Our six night stay at Rooiputs turned out to be the highlight of our Botswana 2010 trip. This idyllic spot is less than 30 kms from the Twee Rivieren border post and sits on a hill just above the Nossob River. One has to take a detour to this camp but the road is no challenge and it doesn’t take long to reach the six well-appointed campsites. The sign maker either had a sense of humour or didn’t know how to spell!
Within hours of settling in we had dramas unfolding before us that had us grabbing our cameras to catch the action. We were sitting in the wooden A-frame having some tea when Hillary noticed an animal movement behind us. It was a mother polecat carrying her baby to a new hiding place. Rob and I positioned ourselves next to the hole, cameras in hand, and had rather a long wait until she briefly popped her head out to see what was happening. After doing that once or twice she decided to remain in hiding until she could get away under cover of darkness.
Back in the A-frame we heard a scratching noise above us and were excited to discover a big barn owl in the broken rafters. Birds are always a priority for us so Hillary filled a pan with water and attracted some of the many sociable weavers in the area,
but she hastily had to move it away from their van area when she realized who else was partial to a drink. Check out the trail that the puffadder left in the dirt leading to the pan.
That evening we took a drive along the road to the Kij Kij waterhole and saw our second lion of the trip – a very emaciated cub that didn’t look like it would survive very long.
Back at the campsite later we were having a braai when we saw a Cape fox sniffing at the hole where the polecat and her baby were hiding.
Hillary was most upset and wanted to intervene to stop the baby polecat being eaten. The mother, who had been very wary of us in the afternoon, suddenly decided that we could help her protect her baby and , acting as a decoy for the fox, she ran right into the A-frame where we were standing. Soon we had fox and polecat running around us totally oblivious of our presence. Funnily enough the Cape fox wasn’t interested in eating the mother polecat – his main aim was to get the baby.
This went on for quite a while until the polecat decided it would be safer to deposit her baby in a burrow right next to our braai fire, which she duly did when the fox was distracted. We never knew the outcome of the polecat saga, whether the baby was moved safely during the night or eaten, but the Cape fox came back to our campsite night after night. These were both truly magnificent animals and all the more pleasing to see because they are not so common.
A short stay in the bush makes one very aware of the food chain and how every animal is in danger of being eaten. One soon understands why the animals are so nervous, or alternatively, relaxed around other beasts that don’t pose a threat to them.
Our stay at Rooiputs had certainly started on a very positive note – we looked forward to what the next few days had in store for us.