Tembe - The Trusted One
The day started cool and cloudy. I'd arranged for an early morning game drive to try and capture some of the animals in lovely morning sunlight. Frustratingly, it didn't develop until later, not that the drive wasn't worthwhile.
Our Guide, Berger, took us over vast swathes of the reserve looking for different animals. The area is hilly and while the lodge sits low in the valley, we headed up into the hills and a flat plateau near the other resort lodge, Ant's Hill. We found lots of different animals, wildebeest, impala (nicknamed McDonalds, because you find one around every corner), zebra and wart hogs). What we were really hoping for was giraffe, which had so far eluded us after the first morning.
Then as we turned a corner, two came into site. Berger explained that this one, Tembe, was 6 years old. Her life had not been easy; her mother died of natural causes before she had been weaned and it had affected her natural development. As a result, despite surviving she is very small for her age with a pronounced under development of her body and a 'kinked' spine, making her shoulders seem very high in relation to her chest.
Despite being at a sexually mature age, the male giraffes show no interest in her and she is likely to remain a spinster most of her life. She is also shunned by other females, who will form towers (the collective name for a group of giraffe - very apt). She lives her life either alone or with the odd other giraffe. Despite this she seemed quite content, eating away near the road.
We stayed out much longer than expected, completely missing breakfast, but it was worth it as we came across more giraffe, complete with a group of riders from our lodge (see extra - will be added later internet issues). Anybody would have thought they were posing for the camera! I think they'd mistaken me waving them away so I could get a photograph of the mother and calf as a sign I wanted to photograph them.
The weather turned again later, with rain, thunder and lightning, so we opted for a second game drive with Berger, into the fenced off breeding area on the reserve. We were amazed when he told us that some of the animals on the reserve could sell for between one and eight million rand (about £60-500 thousand) each.