Hosted at the Southern African Wildlife College by Bushwise, dressed by Ruggedwear, with camera gear from Canon and organised by FGASA.
Hephaistos, in Greek mythology, is the god of fire and the forge.
Originally a deity of Asia Minor and the adjoining islands (in particular Lemnos), Hephaestus had an essential place of worship at the Lycian Olympus. (Image from Google images)
When I set out on this particular photographic game drive, I had no knowledge that the god of fire and the forge would play a part in one of the most spectacular drives that I have had.
The indigenous Southern African hunter-gatherers, the San peoples tell how ǀKaggen, in the form of a mantis, brought the first fire to the people by stealing it from the ostrich, who kept the fire beneath its wings.
In another version of the myth, Piisi|koagu steals fire from the ostrich. (Image from Google images)
Fire is a chemical process that has the potential to be destructive. It could burn through everything in its path, leaving only charred remnants of what was.
But the destruction is the signal for regeneration and new growth. Unfortunately, there is collateral damage in the form of the smaller reptiles and invertebrates that cannot escape the flames. Or for that matter homes and even human life that might be lost due to the intense heat and smoke.
In this instance, it was a controlled burn and there was no loss of human life of accommodation.
Impala, unlike wildebeest, are not stupid and although they stood and watched the approaching flames, they soon realized that they might be in danger and the herd took off to find safer ground to continue grazing in.
Where once were vast plains of green, all that was left of this particular portion of the reserve was clouds of ash and smoke billowing in the air we breathed.
Today, many scientists believe that the controlled use of fire was likely first achieved by an ancient human ancestor known as Homo erectus during the Early Stone Age.
This was the front of the burn. Our field guide, Liam, decided that rather than be in the direct path of the oncoming flames, it would be more prudent to be on the side where they had passed and we could use the road as a firebreak, offering us safety, but giving us a grandstand view at the same time.
The birdlife did not seem to care about the smoke and the flames.
They were only interested in the insects that were either trying to escape or had succumbed to the smoke and the flames.
A proud Lilac-breasted Roller ignored the heat while waiting for a meal to be delivered.
Humans would probably be suffering from smoke inhalation at this point.
Not so the hordes of Fork-tailed Drongo who turned this into a feeding frenzy. Diving into the make to retrieve a tasty morsel and even hopping the leading edge of the fire to obtain the best treats.
By the time we headed back to camp, the fire was down to a few wisps of smoke that did not quite hide the sunset.
One last photograph on the way back to the Southern African Wildlife College and dinner.
The oldest unequivocal evidence, found at Israel’s Qesem Cave, dates back 300,000 to 400,000 years, associating the earliest control of fire with Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.
Now, however, an international team of archaeologists has unearthed what appear to be traces of campfires that flickered 1 million years ago.
A game drive that will not be easily forgotten.
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