Mahlangeni: Stories of a Game Ranger - Part 2
Mahlangeni, the Tsonga word for ‘Meeting Place’, is one of the most remote ranger stations in the Kruger National Park. This isolated corner of the wilderness was home for eleven years to Kobie Krüger, wife of the ranger in charge of the station, and their three daughters.
Another trait shared by game rangers is that they are generally non-materialistic people. Their khaki uniforms are about the only clothes they possess, and they seem quite happy about this state of affairs. They have a predilection for good, strong boots that will survive a lot of mileage but, apart from their boots and rifles, they have few other personal possessions. They are, however, sentimental collectors of bush debris and will jealously guard these personal valuables: pebbles, rocks, dead tree stumps, feathers, bones, horns, the odd lion tooth, or the skull of some long deceased animal.
One day, Kobus brought home a large dead tree stump which had apparently served as a rhino rubbing post for many years as the wood had been rubbed to a glossy sheen. Every game ranger who has visited here since has fallen madly in love with the stump and has tried to persuade Kobus to trade it for one or other of their personal valuables, but to no avail. That is, to no avail until the day ranger Tom Yssel dropped by. He took one look at the stump and knew he had to have it, no matter what the price. Intense and prolonged negotiations ensued. Finally, Tom offered a prized pair of boots which a friend had brought him all the way from the United States. And with that, a rhino rubbing post was exchanged for a pair of Yankee boots.
Ranger Paul Zway used to have a bantam cock which he claimed was of royal ancestry. (I am not sure which royal family.) It had heavily feathered legs, tawny plumage, a cape of feathers around its neck and face, and a long upright crest. It looked as though it could have been a cross between an Egyptian vulture and a tawny eagle, although decidedly smaller in size, of course. Now Paul is a very tender-hearted and generous person, the type who will, in moments of passion, impulsively give away even the most treasured of his personal possessions. So, when one of Paul’s best friends, the same Tom Yssel who had traded his boots for the rhino stump, finally got married after many years of lonely bachelorhood in the wilderness, Paul was so overwhelmed with happiness for his friend that he promptly gave away two of his most valued possessions. One was a strange-looking rock with a hole in it (which might or might not have had historical significance), and the other was his precious bantam cock. At their wedding, Tom received the enigmatic rock, and his wife Petro was presented with the bantam cock. Unfortunately, Petro’s wedding present did not last long as it soon got itself abducted by a martial eagle. Paul was crushed when he heard the news.
Penguin Books, 2011. R140,00. Available at all good book stores.
WIN WIN WIN!
This month Penguin Books are giving away one copy of each of Kobie Krüger’s marvellous titles – All things Wild and Wonderful and Mahlangeni: Stories of a Game Ranger.
To enter our competition, simply answer the below question:
What is the name of the ranger station where Kobie Krüger and her husband lived?
Send your answer and Wild Card number to email@example.com. Competition closes on 30 May 2012.
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