What an absolutely fantastic walk! Two guests and I decided to walk west along the Beho Beho River, travelling beside and through the Riverine forests that cover the rivers edges.
Due to the forest being dense in certain sections, we had to then walk in the Beho Beho River, which is dry this time of year. However even though the river appears to be bone dry, there is a very good underground flow, which elephant locate by digging with their front legs and in some cases will go down on the front knees and begin to dig a hole into the riverbed with their tusks, finding the filtered water as is seeps out from below. This also assists other animals like yellow baboons and antelope to drink from these little water points.
As we began our trip some Blue or Sykes Monkey made their appearance as they gracefully leaped from one branch to the next in unison. The name Sykes Monkey has origins from Colonel William Henry Sykes who was a colonel in the Indian Army, but also a politician and ornithologist. During his conquests he named and identified various species, the Sykes monkey being one of them.
So we decided to move closer to watch these primates doing their acrobatic leaps, and as we made our way down a game path into the forest, a larger than Blue Monkey rustle came from behind a bush 15 meters in front, followed by a big, open eared elephant bull, taking two steps forward to say I am here and I do see you. After a bit of negotiation between the bull and I, we backed up slowly as he did the same and went on our separate ways.
What a beginning to the walk, adrenaline pumping we decided something more calming would be better, but a little more excitement would come, as we crossed the Beho Beho River and onto a grass patch, I halted the group as I looked below on the ground, little excitement and a little inner giggle erupted. A bewildered look came across the faces of the two guests as I was looking at a midden, but not just a midden – Black Rhino midden. A male had come past in the early hours of the morning, but no chance of following the tracks as they led into some of the thickest brush, where none of us would be going. The knowledge however that there is one walking about along the Beho Beho, was exciting enough for us.
As we carried on down the Beho Beho, some more Blue monkeys and even some Black and White Colobus monkey’s greeted us, but the highlight for me was to come. Standing enjoying the sounds of the forest and the visual beauty of the scenery, the one guest turned to her husband and me and said, “What’s that badger-looking creature?” Not only one badger-looking creature, there was a pair, a pair of Honey Badgers. These tenacious and tough as nails badgers, are well known for their no nonsense approach. We watched these two greeting one another and then carry on their way as they clambered up one of the embankments. Really fortunate to see these mammals and especially on foot, as they are often secretive, but as the name implies they do enjoy honey, bee larvae and pupae. There is also an association which occurs between a bird, called the Greater Honeyguide, and both the honey badger and people. Coincidentally or not we heard one in the background calling. The Greater Honeyguide will give a following call, and then allow the badger or a person to follow it, leading them to a bee hive. The Honeyguide doesn’t have the ability to open the hive, but does enjoy eating honeycomb. They have enzymes in their stomach that gives them the capabilities to breakdown honeycomb. So with a helping hand or claw from a person or a badger, they can enjoy their meal as well, however should you not leave the Honeyguide a piece of honeycomb after it has led you to a bee hive, a lot of the African cultures say, next time it will lead you to a lion or a python.
On our trip back the excitement didn’t seize as we had a buffalo bull come running past us and then out of sight. Quite an adrenaline packed walk, but some fantastic sightings and just a beautiful scenery.