Safari Notes: Linyanti Bush Camp, Bush Walk – Botswana
Today we participated in the bush walk where you walk with the guide to explore on foot, typically focusing on smaller animals, birds, tracks, poo, and flora / fauna. Rules are very important when walking in the bush on foot – guide in the front with rifle in hand, guide in the back, walking in a single file line, quiet movements and voices, and following all instructions.
Morning Brush Walk
- Plant with menthol smell (do not recall the proper name!) – medicinal, animals like wild dogs use it to hide their scent and make them smell not like themselves for more effective hunting.
- Water buffalo spotted and heard elephants in the distance – without the safety of the vehicle it was a bit more surreal in this fashion.
- Impala poo – male poop has no smell, females have smell because they pee on poo. Ken even had a spitting contest with our new Montana friends (much to Kevin’s relief) – to clarify, the spitting content was WITH THE POOP. This is safe because there are no bacteria in the poop of grazers since they are not meat eating. You cannot do this with meat poo!
- Giraffe poo – females poo can be easily broken, males are very hard and have a dent in them. This is because male giraffes do not have time to drink water – only to mate – so do not waste time drinking therefore suck all the water out which makes the poo extra dry
- Giraffe hearts are 12kg (24 pounds) in order to fight gravity to pump to the head. Giraffes can’t bend over for a long time because there would be too much blood to the brain. There is a valve that helps regulate but weakens with age. Crazy how it works!
- Termite mounds – everyone mentioned during the trip how much there is to know about these marvels:
- The operate a 24/7 business.
- There are three jobs – the workers, the soldiers, and then the royalty (one king and one queen). The queen plays ten thousand eggs a day and depending on the need can delegate which type of worker they become.
- Queen termite has the longest life span of any insect with up to 50 years!
- Microfungus termite – termites cannot digest their own food and use fungus to assist to make the food digestible.
- The hill itself is built from soil and secretions. Only 1/3 of the hill is visualized above ground. Other animals and birds perch to view surroundings and often poop on the termite mounds which can excrete seeds and then plants grow on top.
- Elephant tracks – we spotted a bunch of elephant tracks. The front foot is oval and the back foot is round. When they are walking relaxed the tracks overlap onto each other. When they are distressed or rushed the tracks are separated. These tracks overlapped so it was a casual and relaxed walk that this elephant was one. You can measure the size of the elephant to it’s shoulder by taking the circumference of the track and doubling it. Ken demonstrated with the belt and the height of this elephant was huge.
- Elephant tree (do not recall the proper name!) – the trees in the area can grow very tall but elephants keep them trim so they resemble shrubs. The ones that made it tall have bark that is used for nutrients so elephants tear that off the trees. These poor trees get an elephant beating!
- Spotted wild dog poo. Difference between hyena and wild dog – both are very dark / black in color. Hyena is one long poop and wild dogs poop has dents. Typically, hyena poop is white or has traces of white due to their bone heavy diet. This was exciting because wild dogs are very hard to spot on safari however we knew we would not see them on foot like this so our odds of seeing them was low anyway.
- Water buffalo tracks are in a single file line and drag their feet to make tracks – it was amazing to see it up close.
- Mushrooms growing on the tree – wind is east so when spores are in the air, they land typically on the east side of whatever can sustain their growth. Is helpful if you are lost to know which direction is east.
- Woodpecker – uses echo vibration to find worms in the tree. The woodpecker has a very long tongue with a serrated end to grab the worm. The tongue actually is stored behind the brain and serves as a shock absorber with the pecking.
- African sage plant – another plant with scent properties and medicinal properties.