Our camp is infested by hairy worms. There has been a resident colony on the Marula tree in the centre of the camp but haven’t caused too much concern. Keita, however, finds them hard to resist. She has no sense of caution or self-preservation when it comes to animals of any kind and she seems to have an almost uncontrollable urge to hug everything. These worms are no different and despite our warnings to her she persists in holding them, hugging them and kissing them. Rio has had a rash from the moment he set foot in Moremi and it may be a reaction to the worms, although I recall seeing the rash in Maun before we left so I am not sure.
At about 4 o clock a persistent wailing from Keita brings all in camp to her side. It turns out she had found a large worm, let it walk on her tummy for a while, hugged it and kissed it, and now has tiny black hairs stuck all over her. These cause a terrible itching and burning and she is clearly suffering greatly. For some reason this had not happened with any of the previous worms she had held. I wash the affected bits with water but nothing will console her. I have never experienced a hairy worm itch before but those who have assure me that it isn’t exceedingly sore. I have heard that water is good to relieve the burn so we decide to take her to he crossing for a swim. It takes us about 30 minutes to mobilize the others in camp who all wish to go swimming, during which time Keita cries incessantly. Even when in the water – always her favourite thing – she still wails.
After the swim we go for a game drive and find 5 lionesses lying on some high ground. Apart from the 4 we saw on an anthill on the way in to camp on Day 1 these are the first that Keita has consciously seen. She has seen a lion before on a previous trip here but was too young to remember or to register. On the way in her inexperienced eyes couldn’t make them out in the grass and even though we tried for 10 mins, she missed them completely. She was fascinated by these ones. They were very relaxed to our presence despite the fact that Brad, the kids and I were perched very conspicuously on the roof. The lionesses did pay attention to us when Keita whined a bit ‘cos we wouldn’t let her off the car to “hug the kitty”. A young animal never fails to get their attention, particularly a young animal in distress.