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St.Lucia Wetlank Park - Arriving on a beautiful rainy day

SOUTH AFRICA | Saturday, 16 August 2008 | Views [925]

It is late in the night and I am listening to the music of the pouring rain drumming on the thatched roof of our lodge in St. Lucia Park. From the wooden window, I extend my hand out to feel the water flow down my palms and the leaves of the palm trees lining the veranda, quivering helplessly in the rain. As I reminisce about our day’s adventures, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the fact that how the simplest things surrounding us can give us unforgettable moments of pleasure and excitement!

Trying to tip-toe our way carefully on forest trails flooded with venomous snakes and matching our footprints with those left behind by leopards, we amble on our bush walk through the verdant green fields strewn with wild flowers, flashing our cameras with a mere sight of activity in the distance. Accompanied by an expert ranger, who is certified in understanding animal behavior patterns and is experienced enough to lead the walk amongst wild buffaloes without carrying a gun and wearing open toe shoes, we learn how the world of animals operates – how they defend themselves against their predators; how they mate, socialize and move around; how they strategize an attack on a prey and then save their kill from other predators! On a broader level, their behavior is not too different from us human beings or vice-versa but it is indeed fascinating to learn.


Watching a group of hungry crocodiles leap out of their water pen to grab a whole chicken fed to them by the ranger and then with a single violent sake of their head (which is strong enough to tear off a human limb off its body in one move) they tear the chicken up into smaller pieces, made us marvel yet again at the simple ways with which life’s basic functions are performed. And then how little is demanded by some of these creatures to sustain life, for example, a crocodile can survive for 9 months (!!!) without any food and spends most of this time conserving energy staying very still and mostly under water or in shade to cool off.


If their eating and hunting behavior is not enough to make us realize the joys of simplicity, these ferocious animals put us to shame when it comes to sharing their space and territory with others! Hippos, the clumsy herbivores and Nile Crocodiles, the cunning carnivores peacefully share the murky waters of the St. Lucia estuary, making it a fascinating spectacle to watch for tourists. The picture below shows a couple of crocs lazing on the beach while the hippos wade around in the water right next to them! But both these animals pose grave danger to humans and can deceive you with their bulky and lazy style as they leap to attack and kill without any warning, so swiftly and quickly that you will never live to learn what hit you!


And of course, no journey is complete without sampling the local cuisine. So we had our yummy fill every night with some authentic seafood - grilled ‘Catch of the day’ from the estuary laced with ‘per-peri’ (hot) sauce and of course, the CROC-CURRY! (Croc’s tail is the only edible part for human consumption and it tastes very much like chicken)


Now we wait for the rain to die down (and make everything around us look greener and more wonderful) so that we can get out there and kayak the wetlands inhabited by these wonderful creatures – after all, we must learn the value of sharing from them!



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