June 2020
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Month June 2020

Okavango rescue

Ok, here’s an adventure.

Location: Moremi Game Reserve. It’s about a 12 -14 hour return trip in the Delta.

And the GPS track close up of the game drive and the south gate, critical to the story

Players: These 2 ladies, one of which is a friend of mine from Namibia. The other a friend of hers from Germany

The crux player in the story is this guy, a guide/friend and expert on Moremi who I invited along to help locate concentrations of game in the huge park

We’ll preserve his anonymity.

They final player is my truck, who had a few jobs to do today

It was a particularly lion rich day

Here are a couple more, playing

Beautiful, huge, saddle-billed storks

Hippos are always fun

And it was great pulling a Surf (Forerunner in USA) out of the mud

I always love the buffalos. They have such a bad attitude

Lots of antelope

We stopped for lunch under a magnificent baobob

After lunch we got out for a walk (after checking for animals) on a rise that gave us a rare view across the delta

My friend, the otherwise professional guide, pointed out a white mushroom in the grass. I took a photo for later reference, cigarette for size

He broke off and peeled a chunk about an inch across and ate it. He then broke off a smaller pieces for my Namibian friend, while the German lady and I wandered off to take photos.

And then we returned to our drive. After about 30 minutes the guide asked me to stop and he started puking. The attacks became more frequent and soon my Namibian friend started too. That’s her on the left in the trees

Then the guide couldn’t get back in that car without help. I moved the seat back and he started moaning for a while then went still and quiet, and we couldn’t rouse him. I seriously thought he might age in big trouble. My Namibian friend was doing a little better, puking regularly but able to talk.

We didn’t have a sat phone so drove fast back to the South Gate, maybe an hour away, and from there called Okavango Rescue. They said they’d fly over the building and we were to follow them to a landing spot

The movie, paramedic attending to my guide friend in the front, while my Namibian friend lay across the backseat. Drama

They took off back to Maun and the German girl and I followed to the clinic in Maun

This was the mistake the guide made. He assumed the mushroom he ate was this, the termite mound mushroom, which another friend showed me later

We’re not sure what it was, but I know someone who will tell me. I’ll ask her and update this blog.

The Namibian was plugged into things, given shots and released later that day. The guide was transported to hospital with renal problems, was released a week later and was as weak as a kitten for another month. We went for a boat ride yesterday, is now as good as new, and we didn’t mention it.

Edit. My friend, from the University of the Free State, feels it is most probably Amanita philloides, but without a picture of the underside, can’t be positive. She attaches


Forwarded to me

nothobranchius capriviensis 2

Better finish off this post since I notice the pictures were uploaded months ago.

After crossing into Namibia, pre-lockdown, and a long drive, I race here for a quick look before a big exploration the next day.

Here’s my destination, dead centre on the track below, south of the town of Katima Mulilo, on the Zambezi river, across from Angola. It’s not a great town

I found this location from an article online. Helpfully the coordinates were included

And here’s a picture of N capreviensis, also found online. There are about 70 Nothobranchius species, from Sudan to DRC but mostly Tanzania. This is a recent find, and the most southerly. I’m pretty excited to find a male and photograph it

It was long after returning to Maun I found this large piece on the fish


Tomorrow I’ll walk from the road to see if the information we have is correct

The Google Earth of the location looks like this, with the coordinates being on that flat pan center right

The next day, walking through the area, I meet this family

Their farm

And I recruit the kid (embarrassingly, I’ve forgotten his name) to show me any ponds he knows in the area, like this one

Me, soaking wet. It’s raining on and off

Here’s the pond at the coordinates. But there’s a problem: the visibility in the water is nearly zero due to the rains. We spend an hour or so netting randomly but catch nothing

I got attacked by leaches. Here’s my ankle. Because of the anti-coagulant in the bite I bleed for about 10 minutes

We spend the rest of the day exploring other ponds equally unsuccessfully.

So the 3300K drive over a couple of weeks, with this as the main event, hasn’t produced a fish. But any road trip is a good road trip. And I may have a new friend and fish hunting companion (with much greater skills than my own) when the borders reopen.

Next we head off to Divundu to check the water volume headed to the Delta. Divundu is extreme top left in this picture, with the Delta panhandle below the white line (the Botswana border)

Tourism has gone to zero as word of the coronavirus spreads, but we find this great lodge on the river

My room

When I was here, late February, there was no water in Maun and hadn’t been since the previous April. So I asked around and found that the water here in Divundu, headed for the Delta from the Angolan highlands, was the highest it had been in over 10 years. So great news.

I hired a guide to take me to Popa Falls, just upstream

We parked on a small sand island

Coming back, little swifts were flying under the catamaran hull

One parked on the hull

Weaver nests over the water’s edge

The next day, February 21, we crossed back into Botswana at Mohembo. 

The coronavirus screening nurse

And this now ubiquitous temperature thingy

At that time, we had no idea what was ahead of us here in Southern Africa. And I certainly didn’t know this would be the last border crossing I’d make in a while.

OK, got that story finished. A few more to go.

Botswana and coronavirus

This is the form of the update we receive occasionally

The 2 important numbers there are active cases (3) and “transfered out”, which means either border jumpers (residents of Zambia, Namibia or RSA who have relatives here and sneak across and are caught by the Botswana Defence Force, or our biggest problem: truckers who failed screening at the border).

So far so good. The government is working very hard, since they know, and have reminded us, we have neither the hospital beds, the technology or the Doctors to deal with big numbers.

The main threat is from South Africa. I use spreadsheets for everything from to-do lists, to recipes, to any kind of thing I feel like listing. Being very mildly OCD, this is a lot of spreadsheets. I track various numbers to see whats going on in SA for fun. A section

An there’s my favourite chart from that, the 7 day m.a. of the positives into testing-turnaround-time-adjusted number of tests

We are just blowing through 18%. A very big number. This is good or bad news, depending on what your preferencial mix (or conviction) of fatality/duration is.

How well Botswana does almost entirely depends on how quickly that SA % number can be turned around, due to our shared border.

Just an opinion.

In answer to some email questions I get:

Here’s a clip from an email I received from the Canadian High Commission in Harare, Zimbabwe, who know I’m in Maun as I registered with them

I’ve had a few of these, but it’s right to ride it out here, rather than running, and returning to my friends who don’t have the choice, a year from now, and it’s beautiful here. Unless I can get my (non-exclusive) Botswana citizenship, then I have much more flexibility. I’m working on it.

Here’s me and my friend, Ren, who went through lockdown with me. We worked together on a successful project for 2 months.

And joined by a couple of Aussies who’ve been trapped on a mine site for 4 months, and escaped for a week off in town

There’s been a lot of drinking.

Delta drive

So I set off early this morning into the Delta. With no tourism the few people there are the anti-poaching division of the Botswana Defence Force, and poachers, and 2 friends 125K NW of me today.

They have my sat phone and I got an “all well” from them this morning at 05:48:28 UTC. They’re on a once-in-lifetime epic adventure I bailed on until next year, as I sit at a desk and work with a ruler and sharp pencils on a personal project I have 2 weeks to complete. They’re here, about as exotic location as anywhere on earth

So, getting their SMS, I had to go out for the day, even without my phone.

It was beautiful around the Boro, maybe an hour into the drive

I crossed paths with wildebeest and a small trailing herd of buffalo, running together, which I’ve never seen before

And even raced an ostrich for a while. Out of focus, don’t bother clicking

So I guess the fish collecting season has started, unless they lock us down again.

the Boro in flood


DHL from YVR