Saturday, 2 July 2016

Namibia 6, Koakoland and Poachers!

Jasper had a few hunters booked in over the next week, so we would help out at the camp and around the farm with Renier. One of Jaspers farmers had found a dead baby zebra up in the hills which was killed by a leopard, so this would mean the hunters would have the opportunity to shoot the leopard, which is a huge achievement in the hunting world. We made sure the zebra was secured to a nearby tree so the leopard couldn't drag it off during night. 
A hunter arrived from England and we made sure the bait was kept fresh to ensure the leopard would return in the night. Rob helped them get the hide set up so it would be ready for their night stints waiting for the arrival of this magnificent animal. 
We all enjoyed keeping the camp running smoothing for Jasper and his hunter. 
It turned out the leopard was incredibly lucky and all the nights waiting for it to get on the bait, the hunter battled to see it during the night and didn't have an opportunity for a clear shot. So the leopard got away this time. 

It was time for the English hunter to leave, and we awaited the arrival of the next. Unfortunately the second hunter let Jasper down and we all scrambled to find another candidate while we had the leopard still returning to the bait which we were replacing every day. We eventually found someone but they would take a day or two to arrive. So that night Jasper asked if I'd like to join him in the hide to ensure it was a male leopard. This new hunter had a mission to shoot the big 5 for trophies. Trophy hunting is selective hunting of wild game, which typically is a male with the largest body size. So we headed out in the dark to see if this poor leopard would fit the bill. 
We arrived and got ourselves comfortable, with our binoculars at the ready. The bait was about 60metres away from where we were sat, so I had my eyes glued to the tree which now had a warthog hanging from it. We sat in utter silence as the slightest noise could scare the leopard away. All my senses were on high alert as all that was protecting us from the leopard was small bushes in front of us  and a green mesh behind us. We sat dead still and for the first hour it was incredibly eerie with not even birds tweeting away. But then we heard hooves clamber up the mountain with little finesse. They were zebras and were definitely noisy buggers making the rocks roll around them, as they grunted and pushed through the trees. There we were being as quite as possible afraid of being heard by the predators and they seemed not bothered at all. 
Just then a massive Gemsbok walked straight up to our little hide out and came to have a good sniff at us. It was curious and you could see it was very confused as to why it could smell us but not see us. It towered over us and my heart certainly skipped a few beats and I was running out breath as I had held in a big gulp of air, but didn't dare let it out. Eventually it got bored and moved on. 
A little while later, jackals started screaming around us. They were incredibly close and Jasper alerted to me that the leopard was close as the Jackals were always hot on its tale in hope to get a few scraps. We watched the bait intently and noticed a brown hyena circling the area before dashing back into the bushes. Finally, the leopard came in! The zebras went nuts around us obviously sensing it was close. The moved quickly grunting, farting and shouting, not happy there were predators around. Jasper and myself laughed under our breaths as we listened to all the commotion going on around us. But the leopard was not bothered in the slightest and munched happily on the poor warthog, making a right racket. At that Jasper informed me it was a male and a rather big make at that. We were in business. 
Jasper then asked if I was happy to leave. My first thought was, HELL NO!!! The leopard was still munching away only metres away from us! But he said everything would be ok, we just needed to move quietly. So we made our walk back to the car stopped every few feet to listen. Was the leopard following us? Or any other predator for that matter? My heart was pounding! But eventually we made it back to the car and I was buzzing from the experience! It was awesome.

Unfortunately, Jaspers new hunter let him down again. It obviously wasn't the leopards time! So Jasper said to the three of us, "why don't we disappear to Kaokoland for the night? A change of scenery?". And of course we were all game! So we headed off to one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Southern Africa. It was absolutely incredible to drive up there with its incredible mountain scenery, with wildlife all around and the home to the Himba people. We arrived in the late afternoon, so the rugged landscape were slowly transforming into amazing shades of oranges, reds with the sky changing colours and shining brightly. We were all in awe at the sheer beauty this country was showing us. On our way to our campsite we spotted black faced impalas, springbok, kudu's, gemsbok, duikers and warthogs. Absolutely amazing.


We arrived at our campsite which had a bit of a surprise for us. The Ongongu Falls! At the bottom of the falls was a beautiful crystal clear pool which so happened to be warm! So we all jumped in and enjoyed having a swim under the stars. We started a fire and enjoyed a delicious braai before retiring to our bed rolls on the floor for the night. 
We woke up the next morning and quickly decided one more night wouldn't hurt! But we had no supplies, so the three of us went into the nearest village to get a few things while Jasper chilled out the camp with a sore shoulder. Once in town, we bought a few things to make a bodged up meal for the night and a chip sandwich for lunch on bread that we all had the utmost respect for as it seemed to be older than all of us put together. But before heading back to camp we went into the local bar to have a quick drink with the locals. We ended up playing pool with them and enjoyed kicking their asses. 

I popped out to buy some flip flops as I had left them back in our car. As I went into the shop a police man came up to me and asked if I was driving the land cruiser. Yes I was and now I had just came out the bar. So my immediate thought was, oh shit, I've had a drink and he's going to pull me up on it. But luckily he was very friendly and asked if we could help him with his flat tire on his police car as he didn't have a jack with him. So I ran to the boys in the bar and asked if they wouldn't mind helping. Rob was happy to help and ended up changing the wheel for him. Just as the policeman opened the back of the car to put the flat tire in the back we noticed a big lump of meat on the side. We asked him about it and he said it was kudu. We jokingly asked him for some and the next moment he was cutting of the best bits for us to enjoy in a stew. FOR FREE!!! Now you can't get better than that! 
The rest of the day we enjoyed lazing about by the pool and enjoying the heat of the day. It was absolutely gorgeous here!


The next morning we took a scenic drive through the area before heading back to Outjo. Again we were faced with more beauty! We were even lucky to see a totally wild elephant grazing in the very dried up river beds. Eventually we arrived at the foot and mouth border, but we were thirsty so before leaving this beautiful area we decided to stop at the shabeen and enjoy a quick drink. 
We could all see Jasper wasn't ready to leave. He had spent many years in this area and was always a big love of his. He was obviously falling in love with it and enjoying showing it off to us. So we ended up spending a bit more time in the shabeen that originally anticipated. We started teaching the locals our Bok Drol Spoeg games, the coin games and I suppose giving them a bit of entertainment. We bought some food from them, macaroni, tinned viennas, and tinned tomatoes for yet again another delicious bodged meal. We had a great time as one drink lead to another, and then another, and then another. Low and behold we ended up spending the night at the shabeen, with our bed rolls laid out under the shelter and all the locals a little shocked!



We arrived back to the farm the next day and it was back to business. But first we needed to gate crash a local party where we sokkied (Afrikaans dance style) the night away! As we were leaving, the guys jumped on the roof of Reniers car and I drove back with them holding on tight. It was utterly hilarious!!! That night was incredible and later we found rocks in our pockets which were given to us from one of the guys staying in Outjo. A souvenir or acceptance, who knows?? 

Back at the camp, it was time for the next hunter to arrive from South Africa who wanted to shoot a gemsbok for meat. Renier made some amazing meals once again, while Rob was the designated barman to keep him busy. For some reason, if he sits by the fire it puts him into a sort of trance and he just slowly drifts off to sleep. His response is always, "I'm just checking my eyelids for holes!", which of course is hilarious!

Our last night together was coming too quick for our liking. But we decided to head out and try shoot some sand grouse for dinner after we had some target practice with the shotgun. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful at finding dinner as we got slightly distracted. We stumbled across one dead animal after another, all caught in snares. It was a poachers camp. We circled the area to try dismantle any snares still hanging in the trees. But unfortunately they all had animals in them. 9 gemsbok and 1 kudu, dead! It was utterly devastating!! These guys are so ruthless and it truly gets your blood boiling! The poachers had either gotten spooked or had too much meat to deal with as most of the animals hadn't even been touched. So sad to see this on Jaspers farm! 
That week he had found out 24 of his cows had been poached, making it over 70 cows this year! Not the news he needed to hear! But he always keeps his head high, and his positivity is amazing to see, always thinking of ways to outsmart them.  




(Rob dismantling the wires where they hang the meat to dry for biltong)


We said goodbye to Jasper as we needed to head south towards South Africa. Our visa was due to end so we had to leave. We packed up our things and felt like we were leaving home all over again. This place would always remind us of Bok Drol Spoeg, Lie Dice, Poker, Brandy, Captain Morgan, Sunsets, Family, Friends, Wild Animals... the list is never ending! We said our final sad goodbyes and hit the road. We have had such an amazing time with Jasper, but all good things must come to an end. 
We will be returning to Namibia to see the rest of this beautiful country after we've spent some time visiting family and seeing a bit of South Africa. Namibia, you are one awesome country!!!!! Thank you!






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