lugg - From the expert photographer you are, I am so pleased you like the photos. September/October is always a good time to visit. We are not having normal weather conditions this year as a drought has gripped the country. This has made the administration at Kruger burn more veld so that green shoots appear. Some animals cannot eat long grass - like rhinos for instance. Of course with the bush reduced to burned twigs, one can see miles into the landscape. But, if no shoots have appeared there will also be no animals. Many rhino were close to the roads.
One of our objectives was to go straight to Lake Panic Hide. During the day it gets over-crowded and not too pleasant to try and take photos or just sit in the silence. Other photographers....have the big guns. There is not much happening except for the Weaver birds and a lone Malachite Kingfisher. imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/633/Rc6Hy6.jpg
Whoops -- playing catch-up with this thread and its wealth of wildlife. It's just wonderful the way that you include the small creatures such as skinks along with the money shots of lions and the like. You know so much about birds, too!
You mention the drought and show the dried water holes -- what do the wildlife parks do, if anything, to make sure the animals have water? Is the policy to let nature take its course, thus preventing overpopulation? If the park does provide water, how do they do it?
Thank you Bixa for looking in again... I have a trusty bird book at my side
There are man-made waterholes throughout the park but in my opinion not enough. Maybe there are many more where roads don't go?? so we can't see them. Many are donated by big institutions like a bank, and others by members of the public who had a love affair with Kruger, and want to be seen giving back to the place they loved so much. The water holes are operated by windmills and boreholes.
When the climate is 'normal' the rivers have plenty of water but it seems the animals, even elephants, are so used to going down to the river for a drink. We saw elephants digging holes in the river bed and then slurping up the water that collects. Too far away to photograph. I don't think there were any animals dying of thirst, just having to travel further everyday.
Thank you, Tod -- I had no idea that the parks received help from anyplace other than the government.
Do you think maybe the animals that stick to the river for their drinking water do so because of territorial reasons? And perhaps the elephants stay close to the river because there would be more vegetation there even during the drought. Reasonable?
Bixa - Yes on both counts. Territorial for sure and a reason animals may wander away from water is that the vegetation is not what they want to eat. For instance, I think only elephants eat the leaves, bark and roots of the Mopani tree. That rhino in the movie cannot eat long grass - as you can see it is very good at nibbling what I consider to be no grass at all.
I think that all of the bird photos here have impressed me the most. Since I saw quite a few of the big animals on a few trips to Africa, I am impressed by the quality of your photos, tod2, but I am not discovering them for the first time, except perhaps for some of the elephant antics in the mud in one of your reports. This time there was a lack of mud for them... Anyway, I didn't pay much attention to the birds when I was in Africa -- except for the marabout storks and some of the vultures -- so these wonderful little flashes of colour are a superb discovery.
I would like to be able to comment more about all of this, but I hope you will understand that people in Paris are a bit preoccupied about certain other matters at the moment. However, I will probably be starting a new report of my own tomorrow to help get my mind off of it.
Don't worry -- I'll be back soon with more specific things to say about these pictures.
htmb - This last rhino was only 3 meters or so away from our vehicle. If you drive very slowly , keeping pace with the rhino it will take no notice of you. Don't try this with a mother and calf. She will mock charge the vehicle but will move off rapidly. In the case of elephants. Keep a good 30 meters from a large bull. I keep a safe distance from all elephants but there have been occasions when a herd emerges in front and behind the vehicle. Just stop and wait for them to go by. It is most likely you have arrived at their dedicated pathway to a water hole or river.
Kerouac, I am glad you are enjoying the bird photos. They are the most difficult to capture. 50% of the birds fly off before one can get focused with the camera so it is very special when they can be photographed.
When in Kruger we are always hoping for something unusual or unexpected to happen right in front of us and then capture the event on camera. This is almost an impossible task but one can live in hopes that one day we will get lucky. This time the unusual incident was the elephant approaching the restaurant but whether it ventured into the car park - I can't say. There used to be a large Marula tree next to the toilets and many years ago a very large bull elephant decided to come and gorge on the fruit. It scared everyone half to death and in the shop they still have a faded photograph of the event.
Traveling along a dirt road we see a very unfamiliar sight....A hippo walking in the long grass no where near water. On close examination we notice the hippo seems to have been attacked. There are dozens of claw marks on the hide and a few small open wounds still show blood. It crosses the road in front of us. It is a complete mystery why it is all alone but maybe lions have killed her calf and dragged it off into the bush. She might have followed to try and rescue it. We'll never know. I can't help noticing the back leg looks similar to a human foot...
Today we have planned to travel in a large loop and at midday decide to pay a last visit to our favourite picnic spot for a feast of leftovers. I take the opportunity to take some photos of the peaceful surroundings. imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/633/OxQrKc.jpg
After lunch we strike it lucky with a sighting of another leopard. This time the whole world has arrived and vehicles are squeezing through each other. As I am an expert experienced driver... , I get the cameraman a good spot to get some shots. imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/903/665nqG.jpg
Yes, something really bad happened to that hippo but it has survived to live another day. The Berg-en-Dal Camp is totally different to all other camps in Kruger. At first I did not like the setting at all when we stayed there once before...many years ago now. I felt it did not have that typical 'bush' feel. I still don't like the brick buildings but to their credit, the interiors are large and they all have the cooking fascilities inside so one is protected from the flying insects at night. There are 6 chalet choices that I would like to stay at next time. They have lawn in front and are peacefully secluded - not that we were in a noisy cluster of chalets. Far from it. Everyone around us was super quiet. No loud mouths drinking and carrying on like we experienced at Mopani Camp. There they even broke the rule of NO RADIOS!
The chalets are well equipped at Berg-en-Dal but in no way 'posh'. It is unfortunate that the decor - curtaining and bed linen - in this camp and Skukuza, has been selected by someone who thinks shiny -silky -glitzy fabric hung in a bad bad way is acceptable. We both think they have bad taste and gave a definite backhander for someones pocket.
Another very interesting addition. Are you sure some child has not been after that locust finch with a red paintbrush. Those tree cross sections are good, some have such a wonderful colour. And the in hollow one the hollow looks like a bird.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Thanks Mossie - It does look like a bird in flight in the piece of wood from the Knob Thorn tree! Well spotted. And I heartily agree that the Locustfinch looks like it has blobs of paint! The male is completely red in front but we have yet to find him.
bjd - I see I neglected to answer your question about brick houses in S.A. cities. Yes all house must be built of brick but in the last 10 years or even longer, a person can build a wooden house in the suburbs - Log cabin style. Building regulations used to be very strict and still are but violating them is easier and heads turned the other way with corruption.
Just looked at all of the birds and lizards again. When I took my parents on a safari to Amboseli, Tsavo and Masai Mara in Kenya, naturally our guide was only looking for big animals for us and probably would have been taken aback if we had said something like "we want to see some lizards." Although I'm sure they have specialised tours for bird watchers and other special interests. You really get the best of both worlds by being able to drive yourselves around and stop at will.