The corny old joke “how does an elephant disguise himself in a strawberry patch?” came to mind this morning. “He paints his toenails red.” For on our way to watch an elephant get collared as part of a scientific research project sponsored by Amarula, the creamy liqueur made from marula fruit, we bumped into the pachyderm world’s version of Die Antwoord – a semi-albino elephant got up like Yo-Landi Vi$$er, below. I think you’re freaky but I like you alot, indeed.
I am a stowaway on a prize winners’ trip to the Kruger Park and it struck me that while Amarula may be a cash (elephant) cow for parent Distell, it is arguably South Africa’s only global brand, Nando’s notwithstanding. For what other beverage has the breadth of reach to bring together an English as second language teacher from Leeds plus husband Eddie who drives autistic children; a couple from Amsterdam on holiday in Berlin; an Afrikaans golf and tennis coach plus his shipping company PA wife from Dubai and two retirees from Plumstead who’ve never been on a game driver before.
All gathered together at Jock (of the Bushveld) Safari Lodge where game ranger Lyle is a good example of the returning diaspora – twelve years managing IT in London and now two years dodging golden orb web spiders that spin fantastic early morning webs across the roads of Kruger.
Collaring the elephant was like the Paul Simon classic Mother and Child Reunion, in reverse and I’ll need 24 hours to decide whose side I’m on in the eco-technology tussle: Top Gun helicopters with vets dangling out the door in harness shooting pink darts and blasting air horns at elephant mums on kindergarten duty. More tomorrow.