|Posted on September 17, 2007 at 3:09 PM|
Now if you’re a guide you probably know that catfish don’t need a lot of water to survive, but that didn’t stop us from rescuing some that were stranded. It was particularly dry and the main reserves lake had gone down quite a bit. One section of the lake had broken off and almost dried out completely. We had made a decision to collect as many barbel as we could and release them into the section of the lake that still had water in it. We found an empty plastic water drum and headed out. There were about eleven of us, as well as our boss, Allen. When we got there we saw that the pan had dried even more. There was only a small damp patch about a metre wide in the centre. While we all stared in wonder at the dry pan, Travis (one of the older guides) decided to demonstrate his barbel catching skills to us. He strutted out, calling “let me show you how it’s done youngsters”. He was cut short when suddenly the hardened clay broke and he fell through, waist deep into mud. We all burst out laughing, while he tried to climb out. He ended up spread-eagle, belly crawling off of the brittle clay crust. After we calmed down, we eventually joined Travis in the mud. At first we were a bit wary. The barbel’s were so tightly packed that we kept feeling them brushing against us, and we would catch one almost immediately after the previous one. In the end we had figured out the best method was grabbing the fish and throwing them on the shore, while another guide ran after them and put them in the plastic drum. It was even half an hour when our drum was full, and we hadn’t even made a dent in the amount of barbel still in the lake. Allen was the first to decide we had done enough. The next problem to overcome was how in the world we would get the now very heavy drum back into Gameviewer. Seeing I was the only girl in the group, I climbed into the back and helped guide it in while the boys lifted. Because the truck was already full and there was a canvas roof, we had to lay the drum at an angle across me and another guide. It was really heavy, and I was having trouble holding the drum high enough so that the barbel wouldn’t fall out. Just then a huge noise, like a release of air, came out from the drum. All the guys burst out laughing, saying it was me. Just then, all of the other barbels in the drum started doing the same thing – just my luck. The guys couldn’t breath they were laughing so much. We arrived finally, and unloaded the drum. The reserve I worked at was a public reserve, so there were a lot of tourists driving around in their own vehicles. Allen told us to put on a good show for anyone watching. We noticed a pod of hippo’s close by, but they were far enough away for us not be too worried about them. We carried the drum to the water’s edge and emptied all of the barbel’s out into the water. We were waiting for them to swim away, but to our surprise (and horror) most of them didn’t move. The fish were dead. The weight of all the other fish must have crushed the ones at the bottom. We all were in shocked silence for a while. The tourist’s were far enough away that they couldn’t hear us, but they were eagerly watching us and waving. “Just smile and wave”, Allen reassured us. We hopelessly started throwing them in deeper, hoping to revived them.
Suddenly we noticed the hippo’s were starting to get anxious and were moving towards us. Just then, we saw that the barbel we had thrown in deeper seemed to be coming back to life. “We need to throw them in deeper” Allen called out, trying to go quicker because of the approaching hippo’s. We went as fast as we could, until everyone’s nerves gave in and we retreated back to the Cruiser. Luckily for us, it looked like all the fish survived and, bonus, the hippos didn’t kill us.