A Spot of Rain
On a bright, warm and tranquil day in the Londolozi Game Reserve, the surrounding nature called out to us through musical wind, bird chatter and distant calls, to explore it. While deciding whether to head out for the afternoon game drive, soft ash-grey clouds began to tip toe in from the east. They began to dance over our heads, growing deeper in colour by the minute, as if trying to communicate to us through interpretive dance that the approaching rain was not far behind. Although we knew the probability of rain was high, the clouds didn’t deter us from realizing our waiting adventure in the wilderness…
We climbed into our game vehicle and pulled off with a mechanical roar into the South African wild. By this point we had managed to get slightly ahead of the clouds, yet they seemed determined to follow after us to see if they could catch up. As the weather was slowly changing, we knew we had to use our time in the sun wisely and made sure to stay alert at every second while driving through the afternoon haze. On our way, we came across a crocodile floating alongside its latest kill in a small body of water, cautiously protecting it from its scaly neighbours who would glide past every so often. Around the corner from this encounter, we found around eight pairs of ears and eyes poking out of a different body of water; a family of hippos were keeping a close eye on us as we moved past. On our drive, we also came across a herd of elephants grazing in the distance, beautiful birdlife flying overhead, and then suddenly, as if out of thin air, we spotted a quick tail whip behind a thick patch of shrubbery…
We all knew what it was, only one animal has a tail with such agility and precision, therefore we made sure to approach with proper caution and silence, so as not to ruin our chances of an encounter with this elusive and stealthy predator. We slowly followed in the direction of where we had seen its tail, and sure enough, a beautiful male leopard was making his way through his territory. His sleek body, shining a golden yellow in the afternoon sun, carried a full back of caramel spots and moved in wave-like motions, his sharp shoulder blades gradually swaying up and down. We drove further alongside the leopard and eventually saw its face, its eyes, carrying an expression of deep concentration, spiritual essence and unfathomable wisdom.
He moved continuously, slowly slipping in and out of sight, always keeping us intrigued, and almost certainly making us forget about the rolling clouds that had now caught up with us… Suddenly, each of us started to feel small, cool splashes on our faces. They started slow, but eventually we noticed the need to wipe water from our cheeks. Soon after, the scene directly in front of us became a grey haze, and we could no longer see the regal cat as clearly as before. However, now and then we could see spots amongst the raindrops; a dance of droplets and rosettes waltzing with one another.
We were so intrigued by the beauty of the leopard moving through this gentle shower, that we didn’t realize rainwater was now starting to fill our shoes! We all awoke from our leopard daze and decided it was best to head back to camp. The leopard turned around for just a second while taking shelter under a nearby tree and looked directly at us for the first time. Both parties took one final look at the other. As we drove back through the plains, the rapid rain hitting our faces, and we all realized just what a wild and unpredictable world this was. A land of true extremes. We as humans can chose to leave, find an umbrella, stay inside; however, the animals of Africa make peace with their world in every natural state and continue with their lives unphased. For these residents of Africa’s wilderness, unpredictable rain may mean a hunt is postponed, a life may be saved, a journey may be extended, a home may be abandoned, or new life may flourish – it is all decided by the wild mistress of fate herself: