Home Alone in Kruger

Our Life in Kruger Presents: ‘Home Alone’. Starring: Me.

Remember the movie Home Alone? Around Christmas time a lot of TV channels show re-runs of this feel-good comedy starring Macaulay Culkin. His family goes on holiday and he accidentally gets left at home. Alone. Two guys try to break in and young Kevin is left to defend his parent’s house against these clumsy burglars. Well, the goings on of the past week made me feel like the character Kevin from that movie.

Home Alone DVD cover
The Original DVD cover

Steven is doing back-to-back trails for two weeks, which means I am home alone with the boys. I am alone with them often; I can totally cope on my own. But when it comes to certain aspects of living in Kruger, it would be nice to have some assistance.


Like in Home Alone, I also had a few break-ins and attempted break-ins. Two separate groups of elephants tried to break our fence at the same time: A breeding herd at the front of the house and a cow and calf at the side by the lapa. I can only be at one place at a time, so like Macaulay Culkin, I kind of feel the need to rig some sort of a device to keep the elephants out. A hooter on a tripwire? Mmm, I might actually have to watch that movie again to get some inspiration. Any tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments below;-)


On Monday I had another experience where I would have loved Steven to be home. During one of our many hours of load shedding and without the sound of our ceiling fans, I could clearly hear a squirrel alarm calling. I peeked outside and saw the agitated little animal on the side of one of the marula trees. It was chirping at something at the base of the tree. All of a sudden a snake struck at it! Now I find snakes quite interesting and after the brown house snake Alex found at our lapa over the weekend, I had to go and have a look.


I did nót expect to see a Black Mamba at my impala lily seedlings!!!! I think I muttered something like ‘holy crap’ and looked around me to see if anyone else was home. The only other times I have seen Black Mamba’s was from the safety of a vehicle. And I have to tell you it is very different bumping into one in your own back yard! It was a little one, but I could do nothing but stand there as if my feet were nailed to the ground.


Thankfully the mamba moved away from me and into the shrubs at the fence between the neighbors and us. I have not seen it since but I have to be honest: it is not a lekker feeling having to share our garden with a mamba; especially with our two curious boys loving their play-time outside. In the meantime, I have closed a hole under the back door with a towel.


Yesterday was the grand finale though. While I was working on my website (I kind of broke it by trying to upload some coding. Leave that to the experts, Lin) I heard metal scraping at our front gate. Low and behold there was an elephant pushing the gate open with her head! There are no marulas left in our garden and I had had enough of elephants walking though my veggie patch. (read: The Marula Clean-up Crew) So I went outside to try and persuade the cow and her two offspring to leave my garden alone.


“For flying a kite!” I yelled at the elephant. “What do you want now? The marulas are finished!!” The elephant lifted her head and spread her ears looking at me. “Voetsek!” That did not impress the elephant and she took a few steps inside. With nothing else within my reach (I should have taken my trusted broom! Read: Toughen up Cupcake!), I threw one of my plakkies at her. She sniffed it with her trunk and took a few more steps.


I ended up yelling all sorts of profanities at the three elephants in Dutch. I don’t know why I resorted to my mother tongue. The Kruger elephants definitely do not speak Dutch, because despite my best attempts the three of them casually strolled into the yard.

They probably thought I was an absolute lunatic waving my arms over my head, screaming at them in a strange language and throwing rubber footwear at them.


Gloria from next door finally managed to get the elephants to leave through the flimsy gate by the lapa. I guess she speaks elephant better than I do.


So, for now, that was the last scene of Our Life in Kruger’s movie: Home Alone. But Steven will not be home till Wednesday. It feels like shenanigans like this only happen when he is away. So there might just be a sequel: Home Alone 2!!

Home Alone - The movie
No animals were hurt while writing this blog post;-)

22 thoughts on “Our Life in Kruger Presents: ‘Home Alone’. Starring: Me.

  1. I believe eles are not too keen on CHILI and apparently in Kenya and Tanzania they have started making a paste of birds eye chilis and smearing it on fences and so on that they want the ele to avoid.
    I also read that if you plant chili bushes it helps to discourage them.
    I imagine if you get a jar of chili paste and put some on the gate where they mostly go then try to monitor their behaviour at that gate. If they shy away from it – SUCCESS!! Worth a try at least?
    …and if it works you could put sticks daubed with it in your garden patch too…?

    1. Hi Erik!
      That is definitely worth a try! My only concern is this:
      We were camping in Moremi a few years ago. In an era I call BC- Before Children;-)
      There was a notorious elephant around Xakanaxa campsite that would steal fruit from unsuspecting campers. Well, we did not want to come unprepared. So we arrived armed with a hooter, a big jar of chilly powder and an action plan in place. So, when we heard to anxious screams from people a few campsites down, the action plan was put into action:
      My sister in law packed all the food away in the bakkie, Steven got the hooter out, I generously sprinkled the contents of the jar of chili powder all around our campsite. My brother in law sat ready and waiting with a can of condensed milk. (heaven knows why he chose that as ammunition…)
      Anyway, after a while the elephant was still nowhere near our site, so we decided to go and see if the people he ‘attacked’ were ok.
      The Oom was sitting by the fire having a beer and the tannie told us the story. She still had a wide-eyed, panicked look on her face when she said: “The elephant took the whole spice rack! It at all the chili powder!!!”

      Maybe this particular elephant just had a taste for spice, I don’t know. I am sure it was an African Elephant and not an Indian Elephant;-)

      Maybe Kruger elephants have a different palette??

      x, Linda

  2. Oh my word! You just made my Friday! I’m sitting here at work laughing and crying at the same time, my husband thinks I’m totally nuts!
    I can see you standing there throwing your plakkie at the ellie. Goodness only knows what she thought…
    Your writing is a delight I enjoy every post. The Mamba would have had me peeing my pants. The closest I’ve come to one was in Kruger at the now defunct waterhole on the Tropic of Capricorn loop. We were having coffee in the car and watching some lions and photographing them. My camera was out the window when I saw movement out of my peripheral vision. The Biggest Black Mamba We have ever seen was slithering from under our car. Managed to get a few photos of it. Mostly Blurred as I was shaking…
    Not my favorite encounter I must say.
    Have an Awesome Weekend and I hope you don’t have to many invaders.

  3. Oh Linda, whilst I really do feel for you and the fact that you have to deal with all this on your own, I had to laugh as I read through this blog. The word pictures you drew were so vivid. (Promise I didn’t laugh at the mamba bit . . . .) But:
    “I kind of broke it . . .” (your website). Love it. “For flying a kite. . . “(At an ellie, nogal!!!) ; ‘. . . throwing rubber footwear at them . . .”(Hmmmmnnn – a case for the SPCA methinks 🙂 ) ; “I guess she speaks elephant better than I do . . .” (I think it was the Dutch insults that confused them!)
    So thanks for that wonderful insight into being home (nearly) alone in KNP.

    I agree with Erik about the chilies. Once you have tried the paste on the gate, if it works you could grow a row of chilies along the fence and then make paste from the fruit – double jeopardy!

    (But maybe you should also put up a hazard warning for human visitors – getting smeared with chili paste maybe not such fun.)

    A still giggling
    Sal x

    1. Lol, fun and games, Sal. Fun and games;-))
      Please read my comment to Erik’s post….;-)
      And yes! The idea for the feature image popped in my head last night. Glad it came out so nice. hie hie

      1. Yes I read your reply to Erik. But there is a lot of scientific evidence that ellies, who have very sensitive trunks are repelled by the scent of chilis; maybe these guys didn’t know what they were stealing!!!
        Here is an interesting recipe. I’m not suggesting you do this as quite a lot of work is involved and I’m sure you don’t want to be enveloped by the smell of burning chili dung but its interesting to read and there is a little video clip at the end.


  4. Oh what a joy to read your stories, how I long for the bush!
    Besides the chillis I know that in Kenya they use beehives to deter elephants so maybe that is an idea you could work on – you would obviously not want bees around where the kids play so where to put a hive or 2 would be the problem.
    Good luck with improving your ‘elephant-speak’!!

    1. I also read that they don’t like bees…
      Two people from Holland came to say howzit a while ago and there were also elephants hanging around the front gate then. One of them had the sound of a beehive in his phone and we put the phone by the fence as it played the sound. Maybe it wasn’t loud enough, but the elephants were not bothered at all….. And so the search continues. Maybe I should take a Rosetta Stone course in ‘Elephant’.

  5. I absolutely love your stories. My absolute favourite blog and I read many. With 2 small sons myself and an obsession with Kruger, you are living my dream. Hope to meet you some day xxx

  6. Next time I’m yelling (in choice Anglo Saxon English) at the Durban vervets for destroying yet another bit of garden (or house – they keep using the Telkom wire as a tightrope with obvious results), I will take a deep breath and remember that things could be worse!
    I love your stories Linda.

  7. Linda wat baie goed werk, as jy 2 kastrol dekkels teen mekaar slaan soos simbale. Hulle hardloop vinnig weg. Dit gedoen jare terug in die wildtuin toe olifante ons ons voorgekeer het. Hulle skrik groot!!! Stert tussen die bene en daar gaan hulle…..

  8. Linda,
    wat baie goed werk, as jy 2 kastrol dekkels teen mekaar slaan soos simbale. Hulle hardloop vinnig weg. Dit gedoen jare terug in die wildtuin toe olifante ons ons voorgekeer het. Hulle skrik groot!!! Stert tussen die bene en daar gaan hulle…..

    1. Dankie Hanlie!! Lekker om van jou te hoor hierso!
      Hoe gaan dit met jou en Dawie?
      Ek het n plan gemaak met n pot en n paplepel nou die dag… snaakse storie daai. Sal skryf;-)

  9. As usual, a lovely story, Linda. I wouldn’t miss reading your blogs for anything. And that you write so well in English when your home language is Dutch puts me to shame. I have lived in South Africa for the last 50+ years, and I still can’t speak Afrikaans, much less write it. Lazy English speaker – I have never really had to try very hard. Anyway, I was going to mention Chili again, and also bee hives, as I have also heard (as mentioned by another Janet) that there is some success in Kenya, with the added bonus of HONEY!!! However, maybe not so good with small children around, as bees get angry and sting. A black mamba is another story – definitely he needs to be encouraged to leave the area. Thank you for adding another happy corner in my life. I ache to go back to the bush. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Janet!
      There are not a lot of people that speak Dutch, so we kind of have to learn other languages. I am trying my best at Afrikaans. And then my Dutch heritage gives me a distinct advantage;-)
      I hope you get to visit our magical ‘back yard’ again soon!

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