Don’t Pet Warthogs in Africa
This true story takes place May 2004 in Mashatu Game Reserve in a remote region of Botswana, Africa. I was on a high school graduation trip with 8 other members of my class and their fathers. This father-son group decided to travel to Africa to go on safari’s, scuba dive with great white sharks and generally just explore Africa.
Just to give you an idea of how remote, read the following. We arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa after out 20 or so hour flight from Atlanta, to find out we had to hop in a van and drive another 5 hours to the boarder of Botswana. Arriving at the boarder, the only way in to the country was in a rickety, old cable car across the Limpopo River. After passing through customs, we loaded up in our Landcruiser and drove another couple of hours to the “Tent” camp. What a beautiful place literally out in the middle of nowhere.
We would wake up at 5am every morning to go on a “Sunrise Safari”. We tracked down a Leopard who had just killed an Impala and dragged its carcass up in to a tree for a feast. It just seemed so crazy to be only a few feet away from these magnificent animals. The guides carried very high powered rifles just in case one of these huge animals decided to attack any of us. Unfortunately, it was not the large animals that ended up injuring one of us.
Livin The Life
After the Sunrise Safari, most everyone would go back to their tent and catch a quick nap after being awoken so early. Me and a couple other guys on the other hand, decided to head on up to the open bar and start killing some Captain Morgan’s, along with some Famous Grouse. Aw, what a life, going on safaris, kicking back some whisk mid morning before going out on some more safaris and observing probably the most breathtaking place in the world.
Protecting the tent camp from large predators was an electric fence that would shock anything that touched it, nearly to death. Small animals could easily get through these electric fences. The guides warned us that warthogs lived in and around the camp ground, but they were “friendly” warthogs. In the 15 years the tent camp had been in existence, no one had ever been attacked by a wild animal.
Around noon, the rum and scotch was definitely hitting me hard. My buddy and I saw a warthog and knowing they were friendly, decided to pet the thing. What’s the worst that could happen? We slowly approach the fat pig. As we got up right next to it, say 2 feet, my buddy stepped behind me. I looked back at him and said, “Don’t be such a wimp.” About 2 seconds after that I was about to try to pet the hog. Suddenly, the dam thing snorted “SNNNNNOORRRRRT” , reared back and bit the living shit out of my leg. I didn’t know what hit me! I started running for high ground to get away from this beast.
Here is a pic of the actual wharthog:
I made my way back to the bar and sat down on a chair. My leg didn’t hurt until my buddy said, “dude, there’s a hole in your pants.” I looked down, touched my leg, and directly above my thigh was a giant hole in my leg spewing blood. Here I am in the middle of Botswana, a country notorious for giving out Aids in its hospitals, with a giant hole in my leg in need of urgent care. I immediately took my belt off and made a tourniquet around my bloody leg.
My buddy ran yelling out to everyone that I had been viciously attacked by a wild bore. My father nearly shit himself. Besides all the yelling and “What the F were you thinking?”, he was generally concerned for my well being.
Our guide, Fuzz, said the best idea would be for him, who had been drinking along with us, to drive us back to the boarder, get his car in South Africa and drive to a small town called Messina. So, we did.
Out of Control…
About 4 hours later, traveling at about 100 miles per hour on the main roads, we arrived at a South African hospital. Besides the fact the windows were open in the ER, and there was no doctor in sight of the hospital, the place was pretty good. We were being stared at by every person in this very small, remote city. No wonder, we were about the only white people any of them had ever seen.
My dad, who is a doctor, decided he would go ahead and sew up my wound. I received a tetanus shot, stitches, wrappings, anti-biotics, and some pain killers from the hospital. My dad brought all the cash we had on us to help pay our bill. The man who could barely speak English told us our total bill for my hospital visit would be “eeehhhteeeen dolla.” $18.
The drive home was long and I was in pain. We stopped and picked up some South African 40’s to make the time past quicker. To add on to the drama of the day, by the time we got back to the Botswanian border, it was closed for the night. When I say it was dark outside, I’m talking dark. No lights, no city around, nothingness. Before we left for the hospital, we bribed the border patrol to stay open. It looked like they had taken our money and run with it.
Eventually, we heard the cable car moving toward us. It was too dark to see. The cable car house is about 3 stories tall and there are holes in the floorboards. My dad had his arm around me to help me walk. While walking to the cable car, only using light from a lighter, all of a sudden I felt my dad just drop. It got dark and I heard cries. I thought he might be dead. I yelled for Fuzz and he came sprinting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make it up three flights so fast. Fortunately, my dad just fell down some stairs and had a bump on his head. We made it back in to Botswana, and took the Landcruiser back to the tent camp.
To conclude off the night we finished off the bottle of Captain Morgan’s and Famous Grouse. Not to mention, we ate fresh warthog for dinner….