First time in the wilderness: thought and reality | by Uthman

I eagerly packed my luggage and camp-net – I’ve been longing for this field trip. In anticipation to meet my dream game species, I left home without taking breakfast. I was the earliest bird at the department car park patiently waiting for others to join me.

Unfortunately, the bus developed a fault and affected our schedule. Travelling from south-west region to Kainji-lake National park at North-central by is an adventure for site seeing. After 10 hours I entered the park with an empty stomach.

I begged for bread the following morning when I was hungry, the bread which I didn’t finish when I heard the whistle of park rangers. Woooo it’s time for game viewing.

Game viewing is different from seeing documentaries. I believe all what I do see on documentaries is what I will see on my first outing in the wilderness. I was directly behind the camp officer so as to make sure I have the first sight before my colleagues. The first 1.5 km of trek in the woodland accompanied by different bird songs made me realized that the storybook that I read when I was six – about elephants driving luxurious cars and building mansions like men – was impossible.

A lot of thoughts were going on my mind when I observed that everybody was muted. The animal appeared on a tree about 10 meters away. It was a Patas Monkey; I made my first sighting of the animal in its natural environment. I was super happy. As small as it was, it rekindled my hope of seeing big game. A salty taste on my tongue made me realized that sweat can be produced on my lips.

A rusting iron signpost on which Hippo pool was inscribed points to a sloppy direction. We followed it and got to river Oli where I observed fresh dung and footprints, but the culprit of the activities had left the scene.

I told myself “don’t cry” but I silently did later when I remembered that the guy that lent me his camera said he won’t collect a dime only if I return with picture of hippopotamus because I had over-stressed the assurance of sighting animals. We stopped at other pools to check but none was sighted…

I found myself under a fig tree on a full moon day listening to a story of 7 beings that fought without any one being guilty, mosquito lied to his wife that when he was young, they wake him up with big poles. Squirrel heard and busted into laughter, the palm fruit in its mouth dropped on snake’s tail and displaced it. Snake ran into a burrow, giant-rat rushed out to avoid being preyed on.

Seeing Rat, a nocturnal animal in the afternoon is an indicator of danger to vulture. Vulture had to fly and landed on Neem tree, which is forbidden according to the teller. The tree fell on eggs of guinea fowl which is a ground nester. The bird flied aggressively and collided with a traditional ruler. They all have proof when they were called to defend themselves in court, even mosquito that caused the chaos claimed that he was lying to its wife and it doesn’t affect anybody. They were all discharged and acquainted. Isn’t that interesting?

A reverberation of a gunshot woke me up …Imagine I was dreaming under a Blackplum tree where we stopped to rest. I checked my watch, so within 13 mins we’ve hibernated. I was afraid the rangers told me that poaching activities are really affecting the resources of the park. Range-head said Kob, a medium sized antelope has that distress call he ordered armed men to trace the direction of the sound while we remain at the spot.

I whispered to a junior ranger “why did we even stop here” he said “some herbivores do come to forage here”. After some minutes, herds of Roan-antelope appeared, the flagship species of the park starring at us in few meters away. My “see-see-see” noise alerted everybody, the antelopes all flee. “Hmm, sighting animal is this difficult; I wouldn’t have rejected a course at college of medicine to study wildlife and ecotourism management…” I soliloquized.

I returned to my camp net to finish the bread. Surprisingly, it’s nowhere to be found. There were marauding Olive-baboon, footprints confirmed ’they entered the net through the zip I forgot to lock while leaving in the morning. Sighting them temporarily quenched my hunger because it added my list of sighted animals.
As from that time I travel with food and necessary supplements. Sighting animal requires patience, use appropriate gadget and silence is important. Amazing moments of animals does not occur frequently.

Going out on game viewing is a 50-50 game. Don’t be rigid in your expectation; Nature determines the wilderness.

About the Entry

Uthman

I am OYEBAMIJI, Ayoku Uthman an undergraduate student of the department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, University of Ibadan and a member of Ibadan Bird Club. A nature lover, young ornithologist, green tourism and conservation journalist that preach conservation to instill in environmental consciousness in young and old, my love for wildlife made me snub medical course for wildlife management. I love travelling and participating in Nature based recreational activities. I am a volunteer at zoological garden, Ibadan and forest center at IITA (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture) headquarters, Ibadan.

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The winners and runners up of the Wildlife Blogger of the Year 2018 (sponsored by Conservation Careers)

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