Recently we had a surprising twist of fate here at the Lodge. Until recently we had been left high and dry as each storm that came our way turned and avoided the entire area of Hluhluwe. Whether it was headed down from Mozambique or headed up from further down in KwaZulu- Natal it didn’t matter, we never received a drop. But on two occasions recently we were fortunate enough to receive in excess of 25ml of rain per storm, directly over the Lodge property. This not only gave the animals a well needed supply of ground water but also gave our much loved forest a more healthy shade of green.
On a trip to town, after the rains the night before, I found this little Tortoise drinking from a fresh puddle of water. It is important to bear in mind that seeing tortoises is quite special because we haven’t seen them for a number of months.
My first instinct was to slam on brakes and jump out to grab a few pictures. But after a while I started thinking that the tortoise really was in a less than perfect position- right in the middle of our delivery road. Now it is important for me to tell you about some ethics when we deal with tortoises, it is never right to pick up a tortoise. When one does they often release the contents of their bursar which is a water reserve which they store for times when water is not available. By releasing the bursar they deplete any water reserves. If they don’t find water in the next day or two they will die. Therefore I was rather reluctant to touch the little guy. To make things worse this particular tortoise was so shy it would retreat into its shell every time I came near.
After deliberation, I thought of what available water there was, in this case a substantial amount, and the very real prospect of it being inadvertently run over by a delivery truck. I decided it was worth attempting to move it. Fortunately, by the time I was actually ready to move him he had already started his trek off the road. I checked on him later and he was safely tucked away in the nearby grass.
It just goes to show how just a little rain can bring so much change and how the little wonders of the African bush react immediately to even the slightest increase in water.