Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day 10 – Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 (Osonjiva part 2)

by david on September 17, 2012

On the way, we pass by one of Namibia’s national treasures: the “Waterberg Plateau”.  It is truly a remarkable sight.  I have never been there, but I’ll share what little I know.  The plateau supports a huge variety of fauna and flora.  It is perhaps best known as one of the last refuges of some of Namibia’s rarest wildlife.  There are black and white rhinoceros, cape buffalo, and sable and roan antelope.  The Waterberg Plateau rises some 600 feet out of the Kalahari in Namibia.  The elevation makes it difficult to get up and down the plateau, and that makes it a good place for the safekeeping of the animals.  The park itself is some 101,000 acres in size, allowing plenty of room for the animals to breed and roam.  The breeding success has been so good that the Namibian government is taking some of the excess animals to restock other areas of the country.  The park helps pay for itself by allowing limited hunting.  The prices are fairly high and raise a good deal of money each year.  The combination of hunting and breeding programs should help keep the park self-sufficient for many years to come.  I make a note to put the plateau on my must-see list, and I think I’ll even mention it to my wife for a possible excursion the next time she is in the country.

Our drive goes by quickly as I probe Johann’s mind for more information about the plateau and we soon leave it in our trail of dust as we head on towards Osonjiva.  We arrive there about a quarter after two in the afternoon and I am anxious to start our hunt.  After meeting our host and exchanging pleasantries, I head for my room.  I quickly don my hunting clothes, check my gear and head back out the door.  Johann is already there with the hunting truck and we are soon headed out into the veld.  This will be a first for me.  I have never hunted inside of a high fence before.  I am as apprehensive about hunting inside one at the same time as I am excited about hunting waterbuck.  Johann assures me this will not be a caned hunt as the property encompasses some 20,000 acres.  The only time we will ever see the fence is on our way through the gate and if we ride the perimeter to get from point “A” to point “B”.  I take him at his word but decide to reserve judgment for a later date.

On the plus side of high-fence hunting is the large number and variety of animals in the same place.  This is evidenced by the number of animals I begin to see immediately upon leaving the perimeter of the farm.  Within a few minutes I see giraffe, black and blue wildebeest, gemsbok, eland, ostrich, impala, kudu, steinbuck, regular springbuck, and something I have only read about, black springbuck.  I swear, I think there is just about one of everything here.  The property is laid out in a grid pattern that forms blocks of about three quarters of a mile to one mile.  There is a water source at every second or third intersection, which is necessary for the health of so many animals.  There are also water holes throughout the interior of the squares to allow the game to drink unmolested.  By the way, the fence does one other thing besides contain the animals.  It keeps the predators out.  There are electric fence wires around the base on the outside to keep anything from burrowing in, and the fence is tall enough to keep just about any cat out.  The way I see it, just about the only thing it would not stop is an elephant. 

Once I pick my jaw up off the floor of the truck and stop taking pictures of the menagerie I am driving through, we concentrate on hunting in earnest.  We ease our way from intersection to intersection and stop to glass for waterbuck.  This is a little cheesy to me and I mention it to Johann.  He explains that even if we see something from a mile away, we still have to get to it.  We also do not want to spook any animals that might be closer to us by blowing right through each intersection.  By stopping and glassing we can pick a strategy and route to best guarantee our success.  It is different than I am used to, but his comments make sense to me so I hush up and decide I will observe and learn.  This goes on for a few hours, and, just as in previous hunts, on this trip we see everything but what we are hunting for.  We crisscross the property and cut through the middle of the squares, but we still see no waterbuck.  Just about sunset we see a pair of waterbuck, and one is worth a closer look.  We sneak into position.  Just like on my zebra hunt, I am looking into the sun and can’t see a blessed thing, Johann tells me the waterbuck is of average size with horns 27 to 28 inches in length.  I decide to pass on this particular animal for three reasons.  The first, and perhaps most important, is I can’t see the doggone thing.  Secondly, it is almost dark and, if I make a poor shot, we may not be able to find it.  The last reason is a purely selfish one.  Johann told me that on the way to Osonjiva he has seen a few in the 32-33” range while hunting here a few weeks ago.  I might be making a mistake, but I think I’ll try to hold out a little longer for one of those.  The end result is the same no matter what the reason; these two walk away unmolested without ever knowing we were there. 





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