Aardvark is not a mammal that I am familiar with.
Aardvark was a name I associated with small businesses who wanted to get top listing in the telephone directory… when such things existed…
Aardvark were mythical creatures to me… until I saw one.
This was not my first time in the Kalahari and the Aardvark have always been elusive… they are nocturnal animals, difficult to find and as you can see from my photograph they blend right into their surroundings… The truth is I was never convinced that they really existed… and with a name like Aardvark… well you can understand my scepticism…
Our guide, Adrian who we have come to regard as part of the family, didn’t quite ‘promise’ an Aardvark this trip but I could tell that he really wanted to prove his case, to show us these incredible beings. They look somewhat like an overgrown rabbit but with the body and snout of a pig although it is the arched back gives them their unique physical appearance. When he suggested we might search for and ultimately see an Aardvark, my response was lukewarm… I would humour him but I couldn’t see this slippery little beast coming our way any time soon.
In case we miraculously had a sighting, I identified them in the guide book before we set out. This city slicker wouldn’t know an aardvark from a wild dog… These babies are not part of my daily repertoire…
Leaving the lodge the banter was running between us… searching for Aardvark… I felt like Indiana Jones, kitted up in khaki and exploring for treasure, Aardvark treasure.
Not more than ten minutes out Adrian slams on the brakes, jumps up and waves madly to the right… ‘Aardvark’, he mouths. The cynic in me thinks this is a set up… it can’t be possible that he has sighted one so quickly after all the ragging we have given him about finding an Aardvark.
Not so… there in a clearing was the evasive and mysterious Aardvark.
All nervousness lost, Adrian and Ben our tracker leapt out of the car and persuaded us to follow.. We were all tracking Aardvark. Me… tracking… me and Aardvark… who would ever have imagined that I would write this sentence?
Stealth was the name of the game… we tiptoed one behind each other following Adrian’s lead, Ben watching over us from behind … treading gingerly making sure to step only on the sandier patches less the grass would alert our precious treasure that we were in pursuit.
We came close, so close… as he burrowed I photographed… as he moved, we followed… My fear of being on foot and defenceless in the great Kalahari disappeared as I gazed in wonder at this inprobable animal. Even the sound of the Jackals playing in the background could not deter my enthusiasm.
One of those moments… It was as if I had tunnelled back in time and could witness life as it once was.
Aardvark… I will never doubt you again… xv
ps… your suggested reading… to stay in a safari frame of mind… thank you…
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