The Mouse in Chalet 2

Scotts_2016 Posted by Keith and Lyn Scott, 5 days ago | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

The two weeks before Easter were semester break for the seminary, and brought an opportunity for us to spend a couple of days in one of our favourite places, a game farm about two hours drive from Kitwe. It is about 15-20 km off the main tarred road, in a deeply rural area of mixed farm land and forest. The accommodation is simple, but comfortable with running water and includes dinner and breakfast, so no cooking or dishwashing. The main camp is set at the edge of an artificial lake well stocked with fish.

We stayed in one of two thatched chalets set on the edge of the lake, surrounded by trees. We have stayed in both of these several times in the past. It was pleasantly cool down by the water and in the shade of the trees, and it was a time to relax, unwind and just be. There have been well over 300 species of birds recorded on the farm. As I list bird watching as one of my hobbies, I spent a good deal of the time glued to a pair of binoculars. Monkeys and Sundbirds foraged in the trees around the chalet, Trumpeter Hornbills sounded their peculiar mournful call and a hammerkop foraged for nesting material along the lake shore a few metres from the font door.

The trouble with wildlife in Africa is that it is difficult to keep it in its place, especially out in the bush. Many years ago we stayed in the same chalet and two small mice dropped from the thatch of the roof onto the floor. They were small enough to come to no harm as a result of the fall, and managed to cause chaos that evening, one managing to run up the bed in the middle of night. This became known in the Scott family as ‘The Mice in Chalet 2’, and were the subject of a blog post some years ago. This time it was not a mouse which caused chaos, but ants.

Ants are fearsome creatures. There is a reptile house in the game farm, and in the building there is the skin of a Rock Python, all of three meters in length. Rock Pythons are huge and powerful constrictors, quite capable of eating a goat, a small crocodile or even a human being. This enormous and powerful predator was killed by ants, the feared “impashi” also known as Driver Ants, Army Ants or Safari Ants (one of the 61 species of the genus Dorylus). They travel huge rivers of up to many millions of ants, eating pretty much everything and anything which they encounter.

Several thousand ants invaded the bathroom of Chalet 2. Not the sort of creature you want to step on with bare feet in the middle of the night. They bite. Painfully.

Fortunately we were armed with a can of Doom, a propriety brand of organophosphate insecticide, which became a weapon of mass destruction. We had, however, to call for the help of the staff to clear up the resulting casualties. As the mess was being cleared up one of the mice of Chalet 2 made an appearance, presumably also perturbed by the invasion of ants, scurrying rapidly along the wall, pausing only to say hello and ask after Hannah and Adam, before fleeing out through the door. It’s friend followed shortly afterwards.

Half a small bin of ant bodies later we were able to settle down to sleep, and yes, the mice of Chalet 2 respected our peace, and we had a good breakfast the next morning.

We don’t know if there is a moral to the tale or not. A few days later we became aware of the news that almost two thirds of the Great Barrier reef is dying, and that the ultimate cause is human activity.

Perhaps the lesson is that we need to learn to live in some kind of harmony with the rest of God’s creation, Impashi and all, of which we are after all an integral part.

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