In April of 2016, my husband and I made our second trip to Kruger National Park, this time with our 1-year-old daughter in tow. It was her first international flight and she was an absolute dream, playing happily on our laps or sleeping the entire flight. Once in the park, we hit the ground running. Luckily, she slept contentedly as we hustled her into the car before dawn.
We lucked out spotting a pack of wild dogs lying in the shade. On our first trip, we caught only fleeting or obscured glimpses of them. This time we had a great view, so we spent a good amount of time watching them.
Nycgirl, it’s so nice to see you on here. I’m looking forward to viewing more trip photos. You’re off to a great start! Amazing to think how old C must be now! Time sure passes quickly when it comes to little ones getting bigger.
I can hardly believe that C is going to be 5 soon. Time does go by as fast as they say. I wonder how she would do on a similar trip today. She'd probably get antsy during the long car rides now, even with all the amazing sightings. I'd be willing to take that chance, though. I think about going back all the time.
Absolutely ecstatic to see you back here, NYCGirl, and to hear about NYCBoy and ... hmmmm, she's going to need a new handle, as NYCTot doesn't really work anymore.
Your pictures are knock-outs. Really, it was hard to get past those first two stunners to see what else was in store. You really delivered with those dogs! I love their perfect dappled-shade coats and their smiles. Were they aware of you humans?
Fabulous shot of the hyenas, although your comment, "a gruesome severed head", made me laugh. There are other kinds of severed heads?
When we arrived, we had the hide to ourselves. There was a lone rhino bathing in the mud of a water hole. As we watched him, a mother rhino and her large calf arrived.
Hardly a moment passed when a small family of elephants also approached. We were watching the big elephants take a drink when we noticed, to our delight, two small babies appear beneath their mamas' bellies.
It was just like a nature show. They drank their fill, then the mamas hosed themselves with water while the little ones frolicked with each other. They flapped their ears, slapped the water with their trunks, and rolled around in the water. They made such a wonderful racket. We even heard them make little joyful trumpet noises.
The photo of father and daughter are great, and I particularly approve of taking tiny children on big trips. I must confess that I was already two years old before taking my first international trip and of course remember nothing about it, but I know that it helps to set up acceptance for different foods, different times, different temperatures as soon as possible, and it is all for the better. All of the experts point out that the incredibly high rate of allergies in the United States is mostly due to excess hygiene ("kills 99.9% of germs!") and lack of exposure to different foods right from the start. Okay, okay, I know this is all off topic… *shuts mouth*
I agree, one reason my daughter is so easy-going is because we regularly disrupt her routine. And although she doesn't remember much about the places we've been to, she is going to grow up with a sense of adventure.
I don't know what to emote about first ~ the absolutely wonderful, one-for-the-books, daddy & daughter portrait or the adorable baby elephants. Sounds as though your baby was truly excited about them. I wonder if she thought she could go play with those little guys. You all must have felt so incredibly lucky to come across all these animals in habitat -- not just moving from one place to another, but going about their regular business.
Oh, I was floating on clouds. Elephants are my absolute favorite, so this was a trip highlight.
So you heard the chatty baby, huh? I tried to shush her, but I imagine her sounds weren't bothering them, and we were the only people in the hide. But yes, she was really entertained by the antics.
I forgot to answer your question about the wild dogs. They didn't seem to pay us any mind at all. The only creature who paid us any notice was the hyena who seemed to think we might try to take his antelope head.
Hyenas get a bad rap. Sure, they're not the most beautiful or stately beasts and they have an eerie "laugh," but they are fascinating. They are skillful hunters, despite their reputation for being scavengers. They have the strongest jaws (relative to size) of any mammal. And they're protective, attentive mothers.
Bixa, hyenas look and behave like canines, but genetically they are more similar to felines. Apparently, their closest relatives are actually mongooses and civets. (I don't see it.) Such interesting animals.
OnlyMark, I suspected as much, but wasn't sure. They look different without flesh on their bones, funnily enough. We saw a few fresh carcasses that were unmistakably hippos. It was such a sad sight. And the stench...
Speaking of mongooses (why isn't it "mon-geese"?), the dwarf mongoose is also an interesting animal. These little predators weigh only about a pound, but they help keep rodent populations in check. They have a mutualistic relationship with hornbills, scaring up insects that the hornbills eat, and in return, the hornbills warn them of danger from aerial predators. Dwarf mongooses live in packs lead by a matriarch and her mate, who are the sole breeders of the group. Their subordinates take turns looking after their litter.
One of the many dangers they have to look out for is the Verraux's Eagle Owl. The largest owl in Africa, this raptor is capable of taking sizable prey such as hares, young monkeys, warthog piglets. This raptor is distinctive not only for its huge size (30 inches in length, with a wingspan of 6 feet), but also its unique pink eyelids.
Hi, everyone, I'm back. I'm sorry I never finished my report. For some reason, I never seem to find time to finish anything, even when I'm staying home more. Well, here's hoping I can wrap it up this time.
It's always a thrill to spot the elusive leopard. This wasn't our clearest sighting, but we did get a glimpse of a beautiful face hiding in the bush. I think she's a girl, judging from her relatively small, sleek head.
Looking up in the tree above her head, we saw that she had a manky, dessicated carcass stashed away. It looked several days old. Amazing they can eat that stuff without getting sick.
We also spotted some lions, which is not hard to do. Unlike leopards, they fear nothing and sleep and hang out in the open.
Here is a much smaller, less intimidating predator, the black-backed jackal. Surprisingly, though, this fox-like canine is capable to taking down a healthy adult impala.
So nice to see you are still around NYCgirl ! you have taken some amazing photos because I know animals in the wild don't stick around too long before they're out of your camera lens. I especially like the photo of the jackal - to get him to stand still for a photo is incredible! Usually when you spot one it's running through the grass, nose to the ground with a brief hesitant stop before taking off again. Kruger is pretty lonely these days. When I occasionally open my bird guide I find the note you wrote for me to find….Kilroy Was Here! I stuck it inside the cover.
I feel bad for elephant mothers- two years is such a long time to be pregnant.
Hi, Tod! Yes, the jackals are quite dynamic. This one only paused briefly before he trotted off. My first trip to Africa, I was there for 3 weeks and I didn't get one decent shot of them.
I'm tickled to hear you still have my note. Hopefully one day I can go back and write another one- if the U.S. finally beats Covid and if international countries ever lets us come visit again. (I wouldn't blame them if they don't).