It’s not all doom and gloom ….. another survivor!

And so the ‘40 Days and 40 Nights in the Wilderness’ are over, and I am well and truly exhausted. This is mainly due to the heat which suddenly really picked up in the last week, with temperatures soaring upwards to 46 degrees. I was drinking lots of water during the transect, and always rewarded myself with an ice-cold can of Coke, from the petrol station at the end. Now, it’s a case of looking through the data collected to see if there are any interesting patterns emerging.

We still have two more seasons to sample though, so it’s a long way from being finished.

One of the mornings towards the end of the 40 days, was turning out to be quite depressing; there were five Scrub Hares dead on the road. Whilst the Scrub Hare is not threatened and seems to have a healthy population, it was still disheartening to see so many ‘flat’ on the road. It was wonderful then to experience and be able to report the following event.

I had just pulled over onto the road verge one morning and I was speaking to Harriet, one of my supervisors, on the phone about part of the transect. Whilst I was chatting I said that there was a dead bird on the road. Just as I finished talking, a car then drove over the bird and it was blown another 30m down the road – I thought, “well that’s it, it must be well and truly dead!”

Long-billed Crombec

I picked it up to try and identify the species and it was barely alive. It was a Long-billed Crombec, a very common resident of the area, and usually found in pairs in bushveld. I took it to the roadside where I tried to then place it under a bush in the shade and let it die in peace. It wouldn’t let go of my finger though, so I thought I’d let it just die in my hands.

I watched its face as it sat on my hand. The eyes were shut but kept on blinking in that dazed-sort-of-way….. was it trying to live? I sat with it for almost half-an-hour, and during that time, it started to improve. Its eyes gradually opened, and it started to survey its surroundings. I tried to place it on the ground again, but it latched even harder onto my finger.

Gradually, its eyes were completely open and it seemed fully alert to its surroundings. It just wasn’t ready to take flight to really assess if it was totally okay. I was now starting to worry that if it wasn’t fully able to fly, then what would I do with it? I needn’t have worried, as within the next minute, it suddenly took flight and landed on a nearby Mopane Tree. It clutched the branch, almost appearing to be in shock that it had made it. I stood and watched it for a while longer before it took further flight and disappeared into the ‘metaphorical sunset’ of the bush. It really made my day to see something survive, and it was quite special having it perched on my hand ….

You can see that it obliged by posing next to the EWT logo ….


About wendy collinson

Originally hailing from the UK, Wendy gained her Bachelor of Education in 1990, and spent 15 years teaching Physical Education in London to high school students. She moved to South Africa in 2005, beginning work as a research assistant with large carnivores, working on research projects initiated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Wendy’s education background has stood her in good stead as a tour guide, since she believes in an interactive approach, engaging guests in specialist carnivore research tours. In addition to her research and tours, Wendy is also the main organiser of the aptly named “BIKE4BEASTS” mountain bike race, organised annually to raise funds for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (www.bike4beast.coza) Wendy is a field worker with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife and Transport Programme. She recently completed her Master’s degree at Rhodes University, Grahamstown South Africa, which examined the impacts of roads on South African wildlife.
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