Once in a lifetime

As rangers we have the privilege of seeing a lot of things that normal bush-goers don’t get the opportunity to see. And there are the rare times when a ranger sees something that he has never seen before and he is with a very lucky group of guests. It was a morning in late July when the events below took place.

My guests and I had just left the most beautiful leopard (Xinyama) and we were looking for a place to have coffee and take in the rays of the morning sun as we were all a little chilly. We were driving in the middle of the reserve when we came across an impressive Nyala bull (Tragelaphus Angasii) in the golden morning light. We had already seen many of them and were ready to drive off when we spotted something particularly odd about this Nyala – he had two porcupine quills in his ear. This absolutely dumbfounded my guests – and me – and we were all a little speechless before the questions started flowing.

“Have you ever seen this before?” was one of the first questions to which my answer was no. We tried to figure out possible reasons for this happening and came up with a few theories but we still do not have a definite answer, which is what made this sighting all the more special. Our best theory was that this Nyala bull may have walked into an unsuspecting porcupine while it was feeding and it may have possibly reacted in such a way that the Nyala bull landed up with two quills in his ear but – as I say – we do not have a definite answer. One of the funnier comments on the vehicle was that this may be the new fashion and we are just behind on the trends!

We sat there for about half an hour taking in this incredible sighting until the Nyala disappeared into the bush – fortunately I guess because I was not ready to leave as I realized I was unlikely to see this ever again. This just goes to show that there is no “same day” out here in the bush and we should always stop to take in the more common game because you never know what might be around. A lesson learnt and an amazing sighting all together!

Report and images by ranger Matt