All the dread from the previous day was at last forgotten when the sun finally peeped over the mountain peak early the next morning. All survived! The group were then taken on an afternoon game drive to Bakkrans Nature Reserve (www.redcederberg. co.za) in Johan van der Westhuizen’s game drive vehicle which he lent us. We ended the night searching for scorpions under ultra violet light which illuminates these wonderful creatures. The boys and girls were thrilled when Quinton managed to locate and handle two large scorpions for them to get a close up view.
Next was the Bishops Epic. “Epic” is indeed the best way to describe this massive event spanning 3 weeks where over 120 grade10 students come hiking in the Cederberg. The Cape Leopard Trust was on hand to do presentations to the boys, opening their eyes about leopards and other fauna found in the Cederberg. Two specific events were highlights for us: the first when Quinton tracked the male leopard “Trompie” on Uitkyk pass. He was located about 600m off the road and while Quinton watched from a distance, 12 Bishops boys came hiking down the mountain less than 100m from where the leopard lay watching. Who knows what he was thinking while watching this procession, but one thing is for sure, the boys had no idea he was there, and they were in no danger either. This seems all too common a scenario in these mountains, as people so seldom see or even know of a leopard’s presence here but they often get a good look at us, but are thankfully too shy to pose a threat unless provoked.
The other event was an opportunity for four boys and their Science teacher, Graeme, to track M11 on foot with Quinton. All 24 boys in the group wanted to go, but four had the opportunity after drawing straws. They had quite a hike, but the excitement made it all worthwhile. The leopard, having become aware of their presence, decided he was in no mood for a crowd, so lithely crossed over a steep ridge and disappeared before they even got a glimpse.