That time the baboons ate our firelighters

We pile in the bakkie (Marcus and I ) and hit the road to Kruger, stopping along the way to buy all our essentials – food (chips and rusks—the important stuff), firelighters for the braai, charcoal; the cooler box is in the back with meat and other bits and pieces in it. After some hours on the road, buzzing with excitement and anticipation (holiday—whoop whoop!), the great thatch-roof sentry guarding the way into the game reserve looms on the horizon and happily, we start to imagine the lions and elephants we might be lucky enough to see on safari.

Sentry overtaken, we make our way along the dirt roads to our lodge, the dry brush oozing Africa and adventure. We’re looking forward to stretching our legs but still keep our eyes peeled for wildlife; a worthy delay even at the expense of cramped limbs.

Out of nowhere (as is typical in Kruger) we spot some baboons strolling out onto the road in front of us, so we slow down and watch them go. After a while, we start thinking, “Jeez, they’re taking a long time just to get across the road.” And as we’re contemplating the luxury of baboon life, we feel the bakkie jerk, like something has jumped onto it—not something big, but smaller movements. Our first instinct is to swivel around and check the back.

We have some passengers.

As it turns out, the baboons were taking so long to move on because they were having a lekker feast of Flings and firelighters (no joke…firelighters) in the back of the bakkie. They had managed to open the shutter, which was there to protect anything stored in the back (so much for that!), and were eagerly  engaged in looting our supplies. We hoot the hooter and shout. Realising they are caught, the baboons jump off the bakkie and we quickly (but slowly) pull off—there’s no speeding in Kruger.

Crisis averted!


The shutter was still open.

One of the rules when driving in the game reserve is never to get out of your car—the animals are wild and you’re on their turf; if threatened, they will act according to their nature. And yet, we didn’t want the marauders jumping on the back again. We weighed up the odds and didn’t rate the idea of a surprise elephant stampede and so we carried on going, petrified at the thought of another baboon invasion (have you seen baboon teeth!?), or worse…

…eventually we see a Park Ranger dressed in kaki and pull over. We tell her the whole story and ask her to please help us close the shutter on the back of the bakkie. She nods her head and disappears for a couple of minutes, returning with this mother of a rifle. The plan: she’ll stand guard, rifle ready, whilst I jump out the car, close the shutter and lock it. I make it back into the car and thank her profusely; she tells us to be careful as we drive off. All in a day’s work.

No more baboons accosted us and we never left that shutter unlocked ever again.


Storyteller: Anja Maschwitz

Author: Andrea Zanin

Anja Maschwitz lives in Hastings with her husband and daughter. She loves yoga, swimming in the sea and exploring the woods and landscapes nearby. Anja is a qualified Montessori school teacher and has lived in the UK since 2009. 

Photo by Jorge Tung on Unsplash

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