Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Botswana September

September at Sedia Riverside Hotel

The month of September is now with us. It's dry, dusty and windy. The grass has gone, the leaves have fallen - it's the time of year when, it could be said, nature bares it's soul. This bareness is very short live, with many trees already pushing through new foliage and certain tree species actually blossoming.

Within our complex at Sedia Riverside hotel, we are fortunate in having one Kigelia africana or Sausage tree. Not only is it sporting new leaves, but also boasting several flowers in the bud stage on their hanging racemes. These are in full blossom within a day or two, no doubt to the delight of Peters Epauletted Fruit Bats. They will devour the fruit and also feed on the nectar of the large flowers. The flowers are cup shaped and very vivid in colour, being dark red to maroon.

The large sausage shaped fruit which eventually materializes, up to 500mm long and 150mm in diameter are very heavy - made up of a fibrous pulp with seeds embedded inside. These large, heavy fruits have a tendency to fall at the most unsuspecting moments and could prove lethal to an innocent by-stander taking a breather in the shade beneath a Kigelia africana.

David Livingstone camped under one such tree in a village in Northern Botswana, before setting eyes the next day on a magnificent waterfall 70 km away. That waterfall is now known as the Victoria Falls and the village, where he camped the night before coming across the falls , is known as Kazungula.

Maybe it's a pity he didn't have an encounter with one of these sausages during his stopover that night. Just think, the whole course of recent African history could have been changed by a falling sausage!