A farmer friend of ours called us the other day, almost in tears, his life line of newly planted maize, had been Tripple D’d.
Demolished, depleted and destroyed, leaving him devastated!! What caused this? “Pigs” he said. Bush pigs. He wanted us to go investigate and sort this out for him. I believe his words were: “Either you help me with this or I’ll have to do it my way.” Now when a farmer is angry after losing such prize crop one can only imagine the method his mind conjured up to deal with these devious creatures. “Not to worry, we will make a plan” we assured him.
So hubby and I set off late afternoon with all the kids to the field where this carnage occurred to see how many pigs got stuck into his field. I was looking at spoor in the soft soil and one set in particular caught my eye. I was convinced it was kudu (please bare in mind im no great African game tracker) but I have a fair idea when it comes to hooved animals. (not counting the gemsbok I tracked backwards once)
Anyway, with the size of these tracks I thought it was definitely a kudu, but my husband, on closer inspection said nope it’s a boar. “Wow that is one huge pig” I said and one huge confirmation that you need to brush up your tracking skills again he added. Being a full time mom of 3 and workaholic really does not give me much time to get out and master my tracking these days, but I really loved being out there and feeling like I knew what I was doing.
I was so excited surveying the land, and putting out feed to entice them.
We would return later that night to see what time they came in. The kids and I prepared an early dinner and packed a few snacks and drinks for our great Pigging Escapade in the field behind our house. (clearly I don’t get out much) It was 7:15pm when we got all warmly wrapped up, kids loaded in the back of the bakkie with dad and the spot light. I was designated driver as my driving skills surpass my tracking and we were off up the road round the bend and into the field at a slow pace with vehicle headlights off. (we did this to not frighten the pigs as you have to surprise them as really you only have 1 chance before they bolt). We rolled up to the prime positioning, switched the engine off and sat in silence….. waiting….. listening… almost holding my breath in anticipation. When you are sitting in pitch darkness of a cold winters night, straining your ears and eyes for sound and movement it’s very exciting and your imagination can take flight.
Danie switched on the spot light directly on the feed but alas there was nothing. Scanned to the left then to the right and back again. I was so hoping to see these elusive creatures feasting like… well pigs on this irresistible stinky feed. “That’s it for the night, they clearly come in a lot later” Danie said. “What!” I answered in surprise “We have only been here for maybe half an hour” I did not even have time to take a sip of juice or crunch on a chip! (did I think I was at the movies… a show of sorts? perhaps) Any outing when living in a small town becomes a big event.
So we decided to drive around the field closer to the thick bush to see if they were perhaps lurking in the background before making their break into the open field. But these creatures are extremely intelligent and if they were, they would not openly expose themselves. Dad was scanning the field and bushes with the spot light and suddenly there were eyes. “Pigs!” I called. No Duiker. There were about four Duikers heading into the field from the one corner so we switched off the engine again and sat in silence. This was now turning into a night drive. How wonderful! More sets of eyes. Two beautiful bush buck suddenly appeared, one really large bull and his female. They did not stick around though once they caught our sent they leapt back into the bush.
I looked up and the skies were so clear and the stars were in abundance. I could see for miles into the heavens. And I saw two shooting stars. Then a huge eagle owl landed a couple of meters away from our bakkie, when we gazed the light in its direction it flew off into the black night, so quietly as though it were never there. Rabbits, more Duikers, Night Jars calling. I honestly did not expect to see all this beautiful wild life almost in my back yard. By this stage I had forgotten all about why we came there and my parched throat.
I was jolted back to reality after I heard a couple of soft taps on the roof and being asked to drive back to the feeding spot so we could place our trail camera up there to get an accurate time and pictures of the pigs, which we would retrieve the following morning.
I was in such high spirits as were the boys. I mean I know we live in a wild and untouched area with plenty of game farms but there are still a lot of rural settlements, farming communities, busy main roads and the like, really only a couple of hundred meters away from this buzzing field.
Driving back to our home I could hear the boys chatting in the back recalling the wonders they had seen. One forgets when you are in your everyday routine of bath time, dinner time and TV that outside your door and even in your back yard there is a whole other existence, be it in the city or remote towns.
I really encourage you to explore that time, break your routine for just one night and go see what is out there. You will really be surprised. It makes for fantastic viewing, even better than a movie.
So what’s happened about the pigs I hear you ask. Well you’ll just have to wait and see what I write about next.