chilling.

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I also pass some bright signs that have been painted on a wall by a charity called Hlokomela. Hlokomela is a HIV and AIDS educational and treatment programme targeting workers in the area. The messages are uplifting and represent a vision of South Africa that I hope becomes a reality everywhere. By the way, ubuntu is a word in South Africa that sort of means humanity but it’s more than that, it means that everyone is part of a whole that must care for each other and work together. It’s really quite a beautiful concept and a lovely sounding word to say out loud too. Ubuntu, ubuntu, ubuntu.

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