Butterfly Farming Articles
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Butterfly Collecting in Africa:
The Beer and the Mattress Story!

Nigel Venters

Well, here's a tale that may amuse you all.

I was returning from a collecting trip, with a friend and his gardener, (who was named Human) in an open-back truck. We'd been collecting in the Misuku mountains on the border with Tanzania and Malawi in Central Africa, and had taken all out gear, food and mattresses to sleep on with us in the back of the truck. Human traveled in the back, sitting on a mattress on top of beer cooler, as it was only a two-seater truck.

We'd already had one incident when I assumed I had been shot, as the windscreen smashed with a bang, and I felt a thump in my chest. I looked at my chest and saw it was a mangle of blood, I could hardly believe my eyes!

What had actually happened was that we had hit a Ground Hornbill, which is a huge ugly looking bird (that makes a turkey look small!) and it was so heavy it came straight through the windscreen and hit me in the chest. Happly, I was completely uninjured.

So now we have no windsceen, and wind and dust were swirling into the truck.

From time, the dust got so bad, we'd slide the small back window and ask Human to get us a cold beer from the beer-cooler, he'd open them up pass two beers though through to us, and have one himself. So after endless miles along a dirt road traveling at around 60mph, I opened the little slide window to ask for another beer, and to my horror, found that Human had gone!

We screeched to a halt and turned around, expecting to find the worst! After about 20 miles we saw Human walking along the road with a big smile on his face when he saw us! So how had he fallen off the back of the truck?

He said he was shifting the beer cooler, and lifted up the mattress, which had acted like a sail and taken him straight off the back of the truck! He was completely uninjured thank God as he had landed on the mattress when he hit the ground!

I know many non-butterfly folk always assume that anyone collecting butterflies, has the least active hobby in the World, and just stands in a sunny meadow, wafting at a butterfly that comes past. I can confirm that this is not so!



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