Sights, sounds and smells abound within the African bushveld. A very good safari will indulge all of those senses, from the early morning refrain of the birds to the alarm calls of animals that lead you to predator sightings.
Whereas seeing and listening to are the obvious senses we use within the bush, it’s the sense of odor that’s usually uncared for.
Listed below are a couple of of our favorite bush aromas in Mashatu Recreation Reserve.
- Wild Sage (Pechuel-Loeschea)
This sturdy fragrant herb is synonymous with the bushveld for a lot of. It grows effectively in semi-arid areas and is prolific at Mashatu Recreation Reserve. It’s also recognized in different elements of Africa because the Stink Bush and the Sweat Bush, due to its barely bitter odor. The gray velvety leaves are used historically as an insect repellent.
- Stink Shepherd (Boscia foetida)
Also called Smelly Shepherd, this bush releases a really distinct aroma through the months of September and October when it produces small inexperienced flowers. Within the dry months at Mashatu, the tiny leaves function a lifeline to browsers whereas the berries are additionally a supply of meals for each animals and birds. Described as disagreeable, the odor is a specific favorite of mine, which surprisingly jogs my memory of the scented pencils and erasers of my college days.
When you have ever been driving within the bush and thought you smelled scorching buttered popcorn, you aren’t imagining issues. Chances are high a leopard has just lately scent-marked within the space. Leopards spray their urine on bushes and tree trunks to mark their territory, and convey numerous details about themselves to different leopards, equivalent to their gender and their reproductive situation (if feminine). You could not see the leopard, however for those who see recent tracks and decide up the odor of popcorn, it might be seeing you.
Elephants can produce about 100kg of dung a day, and with Mashatu being dwelling to the biggest elephant inhabitants on non-public land in Botswana, that quantities to numerous poop. Elephants are herbivores and so they solely partially digest their meals, leaving their dung stuffed with fruit and seeds. This not solely makes for excellent fertiliser, however can also be a supply of meals for different creatures equivalent to birds and baboons. Elephants can transport seeds for as much as 65km, thus contributing to the biodiversity of their habitat. The earthy aroma of elephant dung is a continuing reminder that in nature, it’s as vital to take, as it’s to provide again.
- An Elephant Bull in Musth
The pungent odor of an elephant bull in musth is unmistakable. The sickly-sweet and slightly rancid odor is emitted by way of secretions of the temporin gland, in addition to the fixed dribble of urine that accompanies a bull in musth. You’ll do effectively to heed the warnings of this odor, as elephant bulls’ testosterone ranges are elevated by about 60 instances throughout musth, emboldening them and filling them with the arrogance wanted to problem different males for the suitable to mate. Do you have to catch a whiff of this ominous scent, be looking out for a bull elephant strolling with a swagger and hold a protected distance.
As your day within the bush ends, it’s time to mirror over a sundowner. Benefit from the scent of the juniper in a gin and tonic earlier than savouring the style, as you watch the solar set on one other lovely day at Mashatu Recreation Reserve. As you come to camp, it’s best to odor the fireplace ready for you on the boma, the place you’ll finish your day sharing tales across the hearth along with your fellow travellers.
Because of Barry Miller and Michelle Stewart, common guests to Mashatu, for the inspiration for this weblog and our quite a few discussions of the smells round us.
By Janet Kleyn