Mark - I wish I was as quick off the mark as you are!
Well for the last 3 days I have not been able to finish my photo-essay due to the fact my ADSL line ran out of steam! They don't tell you, they simply switch you off and after being told it was a nationwide fault with the undersea cable, I finally found out I needed to pay them more money
It's not so much the 'spoor' left by animals but their droppings that give you a clue as to who is around in the bush. One extra hint if you are driving on a dirt road are these footprints.
Yes, here is the big fella again!
This time there was a vehicle between him and us.
Keep calm...keep calm..., he's only showing off!
And a last look at the bird that amused us for hours with his fantastic flight capability. Pied Kingfisher.
Disregard for the rules of the park which are there to keep you safe, are not often flaunted, but here we snapped a local (South African) setting a very bad example to overseas tourists by getting out of his vehicle. For all we know he may have been reported to the exit gate and fined. Well, I hope so. This is the causeway at Lower Sabi Camp and a pair of otters was seen - a rare occurrence.
Here they are taken from the confines of our car.
So it's cheers to the animals and birds, insects and flowers of Kruger National Park. See you again soon!
Htmb - Oh yes, we were using both a long lens and another camera for close-by shots. We were parked quite close though. Their eyesight is so bad that unless one makes a sudden move with the vehicle they don't bother too much.
Super pictures again, makes me jealous ;D ;D I love the pied kingfisher, I remember seeing them at Karnak in Egypt when I thought they were some type of hawk, until I looked them up. The elephant, wonderful, just don't drive too close behind when he unloads
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Once again you prove that you "wrote the book" on perfect, beautifully photographed, sprightly written, and very complete reporting. Thank you!
I just went through the whole thread again from the beginning and am knocked out. You do a great job of anticipating our questions & seamlessly incorporating the answers into the report. And whooo-boy ~~ the pictures!
The heron in flight, with those upturned wingtips seemed it couldn't be bested, but then you showed the whole sequence of the kingfisher diving for its meal. Wow.
Obviously there aren't enough superlatives for the wildlife pictures, but I think you won't be surprised when I say that what I appreciated more than anything was your perseverance & super success in capturing the flowering baobab ....... with fruit, too!
The whole thing is so interesting and really fun, too. That last perfect shot, of the glass of wine, was just, well, perfect.
Thank you, thank you for your generosity and skill in bringing this to us.
Oh, this ended too soon as usual. It's a good thing you go back regularly.
The elephant was definitely doing his "I just want you to know who is in charge here" routine.
The otters are great. I am wondering if they really enjoy being wet all the time or if it is just the price to pay for liking fish so much. Of course, when the weather is really hot, they probably enjoy it.
That's one big fella. Or maybe the car is just tiny? ;D
From the Kruger Park Website: Media Release: KNP Rhino and Elephant injure tourists
"A rhino cow charged at the group after several failed attempts by the trails rangers to chase the two animals away. A cow charged at the tourist who was hiding behind a rock. Trails rangers decided to open fire in an attempt to scare the animals away. Unfortunately, a cow was injured in the process but managed to get away. The tourist sustained injuries to her ankles, ribs and bruises to her body.
A doctor from Skukuza was airlifted to the scene to assess the injuries sustained. After some thorough assessment the injured woman was airlifted to a hospital, where she is currently being treated. This was a very unfortunate incident, but we are glad that she survived and we wish her a speedy recovery” said Ms Sithembile Mhlophe, Regional General Manager; Marula; KNP.
In another separate incident an aggressive elephant attacked and overturned a tourist car between Berg-en-Dal and Skukuza Restcamps. The driver of the vehicle sustained knee injuries while trying to escape and was treated on the scene by a KNP doctor.
Managing Executive of the KNP, Mr Abe Sibiya said he was relieved that in both incidents, no lives were lost and that the tourists received the best possible treatment available."
I think both incidents are out of the ordinary but I can imagine the 'victims' saw their lives flash before their eyes. I have often thought if Mr. Jumbo decided to have a go at our vehicle, the safest place is to stay inside. You may suffer a few cuts and bruises but that's a hell of a lot better than being trampled to death!
When I took my parents on the safari in Kenya (we had a minibus), the only animals that the guide seemed to be wary about were the rhinos. We always stayed a respectful distance away. The elephants on the road just seemed to consider us to be another common animal, though.
Actually, when I went to South Africa, there were elephants on the road when I was down somewhere around Port Elizabeth. I just stopped and waited until they went wherever they were going. It was a thrill for me to see such "wild animals" wandering across a major highway and not just in a game reserve.
Kerouac, I know which elephants you are talking about - at least I think I do. They are a group of elephants that roam the forests and are footloose and fancy free. A couple of years ago our friends from England went to a place near there where you can take an elephant safari. I wish I could remember more deatils......
Funnily enough I am totally cool with Rhinos as I know their eyesight is very limited. When it comes to elephants I feel their height over our vehicle is just a little bit too scary! With all big animals like those, the danger is the mother and her calf. Or, the long lost three years ago mate called daddy Bull ;D
nycgirl you are so welcome. My son is in Kruger at the moment and sent me a message to say they had a touch and go moment with a mom elephant and her calf when she scared the pants off them by a mock charge! They could not get out of her way by reversing as they are pulling a trailer.
There's a tip for you. Don't drive up too close behind another vehicle. If they decide to reverse in a hurry they could smack into you and if you want to get going fast at least you have room to manouvre.
Sorry Bixa I put that awkwardly - I meant a mother and her calf can be dangerous if feel threatened. And then the other danger is a lone big daddy bull elephant. Elephants are pregnant for three years I'm told. Sssheesh!
Your turn is just around the corner Nycgirl. Small little suitcase now you hear!
Today's local newspaper had a front page picture of a large rhino - sans it's horn. I mentioned the dilemma conservationists are having with unprecedented slaughter of rhino's in our national and private game reserves. Mentioned was the idea that it may be better to loose the horn than loose the rhino. Well, it seems that someone has taken the initiative and done just that. Right or wrong....only time will tell.
The sausage tree is fascinating (well, so is everything else). Are the sausages any good?
I found this article in an August 1995 edition of National Geographic whilst at the car wash today:
Enlisting Tree Sausage in the war on Cancer.
"Well-known in Africa south of the Sahara, the Sausage Tree is aptly named for it's pendulous fruit, a treat to such animals as elephants and baboons. When Nigerian scientist Dora Akunyili told her colleague at King's College of the university of London, pharmacological researcher Peter Houghton, that local healers use the tree's bark to treat skin lesions, he took a scientific interest.
He alerted Spyros Retsas, a cancer specialist at London's Charing Cross Hospital, who tested extracts from the roots, bark, and fruit, on cancerous cells in a lab dish. Indeed something in the tree - no one yet knows what - killed melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. 'We are light-years away from potential human use' Retsas warns, 'but we're seeing encouraging signs'.
Salves made from the bark of the tree, Kigelia pinnata ( The Kruger book calls it Kigelia africana), have also long been used in Malawi and Zimbabwe to treat lesions, perhaps even melanoma, Houghton says".
I find that quite interesting and it makes me wonder whether all the research came to naught or whether progress is being made.
Kruger's geology is fairly straightforward. The most basic component is the igneous granite which forms some of the oldest rocks in the world, dating back 3.5 BILLION years. Most geologists agree that these ancient granites, which are almost as old as the earth itself, formed 'in situ'. They were created as the earth's original crust settled down. Within them are younger rocks, the result of great fissures opening up and allowing mineral-rich lava....or magma, to flow to the surface, forming sills of GABBRO(Italian, from Latin 'glaber', smooth). and GNEISS which are similar to BASALT.
On top of much of the granite base a layer of SHALE developed as a consequence of an extremely wet period in the planet's history, approximately 250 million years ago. This layer is FOSSIL rich and contains coal from petrified plants. However, the Kruger you see today is mainly the result of the great geological trauma that accompanied the break-up of the ancient super-continent Gondwana. This gigantic land mass, which comprised Africa, South America, Australia, Madagascar, India and the Antarctic, began fragmenting some 200 million years ago. Great subterranean movements of the earth's tectonic plates ruptured the landscape, causing the continents to drift away from each other. During this time a volcanic extravaganza led to layers of lava being spewed out over the LOW VELD, capping the granites and shale's with sediments of basalt and RHYOLITE.
The subsequent separation of Madagascar from the African mainland, approx. 110 million years ago, caused massive tilting and geological upliftment in eastern Southern Africa. This is how the magnificent Drakensberg range was formed. The northernmost part of this mountain range is the escarpment that divides the Low veld from the High veld. The tilting exposed the ancient geological sediment as horizontal bands which stretch from north to south across the low veld.
During the past 100 million years or more gradual shaping of the Kruger landscape took place, driven by water and wind. The rivers carved their way deeply into the valley floor and the softer basalts settled into sweeping eastern plains.
A twist in this geological tale comes in the form of the sand veld of the far north, the Pafuri area of Kruger. The sands are of comparable chemical composition to those found in the Kalahari in the western half of South Africa. Scientist believe the sand veld may have its origins in massive wind and sand storms which swept the subcontinent millions of years ago, carrying tons of soil into the sky and dumping it hundreds of kilometers away.
A good vantage point from which to appreciate the broad geology of Kruger is MATHEKENYANE KOPPIE, just south of Skukuza. Towering above the low veld to the west is the escarpment, often shrouded by rain clouds. Below it are a series of tumbling granite foothills that extend across the southwestern part of the park. To the east is the younger geology - the flat plains of weathered basalt, and on the horizon the low, rhyolite Lebombo Hills. To traverse the park from west to east is to take a journey through geological time, from the evolution of some of the oldest ricks in the world to more recent dramatic formations.
To follow: How Kruger's geology was formed. A Time line of events:
Time Scale, Event. 3.2 Billion years ago Earliest granite formations
300 million years ago Predominantly wet climate, sees ecca shales get laid down on top of the granites.
200 million years ago Gondwanaland begins splitting up, intense volcanic activity lays down the basalt and rhyolite on top of the ecca shales.
135 million years ago Seismic tilt as southern Africa dips into the Indian ocean.
Geological Snapshot of Kruger:
Zone, Description, Type of Landscape. GRANITE - Some of the oldest rocks in the world. Conical koppies (hills), rolling Igneous, acidic, crystalline, slow hills, sandy soils. weathering, relatively infertile, rich in silicone.
ECCA SHALES The earliest sediments from the Gondwanaland Flat plains with mixed grass volcanic eruptions. Layers contain fossils and coal. They are mixed with sandstone. Erode fairly easily.
BASSALT (from the Greek 'basantines', touchstone) Basic lava that formed underground, more Fertile, flat plains with water impervious to water. pans.
RHYOLITE Igneous, slow - eroding, acidic rock which The rocky hills of the supports shallow, rocky soils. Lebombo mountains.
SANDVELD Sandy, well drained soils, protruding sandstone Rugged mountains and hills (koppies). valleys around Punda Maria and Pafuri.
Nycgirl - A little more information just to help you enjoy Kruger more! I know you will be quite high up in the park at times so can look out for some rock formations I have mentioned.
This is Mathekenyane ( road H1-1), which is worth the little drive to the top. You can get out and wander all over this 3 billion year ago formation of GOUDPLAATS GNEISS - (gneiss from the German word meaning 'spark') The gneiss rock cooled down very slowly and could have glowed red-hot for 100 million years! The prominent quartz veins were formed around 150million years ago, when, in a last gasp of the basaltic flooding, the quartz forced its way up into cracks in the original rock. On top of Mathekenyane (in Tsonga language means 'the jigger ' a small insect).
A natural seat just in the right place for taking in the view!
Veins of quarts running in the Gneiss rock formed 3-4Billion years ago.
This rock was taken somewhere lower down in Kruger but I was so captivated by the patterns of quartz, I took a shot.
Shirimantanga - The last resting place of James and Hilda Stevenson-Hamilton. In 1929, Stevenson-Hamilton had a 'grave' blasted out of the rock on the very summit of Shirimantanga. It was never used and their ashes were strewn here on 10 April 1979. (I have been told by someone who was there at the time, and that he witnessed Stevenson-Hamilton being lowered into this hole in the rock......?)
Plaque on Renosterkoppies marking grave of one of Kruger's greats, Colonel Stevenson-Hamilton and his wife Hilda.
View from Renosterkoppies or in Tsonga 'Xirimantanga' -meaning "Worker of the early garden in damp soil".
The Orpen Boulders - Memorial plaque in honour of Mr & Mrs JH Orpen, for donating 8 farms to the Kruger National Park.
Another bit of useless information - unless you are on "Who wants to be a Millionaire"?
A Marula fruit contain four times as much Vit.C as an orange.(and is quarter the size).
The Marula tree is protected - (Sclerocarya birrea) The fruit have a quaint smell - a fruity version of turpentine and alcohol mixed. It is this smell that attracts animals over vast distances. (The number one animal being elephants).
I love the smell, and don't think it smells like the description above. I think it smells fruity and you almost want to push the fruit into your nostrils its so gorgeous! Biting into a Marula fruit is juicy. The equivalent streaming of juice down your chin as a peach!
"Do animals (elephants) get drunk on Marula fruit?" To equal the amount of alcohol in a can of beer, some 400 decayed berries ( 6kg) would have to be consumed.
I have shown elephant droppings in my photo-essays and in all of them the fruit has passed through the digestive tract of an elephant completely whole and undigested.
Thanks Bixa, Photos are from previous report on Kruger when I was into 'rocks'! I am a very amateur geologist....the kind that can't leave a stone unturned without considering it for a place in my suitcase! I will eventually get around to my collection of rocks from around the world. May include my few fossils just for Nycgirl!