MERVE’S STORY BY ALON
In my first few weeks in Congo, I met a solitary male buffalo in Lango bai. He clearly had a few stories to tell: scars, word-down horns and missing patches of hair. An animal I’ve since had not one, but many meetings with.
From our first encounter in a muddy bai, Merve appeared to be unusually relaxed around people. Following a few more meetings at distance in the bai, it seemed that Merve wanted to become better acquainted. Escorting guests along the raised wooden walkway after dinner one evening, I heard a movement beneath us. There was the very same buffalo, completely unperturbed by our footsteps just two metres above his head.
Although Merve is easily identified, he’s not always easy to spot. One of his favourite tricks was to hide behind our vehicles, which made completing the daily checks more interesting – and often rather comical. Oil, water, buffalo – all present and correct.
Merve then took to sleeping at the staff quarters, and moving around at night became slightly more nerve-jangling than it needed to be. The presence of a large bull buffalo outside your room is not to be sniffed at! The presence of a sleeping guide, however, is something that Merve took to sniffing at – quite literally. Several of us had the experience of Merve snuffling at the netting across our otherwise open windows as he watched us sleep.
The removal of most of the back of house structures from Lango to Mboko (to lighten the Camp’s ecological footprint) seemed to disorientate Merve, and it’s actually been a while since any of us have seen him. Perhaps when you visit Odzala you will be the one to spot him or one of his friends at Lango.