Black Mambas #6 – Night Patrol Debriefed

A statuesque woman pointed at the jeep door and said ‘enter’. I entered. Then she climbed in, sat down, leaving me firmly sandwiched between two mambas. I sat there quietly.

In the next breath, I was telling them how passionate I was about the work they do and how I think they do a fantastic job.

I told them I have raised a good sum of money for them so far and would continue to do so. I also told them I was there as a supporter and a friend.

“Ok, what is your name?”

Great, first barrier broken, they had acknowledged me at least.

After 30 mins of driving very slowly along the fence line, we stopped. Lights went off. We were ‘on watch’. I asked how long we would be parked up. “One hour”.

I sat there quietly observing the darkness and drifted off into my own world of thoughts, thinking about the animals and if any poachers were watching us or maybe even aware of our presence.

An hour later, we moved off, back on fence patrol. We drove to a lookout and there was some talk about a ‘flash light’ not working. Two of the mambas jumped out, each side of me, which was an immediate relief as I could stretch out and breathe again! They took up position in a nearby hide. They radioed to base and were told someone was bringing out another light.

Two mambas and I drove off to pick up the new flash light. The windows were open, the bush was peaceful. I asked if I could jump out of the jeep and take a photo. The mamba in the passenger side who hadn’t said much laughed and said it was dangerous and I could be eaten by a lion. I got out cautiously as this was indeed a possibility and took a photo of the jeep  whilst the driver posed instinctively.

A roar was heard. I could have sworn it was a lion, and close by, the mambas laughed and told me it was an impala’s mating call. Phew!

Over an hour later, headlights were beaming onto our jeep and C was staring in, puffing away on his cigar whilst fixing up the existing flash light. Next thing he asked us if we could have an impromptu photo shoot for a magazine request. He posed with his dog and the two mambas, affectionately referred to as “his girls”. Notions of being eaten by a lion were cast aside temporarily as I found myself assuming the role of photographer. After ten minutes and a few different poses later, it was thanks very much and see you later. Amusing but random!

We continued on our fence patrol. I was filming as much as possible but after a while I realised I was getting the same shots over and over again. But I carried on, just in case something unexpected happened. I saw impala.

I got dropped off at the camp late in the evening.

I enjoyed a campfire beer to unravel and reflect on the experience of my first night patrol! I have drawn the conclusion that the mambas have had their fair share of media attention and as I know through my own experiences, some media organisations are more demanding and sensationalistic than others. It is going to take some time to reach out to these women and gain their trust. Fair enough, they are human beings after all.