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Late night safari drive June 11, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Creatures, Eh?, Namibia, Windhoek.
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A lazy quiet Friday night. Having just enjoyed an Indian takeaway, my housemate and I were driving over to the neighbouring suburb to collect a friend to go out for a late night drink. Unlike many capital cities, the streets of Windhoek on a weekend, or in fact any night, are often deserted. Cruising down through the residential suburb of Eros, we see some police cars pulled up on a side street, with some policemen standing with torches, assessing something with great interest. We passed on by, assuming it was an attempted or successful robbery.

On our way back past, we slow down for a better look. Not believing my eyes, I tell Jillian to reverse back so I could check again. Yep, I was right the first time, it was… a fully grown male kudu (see below), curled up like a cat, twisted horns sticking in the air, and a group of policemen standing around giggling. It looks like it was sleeping, but the police were standing a bit too close and being a bit too noisy for that to have necessarily been the case. We didn’t stick around to ask questions, but they seemed to have the situation vaguely under control, with a pick-up truck, with the back lowered, seemingly to remove and relocate the sleeping/dead kudu – we assumed that this was the reason for the giggling. That, or they were struggling to figure out which bit they got to take home to braai.

 Male Kudu

For anyone that hasn’t seen a kudu before, they are massive antelopes. The largest of antelopes, I believe, with their shoulders standing at around 1-1.5m. They are also known for jumping incredibly high (2-3m), often over game reserve fences and into oncoming traffic. The males have huge curvy horns, which they use for fighting other males in mating season, or skewering stupid tourists that try to get an up-close picture (a tourist got impaled last year by a camera-shy kudu). They are also a popular game meat, and are bred at game parks for consumption. They are one of my favourite types of antelope), and they can be spotted across Namibia. In the rural areas.

But what the hell are they doing in the city? Sadly, there’s been a rabies epidemic amongst kudus, disorientating them, and leading them to wander into the city. Therefore any game animals found in the city are rarely returned to the wild and are often disposed of. This one must have walked a bloody long way through the streets of Windhoek to get where it was though.

According to some locals, it’s quite common to find such wild creatures in the city. I know baboons are known to break into gardens, scavenging for foods, or a scrap with the guard dog or a splash about in the pool. Meerkats and mongooses play around in my street, but they are the only wildlife that you commonly see within the city perimeter. I did however hear that leopards, cheetahs and jackals are known to prowl around the outer suburbs, like the one that I live in. A leopard got hit by a car just the other day just kilometres from the centre. This is more common for older or sick animals who can no longer hunt, and resort to picking off domestic cats and dogs and scavenge through rubbish.

The Friday Night Kudu Experience gave us quite a shock – I certainly wouldn’t find that on my way to the pub back home! Another African surprise.

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