My brother Jon sees a world of wildlife in the bush when I see only a little. I’m not talking about just being able to spot elephants, giraffe, zebra, dik dik, klipstringer, ostrich, and so forth better than me (which he can). He sees elephants in a broken branch, bark torn off a tree, big round footprints in the dirt with a curvy line where the elephant dragged his trunk. He sees lion prints moving across a road into the bush. He sees a life in a small dung beetle rolling a ball of dung with her back legs that has her unborn babies in it. A bird sitting in a tree has a personality to Jon because he knows everything about it. A coucal bird, for instance, isn’t just a large brown bird. He knows that this bird is a lousy flier who crash lands most of the time, smacking into trees or the ground while attempting to land. We see a tree full of weaver bird’s nests, and Jon points out that these particular weaver birds always make their hanging houses on the west side of trees. As we drive on, I see that he’s right. We see a large bird sitting in a tree surrounded by weaver bird’s nests. Jon tells me that this bird likes to eat the Weaver babies – not the eggs (although they will do this too), but the chicks. All the weavers will go on the attack, both male and female, to try to stop the large bird, but he mostly ignores the attacks of these tiny birds and continues on eating.
Being in the bush with Jon is a treat – like having your own expert guide with you. He learned all that he knows about the bush from his time in Zimbabwe where he got his hunter/guide license – something at the time that was terribly difficult to pass.