The man who stares at warthogs.

My name is Spencer Austin, and I wear khaki. All the time.

I’ve been living in the South African Lowveld bush savannah whatever-you-call-it for over two months now, and I invite you, suckers and muckers, to please just give me a call should you find yourself requiring clarification on the differences between lion and hyena poo. I’m your man. I’m your go-to scatman.

Have I adapted to life in the middle of nowhere? Yeahbo. Now, I properly fancy myself as a Lidl Steve Irwin. A Bear Grylls for the foppishly inclined. A Chris Packham with R’s. I am to wildlife what Kim Wilde was to the kids of America. I am to nature what Terry Christian was to 1990s pop culture. (The Terry Christian thing doesn’t quite work, does it.)


My previous scrapes with nature went barely further than the incident featuring me being chased by the orangutan in Sumatra (see earlier: But now I know where a pangolin has been walking, how dwarf mongooseseses anally drag on each other and I could wax lyrical about how many stomachs a great big stinking wildebeest has. I can refer to a rhino in that silly Latin language what they use for the animals. These are things I didn’t expect to know. I also didn’t expect to be able to drive a great big 10-seater Land Rover over the most unfeasible of pathways with almost the aplomb of a George Michael ride home. I didn’t expect I’d be able to tell the difference between over 40 different birds just from their calls. Tweet as a nut. I’ve had impala poo in my mouth. IN MY MOUTH. I’ve been woken up almost every night by lions roaring (and by an American with the snoring capacity of an aardvark with a tricky sinus complication). Talking of elephants, they visit the farmhouse I live in quite regularly – specifically to break things. Frogs live with us. Warthogs stare at me. And I stare at them back.

Having exchanged the city for the African wilderness; Starbucks for bushbucks, I have further awakened my capacity to genuinely regard animals as humans with cute tendencies. I have also become more scared of elephants than I thought was possible. They are mental, big, and much cleverer than me. I am utterly outclassed by them. I feel humiliated just being near one.

I have developed a particular fondness for the fork-tailed drongo…a bird with a chip Microsoft would be proud of. This thing will take on anything at any point. It is one feisty MF. Bring it on. I have thus decided that when I finally embark upon my much-anticipated hip-hop career, my street moniker will be Fork Tailed Drongo. Or FTD. Big up.

I have seen lions eating wildebeest, hyenas eating wildebeest bones (therewith a clue on the poo question) and then vultures clearing up the rest. I have seen things on an ordinary day at the office that no office in the world can offer. Right now, sitting in my bedroom, I can see a giraffe. That isn’t a lie.

My web-series about this Really Wild Show-inspired nonsense will be hitting the interweb at some point. I will re-post. At some point. But for now, this is the FTD signing off. Waddup.