January Hedge a gram
Joe and I spent two weeks in Botswana in the Okavango Delta several years
ago to see the diverse animal population for my work for On Noah's Ark.
During the day, we were guided by our guide, Ali Tiego who knows where to spot
plants and animals and then describe their intricate histories and
relationships. In the evening came our questions and sometimes a story. Around
the campfire, Ali told us the legend of the honeyguide bird. It's true that
this bird will search either for a person or for one animal, the honey badger,
and then leads the person or the honey badger to a wild bee hive intending to
get a share of the honey. A person with tools, or a badger with claws can break
open the tree. The legend is, that if you don't share, the next time the
honeyguide bird will lead you to a lion!
Ali taught us to be aware that large cats could be hiding anywhere in the
Eden like landscape and especially in the candle pod acacia which forms a leafy
umbrella. In Tswana, the language of Botswana, this shrub is called "The house
of the lion". That shrub makes an appearance about half way thru the book.
The cream colored beads found in the border of my book are made by the San
people out of pieces of ostrich egg that are filed in a smooth circle. The
slender striped sticks are quills from the African porcupine. Botswana is
famous for its basket ware and we admire our collection made by women we met on
our trip. The baskets are crafted from the mokolwane palm, and dyed with plants
found in the Delta. The patterns have wonderful names like "Python", "Tears of
Giraffe", and "Knees of Tortoise".
On our second trip to Botswana, Ali gave us our first glimpse of a
honeyguide bird, it was chirping wildly, announcing that it had found a bee
hive. We found the hive in the cleft of a 1,000 old baobob tree. No one was
going to cut it down!
Everyone who visits the Okavango Delta is stunned by how news mysteriously
travels although there are no telephones. One person tells another and so on.
It's the bush telegraph, we were told. An experienced guide like Ali is always
listening, a yelp or a guinea fowl cackle spells out a whole story if you know
what to listen for.
Botswana has large game parks reserved for its wildlife and we thank the
Botswana people for sharing their country. As a thank you, we are supporting
Doug and Sandy Grove with their elephant project, Living with The Elephants
Foundation, which brings local children into the bush to learn about nature and
Good luck and happy reading. Your friend,