The First Rains by Emma Summers

The short bushveld winter has now officially ended in the South African bush. Days are getting warmer and the nights aren’t as cold as they once were. This is the time of year when we eagerly await the first storm. Will it come on time or will it be late? Only Mother Nature has the answer.

In late September the temperature got up to 39 degrees, dark clouds started to appear on the horizon, thunder and lightning rolled over the camp but nature was just teasing us. We got nothing more than a few drops of rain before the storm disappeared into the distance.

Photograph © David Havemann

In the last couple of days, the animal’s behavior has started to change. If you looked at the ground you could see that the ants were anticipating something. You could see that they had begun in earnest to protect their homes from flooding, building protective mounds around the holes that form the entrances to their underground world. This behavior always happens before a storm is due and is a far better indicator of things to come than any weather app that we could design.

Yesterday the same thing happened. The temperature rose to 35 degrees and you could feel the humidity rising. At around 6:30 pm we could see distant flashes in the sky and the stars slowly disappeared.  We set up dinner in our outside dining area. While we are eating the meatballs our cook TK had so lovingly prepared the wind suddenly picked up, the lighting and thunder were suddenly so much closer, and then like magic, the heavens opened.

Photograph © Emma Summers

We went from dry to soaked in under a minute. The camp erupted with a hive of activity, some of us grabbed the food, the outside lights and moved them into the study area, others ran to close down their tent flaps and then ran back to the study area to finish their meal. Some of us removed our shoes and enjoyed the feeling of the mud squelching beneath our feet. The storm moved until it was right on top of us, the thunderclaps were so loud that it made some of us jump. Just as quickly as the storm had come it moved away. It was suddenly cold so we all decided to have an early night and snuggle up into our sleeping bags.

At some point in the early hours of the morning, we were awoken by the sounds of thunder and flashes of lighting. For a split second, the lighting illuminated the bush before plunging back into darkness. The rain started again, this time around a little softer. I snuggled deeper into my sleeping bag while listening to the sound of the storm. It only took a few seconds before the gentle sounds of the rain lulled me to sleep.

We may have only received 10mm rain last night but with it, the bush will slowly start to awaken from its winter slumber. Brown will slowly be replaced with green and in a few short weeks, we will have new animal babies to admire and coo at.

We all wait in anticipation of the next storm and the changes that it will bring.

Selati Camp l What you can expect

Take a virtual walk through the EcoTraining Selati camp and the majestic vistas that encompass this incredible game reserve. Selati Game Reserve is situated between the towns of Gravelotte and Mica, west of Phalaborwa, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, the reserve has an area of about 30,000 Ha.

About The Author

Written by Emma Summers

Emma Summers is an EcoTraining Camp Manager at Selati Game Reserve.