Mopane veld on a hot day, driving slowly along small dirt roads may seem endless. It requires vigilance, eventually a break from driving or safety would be compromised.
The taller mopane tree appears suddenly next to the road as if sent by miracle. Fortunately, the hundreds of same-sized mopane shrubs are occasionally interspersed with the few bigger ones. This tree offers shade for exactly the kind of stop the body aches for, and for something to drink.
But only drive into the shade and enjoy the rest interval inside the vehicle, if this happens to be a game reserve. The shield formed by the pervasive mopane green, will yield scant warning of something dangerous appearing suddenly through the screen of leaves.
Small game ma non troppo might be of little consequence, but big cats, or the ones equipped with big hooves, horns or trunks are a different matter. They will be more than tricky to negotiate with at close quarters with only seconds to prepare.
Everything in the bush runs faster than people, so don’t. And don’t forget the damage that a warthog, honey badger, hyena, porcupine or baboon can inflict in such circumstances, if they might have been considered as smaller threats.
Still, it is the close-up sightings when least expected that are the most memorable; that is, when surviving the incident allows any memory at all.