The Ones That Lurk In The Dark
Imagine a dark, cold rock crevasse. The overwhelming smell of bat guano in my nose. The crunch of some hapless mouse’ scull below my boot. My headlamp lights the immediate area in front of me. In the corner the dark shadows await.
As I shuffle along, almost on all fours, I momentarily touch something round. And cold. my hart skips a beat as I rip my hand back, elbow connecting with the low roof of the cavern. Pain shoots up my arm… Who thought of calling it a ‘funny bone’ anyway?
On Kaingo Game Reserve, we like exploring. Each moment spent in nature teaches us something new. Lately I have been fascinated by cold, dark spaces and the creatures that may live there.
In the Waterberg we are somewhat short of real caves, but because of the advanced age of the area, cavers and small crevasses abound. This provides the perfect shelter for some of the most interesting creepy crawlies found in the bush.
Take for instance, the African Yellow Bat (image above). This strictly nocturnal species eats bugs, moths, flies and beetles. They do not suck blood or get caught in your hair. They live in roosts of about 12 individuals and will collectively care for their offspring.
They have an undeservedly bad reputation for spreading disease and pestilence, and even though they may harbour dread disease like Rabies, that odds for contacting such a disease from a bat is not worth worrying about.
Look at that face! Strangely attractive, isn’t it?
And then you have the whip Scorpion family (image above). The Waterberg has a few of those, but they are exceedingly rare and hard to find. They belong to a family even more ancient than the one that scorpions belong to. That means that these creatures are a few million years old!
Mammals, and especially Brown Hyena, also make their dens in these out of reach places. Evidence of their habitation will include the dried Impala bone that caused the painful elbow earlier. Porcupine may also live in these spaces. Their caverns will be marked by discarded quills, gnawed bone and tooth marks on the surrounding trees.
Snakes, and especially the dangerous Black Mamba and African Rock Python may also live in these spaces.
Crawling into the back of the little cavern, now only a meter from roof to floor, I understood why these clever creatures live in these areas. It is cosy! Once you get over the smell and the dankness of the cavern, and let your eyes adjust to the dark, peace descends upon you. You know that no one will find you. Come wind, come rain you will be isolated from the world. A rock becomes a suitable pillow, and life seems good for a while...until...
...What was that slithering over my arm?