Saturday evening saw my first ever “Campfire Tales” which was held in the most beautiful African bush setting, the indigenous acacia trees (flat top) making a stunning backdrop against the mid-winter sunset.
The guest speaker is nationally renowned Wildlife Conservationist Garth Carpenter, who is not only an expert on the care and rehabilitation of wildlife, but is unquestionably one of the finest experts on snakes in the country. Often called in to assist with identification and also to lecture professionals on the identification and treatment of snake bites, Garth’s passion extends way beyond that of someone who “cares”.
An Honorary member of Emzemvelo Wildlife (formerly Kwazulu Natal Wildlife) Garth is often called in to assist with road blocks and traps where illegal poaching is suspected. In times gone by he has established and managed wildlife reserves, and has been called on to assist throughout various countries in Africa to track man-eating lion, leopard, rogue elephant, buffalo and the like.
Our evening began sitting around a huge fire in a “boma”. The only light came from the leaping flames, and some candle torches around the boma. Some 40 people were present on this almost freezing evening. Garth began with his stories. He spoke about how he commenced his adult working career and why he chose not to follow in dad’s footsteps and work in a bank as an accountant. He related how he at the age of 19 was appointed to create a wildlife conservation/game farm and how he did so with the assistance only of his trackers.
I have heard some of the stories previously so ventured a glance around at the other folk sitting there, huddled in the blankets, caps, scarves and gloves. They were mesmerized. He has such a way of talking that even without raising his voice, the descriptions and expressions transport you back in time to where he was and what he was feeling or experiencing.
Without going into every single scrap of detail about the evening, I felt the need to share why I, in the silence of the night with nothing other than the wild African sounds, and Garth talking, I burst out into hysterical laughter. It was not at the poor unfortunate soul who had been half eaten by a crocodile that Garth had been sent to track and hunt down. It was the manner in which he related the story about his tracker with a club foot. Briefly…. Said tracker had no shoes. Said tracker desperately wanted a pair of mining boots. Garth had told said tracker on a number of occasions that there was very little likelihood that he would ever be in a position to obtain a pair of mining boots, not only because they probably weren’t readily available in the middle of nowhere in the African bush, but more importantly, because he might find it difficult to find a pair to match his feet. Garth went to great pains to explain how brilliant said tracker was as a tracker and in the bush. Second to none.
On a specific callout to track and hunt a man-eating crocodile, on spotting the crocodile and its most recent victim, said tracker got terribly excited. He was not so excited for the crocodile, but for the fact that the croc’s victim had on precisely the same pair of mining boots said tracker was desperate to own.
It was at that stage I saw what was coming next in the story and all sorts of images dashed through my mind. It was involuntary. It was completely uncontrollable. I started laughing. Not at the victim but at the images of the tracker trying to lay claim to the boots. I had to excuse myself for a while, amidst giggles from other guests, who may have thought it inappropriate to show their senses of humor during so grim a tale. But on my, the images in my head……
All in all it was a beautiful evening, a very funny and hugely enlightening evening. I met some exceptional people who are all Honorary members of the Emzemvelo Wildlife and who are all passionate and ardent conservationists. I also saw a new side to the man who has become a part of our family. Listening to him tell a story with just the kids, Carol and I is a wonderful and mostly very humorous experience, but watching as relative strangers hang on to every word this man with the mountain of knowledge and experience utters, was for me the most telling sign of all – Garth Carpenter, who is wholly supported and assisted in his passion by his wonderful wife, Carol, is a highly respected, super intelligent human being who has devoted and will continue to devote his life to the conservancy of fauna and flora in South Africa and Africa.
Thank you to all who put the evening together. I look forward to the next one which will be videoed, which I believe takes place in September.
Please enjoy the photos. They were uploaded to http://www.twitter.com/donnette throughout the night but will appear in the Sanctuary’s Twitter timeline, as well as on the Squidoo page and in their online photo albums.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Carol (Carpenter ) sorting out Aiden.. snug as a bug…
From L to R: Tammy (Garth’s daughter) Garth and Carol
From L to R Savannah and Clarissa (River)
Campfire Tales around the campfire..
Left to right Tammy and Carol
My wonderful fiancé Craig..
Darlene is as instrumental in conservation as Garth
I wonder if this was the mining boots story 😛
Aiden loving the fire
This is a stunning picture I think 😀
The evening started with everyone spread out right around the boma… this was 3 hours into the evening, we were all almost inside the fire J
Garth and Craig
Craig and my babies
trying to keep warm.. Aiden took this – can you tell? 😛
Craig and mom, Carol.
hmmm and it was THIIIIIIIIIIS BIG~!!!
THANK YOU TO ALL CONCERNED FOR A FANTASTICALLY FUN AND INFORMATIVE EVENING.