Friday, September 02, 2011
African Snipe Hunt
You know what a snipe hunt is right? You know where you go out at night with your paper bag and a flash light and try to catch snipes. Wait what's a snipe, you say? They are these kind of birds that run around in fields and mostly near woods but they hate the light. Hence why you need a flashlight. You go to a field and sweep your flashlight back and forth so you can spot them. Then you catch them in your paper bag. It's a great past time and if you have never been on one I will take you when I get back to the states.
When my family was here we went and visited my friends Len and Marina at their farm. After eating a wonderful meal they started talking about how we were all going to load up into the Land Cruisers and catch the Botswana Baby Kangaroos. They told us to bundle up and grab some drinks. My family and I just looked at each other as we thought to ourselves are they taking us on a snipe hunt? Then Marina proceed to describe these "baby kangaroos". She said they are small, hop around, have long tails and are super cute. Once again we just thought sure they are….
Regardless of what we thought we played along with this "Baby Kangaroo" hunt and loaded up into the vehicles. So here my parents, brothers, Lennie, his cousin Dankie*, and me are all piled in the back of the cruiser with Jolandie driving. Lennie has this huge spot light that he is sweeping across the fields. After a little while they say they spot one and next thing we know Dankie is out of the vehicle running through the bush and we are chasing after him with the vehicle. I don't see what he is chasing after, but because I still think we are on a snipe hunt, I assume it's nothing. He doesn't catch anything, of course; gets back in the vehicle and we drive some more.
A few more minutes pass and once again they say they spot something. So Dankie jumps out of the vehicle and the vehicle chases after him. As we get closer, I look at where the spotlight is shining and what do I see? First I see some blue eyes. Then I see that the eyes are attached to something that is small, hopping, and has a long tail! Wait so these things really do exist??? Crazy!! Marina and the rest of them weren't pulling our legs. Once again Dankie doesn't catch it so we drive on.
At this point I am amazed that these "baby kangaroos" actually exist, but I am still a little skeptical that you can actually catch them. They hop fast and through big thorn bushes. I keep thinking there is no way you can catch one. Lennie spots one again and this time hands the spotlight over to my brother and jumps out of the vehicle to help Dankie try to catch it. After they run around for a little bit Lennie jumps into a bush and says he caught it! He brings it up close to the vehicle so we could have a look. It was the craziest looking thing ever! It looked like a rabbit but had huge hind legs, huge claws, and a long tail like a raccoon. Later I would find out that these "baby kangaroos" are actually called spring hares. I was amazed that you actually could catch one. Apparently after you catch one you are supposed to mark it by biting a little piece of it's ear off to mark it. Yummy...
For the next couple hours we drove around the farm trying to spot and catch the hares. Both my brothers tried to catch them. I would have tried but was feeling a little under the weather, so I was on spotlight duty. It was hilarious watching them run after these things. You would see them running and then disappear (because they wouldn't be in the spotlight anymore) and out of nowhere they would pop back into the light and maybe fall (because they hit a hole or a bush or something) or dive into a thorn bush. One time my brother, Dankie, and Lennie were chasing after one and all three of them tripped on something and fell at the same time. It was soo funny! They didn't end up catching another one, but we sure had a great time.
Once we got back and showered my brothers were showing off all their scrapes and scratches from diving into thorn bushes. They hadn’t dressed appropriately because we had no idea what they were taking us on. The next morning they were pretty sore and had lots of battle bruises! I was a little glad I didn't try to catch one.
If you ever find yourself in the bush of Botswana at night and have a flashlight on you look for the Botswana Baby Kangaroo and maybe you might be quick enough to catch it!
*Lennie's cousin's real name is Heinrich. When we were out on our game drive earlier in the day Heinrich was driving. Every once in a while Lennie would yell down directions to him and then say dankie (which means thank-you in Afrikaans). My mom thought Lennie was saying "donkey" and after the 4th or 5th time of Lennie saying dankie she asked him "why do you keep calling him 'Donkey'?" So the rest of the time that’s what my family called him and it kind of stuck.