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  • Writer's picturePhilonsafari-in

What is biggest threat to world peace and stability? That’s right, it’s Squirrels

Living life as an African nature guide and camp manager you wake up in the morning and your senses are immediately in use, you know to watch out for elephants on the way to work, because you could smell him stood outside of your mosquito gauze window before you had even opened your eyes. The lions sounded far away but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others in and around camp. Always you must be alert. When you switch off is when you get a shock and that happens to us all at some point.

This is the life I am used to: open the front door, check for elephants before walking outside, glancing at the ground in case of lion or leopard tracks, or worse… fresh buffalo bull tracks. Over the years it becomes second nature.

I am finding now, having moved away from the civilized world of African safari and back to the Western urban jungle, it is difficult to get out of these habits!

Here are a couple of photos from the last lodge I served at as Manager and guide, the wonderful Beho Beho in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, and what you had to watch out for when leaving your house in the morning.

Crazy you might think - How can you live with these big scary creatures potentially waiting outside your door to jump on you!

But it’s not them that we need to worry about. I know that now. It’s squirrels.

The problem seems to be global and I’m starting to wonder if they didn’t meddle in the US elections.

Little did I know that whilst I have been in Africa watching fluffy lions and things, the poor British public have been terrorised by these freaks of nature: the American grey squirrel.

My new neighbour (well I’m not so much her neighbour it seems, but her personal delivery boy and signatory) messaged me the other day to ask if I was home later as she wanted to have a word with me – sounded ominous. Maybe I hadn’t been prompt enough bringing round the latest parcel I had accepted on her behalf?

But no; she told me how she and her partner had heard squirrels scratching about in the loft space last night. ‘Oh right,’ I say, wondering what she wants me to do about it. ‘I’m not saying it’s you,’ she says.

What is she on about? Does she think I am up there in the night scratching around or that I am some how in cahoots with these beastly squirrels and their plot to take over Britain one loft at a time?

It seems that her and her partner are scared to go up there to see if they are nesting in the loft space. I don’t blame them, I am sure one stopped scaling the front of my house the other day and threatened to rearrange my face in an accent reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Regardless I tell her that I will put some traps up in my loft and saying my goodbyes, I retire back to my spot in front of the kitchen window to keep an eye out for any more of her deliveries. Hope I don’t catch anything in these traps though, it reminds me of when we tried to trap a Honey badger in South Africa who kept breaking in to the kitchen. Honey badgers scare me almost as much as these squirrels.

Whereas these grey squirrels clearly plan to subdue the Brits by force with brute strength, back in Africa our squirrels were slight of build and almost cute in appearance. But of course this was a clever ruse, a trick to lure us into a false sense of security. They were as we were to find out little ninjas.

I looked on for years as my wife fought a running battle with these clever little villains, they would put their minds to dismantling the whole camp whilst we attempted to repair their damage. They always seemed two steps ahead though. It soon became clear to us that they had a secret lair in a nearby cave where they had chalk boards filled with world domination plans and 3D models of the camp on which they would plan their attacks, using a General’s baton to knock down the little figures of myself, Tricia and our camp army.

I once found one stowed away in the glove compartment of my land cruiser whilst on game drive, obviously off to help the fight for control of one of the other camps in the reserve. – But asleep on the job, the squirrel missed its exit and chirped from the glove box all the way back to camp. Back to the drawing board.

Just got another message from my neighbour asking if anyone had been banging on my door late at night. She has, and was wondering if it was kids or her jealous ex-boyfriend. Although it hadn’t happened to me, I am in no doubt that it was squirrels.

I messaged her back telling her that although I had no banging on the door, I had noticed a little chip on my PVC front door that I can’t remember being there before.

To which she replied: “What like from MacDonalds?”

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