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Saturday, December 03, 2011


The very next time when I am frustrated at work in my capacity as expert excrement conveyor, I will try to remember today and how good it was.

We were granted one of our rewards today for having worked so hard during the year. It was the dreaded work year end function. We'd been invited to The Farm Inn, a hotel and game breeding centre slap bang in the middle of one of those posh golf estates to the east of Pretoria.

Breakfast at 9:00am consisted of a buffet of the most incredible variety. We all had more than enough to eat - I had a flapjack, French toast, scrambled eggs, one pound of fried bacon, fried mushrooms and toast with strawberry jam on the first run. For breakfast dessert I then treated myself to fresh seasonal fresh fruit with Bulgarian yoghurt, stewed prunes and a drizzle of honey with a cup of fine filter coffee, black and no sugar.

We asked a very courteous elderly waiter to take our photo. Shame, he had a hard time figuring out the camera but I think his attempt turned out quite well.

That's the overeaten lot of us with the remains of the glorious breakfast in the foreground.

The real treat for the day came in the form of an hour long game drive with a hot game ranger as tour guide. Being the cat lover that I am it was extremely enjoyable to be able to see at least five different species of large feline carnivores up close.

On the way to the tour vehicle (a modified, wheezy, ancient articulated SA Army Mercedes Unimog) we saw a little white lion cub alone in a small enclosure.

Then he was joined by an adorable white tiger cub. Unbelievable!

Strangely, we had to wait a bit for the truck to fill itself with air before we were off at a bug's pace. Right after starting the tour we spotted a giraffe scratching its arse on a tiny and inadequate tree sapling. Come to think of it, maybe it was tickling and not scratching. Apparently they have a tongue 40cm (16") long, only sleep for 25 minutes a night and need 42kg (92½lb) of food per day. Also, their heart weighs a hefty 25kg.

After that we saw a brindled gnu covered in mud. It is said to keep him cool.

Next came a cheetah. Did you know that the recorded top speed for one of these is 126km/h?  The absence of clavicles help them with looser movement and non-retractable claws help them with traction when running with their long tails as rudders. They can even turn 90° at top speed without having to slow down. As adults, they only weigh 45-50kg because their bones are so light and brittle.

My favourite animals of the day were two Bengal tigers. I was so mesmerised I never even heard what the tour guide said except that they kill and eat up to 350 people in India yearly. I was born in the Chinese year of the tiger and they have always been a favourite of mine. We were not allowed to go too close because they don't only eat Indian people.

We also had a chance to see a sleepy lion and lioness really close in another enclosure. He turned over and never even woke up, noisy tourists be damned.

There were lots of other animals; hyenas, nyala, rooibok, kudu, zebra, wild dogs and so on. I suppose it's because South Africa has wildlife in abundance and the climate can accommodate many animals from different and distant places.

I am so glad The One shared this reward with me. He's been becoming reclusive. Today did him, and me, the world of good.

Written by I