Thursday, July 31, 2014

On Safari With Karen from 29 July 2014


29 July 2014

After a good night sleep at Berg en Dal, we left this morning in the dark once again. On the road out of camp we noticed a hyena pup in the middle of the road. When a car too many arrived at the sighting he got a fright and bolted through a drainage pipe and into the grass. We let the other cars pass and sat quietly to see if he would return. He did come back onto the road a little in front of us but his actions of running away further little by little showed that he was afraid of the big green monster. We decided to not torture him any longer and left his den, so he could run home.


We turned onto the H3 where there was no shortage of impalas (like everywhere else in the Kruger National Park), but we were lucky to see many elephants as well as giraffe close to the road this morning. Standing on Mlambane bridge we spotted a hyena lying on a rock in the middle of the riverbed. The hyena seemed to be sleeping, but then a large group of kudu bulls showed up. It was about 10 fully grown male kudus, which was an awesome sight. So much so that the hyena watched from behind a rock, but he probably wasn't watching in awe like us. There were also two wooly necked storks on the opposite side and three hamerkop, blacksmith lapwing and barn swallows.

We made a little detour to RenosterPan where us bird-lovers could add a malachite kingfisher and a red crested korhaan to our list. But we weren't the only ones making the detour, so as to escape the crowdedness we left to go have breakfast at Afsaal.

At Afsaal we were dive-bombed by some yellow billed hornbills and almost had our breakfast stolen while two bushbucks were browsing nearby. Then we continued north on the H3. We hit a quiet period on the rest of the H3 till S113 and S23. A nice gentleman had told us that a leopard was on the rocks on the S23. However in passing we hadn't heard where exactly those rocks were as our crossing with the S23 we could have gone both ways. We took a left and saw no rocks for quite some time. But suddenly a pile of boulders on our right and on top: a leopard cub!! We were very happy with the sight. He was lying there nice in the open, for about 5 min, then he got up and moved two meters to the left and behind a branch. Not giving up we moved the car backwards so he came back into view. He lay there, watching us watching him when he suddenly got up and stared into the opposite direction. Hoping for a glimpse of mum, we got excited, but then he went to lie down again. We decided to take a drive to the other side of the rock to see if we could see mum. While standing there scouting around, the cub climbed up a nearby tree. Found a high spot, laid down, but apparently it wasn't comfortable so got up again, climbed up higher and then lay down there. This was the perfect spot for him (and a little less visual for us) so while he settled in we looked around for mum. And there she was. The moment we saw her, she jumped from another tree on the other side of the road. While walking alongside it we saw her, lost her, found her and then lost her again. By this time we were the only car at the sighting again and we waited quietly hoping mum would cross the road to join her cub. But apparently mum needed some more "me"- time as we had no such luck. After sitting with those leopards for more than an hour we felt our bladders and decided another pee stop was in order. We left both leopards very well hidden, if you didn't know he was there you would pass him.

The return journey included a quick stop with mostly sightings of more elephants, lots of zebras, a brilliant white rhino sleeping on his side (which first had scared us as he looked dead, but then luckily started moving), a crested francolin with chicks, more giraffes, a natal francolin, guineafowls panicking, more kudus and a steenbok. And lets not forget the chameleon which got the fright of his life when a car drove over it (not with a wheel, he was in the middle of all 4), reversed and then parked next to it. Then a little sunray came through the clouds, warmed him up and he continued to cross the road (while we frantically stopped another car that was about to drive over it as well and might not have missed it).

Back at camp the guests enjoyed themselves by doing the rhino walk around the camp just before an early dinner. They have seen pretty impala lillies that are in full bloom, possible swazi lillies too, a crocodile and (after identifying pictures during dinner) black headed oriole, blackbacked puffback, egyptian geese and white browed robin chats.

After the early dinner the guests went on a sundowner drive.

The Sundowner Drive was a fast one, so I was told. Nonetheless they have seen plenty of hyena, a wildebeest, white rhinos, including a mother and baby, a spotted eagle owl and a blackbacked jackal. While walking back to our bungalows we stopped to look at the brilliant sky, found south with help from the southerncross (and its pointers) and laughed at scorpio (visible in the night's sky) running after orion (not visible). Then it was time for bed as tomorrow was another day of travel to the next camp: Pretoriuskop.

 

30 July 2014

A couple of kilometres from the gate of Berg en Dal we were surprised by two wild dogs standing in the middle of the road. It was as if they were waiting for us, because as soon as we arrived a third one came from the bushes of our left and they all started doing their business around our car. Then they bolted off back into the bushes on our right. Wild dogs as our first sighting of the day, what a great start!

Continuing on we stopped to look at a lilac breasted roller. He was sitting in a tree close by the road, all puffed up. It was a very cold morning so we completely understood why he wanted to keep some warm air in between his feathers! Just when we were about to drive away, some movement caught our eyes in the background. Looking through binoculars we found a leopard behind a bush. We sat around for a bit and then the leopard decided to walk into the open area. He was limping a little so he walked nice and slow. Time enough for us to enjoy his beauty before he was swallowed into the bushes again.

Then a little further on we saw a herd of elephants feeding on both sides of the road. Apparently both sides were breaking branches as we saw trees move further in as well but it wasn't windy. However, neither side crossed the road. But what a great start of the day. We hadn't even seen an impala yet!

We did come across some impalas, finally, further up the road. We also stopped at a white rhino grazing close to the road. What we didn't know was that it was a mother rhino with a young baby. The baby suddenly came bouncing out from behind the mother chasing a cape glossy starling. She was so cute! She tried to copy her mum and eat some grass, but it was so obvious she had no clue what she was doing we had a bit of a giggle. In the end they crossed the road and while the baby tried to suckle, the mum kept walking to the next patch of grass. The warthogs that crossed the road in front while we were at the sighting didn't get nearly as much attention.

On the way for breakfast at a open area we saw zebras, wildebeest and impalas hanging out in one big group.

After having breakfast surrounded by yellow billed hornbills and a bushwalk walking by, we continued north as we were hoping yesterday's leopards would still be around. Apparently you can't have all the luck in one day as when arriving on the scene, we found fresh tracks of two leopards (one big, one little) but no leopards in sight.

We then got a call about hyenas on the S114. So we drove off and discovered mother nature can be cruel. We found a mourning mother hyena with a dead pup. She was still protecting it and offering it her teats to drink, but the puncture wound in the lower jaw of the pup showed it was truly dead. It was such a sad sight, we continued with a heavy heart. To find some live hyenas just a couple of 100m on.  One of the two adults snoozing in the shade was suckling a very young one, but she cradled it protectively and shielded it from view. We got to see a tail once in a while. At this sighting we realised that mother nature is sometimes cruel but mostly beautiful.

On the way up to Skukuza we encountered more impalas until we arrived at Skukuza. And on this birding trip we could add two more birds to our already long list: southern white crowned shrike and a crowned lapwing.

After breakfast we decided to have a quick check around low level bridge as we hadn't seen a crocodile up close. There were vervet monkeys showing off their tricks of how to beg for food from passers-by. A car had stopped engaging the monkey and in disgust we didn't even stop to look at the vervets, missing out on the bushbuck nearby as well. Arriving at lower level bridge the resident crocodile was posing nicely on a sandbank waiting to be photographed. Then we took a quick look around alpha loop where both a herd of elephants and hippos were grazing in the riverbed.

Then it was the last road of the day: Napi. A slender mongoose crossed the road just in front and disappeared into the grass. At Delaporte waterhole three giraffes were drinking and scaring half of the massive herd of impalas every time they flicked their heads back up.

Just past the turn off to the H3 we spotted a few cars standing still and upon arrival at the scene we saw another leopard lounging in a tree. He didn't take much notice of the cars behind him, snoozing the heat of the day away.

We didn't linger long at the leopard but continued to Transport Dam. Here we sat for quite some time. Not just because we were watching the birds (african jacana, egyptian geese and goslings, a fish eagle hunting those goslings and a bateleur landing right behind the vehicle) but there were also waterbucks, hippos and two bulls elephants. Those elephants were first drinking their fill and then testing the waters. Bit by bit one walked in while the other watched. He finally submerged completely, splashing the other elephant convincing him to join him. It ended in a combination of water ballet and a water wrestling match. It was so much fun watching them play! Too bad we didn't bring our bathing suites, because they enjoyed it so much it was inviting!

On the last stretch home we saw elephants and kudus in passing. We did stop for a family of ground hornbills. One had caught a snake, probably a small puff added, but wasn't eating it. While holding it up though he had bit by bit stolen from him by the youngster. Then a fully frown beautiful sable bull was standing on the side of the road, perfect for a picture. However as soon as we stopped he turned around and hid in the bushes before we had even taken a picture. It signalled the end of a long but awesome day!

 

More coming soon

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poachers Update

Poachers Update: 29/07, Tshokwane - Rangers with helicopter support made contact with 3 suspected rhino poachers - during the incident, all three suspects were arrested, 1 suspect was however wounded in the incident. A firearm, ammo and poaching equipment were recovered at the scene.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Safari With Karen from 25 July 2014


25 July 2014

We started a new tour today and after a pleasant drive through the plantation area we arrived at Nkambeni Safari Camp, our home for a few nights. After a long lunch break we set off for our first game drive. The weather was still hot. We decided to go around Albassini and stop at Mestel Dam first. On the way we spotted our first animal: kudus. At Mestel Dam itself it was rather quiet. Even though it was hot, nothing seemed thirsty while we were watching. The hippos bobbed up their heads briefly and a wooly necked stork was probing away.

We continued our drive spotting a tawny eagle in flight. Down Shabeni there were no animals in sight but the grasses and trees kept us entertained. A loop around Shabeni showed us two klipspringers. They were showing themselves nicely as if they were deliberately posing for pictures.

Then we drove to Shithave Dam. We spotted our first impalas on the way and at the dam a crocodile was lying stretched out on a rock. We also saw terrapins on the rock next to him, a grey heron, another hippo head as well as some Egyptian geese. A small herd of waterbucks just left the water and crossed the road in front to continue feeding.

By now it finally started to cool down. And suddenly an elephant appeared on the dam wall. We watched her climb on top and when others followed her we decided to go sit next to the water (for those of you familiar with Shithave Dam, the small dam next to the main one) as the elephants seemed to be heading that way. Sitting at the water edge it was a wise move as the herd of elephants came indeed to the edge to drink. Mostly on the opposite side, but surprisingly a large cow came onto the dam wall about a meter in front of our car! Gosh, they are ever so large when they look down on you! But she was no trouble, as she pushes her youngster forwards to join the rest of the herd. A couple of youngsters we scaring the Egyptian geese which made a racket to try to chase the elephant of. No such luck so the geese bailed. We sat there watching them have their fill of water for quite some time, as it was great entertainment!

When the sun started setting however it was time to find our way back to the lodge. We spotted a lovely sunset and a duiker, that ran away, a red crested korhaan and some guineafowls on the way back when Mark called that he had spotted a leopard. We arrived at the sighting and got a glimpse of it but unfortunately not all of us saw it. We did however all see the sables and a warthog at the same sighting. It was a slow start with a good ending for our first safari!

 

26 July 2014

This morning we set off with a brilliant sunrise. On the road out of camp it was third time lucky with spotting a duiker that stood still long enough to take a picture. Then on the way to Shabeni we spotted two elephants and kudus in passing, as we made our way to Shabeni. Mark had spotted a leopard once again and we were hoping for more luck this time. Unfortunately it gave us the run around, showing itself on the opposite side of the rocky outcrop than where we were watching, even if we drove to the other side and back around again.  When starting to lose interest we were surprised by four buffalo bulls walking up the mountain next to our car. They stopped and looked at us for a little while, but then resumed their grazing habits as if we weren't there.

We then gave up totally and continued our game drive. We made a quick pitstop at Pretoriuskop before driving down Napi. As it then got hot already we made our way back to camp. Back down Napi we were then surprised by a honey badger that was digging around in a rhino midden. We stopped and he hurried to hide behind a nearby bush. We waited to see if he would come back as he looked only temporarily scared off, but then one by one another 6 or 7 cars showed up with their engines still running and the honey badger turned around and scurried into the bush. When all were gone we hang around to see if the honey badger would change his mind again, but no. At least not while we were there, but we had all seen it before running away!

The last stretch back to Nkambeni where a pool was waiting for us, we spotted some impalas, more kudus, some more buffalos and waterbucks.

This afternoon we set off again but this time with two new friends that joined the group. We spotted for impalas, kudus and a duiker on camp road before we got told by a good Samaritan that a cheetah was lazing around on Albassini. We followed up on the call and sure enough, we found it lying on a little mount. He just laid there looking at us and we were looking at him. We had plenty of opportunities to photograph him as we had the sighting all to ourselves. Once other vehicles started showing up we decided to give up our (the best) spot to the new arrivals and we continued to Mestel Dam.

There the hippos were pretending to be big rock on the shore. We might have believed so if they wouldn't have wiggled their ears once in a while. We also saw waterbucks and more impalas as well as a fish eagle trying to catch a fish, a pied kingfisher trying to find a fish, Egyptian geese and a hamerkop.

We drove back to the tar road the same way we came up and once again we came across the cheetah. And once again we had him all to ourselves. This time he had moved a little bit and was sitting up so we were hoping he would get up completely and walk. At first he laid down again for a while, but we persisted and suddenly he did indeed get up. He stretched, walked two paces, stretched again.... and dropped on his side and continued lying down. He wasn't really showing any signs to get up again in the next 10min we waited around. It was an awesome sighting, but with this kind of anti-climax we drove off to continue our drive.

On the Numbi tar road we had a family of kudus crossing the road, before turning off towards Manung Koppies. Here we spotted zebras walking through the bushes alongside the road. A little further on however we noticed 11 sable marching in a line to the opposite direction. We decided to turn around and follow alongside in the hope they would get to more open areas. But the sables showed their secretive side and ran across the areas that were less dense. At one point they stood standing still watching us with the sunset in the background. We followed the majestic animals all the way back to the tar road where we then lost visual.

We turned back on the road towards the lodge, still spotting a duiker and more kudus before on camp road three bull elephants were terrorizing the passersby. Well actually, none of the other cars had dared to come close. They let us go first what gave us a great opportunity to watch the elephants feed and two of the bulls greet each other from up close. When it was safe to do so we passed the sighting, immediately followed by a trail of other cars.

It was a great ending to a fantastic afternoon drive!

 

27 July 2014

While the sun was rising we drove down camp road. We talked about the sun and the difference in winter and summer almost missing three buffalos lying in the grass. We could just see their horns and heads sticking out as they were still fast asleep.

We scared some duikers while driving past again and then stopped for a large dazzle of zebras. They were in between the bushes, but close enough to take some nice pictures.

Continuing on Napi road we came across impalas, a juvenile bateleur and kudus. Giraffes were waiting for us just before Napi Boulders where a male was chasing some interesting females. He didn't make them run away though, they walked slowly through the trees and as soon as they walked away he followed.

Further down the road two hyena pups were hanging around. One was brave enough to come close to the car and investigate it. They were very wary of movements and sounds but they had a good sniff of our tyres nonetheless. Then suddenly they bolted. We wondered who scared them when suddenly an adult hyena came out of the bush. She sniffed the path the youngsters had walked, following them at a trot. Oh oh, guess they are in trouble now! It was indeed already way past their bedtime, so maybe they were no longer allowed to play outside!

While having a break at Skukuza we were told about some lions that were lying in the riverbed this morning. We decided to take a bumble around and see if we could get some luck. But alas, when we arrived at the particular spot, they had long since left. But the drive was not for nothing as along the way we saw plenty of impalas, two bushbucks, vervet monkeys and a crocodile!

After a quick peepee stop at Skukuza again we drove straight down Napi back to camp. It was getting rather hot and the few animals we saw was rather spread out. We first came across a steenbok couple that upon seeing us shied away into the bushes.

At Transport Dam we saw a hyena pup lying outside its den. This one younger than the ones we saw this morning earlier, this one probably is the orphaned one we keep coming across. While warming in the sun, he doesn't look too bad for an orphan!

We also encountered warthogs feeding close to the road, twice we saw some elephant bulls. The second sighting was a group of three of which two were fighting to establish which was stronger. The third one had no interest in this and was feeding of the highest branches he could reach, stretching as much as possible.

Then four ground hornbills were walking on the road in front of us. One of them got a bit of a fright and flew a few meters ahead as where the others walked past the car nicely. We also pointed out many kudus, impalas and some more zebras until we reached camp road. Hungry now, as it was already past lunchtime, we were hoping for a clean entrance but an elephant blocked the road. He was feeding off the side of the road. Being no match for an elephant we had to wait patiently for him to move, while enjoying watching him and his friend nonetheless.

In the afternoon we set off for a short drive. We drove the route up Numbi tar and around Shabeni and Pretoriuskop before returning to camp. Most of our time we sat watching baboons play, feed and walk around. But we also spotted a crested barbet, twice a reedbuck, twice a lone buffalo bull, a duiker and impalas.

Some of us had chosen to do a Sundowner Game drive instead. How that went, you'll hear tomorrow.

 

28 July 2014

Last night's Sundowner was nice but quiet. The guests enjoyed the sunset view as well as a buffalo sighting, but it was a rather quiet drive.

This morning some of us went on a bushwalk while others went on an early morning drive. The bushwalk was a great experience. They had walked around trying to find lions, which they could hear roaring not far away. However the lions kept eluding them. Nonetheless they enjoyed the walk, with its attention to the smaller things and quiet nature.

On the morning drive it seemed most animals had forgotten to set their alarm clock. We left camp while it was still dark, catching two scrub hares in our headlights. When the sun started rising it peeked through a layer of clouds, but then the clouds firmly shot the gap and no more sun. And with that the animals seemed to have rolled over once more to stay asleep a bit longer. We enjoyed ourselves by looking at various tracks and scat along Fayi Loop. Some were fresh, but apart from a zebra, duikers and some impalas, we didn't see any mammals so far. The birds started to wake up first and we could see and/or hear various species like chinspot batis, cape turtle dove, brown headed parrot, hoopoe, purple crested turaco, cape glossy starling, forktailed drongo, black shouldered kite and another crested barbet. We aslo heard a reedbuck whistle which sounded just like a bird, but of course isn't one.

At the end of Fayi Loop we stumbled upon an elephant that was deep in the bush. We sat around for a while as we heard more noise than one elephant feeding could make. Slowly more and more appeared and some came into an open area to see them nicely.

Then on the tar a herd of sable was walking alongside us in the high grass. They stopped and looked at us while we stopped looking at them. They sure are beautiful, it is to bad they are so shy. So they didn't come out in the open. But the kudus close to Numbi weren't shy at all. Out in the open on the side of the road they were posing for pictures like they had done it before!

We returned to the lodge to join the ones that were on a bushwalk for breakfast, and to swop stories. Then we had to pack up and leave Nkambeni. At Numbi Gate we waved goodbye to Adeline, Lauren and Wilson, who left us to return to Jo'burg, while I continued with Caitlin and Colene to our next rest camp Berg en Dal.

We drove slowly down Voortrekker road, enjoying sightings of warthog, big elephant herd, waterbucks, nice kudu bulls, a tree squirrel and duikers if they didn't run away. A large troop of baboons was feeding all around the road, which was a pleasure to watch. The babies hanging around, kings passing by and two females having a squabble.

After a quick stop at Afsaal we continued south on the H3 where we stopped for multiple giraffe sightings, zebras, dwarf mongoose and loads more elephants feeding. And oh yeah, we love our birds on this tour: juvenile purple heron, hamerkop, a bird party with blue waxbills, magpie shrikes, yellowfronted canaries, southern black tits, a cinnamon chested bunting and yellowbilled hornbills, cattle egrit, helmeted guineafowl, redwinged starling, white breasted cormorant, spotted thick-knee, swainson's spurfowl, burchell's starling, green pigeon, lilac breasted roller, grey lourie (grey go-away bird) and last but not least bateleurs (to name a few).

 

More coming soon!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Safari With Karen from 24 July 2014


24 July 2014

Today was another daytrip with Care for Wild volunteers. We started at Numbi Gate and were lucky to see two elephants quite quickly. The young bulls were in the distance but stepped first on a termite mount to show themselves (1 by 1) and then kept walking towards us. They crossed the road just behind our vehicle. A little further on we found some zebras hiding behind the bushes.

We took a loop around Shabeni where we found a klipspringer posing on top of a rock and a large troop of baboons. They baboons weren't properly awake yet, as they sat huddled together is small groups warming up in the sun.

Back on the tar road we were stared at a lone buffalo bull and spotted a duiker that didn't run away.

We took a slow drive to Shithave Dam where the crocodile was already up and sunning himself. The hippos were nowhere to be seen, but we did get a good look at a grey heron.

We saw warthogs, kudus, giraffes and our first impalas. Then we encountered two elephants bulls in the prime of their lives. One was clearly trying to establish dominancy. Challenging the one that was a teensy bit smaller and at one point even laying its head and trunk on top of the head of the other as much as he could. However, the smallest one was apparently ok with it as he was more keen on the grass and kept chewing away even with the other one's head on top of him. No scuffle broke out, so we continued our journey.

Close to Transport Dam a hyena pup was sunning himself. At Delaporte waterhole we saw a massive male giraffe and a troop of baboons that was feeding and as if it was the themes of the morning, here too two males were establishing the hierarchy. One of the kings mounted the other as if trying to mate it. We also saw impala and two duikers roaming around.

On the way to Skukuza we saw many more
giraffes and a large group of buffalo bulls were crossing the road, at their own pace, just before Skukuza entrance.

After a break at Skukuza we turned towards the river. We stopped at a spot where people said there were lions, but through the bushes. We scouted and looked and maybe saw an ear, but that was it. No luck this time. We did however see multiple white-backed and hooded vultures sitting in trees nearby waiting to eat the leftovers of the buffalo the lions had killed. After we continued we spotted lots of herds of impalas, bateleurs fly over and a fish eagle.

At high level bridge we spotted an island full of hippos and a crocodile. We then took the road Marula loop where we saw lots of giraffes, zebras and two buffalos close to the road. At Sand river bridge a family of tawny eagles was sitting on their nest. Then we had to drive slowly as a family of ground hornbills was walking in the road. While we were crossing slowly, baboons came up from behind us and played on the bridge.

Back at Skukuza we stopped for lunch. Then we continued our drive on Kruger road where a steenbok decided we weren't worth running away from in the heat and plopped back down to rest. Down River road there were lots of kudus going to the water. We saw some nice fully grown males and large groups of females. Back on Doispane it was rather quiet. The day had turned hot and all the animals had gone into hiding. We did get word about a sleeping
male lion under a bush. This time we were in luck and made it to the sighting in time. The lion was having a dream as he rolled on his back and made movements with his legs in the air. It made it look funny for us! On the way to Phabeni Gate we only stopped for zebras, before the drive was over.

On Safari With Mark From 22 July 2014


22 July 2014

Route: Numbi tar straight into Pretoriuskop

General animals seen: impala, waterbuck, kudu, giraffe

Highlights: approximately 500m before camp gate we had a young Male leopard walk into the road, sat down and started licking his paws. Great sighting as we were the only car on the road as it was approximately 5min before camp gate closed.

 

23 July 2014

Route: Voortrekker - H3 - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra, warthog, common duiker, steenbok, klipspringers, chackma baboons, vervet monkeys, buffalo, elephant and rhino

Highlights: We got word of 4 lions on a buffalo kill on the river and headed that way and found them all enjoying their meal.

On our return to camp we came across a herd of 7 sable antelope and sat and watched them as they crossed over the road in front of us.

 

24 July 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Fiaya loop - Napi boulders - Shabeni loop - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra, warthog, common duiker, steenbok, klipspringers, chackma baboons, vervet monkeys, buffalo, elephant and rhino

Highlights: we had a wounded sighting of spotted hyena and guests got fantastic photos.


Great elephant sightings throughout the day with even a massive bull pushing over a Marola tree.

 

Time has come to say goodbye to our guests, we hope you had a great safari with many great memories. We wish you safe travels home and hope to see you again in the future.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Poachers Update

Poachers Update: 25/07 Lower Sabie rangers made contact with a group of three suspected rhino poachers close to the Mozambique border. During contact, one suspect was wounded and arrested. A rifle, ammo and equipment were recovered at the scene. The remaining two suspects managed to escape arrest.

In another successful counter poaching operation (25/07), Shangoni rangers made contact with a group of three suspected poachers deep in the section. During contact, one suspect was fatally wounded and the remaining two suspects escaped arrest and are currently being followed up. A rifle, ammo and equipment were recovered at the scene

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Update On Wyntir!!

Wyntir is doing very well. Her wounds are healing very well and she is a happy little rhino...


Over the weekend we brought Tana over and introduced the 2 of them! They took to each other very quickly and Wyntir was following Tana around.

So happy for them...





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Safari With The Challenge Group From 17 July 2014


17 July 2014

An early morning start for us today as we made our way to collect the challenge group. Once everyone had boarded the bus it was time to make our way to Nelspruit where guides Karen, Mark, Dean and Robbie were awaiting our arrival.

Upon arriving in Nelspruit it as time to board our Open Vehicles where we took the scenic route to Numbi Gate.

We went straight to Nkambeni Tented Camp our home for the next 3 nights where we had some lunch and guests got a chance to have a swim before we headed out on our first drive at 15h30.

 The afternoon safari we started our drive up the Numbi tar. On the recently burned area we spotted three elephant bulls. They were feeding on a marula tree that they had pushed over. A little further on in the background we spotted some zebras. Also on the burned area, they blended in well, so we mostly saw their tails swing.

Around Shabeni we saw a klipspringer on the rocks as well as a bateleur flying around. It was rather quiet, even the birds were still in hiding from us. On the bit to the tar we also saw two buffalo.

Back on the tar road we saw three more daggaboys as well as a giraffe that was hiding in between the trees. The more we looked the further she went into the bush.

So we continued down Napi where a martial eagle showed its brilliant wingspan by flying over. We followed it for a bit but it decided not to sit down.

Down at Shitlhave Dam we had waterbucks crossing in front of the car. The young ones were a bit hesitant, so after looking around they ran across. However the older ones took it nice and slow so that was good for pictures. We also saw a crocodile, hippo, terrapins and for the bird lovers a grey heron, blacksmith lapwing, hamerkop, forktailed drongos and darkcapped bulbuls.

On the way back to Nkambeni Safari Camp, we were lucky to see a great sunset, a white rhino, our first impala and two giraffes with a little baby giraffe. All in all not bad for a first day! 

 

18 July 2014

This morning was our first morning safari. It started good with sightings of impala, the sunrise and a small herd of buffalo all on Camp road, and a male waterbuck, zebras and kudus on the side of Numbi tar road.

We then turned onto where we spotted a couple of daggaboys, and a white rhino in the distance, before we were informed of a possible lion sighting. We did arrive at the scene when the lions were already moving away, but some of us still got a glimpse of them. We continued our drive having three more sightings of white rhino, of which one of them was close to the road.

On the way also stopped for a tawny eagle, bateleurs flying over, more zebras, impalas, cape glossy starlings, redfaced mousebirds. We then got to a sighting of giraffes hiding in between the trees. The slowly showed themselves bit by bit, but we didn't get to see them in full glory. But there was a zebra standing like royalty on a dirt mount. He definitely was photogenic and behaved as if he was the king of the world! But in all fairness, he was a nice stallion!

Just before entering Skukuza for our break we spotted some redbilled hornbills and an elephant that was very shy as he was hiding in the thick bush. After the break we saw some vervet monkeys on the side of the road. One was eating what looked like a muffin wrapper. He had either found it because people had thrown it out of the car, stolen it from people or he had been given it by people. But no matter how you look at it, the people are at fault, because unfortunately this little monkey was ripping the plastic and eating it.

At low level bridge over the Sabie river we spotted a nice crocodile that decided it was getting too hot and moved back into the water while we were watching a pied kingfisher fish (successfully) and two Egyptian geese. On the way to the bridge over the Sand river we also saw some magpie shrikes, yellowbilled hornbill and dwarf mongoose.

It was busy at the bridge over the Sand river where we saw hippos coming up for air, a white headed vulture that took off, a fish eagle in a tree and a brown hooded kingfisher. We then turned around to see it all again, but then also the baboons suddenly appeared out of the reeds. The youngsters were playing as the older ones purposeful walked across and some even had a drink from the puddles. And this time around we saw some little bee eaters at the bridge over the Sabie.

On the way back to Napi road we saw a maribou stork flying over, a slender mongoose crossing as well as a tree squirrel before we arrived at Mathekanyan. We stopped at the viewpoint for some nice (group) pictures.

Then it was back to the lodge as it started to get hot and we were getting hungry. However, the morning wasn't over as we got treated to sighting of a hyena pup lying outside its den, a warthog, grey hornbills, lilac breasted rollers and a herd of elephants having a drink at the dam just before we turned into camp road.

In the afternoon we set of for another game drive. As it was quite hot still, it started of quiet, but then Mark and Robbie called us on the radio for a leopard. He was lying on Shabeni rocks, posing like a proper model. We sat with him for quite some time before he decided the show was over. He walked down the rock towards the cars and then crossed the road. As the grass on the opposite side of the road was higher than the leopard he instantly disappeared, not to be seen again.

We then continued the loop spotting some more impalas. We turned onto the tar with the intention to drive up Albassini to Mestel Dam. A car had stopped and they were looking into the bush so we slowed down as well. We saw sable antelopes hiding in between the burned branches. Unfortunately not good enough for pictures, but we saw two of them walking away and there were possibly more of them around.

On the tar road we also saw a warthog and a black-headed oriole. On Albassini road we came across a small group of kudu and some large elephants feeding in the distance. We never made it to Mestel Dam as time was running out, so we had to turn around, but on the way back we were surprised by some more buffalo quite close to the road. It was the end of another great day.

 

19 July 2014

This morning we set off to go on a full day safari. We spotted a buffalo straight away on camp road, which was obviously still in the waking up state.

Down the Numbi tar road and onto Napi we went, waiting for kudus and impalas to cross. We then spotted a hyena that came trotting around the corner. He didn't stop, but only looked up at the cars as he made his way down as people took pictures. No glance back, he was a hyena on a mission!

We passed Shitlhave Dam to spot a sable bull hiding in the thick bush. We got a glimpse of his horns and his body, but the shy sable was not willing to show himself. We had a very nice kudu bull posing in the middle of the road for us.

Then close to Transport Dam we had another hyena bouncing past us. This one also just trotted past, no "hello" or "good morning". This one didn't even look at us!


Two Elephant bulls a little further down the road had only eyes for the bushes they were feeding, so we started feeling a little ignored. However just after turning onto the H3 a steenbok definitely noticed us and took a run for it. That’s not quite how we wanted to be noticed though.

Then we got a lion sighting. Dean, Mark and Robbie had found them before us and we were lucky they were still on the side of the road when we arrived. The male was looking intently at every car, so this time it was just right! We had some great opportunities to take pictures of him and his girlfriend before a truck decided to rush past and scare them back into the bush. Here they decided it was naptime and lay flat in the high grass. That was our cue to move on. 

We continued down the H3 to Afsaal, stopping for a crested francolin with chicks which proved they were born with flight capabilities, a lone wildebeest, white-breasted comorant, a green pigeon and lilac breasted rollers.

Zebras were grazing in the open area past Afsaal. We took a turn into Timfene loop where we saw a very nice giraffe in his full glory. He wasn't the least bothered by our arrival so he stood nice and still for pictures. Around the S114 a herd of elephants was crossing the road in front of us before going down to the river to have a drink. We also saw a fish eagle (and we heard him too), warthogs, more elephants and down the S110 a group of baboons hanging around a herd of buffalo.

We stopped for lunch at Berg en Dal where the vervet monkeys were waiting around to steal the scraps. Then we took a drive back up the tar road. Here were treated to more sightings of buffalo, baboons (twice), elephants, giraffes, zebras with young, wildebeest and warthog before we turned into Afsaal again for a quick toilet break. Then it was a dusty drive up Voortrekker road. We saw an elephant herd feeding quite close to the road, plus more warthogs and kudus and giraffes and impalas.

Then we decided to take a turn around Shabeni Koppies, just for luck. Alas, there was nothing on the Koppies, but our luck had worked as Mark had found a leopard in the meantime and we were quite close by. She was walking through the bushes but we had a nice look at her when she was in open areas! It was a great finish to a long but very good day!

 

20 July 2014

Today there was no game drives as it as time to return back to Johannesburg so we had some breakfast before loading onto the vehicles to head out to Nelspruit where we then said goodbye to the challenge group.

We hope you all had a good safari with us this year and are looking forward to returning back next year for year number 14!!

Media Release: SANParks Congratulates Magistrate Msibi For Sentencing

South African National Parks (SANParks) today, 22 July 2014, welcomed the heavy sentencing of a rhino poacher to a total of 77 years in prison for rhino poaching and related offences. He was sentenced in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court today.

Mandla Chauke was arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in 2011 after he had ki
lled three rhino calves.

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Abe Sibiya commended the courts in particular Magistrate Msibi, for imposing such a lengthy jail term. This is a huge triumph for the rhino and we warmly welcome this reward as it will provide the much needed boost to the anti poaching teams who endure harsh conditions for the protection of our parks.

The KNP has lost 370 animals to poaching since January this year and 62 people were arrested in connection with some of the cases.

“Our wish is to see a significant increase in such convictions and for the law enforcement authorities in affected countries to cooperate and work with us to end this scourge”, concluded Sibiya.

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Kruger National Park Communications
Tel: 013 735 4262

Enquiries:
William Mabasa
GM: Communications & Marketing, Kruger National Park
Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919
Email: william.mabasa@sanparks.org

Reynold Thakhuli
Acting Head of Communications, SANParks
Tel: 012 426 5203; Cell: 073 373 4999
Email: rey.thakhuli@sanparks.org

Ike Phaahla
Media Specialist, SANParks
Tel: 012 426 5315; Cell: 083 673 6974
Email: Isaac.phaahla@sanparks.org

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 15 July 2014


15 July 2014

Route: Napi - Transport - Napi - Shabeni loop - Fiaya loop - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, kudu, warthog, giraffe, waterbuck, steenbok, common duiker, klipspringer, crocodile and hippos

Highlights: On leaving camp we came across 5 buffalo as our first animals for the day.


On Numbi tar we found 4 Sable wanting to cross the road, this didn't happen but fortunately guests could get great photos of both bulls and both cows.

200m from the sables we found 3 lioness walking up the shoulder of the road. Also great photos taken by guests.

Great elephant sightings throughout the day with loan bulls and herds spotted.

 

16 July 2014

Route: Napi - Skukuza - Elloff - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, kudu, warthog, waterbuck, steenbok, common duiker, klipspringer, giraffe, kudu, hippos and crocodiles

Highlights: Great day for elephants as there have been regular sightings throughout the day. Multiple herds as well as individual bulls close to the road.


On camp road we had come across 5 buffalo bulls approximately 5m from the car.


On Napi we had our first leopard sighting with a beautiful male lying on a termite mound enjoying the morning sun.


After a break at skukuza, Dean called and informed us of another leopard walking parallel with the road towards Elloff. We had slight visual of this one but he decided to move away from the road due to the increase of cars looking for him.


Dean then informed us of 3 female lions approximately 2.5kms away and we responded. Great visuals of these as they got up and started to walk westwards.
Further down the road we found 4 cheetahs lying under a tamboti thicket, with stomachs full from hunting something.

With so much seen we just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon drive with general game viewing and bird watching.

 

 

Day Trip With Karen 14 July 2014


We started from Numbi Gate with another daytrip with Care for Wild Volunteers. We turned onto Albassini to find a duiker hanging around on a recently burned patch. At Mestel Dam the hippos were not really showing themselves as we only spotted ears and nostrils. Also there were no animals thirsty enough for a drink on this cold cloudy morning.

Down Shabeni road we found kudus, 2 young giraffes close to the road and one adult in hiding, a hoopoe and two bull elephants feeding. The biggest one took down a Marula tree branch by branch as the younger ones were feeding on grass and creepers close to the road.

On Shabeni rock we found baboons skipping their morning ritual of warming in the sun, as there was no sun, but the youngsters played with the same enthusiasm nonetheless. A quick loop around Pretoriuskop Koppies gave us a sighting of green wood-hoopoes and a small herd of elephants crossing while trumpeting in front and behind our vehicle. Especially the youngsters wanted us to know they will protect their herd from us!

We stopped for breakfast at Pretoriuskop where the guineafowls and vervet monkeys were roaming the parking lot. After breakfast we continued down Napi. A giraffe showed that animals have right of way, and don't have to look out when crossing, as he stepped onto the tar road from behind a bush right in front of us. Luckily we have good brakes! The giraffe however didn't look twice and continued crossing. We also had some lovely sightings of white rhino, kudu bulls, a lone steenbok and a hyena cub lying outside its den.

A look down H3 gave us more giraffe sightings, two white-backed vultures gliding on a thermal, a slender mongoose crossing the road, warthogs and lilac breasted rollers. We continued our drive where we had multiple great sightings of white rhinos. One of them was shy and kept showing his butt to us no matter how we turned the car. He always turned with! We also saw a wildebeest and two honey badgers that ran away as soon as we stopped, redbilled oxpeckers on top of rhinos, redbilled and yellowbilled and grey hornbills as well as a steenbok couple.

While having lunch at the Skukuza Golfclub the hippos were playing in the water. And while we were not looking vervet monkeys were having a great time in our vehicle! We had seen them upon arrival hanging around in the parking lot, so we decided to take everything out of the car. However, not everyone in the parking had done the same, as the vervets had been feasting on what looked like a pear or apple and afterwards had a play in our vehicle, what resulted in apple or pear juiced foot and handprints.

On the way out we had some trouble scaring a skink from under Dean's car. The poor creature thought the safest hiding place was underneath a tyre, so he moved from one to another. In the end he settled in the middle so Dean could quickly move out. Then we were lucky to see a daggaboy cross the road on the way to Lake Panic and a giraffe blocking the road just before we reached the tar. We turned onto River road where we saw kudus and a couple of wet elephants striding through the bush (and at least one of them was in must, so we smelled).

Down Doispane we had an elephant feeding close to the road reaching for the highest and therefore bestest leaves to eat. A herd of buffalo just had some gulps of water in a nearby pool and were now taking a rest. We also saw a family of dwarf mongoose in the road and on the side of it. They were quite brave, hanging around our car until another park visitor thought it was necessary to race by us and scared them off.

At Nyamundwa we paid some attention to the waterbirds around: a wooly necked stork, grey heron, african darter, white breasted comorant, blacksmith lapwing and fish eagle in a tree close by. A hippo was also popping up in the water close to the parking lot area.

We finished our drive with another sighting of giraffe, just before Phabeni Gate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day Trip with Dean


Today we picked up the predator course guests from the NumbiGate. We made our way down to Mestel Dam getting good sightings of impala and hippo, we moved on down the Albasini road and then up the Shabeni junction road, getting sightings of more impala as well as some elephant. We moved on going around a quite Shabeni Koppies with only a sighting of baboons in the area. We carried on with our game drive around Manungu Kopies getting a large herd of elephants with a good number of calves. After this it was off to the camp of Pretoriuskop for some breakfast.

After having enjoyed a good breakfast, we made our way down the Napi road getting sightings of elephant, impala, kudu, warthog, hippo and a hyena pup lying next to the road. We then made our way down the H3 and onto the S112. After this we made our way up the Stevenson Hamilton road and up the S114 in the direction of Skukuza.

Upon arrival at Skukuza, everyone needed a toilet break and wanted to do some shopping at the camp shop. Once everyone was ready we made our way to the Skukuza Golf club for lunch.

At 14h00, after everyone had enjoyed a good lunch, it was out again, which turned out to be quite other than a rhino and a herd of elephants. We made our way back up to Doispane road in the direction of Phaneni Gate getting more elephant, large herd of buffalo, African fish eagles and some hippos.

We proceeded onto the gate as it was time to say goodbye to the group.

Everybody enjoyed the day although it was a quite experience with regards to the cat species in the Kruger National Park due to the amount of traffic this time of year.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day Trip With Karen on 10 July 2014


10 July 2014

Today we set off with a car full of volunteers from Care for Wild, who, instead of having to care day and night for their animals, had a day out of just watching them. We entered through Numbi gate and within a 100m found a bushbuck hiding behind a fallen tree next to the road.

We carried on where we had two nice sightings of two white rhinos. Two were watching us as much as we were watching them through the bushes. Two others had no interest in us at all and showed us their magnificent backside only. We also spotted impalas, lilac breasted rollers, a Burchell's coucal, two young kudu bulls, two warthogs running away and two bull elephants hiding in the bushes. Guess it was a morning of twos...

After a break for breakfast we drove down towards Marula loop. A duiker crossed the road in front of us and then quickly disappeared. The bushbucks at a waterhole however were hanging around long enough to take pictures. On Sand River low level bridge we encountered a large troop of baboons. They were relaxing, grooming and playing and were fun to watch for quite some time as something new happened or got discovered every few minutes. We also saw a male nyala.

On Marula Loop we saw three giraffes, a family of four tree squirrels, a steenbok and a small herd of elephants. They looked liked they might cross as they were feeding on both sides of the road, but decided not to while we were watching them. An older elephant with a calf looked quite stressed and even got a fright of a bachelor group of impalas coming out of the bush, so we decided to leave her alone and gave her back the peace and quiet of no cars.

On the tar road towards high level bridge we spotted zebras, tawny eagle, more giraffes and a family of warthogs that was feeding on their wrists.

High level bridge was unusually quiet as there were no animals in sight so down Elooff we went. Here the impalas roamed around in big herds and we saw more warthogs, kudus and vervet monkeys before we got a tip about a leopard on the S114. As he wasn't supposed to be too far from the tar road we gave it a go.

Arriving at the sighting there were multiple cars all saying the same thing: yeah the leopard is here, but he is lying flat in the bushes somewhere. We decided to hang around for a bit before turning around and weren't we lucky! Just in the 10min we were there he sat up, and had a lie down again. We then turned around to go to Skukuza for lunch but the traffic wasn't easy to get through. But it gave us another glance of the leopard which got up, walked three paces to a different bush and flopped down again. After that we only saw a tail flick until we managed to get through the traffic to the other side.

After lunch we took a drive down River Road. Having spotting nothing but impalas and a large herd of kudus from Skukuza onwards till just before the S4 turn-off, we were happy to see another leopard. Once again people at the sighting didn't see him, others saying he was walking around stalking something but checking the shady bits we saw him quite clearly just hanging out.

Carrying on we came across a middle size herd of buffalo resting, zebras, vervet monkeys, a bateleur and had an excellent sighting of two rhinos out in the open.

We stopped at Shitlhave Dam to look at a shore full of snoring hippos and a crocodile having a snooze in the sun. A white breasted comorant was apparently hungry as he was catching a fish just in front of us and a fish eagle who didn't pay attention.

Then it was time to continue to Phabeni Gate where we said goodbye to one last sighting of a troop of baboons and a lizard buzzard before driving out of the park.

 

 

Friday, July 11, 2014

UPDATE ON WYNTIR!!!

Hey everyone!

Little Wyntir is doing so well! She is drinking well and is enjoying being social with the volunteers and staff. She gets a bit grumpy at times when we clean her wounds but who wouldnt? She is otherwise d
oing very well. Loving her milk but I think the electrolyte water still has to grow on her a bit haha...

I am posting 3 pictures on the progress of Wyntir's wounds... will post some more tomorrow! The first picture was taken on 28/06/2014, the seconds picture was on 30/06/2014 and the last picture was taken today 07/07/2014!

You can see that the wounds are healing nicely and the wound of where the ear is completely off is now about half the size of what it originally was...

Once again thank you for all your support and love!











Thursday, July 10, 2014

Poaching Update

#RhinoPoachingUpdate: The number of rhino poached since the beginning of 2014 has increased to 558, with 157 people being arrested for rhino poaching. 

The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of rhino poaching in South Africa....
Since January 2014, 351 rhino have been poached in the Park.
The number of rhino poached in Limpopo this year has risen to 80, while 48 rhino have been poached in KwaZulu-Natal, 37 in North West and 24 in Mpumalanga.

South Africans and members of the international community are encouraged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

For media queries, contact:
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871

Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs.







South African Nationals Parks Applauds Court Sentence

South African Nationals Parks (SANParks) today welcomed the sentencing of two Mozambican Nationals to 16 years in prison for poaching and related offences. They were sentenced in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court.

Ephraim Bila and Ndombama Salvatore Nkuna were arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in April 2013 by SANParks Rangers after th
ey had killed and dehorned a white rhino. They were sentenced to 10 years for killing the rhino, four years for trespassing and carrying out a restricted activity in a restricted area, and six years for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. The 10- and four-year sentences would run concurrently.

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Abe Sibiya commended the courts for imposing the lengthy jail terms. “We are happy that the courts have rewarded the hard work done by the Rangers, our Environmental Crime Investigative Unit and the South African Police. This sentence will certainly make potential poachers think twice, before crossing the fence to plunder our natural heritage. The sentencing will also help to lift the morale of all men and women in uniform who are in the trenches fighting this scourge of rhino poaching” said Sibiya.

The KNP has lost 351 animals to poaching this year and 60 people were arrested in connection with some of the cases. Sibiya went on to say SANParks is not prepared to give up the fight to save the rhino species.

“We are resolute in our determination to win this war that is being waged by greedy individuals, these assets belong to the South African people and we are prepared to ensure their future existence as mandated ” concluded Sibiya.

Issued by:
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Monday, July 7, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 4 July 2014


4 July 2014

After a pick-up in Nelspruit we drove the scenic route to Numbi Gate. We would spend the night at Nkambeni Safari Camp, where we first of all went to check-in and have some lunch. On the dirt road into camp we already saw some impalas, our first animals.

Then we set off for our afternoon game drive. Camp road had gotten a bit busier with impalas, a warthog and some kudus that were very well in hiding.

They had started burning on the side of the tar road so we passed some warm flames and then a reedbuck was standing in the middle of the burned bit. It looked a bit lost, as if it lost more than just its cover in the fire.

We turned onto Fayi Loop where just around the corner two young elephants were just crossing the road. They showed us their butts as they kept walking in front of us before turning off the road. Within seconds those big grey animals had disappeared in the bush.

We saw waterbucks, more kudus and lots of birds before we hit a roadblock. A herd of buffalos had decided their siesta was on the road and no matter how close we were, it wasn't over yet. We waited for quite some time taking pictures of the buffalos getting up, one of them being grey which stood out. We heard the fire crackling in the background but nothing was speeding them up today. When we were finally cleared to pass, we continued on our way. We then came across a wonderful and pretty unique sighting of an African rock python. He was lying on the side of the road, probably warming up in the sun. His body length was about 5 meters and he was evenly fat so he didn't just eat something. He lingered for a bit before slithering away into his hiding place. Just a little dried grass cover and his entire body was very well hidden!

To escape the fire we crossed the tar. On the crossing we had a troop of baboons pass us. Around Shabeni we found kudus and more impalas. We drove down Albassini to have a look at Mestel Dam. We spotted a pied kingfisher hovering, a fish eagle in a tree and hippos that were bobbing their heads up and down.

Down the road however we spotted a white rhino. He was on the side of the road but got scared by our vehicle and jumped back into the bush. He did however come back out behind us to show us how rhinos mark their territory! He then continued in our opposite direction before disappearing into the bush.

On our last stretch of today before being back in camp we also came across some zebras and some dagga boys on camp road.

 

5 July 2014

This morning we got up early to watch the sunrise from the loop around Manung koppies. The area around it was still burning at some places. We did see two female giraffes each with a young one. One female crossed the road, but the other was quite hesitant. Especially since more and more cars showed up, it decided to go back into the bush and not cross. We then moved on and had, in addition to a beautiful sunrise, multiple sightings of buffalos around Manung and Pretoriuskop Koppies, before turning onto Napi.

We stopped at Shithave Dam to watch a hippo come up to breath multiple times. There also was a crocodile that put himself on a rock already waiting for the sun to warm him up.

Down Napi we drove, all the way to Transport Dam. In addition to the previous sightings we found a kudu bull with some massive horns and vervet monkeys that just woke up and started playing in the early morning.

Then it was time to turn around to go back to Nelspruit as Siri and Alex were due back in Johannesburg today. Here they would transfer to Botswana where they would volunteer on a conservation project. I wish them all the best, and maybe we will see them back one day. Thanks very much for joining us!

On Safari With Karen From 3 July 2014


3 July 2014

Today we set off for a full day game drive right after breakfast. We have seen a lot of animals so far, but still there were many to find! However we weren't quite awake yet as we started our drive. Just before Shitlhave Dam we drove by seeing a little rock, a big rock, a rock with ears, little rocks.... Ho! Back up! A rock with ears? No, it was an elephant with a young. We didn't see the rest of the herd though.

We then continued down Napi where we spotted a lot of general game like kudus, a duiker, impalas and waterbuck. Close to Transport Dam two young hyenas were roaming around their den site, apparently having stolen a rubber cover for a pullhook. The youngsters were having great fun with it. Another younger one, just lay in the sun.

We turned down the H3. We had gotten word there should be lions down there, but no such luck for us. We did see some giraffes in the background, but no lions. We decided to continue down on the H3 anyways, which gave us a nice change of scenery. Down by Biyamiti bridge, a lot of cars were standing around. The word was there were lions, but no one seemed to exactly know where they were lying down now. Somebody even said they were a mating pair. We scouted with binoculars and thought we knew where they would be lying. So we waited. In the meantime all the other cars got impatient and left the sighting. Left all by ourselves we were startled by some weird unfamiliar noises. Then two white-backed vultures came sitting on the tree above the lions. They kind of did a mating dance and then indeed mated, letting us know what the unfamiliar noise was. Those noise little buggers however did show the lions apparently what to do as suddenly the female got up. The male followed suite and they were indeed a mating pair. Good things come to those who wait! We had a great sighting of mating vultures and lions.

We drove down towards Afsaal, but before the coffee we wanted to check out the open area. Normally there are some zebras or other grazers, but this time there were cars as far as we could see. A leopard was crossing in between those cars, unseen by us, but told by others. We scouted around, seeing warthogs, zebras, blue wildebeests and impalas but no leopard. We turned around to go back to Afsaal. While we were scouting around on the right however the leopard had crossed some way behind us, back to the other side! No wonder we didn't see it! We now scouted on the right and caught glimpses of it between the bushes and crossing open areas, before he hid away in the bushes to hide from all the commotion. There must have been at least 60 cars driving around to try to catch a glimpse! So after not seeing for 10min we decided to leave him be and finally go for a toilet break and then some coffee.

We then continued our drive back up the H3, seeing cars at the same lion spot where we had seen them mating, but the lions were lying flat once again. We didn't wait around this time. A little further on we saw 4 ground hornbills at the junction with the S113. They were digging in elephant dung in the open field. As these are very endangered it was a treat to see them.

We also came across a sadle billed stork, a group of five white rhinos, kudu bulls, baboons, bushbucks, warthogs, vervet monkeys and a white rhino mother and her calf. They were snoozing in the shade when the young got up and nudged his mother. Apparently he was thirsty as she rolled to her side and he started suckling!

After lunch at Skukuza, we took Napi road back towards camp. We spotted more general game and one hyena young was still outside its den, just in a different spot to soak up more sun. Just before the end we spotted a elephant in the bush. We stopped and then saw and smelled a large elephant bull in must on our right. The ladies in front were crossing the road and one by one took a sniff of the large bull. But none was really interested as they all continued on their way. The big bull was now left with just us to impress. Which is exactly what he tried to do. He turned around facing us and then came towards us to inspect the car to see if there would be room to join us. But smelling like that and obviously urinating, we told him firmly that he was not allowed to come any closer. However he didn't want to listen so we continued on our way. Looking back from a distance he slowly resumed molesting the marula tree he was feeding off.

Then on carrying on we were surprised by not one but another two herds of elephants crossing the road. Both times we were just on the right spot to enjoy the sighting but not to scare the mothers and their young. They crossed nicely with the youngsters fussing over the cars watching them and protecting the herd. Also two giraffes decided to cross the road. Here was where it all was happening as we saw a white rhino walking in the high grass and we came across two buffalos on camp road before it was the end of a long but very successful day!

 

4 July 2014

Unfortunately today was the last day for Leigh and Rachel. We started as soon as the gates opened and came across a small group of buffalos on camp road almost right away. It was still dark so most of them we couldn't see properly, but a female and her calf were standing in the middle of the road.

We drove up Numbi tar, towards Shabeni where we saw a lone giraffe. Around Shabeni loop we encountered a herd of elephants feeding right next to the road.

We then got a tip about some lions nearby so we went to Manung koppies. There we found a lot of open vehicles and heard some rustling in the grass. Word was there were indeed two lionesses walking around in the high grass. Unfortunately the rustling had stopped so apparently they lied down and no one saw them anymore. Lions are the same colour as the grass at the moment so difficult to spot when the grass is high. We hang around a bit longer before turning around, when suddenly they crossed the road about 50m in front of us!! We stopped next to them, where both of them stood staring at us. After a few seconds we weren't worth their attention so they walked off into the grass on the other side.

As time was running out we made our way back to Numbi, where we were caught by surprise by a massive herd of buffalo. Probably smelling the lions they were moving away. We counted around 40 buffalos before we found a gap to go through and there were at least the same amount still waiting on the other side to cross.

After transferring down to Nelspruit it was time to say goodbye to Leigh and Rachel. I hope you had a great time and will treasure all the memories of your round the world trip! Maybe we see you again one day!

 

 

On Safari With Karen From 1 July 2014


1 July 2014

When we arrived at the Kruger Park today, the zebras were just leaving the waterhole close to Numbi Gate. We continued our drive to Nkambeni where we checked in and had a bit of lunch before we went out for our first game drive.

On Albassini road we found our first but certainly not last impalas. A nice herd of females was standing in the shade. The redbilled oxpeckers flew up twittering loud about the possible danger we could be to the impalas. The impalas were unperturbed and only wiggled their ears at us.

Down at Mestel Dam it seemed to be busy hour. An elephant was grazing in the reeds on one side, while about 9 hippos were making themselves comfortable on the shore on the other side. And while sitting there we also spotted two giraffes and a fish eagle in a tree that was calling to its mate that was flying overhead. We continued towards Mestel overflow where waterbucks were grazing in the riverbed, two white-backed ducks swam past (a first for me!), and both a malachite and a pied kingfisher were looking for fish from a reed stalk.

Then we saw a swarm of white-backed vultures being blown past the Mestel overflow. We followed the road and came to a couple of trees full with more white-backed vultures that just had their fill of meat. Their crops bulging they sat in the trees preening. We also heard a lot more screeching noises going on down below them, which was just in a ditch out of sight for us, but we assumed more vultures were there consuming the leftovers. As we had recently seen fresh lion tracks we also deduced this was probably their abandoned kill. They had eaten their fill and then made their way to the water to drink. Unfortunately they had then long disappeared into the bush.

We turned onto Shabeni where we saw two warthogs, one on each side of the road for us, vervet monkeys and kudus. We continued on the tar road towards Napi where we saw more vervet monkeys and two young elephant bulls feeding. A family of dwarf mongoose was sunning themselves on a dirt road loop. They all jumped up and scurried away, when another car drove quickly past. A little further on an even larger family of banded mongoose was running back and forth over the road in front. However, less brave than their dwarf relative, not hanging around close to our vehicle.

A visit to Shithave Dam added waterbucks, a crocodile, terrapins, hippo heads bobbing in the water to our sightings checklist. Then we started making our way back to camp with a lovely sighting of a white rhino and a quickly running away duiker. We spotted another elephant but as soon as he spotted us having cameras he wanted none of that and showed us his butt. On the last stretch of camp road we also saw buffalos hiding in the high grass and another elephant, this one a bit more compliant for picture taking!

It was a very good start for our first day, bring on tomorrow!

 

2 July 2014

Early this morning we started first with a loop around Circle Road. Here we saw a glimpse of a reedbuck, zebras, three buffalo bulls and a little further on we came across a small herd of buffalos that was just waking up. We then took a loop around the Shabeni Koppies where we spotted a large family of baboons on the rock. The older ones were sunning themselves, while the youngsters were playing "tag" and running around like crazy. Around the corner a klipspringer couple was feeding while one was the look-out. Then a herd of buffalo was crossing the road. They had started crossing a while before as we just caught the end of the herd, but we got some nice pictures of bulls and mothers with their calves.

We bounced up Albassini road coming across an elephant feeding, more zebras, impalas and two giraffes. Those giraffes were very curious and kept on coming closer and in the end walked away from us on the road behind us. We saw four more giraffes feeding on Doispane on our way to Nyamundwa Dam. At the dam it was not that busy this early morning, but a couple of fish eagles was sitting in a tree and an African darter was drying his wings after a swim.

We then had to stop at Phabeni Gate as we had to say goodbye to Gina and Elena, who were going back to Johannesburg to continue the rest of their holiday. Thanks for joining us!