Thursday, April 30, 2015

On Safari With Curtis 28 April 2015

28 April 2015

The beginning of a new tour saw us entering the park through Numbi gate and going for our first drive. During the afternoon we had first encounters with impala, zebra, warthog, kudu, klipspringers and hippo.

The highlight of the day was our final sighting of the day as we found a bachelor group of six dagga boys (buffalo bulls). Perfectly relaxed after a long day grazing they were just lying in the grass ruminating.

On Safari With Karen 29 April 2015

29 April 2015

We set off early once again for a day full of safaris and we had an amazing day. As it was Bryan's 50th birthday, we were hoping to get some good sightings, but boy, was he spoiled on his birthday! And that doesn't even include the chocolate cake with ice cream and singing birthday songs, because that only came after dinner ;-).

This morning we did see some hyenas again. It was special as it looked like the hyenas started to come back to their den after a long night foraging. They appeared from all directions and some even passing the car close by. The pups came out of the den to greet the elders and to beg for some food. When a large group had formed they all greeted each other with their special hyena sounds.

After breakfast at Skukuza we had gotten a tip from some other guides about some lions. We decided to have go and see if we could get lucky. And we were rewarded with a great sighting!! Upon arrival we saw two lions and a lioness full from a meal snoozing it off in the shade. Three other younger males were still guarding the buffalo they had killed from lots of lappet-faced and white-backed vultures that were all waiting to get their share. We saw one lion trying to eat a little more. And we now know that lions are strong as he pulled the half eaten buffalo carcass away from the vultures all by himself.

But the action wasn't done yet as the female turned out to be in heat. One of the males sacrificed himself to make full use of the females estrus cycle even though he had just engorged on a buffalo buffet. We saw them mating once and a second time seemed on hand but he just couldn't get himself to do it. The girl gave up after that and went for a sleep in the shade with the male close by her side.

One of the other males that was snoozing before had apparently gotten some new room left in his still very bulgy tummy, as he got up and started to make his way back to the carcass. Full on fresh meat, he wasn't thinking properly and his now extra heavy body sank in the muddy banks of the dam he was crossing. He managed to pull himself together and out of the mud and got across. Only to change his mind and go lie down in another shady spot.

Other interesting sightings: a herd of buffalos, many elephants including some very close to the car, kudus, waterbucks, a chameleon, another lion sighting, white rhinos, steenboks, warthogs, common grey duikers, vervet monkeys, Speke's hinged tortoise, hippos, one and a half giraffe (as of the second one we only could see the bottom half), a lovely view from Mathekanyan, a crocodile, marabou stork, a brown snake eagle, zebras, a leopard in a tree and of course plenty of impalas.

On Safari With Karen 28 April 2015

28 April 2015

We started this new day with a clear sky and we had a great day out in the park. As we spend quite some time at each sighting, all of them were a highlight, so to speak. 

Our first sighting however started just as we had begun our day. In the distance we spotted an elephant. As it was our first elephant of this safari it was a great find. And he was coming closer and closer. So we decided to hang around as he walked for about 2km in the background right past our car. While munching on grass, bushes and trees. 

Once he had past us he stopped again and munched on another bush. We then noticed a hyena coming up the road behind us. And so did the elephant who instantly had gotten rigid and made himself look even bigger as he was. Ears out and tusks up high, he watched the hyena pass. 

The hyena however didn't even look at the elephant and passed without looking up. He had found something in the air that was worth investigating. He kept on walking up and down the road sniffing the air and the ground trying to locate... it. Not sure if he found it but when it got a bit busier with cars trying to pass him, he gave up and disappeared into the long grass. 

And let's not forget that after we hadn't moved all this time, some kudus and impalas had also joined this sighting. 

Our second giraffe sighting today we almost missed! He was standing only a few meters from the road but completely obscured by the bush he was eating. Until his curiosity got the better of him and he stuck his head around the bush to say hello. 

What made this sighting extra funny was the impala ram that was fighting a bush next to the giraffe. At first we thought he was just having an itch, but no, upon closer inspection that wasn't the case. Then maybe he was thrashing the bush to impress some females, but we didn't see any in sight at all. Neither did we see any other males, so he wasn't impressing those either. Nor was he stuck as he managed to pull himself out quite easily. But he kept at it over and over again, so either he is practicing his new moves on the bush or he is sight impaired and thinks it is an enemy... Either way, we had a good laugh!

Other interesting sightings: lots of impalas, yellow and red-billed hornbills, leopard tortoise, slender mongoose, white rhinos, hippos, water monitor, blacksmith lapwings, waterbucks, blooming impala lilies, pretty kudu bulls with nice horns, buffalos, lilac breasted roller, grey louries, zebras, bateleurs, warthogs, forktailed drongos, white-backed vultures, candelabra trees as well as many marula trees and giraffes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Safari With Mark

Over the last couple of days, the game viewing has deteriorated and I believe it's because of the high traffic volumes with locals been on holiday.
None the less, our two highlights for this tour has to be the cheetah and wild dog sighting.
On our first afternoon drive we heard about a possible wild dog sighting and drove towards it. We were in luck as all 8 dogs lay around in the shade, every now and then presenting us with ideal photo opportunities. Guests are very happy to have seen the "rarest predator" in Kruger.
On our morning drive, we stumbled upon 3 male cheetah, all marking territory on the shoulder of the road. We stayed with them as long as possible, eventually loosing sight as they moved off the road.
Other animals include: Impala, waterbuck, kudu, common duiker, steenbok, common reedbuck, zebra, giraffe, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, elephants, rhino and many different bird species.
As we only have 24 hours left, let's hope we can find a lion and leopard for the clients.

Media Release: SANParks CEO Congratulates Rangers On Arrests of Suspected Poachers In KNP

There has been a rise in the number of arrests of suspected poachers in the Kruger National Park (KNP) since the beginning of April of this year. Since the beginning of this month there have been 22 arrests for suspected poaching activities inside the KNP. This brings to 56 the total number of arrests in the Park since the start of 2015.
KNP rangers, bolstered by additional aerial and canine support, have managed to substantially improve the effectiveness of anti-poaching operations inside the Park.
In a dramatic swoop shortly before sunset on 25 April 2015 SANParks rangers, supported by the Dog Unit, the SAPS reaction team and a helicopter donated by the Howard Buffet Foundation: netted two suspected rhino poachers- following a sighting in the Phalaborwa area of the KNP.
The team recovered a 458 hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment. Two sets of rhino horns were also recovered during the arrests.
In a previous incident on the morning of 22 April 2015, rangers conducting anti-poaching patrols in the southern region of the KNP came across signs of a group of poachers operating in the Park and discovered a freshly killed rhino with its horns removed. The rangers immediately called the Joint Operations Centre in Skukuza for additional aerial and canine support. The newly acquired anti-poaching helicopter along with a ranger reaction team and tracking dogs were immediately dispatched to the area to support the rangers on the ground. Shortly after the arrival of the reaction force, the rangers arrested four suspected rhino poachers and managed to recover a heavy calibre hunting rifle, ammunition, hunting equipment and a fresh set of rhino horns.
Last month a second state of the art Airbus AS 350 B 3E helicopter donated by the Howard Buffet Foundation was commissioned into action. This brings to four the number of helicopters available for anti-poaching operations inside the KNP.
Mr Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of SANParks has congratulated the rangers on the recent arrests.
“SANParks, on behalf of all South Africans, wishes to thank our rangers and our partners in the SAPS and SANDF for their dedication to this fight,” adding: “SANParks is making every effort to increase support to our rangers in the field: enhanced aerial support and the use of the canine units are both becoming an increasingly vital component of our anti-poaching strategy.” “Given the increasing number of arrests, this strategy is clearly paying off,” says Mketeni.
Issued by:
SANParks Corporate Communications
Media enquiries:
Paul Daphne
Head of Communications,SANParks
Tel: 012 426 5072; Cell: 082 806 5409
Reynold Thakhuli
GM Media and Stakeholder Relations
Tel: 012 426 5203 Cell: 073 373 4999

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Safari With Karen 27 April 2015

27 April 2015

As we drove towards the KNP for a new safari it was a race against the rain clouds.

They started behind us but came dangerously close. Eventually they caught us but as we had just arrived at the gate of the park, we got about ten minutes of light rain and then it had blown over. However we didn't let it bother us, as we had arrived in The Kruger! And it gave us some nice pictures if the purple colours in the sky as well as some massive lightning show! Our highlight of our short afternoon drive was the time spend at Shitlhave Dam. Here we saw plenty of waterbucks to start with, including a female in heat that kept on having to fight off the males who were about to mount her. Secondly a hippo was bobbing up and down inside the dam. A buffalo was snoozing on the other side and we also saw woolly-necked storks, Egyptian geese, a grey heron and a herd of impalas as we were leaving the dam.

On the road we had also seen vervet monkeys and another herd of impalas where the male was doing his best to impress the females in his herd. We came across a few cars standing still and we were told a leopard had just crossed but now they couldn't see it anymore. We parked at an open spot between the high grasses up the road and waited with baited breath. Maybe we were in luck and she would pop out right there... But after scouting around and staring in full anticipation we still hadn't seen her. We suspected she had taken a different route than we were hoping for and decided to go towards Nkambeni Safari Camp, our lodge for tonight.

Now after dinner it is dark but stars are visible so it is clearing up. While the southern white-faced owl is singing in a tree nearby and the hyenas are calling out we say goodnight and we look forward to another day!

Friday, April 24, 2015

On Safari With Karen 23 April 2015

23 April 2015

As it was already our last morning we set off early again. Compared to yesterday the skies were now clear and we saw the last stars disappear from sight when the sun came up. Apparently not every animal was up for this early morning as we encountered two white rhinos that were still falling asleep while they were standing in the middle of the road. They would slowly droop their head all the way to the floor and then slowly their eyes fell closed, and after a brief snooze they jerked awake again. Guess us humans are not the only ones needing coffee to wake up in the morning... But as they were in no hurry to move off and we did not want to disturb them we turned the car and took a different route.

We then encountered a herd of buffalo. Here as well most buffalos were still lying down but at least most of them had their eyes open. However they didn't appreciate our morning visit as more of them got up and gave us a very angry look. Especially the last ones standing up gave us a look like we were the cause of them having to get up this morning and they so did not appreciate the wake-up call. So where the rhinos might have needed some coffee, these buffalos seriously were having a grumpy mood this morning! Instead of feeling sorry for them though, their grumpiness made us giggle but we left them in peace after that.

Other interesting sightings: leopard tortoise, slender mongoose, giraffes, a large elephant bum, dwarf mongooses sunning themselves, hippos, egyptian geese, waterbucks, blacksmith lapwings making babies, little bee-eaters, lots of kudus including some beautiful males, impalas, a dungbeetle rolling it's leftovers from breakfast to burry it for later, warthogs, a blind snake and klipspringers.