On our scheduled Kruger Park safaris, our guides sometimes battle to keep a straight face when they get questions like these…
1. Flesh-eating buffalo?
Neil chuckles when he remembers an incident in Kruger. Watching a herd of impala grazing calmly next to a herd of buffalo, a guest asked in awe: “Aren’t the impala scared to be so close to the buffalo?” After he reassured her that they weren’t, she asked, “Well, how many impala does a buffalo eat in a day?”
According to our guides this is a common theme. Elephant, hippo, rhino and other large game don’t prefer a ‘hot lunch’ to their vegetarian diets.
2. A la carte menu?
Frank affectionately remembers an American lady from the Mid-West who was passionate about horses. Zebra was top of her wish-list and Frank was happy to oblige. Watching the herd peacefully grazing, complete with baby foals and a heavily-pregnant female, an ugly thought raised its head: “Hey, do the lions also kill the pregnant ones?” Looking at her pleading expression, he had to answer: “No, not really …” – a white lie instantly justified by the relief on her face.
3. Tree-climbing impala?
Frank was out on a game drive when he noticed something dangling from a Marula tree up ahead. Stopping for a closer look, he saw that it was an impala, expertly wedged into a fork of the tree, high off the ground. Explaining to the guests that a leopard had put it there to stop other predators from stealing its kill, a guest asked him how he could be so sure. How did he know that the impala didn’t just “slip and break its neck in the fork of the tree?”
Apparently other guides have had similar chats with guests who seem to prefer to accept this notion – rather than the leopard’s larder ‘theory’.
4. Different ends of Earth?
Some of us reach for our map books before we travel. Others rely on the goodwill of others. “Where in South Africa is Tanzania?” a guest asked of Simon. Just as he was thinking up a diplomatic answer, another guest piped up: “No, Tanzania’s not in South Africa, it’s in Australia!”
5. Ring-barking [or barking mad] prides?
Invasive alien vegetation is constantly eradicated in Kruger Park. Seeing a marked tree, one of the guests enquired: “Is it the lions that ring-bark the trees?”
6. Gardening glitches?
We’ve been asked some strange ones … “Are the elephants allowed to push the trees over?” (I wouldn’t like to try and stop them!) and, “Who does the landscaping in Kruger?” Well, it’s a bit of team effort, really …
7. Horny hunters?
Some of the smaller game reserves de-horn their rhino to protect them from poaching. A concerned guest enquired: “Won’t they struggle to hunt now?”
8. Rabbit [rabid?] snacks for impala?
Generally, the first game you spot in Kruger are the ubiquitous herds of impala. After the third such sighting, a puzzled guest asked, “Are there enough rabbits in the park for them to eat?”
9. First sight is the deer-est?
At the end of a very successful safari with lucky sightings of virtually every animal – the Big 5, cheetah, wild dog and a huge variety of game, Simon asked a guest about their favourite. The charming reply, “The very first impala!