As time passes us by and we learn about the world, we research her beauty and her vastness, we begin to understand her complexity and beauty and how there are so many places, cultures, people, foods, art, buildings, oceans and animals to see, a never ending “Bucket List’ beings to emerge. For any traveller to Africa who comes on safari the list may go something like this:
1. The Big 5
2. Giraffe and Zebra
3. Hippo and Crocodile
4. A leopard in a tree
5. A kill
Etc, etc, etc.
It begins, and then never ends and once you are here and you experience it, the list tends to grow at an alarming rate.
For any guide working in the African bush, we to have a bucket list of things we would love to see and experience, whether it is the birth of an animal, a kill, the perfect Leopard picture, a Porcupine, an Aardvark or a Pangolin. My list has no end, but I certainly have highlights, like spending 15 minutes with an Aardvark, by myself on foot during a training walk, watching it feed and continue on its daily routine. However, what we witnessed yesterday afternoon on drive is something I am still smiling about.
I have always wanted to see a Pangolin, for as long as I can remember, and even more so since I began guiding. It is something that was always in the back of my mind but I never thought I would have the rare privilege of actually seeing one. I used to joke with other rangers, that if a Pangolin was called in on the radio, I would cross the entire reserve to view it and experience this rarity with my guests. So, when the call came in late yesterday afternoon from fellow ranger Mark Nisbet that he had found a Pangolin, and it was relaxed, I wasted no time in heading over to where it was. Fortunately, I was a mere kilometre from where it had been found it and managed to view this strange creature up close and personal.
The photographic opportunity was not great at all, however, it was a Pangolin, and we saw it. When speaking to other rangers and trackers, who informed me that the last Pangolin seen on Londolozi was over 18 months ago, and then hearing from Alfred Mathebula, who has been a ranger for over 25 years, who told me that his last Pangolin sighting was in 1992, I realised that here at Londolozi things like this come around only a few times in a rangers career here and this made me cherish those few moments I spent with this amazing animal more than anything. A predominantly nocturnal animal that was wondering around during daylight hours, giving us the opportunity to view it.
Something I will never forget and a massive tick off my bucket list.
Written and Photographed by: Mike Sutherland