We have had an interesting few days in front of our house at Malalane Gate this week… It involves a dead impala, a very rare bird of prey and our local predator/scavenger friends; A “kill” in front of the house.
I was in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for Alex and Jack when I spotted a strange shape on the ground in front of our yard. I pointed it out to Steven. “Were the elephants here last night, my love?” Thinking it was either a big heap of elephant dung, “Or is that a dead impala?”
Steven got his binoculars out. It was, indeed a dead impala. We could not figure out what killed the poor antelope or how it died… I bit of a mystery if you ask me. What was also weird is that there was no predator around. It was still very early in the morning and I expected the hyenas that do the rounds around the staff village here to come and scoop it up any second. But no one did and by the time we left for school, the bokkie was still there.
Steven and I spent ages looking out the window, expecting a leopard or a hyena to come and take advantage of this ‘kill’ in front of the house. Of course, we did not want to miss the action!
Not a single animal paid attention to the dead impala all day. Other impalas passed by without so much as looking at their deceased friend. Kudu’s walked past without noticing it, even our local family of warthogs was not interested.
I slept with the curtains open that night. Hoping that a perceptive leopard or lion would trigger the motion sensor light on our front gate. I hardly slept in anticipation, but the next morning, the ‘kill’ in front of the house was still there. Untouched. And the morning after that. And the morning after that. It was the weirdest thing!
We could for the life of us not figure out why not a single animal wanted to eat this impala. Were the predators/scavengers just not around? Or were they around, but was the dead impala in front of our house too close to human hustle and bustle? Alex and Jack were also fascinated. Every afternoon when I picked them up from school, they asked me of the bokkie was still there.
Eventually, on the fourth morning, we woke up to a lone vulture sitting in our heart-shaped tree. And not just any vulture: A very rare and endangered White-Headed Vulture! How cool is that? I have never seen one and now it just presented itself right in front of our home!
While the boys were at school, the vulture made a few attempts to break open the impala that was seriously bloated and a bit smelly after 4 days in the warmth of the spring sun. When I came home with the boys, the vulture was gone.
That night, with Alex and Jack tucked into their cosy beds; the local hyena’s finally found the dead impala. An incredibly loud “whoooop, whoooooop” echoed through the house like a bushveld dinner bell. The hyena that started calling was right in front of the house. A bit further away, another hyena answered. Then another call reverberated though the house.
At that point, Alex stormed into our bedroom with a terrified look on his face. “Do you hear the hyena’s, mama?” He asked me. “Gaan hulle die bokkie eet?” Are they going to eat the impala? “Yes, my lovie, they finally found it,” I told him. “Is that bokkie enough for all the hyenas? Are they not going to climb up the ladder (he sleeps on the top bunk), and eat me in my bed?” Outside a hyena giggled. Which made Alex’ eyes big as saucers. “ No my lovie, I promise you, they will not come inside the house, ok?”
The whoop-whooping and cackling of the hyenas disappeared into the distance as they took their prize away and Alex calmed down. I put Alex back in his bed and reassured him again that I would not let anything happened to him. Little jack slept through everything.
The next morning, there was no evidence of the commotion of the night before, except for two little tufts of white hair. Nothing goes to waste in the bush after all.