There is never a dull moment on any of the Field Guide Courses or in any of the wilderness camps. Instructor Margaux explains exactly why (story taken from her own diary blog):
“As the assistant instructor and the ‘mom’ of the camp, I often have to tell students to pick up their belongings and to not let their things lay around. I always use examples of snakes, scorpions and spiders who often crawl into people’s belongings, and who when provoked, might end up stinging or biting some unsuspecting soul. Now however, I have a new example to use in my repertoire of ‘Please don’t leave your things laying around’…
After all the floods and excitement of moving tents due to rising floodwaters, we decided to give the students a well-deserved ‘off day’ to spend at leisure. Most of the group went into town for the day, but a handful remained in camp, and to treat them, I said we could go out on an afternoon game drive all by ourselves. What a treat we were in for!
The sun was setting rapidly, and as darkness descended the radio call came in: ‘There are lions in camp! They are close to Tent 13!’ We raced off back to camp after I instructed all the guys in camp to gather in the main lecture area or to stay in their tents. As we approached the camp, we decided to go and see exactly where the lions were, and how many there were so that we could make a judgment call as to what the next plan of action would be.
As we came around the corner, there they were 3 of them, sprawled out in the middle of the pathway leading from the instructor’s tent to tent 13. It was a lioness and her sub-adult nephew and niece. They were quite relaxed before the young male got up and walked to tent 12. As he disappeared out of view we kept on looking at the older lioness who was very relaxed within our company.
After a while we saw the youngster appear again: this time with a white object in his mouth. At first we could not see what exactly it was, but then the student that was sitting on the tracker seat exclaimed: ‘Hey! That’s my shoe!’ The youngster had walked all the way to the outside of his tent and had managed to pick up his Reebok Flip Flop. We could not help but laugh at the situation – especially at Christo, the owner of the shoe’s face. It was absolutely priceless!
The jokes started immediately with statements such as ‘Don’t get stroppy with me’ and ‘That youngster has a lot of sole’. He did not even seem guilty as he moved off towards the river to go and chew on his new found toy
The lioness started to get restless and she started to move off before the two youngsters decided to follow her. We quickly rushed back to the rest of the students to fetch them so that they could also see the cats before they disappeared into darkness.
It was only 2 days later that we managed to find the shoe – half eaten and smelling really rotten. My moral of the story of course is ‘Please don’t let your things lay around. We have lions with a fondness of chewing people’s shoes!”