HI, and welcome to my blog! I am a field guide in a private game reserve in South Africa and below you will find stories and pictures of my amazing job!

December 26, 2013

3's a Crowd

          The harsh shrill of a francolin alerted us to the fact that a predator loomed close by.  We circled the block a couple of times with no luck before abandoning our hunt in favour of a well-earned cold beer as the Botswanan sun slowly sank beneath the horizon.  Francolins are rarely wrong however and with darkness falling over the landscape, we hoped that its shroud would give the predator the confidence to show itself.  We carefully returned to the spot of the avian alarm calls, this time armed with a spotlight, hoping to catch a glimpse of the eye-shine that might betray an animal’s presence.  Pulses raced and necks craned as the spotlight swept the undergrowth on either side of the land rover.  Suddenly, 2 pin pricks of light met our eyes from the bush and after some great driving from TT, our experienced guide, we managed to find a way into the darkness to investigate their cause. 

          Lying below a large tree, a satiated female leopard watched us carefully as we maneuvered the car into the best position. The spotlight bathed her velveteen coat in soft yellow light and the majesty of this elusive predator was revealed to us all.  The Leopard ID Project has visited Machaba before on the basis of its high leopard population but this was what we had come for, an unrecorded individual to add to our database.  In the shadows close by lay the remains of an impala carcass that had fallen foul to the silent assassin that dozed peacefully before us.  The hind quarters had been devoured as well as some of the nutritious internal organs but perhaps a good 40kgs of welcome protein still remained.  The female had eaten her fill for now so we switched off all of the lights and sat in the silent darkness, listening to sounds of her pant and the distant splashes as hippos emerged from their watery resting places to roam the plains in search of fresh grass. 

          A rustle alerted us to the fact that she had risen from her slumber.  Still we kept the lights off, reveling in the unknown as we listened to the fallen leaves quietly crunch under her pads.  The sound approached the vehicle.  Pulses raced as the crunching stopped next to the car, the leopard investigating her dinner audience, feeling bolder and more comfortable now that the ally of darkness enveloped her.  It was a truly wondrous moment, and collectively we held our breath until, satisfied that we posed no immediate threat, the soft footsteps abated.  The leopardess moved away through the undergrowth, our spotlight now illuminating her progress as the apparition melted into the bush beyond the reach of our spotlight.  

          We left the area in the hope of finding a marauding hyena that might catch the scent of the dead impala but were momentarily distracted by an agile genet as it foraged in a tree close by.  As we pulled away, to our surprise, we were met by the imposing sight of a male leopard as he stood in the road before us, long whiskers accentuated by the light as it danced across his form.  His nose raised, he sniffed the air and made a beeline to the impala.  Hardly believing or luck, we quickly returned to the kill and waited for his inevitable arrival.  Eyes glinted before us but this time belonging to a hyena that had also caught wind of a free meal.  As hyena’s educated nose led it to the feast, the male leopard appeared from the shadows and grabbed the impala by the neck before effortlessly hoisting it into the tree and out of the hyena’s reach.  Blood dripped down the bark of the tree and the moment was immortalized by a bloody paw print, highlighting the path of his ascent.  The male, content that his prize was now safe, ate for a few minutes before also disappearing into the night.  We returned home about 2 hours after our fellow safari goers, still thanking our luck to have witnessed such a sighting but excited to return the next day to view the next chapter of the story.

          The Leopard ID Project group was out a good half an hour before the other cars, eager to return to the scene and watch the male enjoying his spoils.  The bush is an unpredictable environment however and what met us as we pulled in to the area was a surprise to us all.  The remains of the carcass hung in the tree but no male leopard was to be seen.  As we scanned the tree however, we saw the female from the night before draped across a branch.  Although satisfied from her night’s feed, her eyes kept wandering to the branches above her.  As we followed her gaze, we discovered an extra chapter to an already amazing series of events.  High above us, a sub adult leopard also straddled a tree limb, belly bulging.  Why the male had left the kill we will never know but at least now we knew why the female had vacated the area the night before:  she had gone to fetch her next generation and lead it to the kill.  

          At approximately just over a year, the cub was still being provided for but soon would be forced to cut its mother’s apron strings and become independent.  This was evident by the way in which the mother hissed and spat at her prodigy, her biological clock telling her that their separation was imminent and that she must prepare to bring another generation into this world.  To bring a poignant closure to the story, a hyena arrived on the scene, circling the tree looking up at the meal suspended way above his reach.  The hyena did not stay long for it knew that it had been bested by its old nemesis and quickly exited the area unperturbed by this setback, in search of other opportunities.

          We left the 2 leopards happily digesting their dinner, blown away by the complexity of this illusive animal’s life, and the excitement of recording 3 new individuals for the Project database.  We had seen the full circle – a female with a fresh kill, an opportunistic male reaping the rewards, and then the icing on the cake, a sub adult in tow.  These were only 3 of the 10 different leopards identified on this trip but was most definitely one of the highlights!  It was a sighting that no of us will ever forget and yet another reminder that the wilds of Africa are a demanding, yet rewarding place.  A place where competition is rife, even between predators of the same species, and the battle for their survival never abates.

November 21, 2013


          As the stifling heat began to relent and the Sun sank lower on the horizon, a pack of southern Africa’s most endangered and efficient predators began to move.  Black shapes began slinking through the shadows; oversized ears standing to attention as they honed in on the gentle rustling of the dry grass close by.  The impalas continued to feed quietly in the failing light, blissfully unaware that they were in mortal danger as the shadows enveloped them.

          Suddenly the lead dog broke from its cover, rifling towards its quarry with blistering speed.  The rest of the pack swiftly joined the chase and streaks of black lighting covered the ground with consummate ease as the gap closed.  The impala however live their life with the constant fear of predation and their honed reactions gave them a head start as the chaos ensued.

          For the next few minutes, our guests watched in awe as the hunt progressed.  Impala stotted in all directions, kicking their legs out behind them in a ploy designed to distract and confuse.  The dogs came close on many occasions but this time, the impala’s survival instinct outweighed the canine onslaught.  Their fleet footed gymnastics were able to keep the rampant predators at bay but the sighting was still one racked with excitement and tension.  The age old battle of predator and prey raged for perhaps 5 minutes until the dogs abandoned their chase.  Unperturbed by this night’s failure, the dogs retreated into the shadows from whence they came to regroup and re-strategize for their next hunt that would no doubt be launched soon.

          We lost sight of the hunters as the shadows deepened and the fading sunlight was swallowed by the blackness of the African night.  The darkness accentuated their distant chirping calls as the pack members found each other, and their patiently waiting pups in the aftermath of the battle.  We pulled over to enjoy the last rays of light close to a waterhole and toast another amazing sighting.  Blackness had now overcome the day and our own hearing was honed to compensate.  Echoes of the dog’s chirping had faded and we sipped gin and dry lemon, each losing ourselves in the still tranquility of the night.        

          A noise close by; a ripple of water and the faint sound of sand being disturbed caused us to turn on the spotlight.  The water hole was bathed in yellow light and to our wonderment, no more than 50 metres away, the dogs softly lapped water to quench their thirst now that the hunt had subsided.  The dogs were oblivious to our presence and continued their routine as we watched on.  There was nothing to say or do except take in the spectacle.  

          The bush theatre had given us a spectacular encore that none of us will ever forget.  The world is a balancing act of opposing forces and emotions.  We had been privy to see the dogs in full flow not 30 minutes earlier and the spectacle itself was exhausting to watch, but now, the beauty of the natural world righted that chaos by delivering us an emotionally charged and moving scene as they frolicked by the water’s edge, displaying great tenderness as they groomed each other and cemented their bonds.  No one said anything. We simply took in the moment and I have no doubt that we will all remember that beautiful spectacle forever.

August 1, 2013

The Bush Gods

          The bush:  Nature's mosaic.  The environment that surrounds us is a perfectly balanced amalgamation of all things great and small.  From the microscopic bacteria to the largest tree, each individual performs independently, yet coexists in perfect harmony.  However, sometimes I wonder if there is not more to it; a bigger picture that we seem to ignore due a lack of empirical evidence and scientific explanation.  As a psychology major, I recall the modules on social psychology and group consciousness and there are moments in the bush where its inhabitants seems to work in tandem to achieve such a universal effect.  I joke that it is the bush gods at work and whilst this is a tongue in cheek explanation, it sometimes does seem like the bush itself has a sense of humour, and an ironic one at that.  I have lost count of the number of times that I have made a finite statement and within seconds, nature proves me wrong!  Suddenly, it seems as if the background noise is more than just the sound of birds and insects calling, but the collective consciousness of the bush chuckling at its belittling of me!

          The same goes for sightings on some days.  When the pressure is on to find a particular animal that the guests want to see, it feels like the harder you look, the less the chances of success.  Luck certainly plays its part and one of my favourite quotes is from Gary Player who said that the 'harder I practise, the luckier I seem to become.'  A perfect case in point happened just the other day.  My guests and I had seen everything with the exception of the illusive leopard and although we had multiple sets of tracks, we failed miserably to locate Africa's spotted enigma in 3 hours of trying.  Unperturbed, we tried again that afternoon and for a further 2 hours, we toiled unsuccessfully seeing very little else en route.  Finally however, the bush decided to relent with the cruel withholding of its most sought after possession and we were rewarded with a wonderful sighting of Sand River as he melted in and out of the long grass close to Little Bush Camp.

           We returned to the lodge later that night ecstatic, but I felt exhausted as the weight of the pressure was removed from my shoulders.  The next morning: my guests' last, the pressure was now off and I was prepared for a nice relaxing drive where we could spend some quality time with the smaller things that really make nature tick.  However, the bush had other ideas.  A misty start to the morning meant that the air was thick and humid.  We all assumed that the taste in the air was merely water vapour but in hindsight, I believe it was a manifestation of irony itself!  Perhaps in an attempt to right the scales of a fairly unproductive previous day (prior to the leopard sighting), or simply to reward us for our hard work, or perhaps even just to spite my safari plan of a quiet morning, the bush gods showered us with special sightings. 

          The list of sightings is too long to be recounted in this blog but suffice to say that we saw the big 5 without even trying, not to mention a host of general game and other treats.  So much for a quiet drive....  The obvious highlights were the cats and we sat dumbstruck, with comical smiles on our face as Mandleve and her cubs chose to perform for us in the road.  The two cubs looked skinny and the mother  took some persuasion to part with their milk.  With the demise of Mandleve's last cubs from starvation about 2 years ago still fresh in my memory, I hope they get some real protein soon but in the mean time, we delighted in their antics.  Perhaps Mandleve had her orders to put on a show for us from the bush gods but was not in mood?  But whatever her issues that morning, suffice to say that she had got up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed.  The cubs suffered serious chastising in the form of menacing growls and bared teeth, but the innocence of childhood is compelling and eventually their cries of hunger caused their mother to relent, if perhaps only for some peace from their wailing!

          No sooner had we left the sighting, beaming with delight at the spectacle, a leopard was spotted (if you excuse the pun) a few hundred meters up the road.  In fact, there were 3 leopards seen that morning....the irony of tracking 1 for 5 or 6 hours yesterday was lost on none of us!!  Having marvelled at the battle hardened Sand River the night before, we were now graced with the power of Xihangalas as he marched down the centre of the road, scent marking and calling as he went.  This has long been my favourite leopard on Sabi Sabi - he is the perfect example of a male leopard.  He would be the feline equivalent of the newly crowned sex symbol for women everywhere, Channing Tatem (young, fit and handsome:  or so my wife tells me.  Repeatedly I might add!).  Xihangalas certainly fits the bill and in fact it sometimes seems like a miracle that he doesn't slip on the self confidence that seems to ooze from him!  All of the above made for a spectacular sighting and guests now had pictures of this magnificent creature in the sunlight to add to their portfolio form the night before!

          The drive continued along the same vein until we crawled back into the lodge, exhausted after our morning of 'concentrating on the small things.'  Not that we were complaining.  Far from it in fact!  Irony or no irony, the bush is an amazing place and nothing can be planned or predicted.  As we often say to guests that demand to see the big 5 on day 1, if you want guarantees, you must go to the zoo.  Here, we let the 'powers that be' do the planning and we merely view what it chosen to be shown to us.  The bush is what you make of it and the rewards are there to be enjoyed, whatever the occasion.  The emotional antithesis of searching for a leopard for 6 hours one day and then having everything handed to you on a plate on the next is what makes the wild so exciting.  I have been doing this for 7 years now and every day is different but equally exciting.  Who knows if there is a higher power at work deciding what should be viewed but for the last few days, I say thank you to the bush gods and long may they reign!

April 17, 2013

It Takes 2 to Tango

          In a recent poll of the most iconic animals in Africa, the giraffe surprisingly destroyed all its competition by an overwhelming margin.  Nothing in the bush causes more oooh’s and aaaah’s than the elegant giraffe.  Sometimes it reminds me of bonfire night in England where there are massive firework displays and the cacophony of explosions is complimented by the appreciative noises from the enthralled crowd.  It is difficult to put one’s finger on the attraction of nature’s sky scraper but perhaps it is its uniqueness?  There is nothing in this world like a giraffe.  Its closest relative is the okapi which is only found in central Africa and seen by few.  It is also an odd animal with a slightly elongated neck and stripes like that of the zebra down its rump.

          If not its uniqueness, it must be its awkward, yet elegant grace.  Those long legs move with consummate ease and enable the giraffe to travel at surprising pace even though its strange gait of moving both left legs and then both right legs makes it look rather unstable.  The way that the neck rocks as it walks is mesmeric and I like to describe it as nature’s lava lamp.  It seems to have the ability to de-stress people by merely watching it carrying out its business.  If giraffes had jobs, the giraffe would surely be a counsellor or therapist!  Men, women and children alike seem to melt in their presence and a dumb grin spreads unconsciously across their faces as they lose themselves in this strange creation.

          It is odd to think that such a graceful animal has a violent streak in it but one must remember that this is the wild and there are things to fight for: survival and genetic success.  Giraffes are capable of killing with a single kick if defending themselves and many a lion has fallen foul to a skull shattering, flailing limb.  The only way to ensure genetic survival is to find a mate and that must be achieved through dominance, and that means combat.  As a giraffe ages, calcium is deposited on the skull to make it heavier, more robust and a more effective weapon.  The thick ossicones (horns) that protrude from their heads are used to great effect as they are swung at their opponents with surprising force.  Impacts can be savage and giraffe have been knocked unconscious in these exchanges before!

          Yesterday afternoon, we were privy to watch a heated exchange between two young males as they vied for the affections of a nearby female.  They stood side by side, jostling each other for position and swinging their necks with incredible ferocity.  The flexibility of their necks defied belief as they wound up blow after blow like a medieval knights wielding a mace.  Perhaps even more impressive though were the defensive manoeuvres as the combatants deflected and avoided each other’s club-like skulls.  It was a strange spectacle to witness as we were torn between marvelling at the veritable ballet of the dancing necks, and shocked by the brutality of the exchange.  The thuds rang out through the bushveld and winces of empathetic pain could be heard coming from the audience as their notion of a peaceful and docile animal were shattered.

          Even after 7 years, I often see things that I have never witnessed before, and this exchange was no different.  The two giraffe seemed to have different tactics; one preferred to swing downwards and concentrate on the flanks, whilst the other took the low road and swung upwards into the stomach like an uppercut.  However, at one point, the latter giraffe got his head caught under the leg of his opponent and as he raised his neck, the other giraffe found himself in a rather ungainly position!  It resembled the giraffe equivalent of yoga as the one giraffe balanced precariously on 3 limbs as his fourth was raised aloft by the other.  The serious nature of the guests was suddenly replaced by amusement as the two struggled to free themselves as they stumbled through the undergrowth.  After the incident, the combative nature of the exchange died down, perhaps both parties willing to compromise for now and rest their hyper extended limbs!  I have never seen a giraffe do the splits and now that I have, the spectacle will stay with me forever!

          It was a wonderful sighting full of intrigue and emotions as the guests got to absorb the beauty of the gentle giant, yet had to re evaluate their presuppositions of tranquillity as the heated battle raged.  Harmony was quickly restored however thanks to the rather light hearted and comedic ending to the exchange and we left the sighting grinning from ear to ear.  Once again, the complexity of nature had revealed itself but somehow, even in the midst of a brutal confrontation, the giraffe had left us with a sighting we would never forget and warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.  

March 4, 2013

This! Is! Sparta!

          Ok, so the line from 300 might be a little cheesy or perhaps even lost on some of you but the parallels are rather relevant at the moment.  The dynamics of the lion population at Sabi Sabi has been crying out for change of late.  The epic nature of the Southern Pride’s reign has limited the movements of the other prides in the area for many years now.  They have in fact been responsible for reducing the neighbouring Charleston pride to just 1 lone female and her 2 sub adults only last year.  In keeping with the title of the blog, they are the equivalent of the Persians, conquering all before them, under the guidance of their king, Xerxes.  Xerxes was one man, whose confidence and success in battle was mainly due to the fearsome nature of his loyal 150,000 strong army.  In the microcosm that is Sabi Sabi, the Kruger male has been able to expand and more importantly, hold his territory thanks to the unstoppable force that is the mighty Southern Super Pride.  A pride of 18 lions is a fearsome unit and thus far has ruled the southern Sabi Sands with unwavering ferocity.

The Kruger male sports a nasty scar on his nose probably sustained during a feeding frenzy

The eyes of the Kruger male miss nothing

The KNP male emerges from the darkness on another territorial patrol

          However, in recent weeks, the area has seen the arrival of 2 new players.  The Sparta males from the east have been launching forays deeper and deeper into the Southern Pride’s territory.  An interesting coalition consisting of 2 unrelated males, one a magnificent male in his prime, the other a young warrior, fast maturing into a supreme specimen, the Sparta males seem to mean business.  The growing strength and confidence of the younger male has no doubt sparked this latest activity.  He seems to be exerting dominance over his elder partner and his desire for a territory of his own is obvious.  When the pair are on the move, it is always the younger that takes the lead.  Youthful exuberance and fearlessness seems to be driving the pair to confrontation, with the elder member being swept up in the occasion. 

The younger of the Spartans mounts his older associate in a show of dominance

One of the Spartan's attention is attracted by noise in the grass close by

The younger Spartan shows off his fearsome arsenal

          For the lone Kruger male, this invasion could spell disaster for his reign as experience can only account for so much.  After a while, the math becomes self-explanatory: in a 2 vs. 1 confrontation, the mighty KNP male’s match may well be met.  However, the KNP has not been king for nearly 2 years without his share of cunning.  Since the arrival of the Spartans, he has not left the side of the pride, safe in the knowledge that even with 2 males hunting him down, the protection of Mandleve and the other 6 females is invaluable.

Mandleve and her cubs play in the road

Mandleve shrugs off her cubs' affectionate advances

One of the Southern Pride females hurdles a cub as she dismounts a fallen marula tree

The Southern Pride youngsters play on a fallen marula tree

          The Spartans must rely on a divide and conquer strategy to survive.  If they can separate the KNP male from his battalions, they stand a good chance of taking over the prime territory of the Southern Pride and the rich breeding opportunity the females present.  During the past weeks, the Spartans have ventured deep into the pride’s home and have been heard roaring and scent marking – an unmistakable challenge to the current king.  The bold nature of the takeover bid matches the self-confidence shown by king Leonidas’ small, but elite, fighting force to hold the Persian hoards at bay against all odds.  However, if and when the 2 armies meet, the spectacle promises to be far more explosive than Hollywood can convey!  The Spartans must rely on cunning to succeed and timing is key.  The Southern pride are masters tacticians however and have continued to avoid the advancing Spartans.  Their ploy of unity has caused trepidation amongst the Spartans.  The sound of the Kruger male’s battle cry in tandem with 7 adult females and 6, more than competent, sub-adults has caused the Spartans to retreat for now.  They are still inside the territorial boundary but seem to buying time to work out their strategy.  No victory will be forthcoming against greater numbers with rash decisions.

The younger Spartan's mane is developing fast

The other Spartan gives us a great side profile shot

Ever alert, the older Spartan scans the horizon

          What promises to play out soon within the battle ground of Sabi Sabi is all out war.  Should the Spartans succeed in usurping the KNP male, it will bring about a fascinating twist in our dynamics.  The 4 sub adult males will be chased away for certain and the fate of the 4 cubs, losing the protection of their father, will be a foregone conclusion.  Or will it?  The Southern pride has proved time and time again that the females are a formidable force even without the presence of a male.  For those of you that are unaware, the 6 sub adults in the pride are no relation to the KNP male.  When he and his now deceased brother took control of the area some 2 years ago, they tried in vain to eradicate the genetics of its former rulers.  The cunning and strength of the females eventually culminated in them adopting the 6 cubs and raising them as their own.  This is highly unusual in the harsh world of lion population dynamics and proved beyond all doubt that these females are not to be underestimated.  Perhaps the same thing will happen this time around?  After all, the Spartan army managed to continue to defy the odds despite the loss of king Leonidas at the hands of the Persians…  Perhaps the pride will split?  Perhaps the KNP male will form a coalition with the 4 sub adult males?  The possibilities in the infinity choices of nature are fascinating and we wait with baited breath for the outcome of the mighty battle that is soon sure to rage

February 18, 2013

Fear of the Dark

          Fear of the unknown is probably the only phobia that affects every single person on the planet.  There are many irrational fears peppered through the psyche of the everyday man (or woman) on the street but most are borne of unpleasant past experiences.  What has enabled human beings to rise to an unsurpassed intellectual plane is the capacity of the brain.  The gift of imagination has granted us the ability to invent ground breaking technology and to surpass nearly every hurdle that mankind has faced.  However, this talent has a flipside.  The power of imagination is so potent that it is capable of destroying lives and reducing the strongest of men to gibbering wrecks.  These terrifying thoughts generally need a catalyst, and the most commonly responsible is the dark.

          From an early age, fear of the dark has plagued young children.  Sleepless nights wondering what monsters await under the bed or what manner of aberrations reside inside the closet are common place.  As a youngster, I myself refused to sleep with a limb hanging off the bed due to an irrational fear of having it bitten off by a fanged menace loitering in the shadows under my mattress.  Even noises that are heard during the daylight hours and ignored are transformed by darkness into the ominous footsteps of objects of our own fear.  The human world is so dictated by its ability to see and analyze what is seen, that when that sense is removed, the true power of the brain is unleashed.  And such monumental creative power is hard to control.  Let’s not forget that fear of the dark has its roots from early man when we were perceived as prey by all manner of fearsome beasts that roamed through the shadows of night.  The discovery of fire was hugely influential in primitive engineering circles but perhaps more than anything, it gifted man the ability to overcome darkness and keep perceived and very real dangers at bay.

          The bush is home to some of the most feared land predators in the world today.  The power and reputation of the lion, the speed and guile of the leopard and the sinister hyena all ply their trade under the cloak of darkness.  Viewed during the day, the cats especially are often construed as large kittens and many a guest has wanted to rub the belly of a sleeping lion as it dozes through the daylight hours.  However, once darkness begins to envelop the land, these nocturnal nemeses come to life and undergo a transformation as extreme as that of a caterpillar to a butterfly, perceptually at least.  The inky shroud that drapes itself across the landscape transforms these slumbering felines into efficient killing machines.  Blackness is their ally.  Their behaviour changes, their demeanor changes, our perception of them changes. 

          When we view cats at night, that primal fear is once again resurrected by the Cimmerian shade overwhelming us and these magnificent creatures come into their own.  The comfort and warmth offered by the Sun has deserted us and instead, the brain starts to recall all the horror movies it has witnessed, adrenaline levels rise and the infinite power of their imagination is released.  The darkness seems to invade every pore in our skin and systematically undo all our common sense and principles.  It is the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that the absence of light brings.  The knowledge that their eyes are able to penetrate the gloom with consummate ease; that these predators must kill to survive and that we ourselves could become prey lend itself to a very different experience.  

           At Sabi Sabi we are blessed with wonderful levels of habituation and when a 200kg male lion stalks past the open land rover only a few metres away, the inhabitants hold their breath as one.  Men, women and children alike shift slightly in their seats to put distance between themselves and the superior specimen.  When it makes eye contact with you, even though the spotlight is illuminating its visage, the feeling of insignificance is hard to shake.  The uncomfortable knowledge that you are being evaluated by a killing machine whose eyes seem to look right through your skin and into your very soul is a profound experience.  Your conscience struggles to balance the feelings of wonder and respect with that of ancient fear and the primordial instinct to survive.

          The ability to slink through the shadows without a sound yet seeing everything has enabled these great predators to thrive.  The psychological advantage that they possess over their quarry is as old as life itself.  Darkness always has and always will carry with it the stigma of danger.  Throughout history and every religion in the world, darkness is seen as a bad omen.  The lack of depth perception, the inability to evaluate a situation in relation to its surroundings and the feeling of cold isolation all play a part in amplifying the power of darkness.  Surviving a day in the bush is a far different prospect to that of surviving the night.  The playing field flips and all of the senses and skills that enable us to flourish under the comforting companionship of the sun are removed and those that relish the darkness come to the fore.

          Just because the majority of organisms on Earth need the sun to prosper, it does not mean that those who crave the sanctuary of darkness should be seen as evil.  Everything in nature has its balance.  Without some species being able to flourish in darkness, a perfectly good ecological niche would be wasted and the balance would be upset.  One cannot exist without the other.  To paraphrase the great Chinese philosopher Laozi, nothing exists in isolation.  For life to exist there must be balance. This implies the harmonic existence of two things or what philosophers call ‘duality’.  Man has woman, heat has cold, good has bad and light has darkness.