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Showing posts from January, 2022

Eland Love

  The mightiest antelope of them all is the sacred Eland; stately, stunning, and surprisingly hard to find in the South African bush. In fact, I have seen more Leopards, Lions, Rhinos, Cape Buffalo, Elephants, Cheetahs, and Wild Dogs (considered the Big 7), than I have seen Elands. Elands are nomadic, so they never stay in one location for long; they are nocturnal, feeding primarily at night, and wicked shy of, well, anything that doesn’t look like them. One would think they’d be easy to spot because they are huge; in fact, males can weigh up to 2000lbs. And, get this, they can jump 8-10 feet from a stand. Astonishing! What’s even more wonderful, “sort of,” about this animal is that it was the most sacred animal of the Khoisan people, the indigenous people of South Africa, and one of the oldest hunter-gatherer cultures on earth. Sadly, the Bantu tribes in the north migrated south. Then the colonists came, and between the two groups, they killed or displaced these ancient natives almost

Leopard in a Tree

  I broke a rule in The Kruger to get a shot of this leopard resting in the middle of a tree fully populated with leaves. And, I kind of didn’t care because, well, it was a leopard, one of the most elusive, stealth, and stunning animals I have been lucky enough to see only a few times during my seven years of trolling around southern Africa. Many cars were parked at the site, inhabitants gawking upwards directly outside the Lower Sabie entrance, so I knew something special was in the tree. Except, I couldn’t see it, and I wanted to it, so I stared and scanned in between the leaves and the branches until I recognized the spotted tail hanging to one side. Gold! One problem! Many roads in The Kruger are no-trespass roads - poacher patrol roads, ranger roads, admin roads, washed-out roads, all roads where civilian vehicles are not welcome. The best angle for the photo was down one of those roads so, I lost control of my manners, calculated where and how I needed to get there, and drove in

The Ornery Cape Buffalo

  Meet one of the orneriest critters in the bush, the predictably unpredictable Cape Buffalo, who shares the title of 'the most dangerous animal in the bush' with the hippopotamus - both herbivores, btw.    Look at this big boy's face. The coffee brown eyes highlighted with age lines might make one think this nearly 1-ton brute is a wise old man. The creased, wide-nostrilled, wet nose designed to sniff out the most delicious grasses atop a mere slit of a mouth built for munching and crunching looks normal enough - for a buffalo. And how about the droopy, scarred ear that reveals a history of a fight or two, or three. Maybe more. But the headdress is what makes this creature magnificent and dangerous. Hard as granite and sharp as a spear, even lions shy away from the horns of fully grown buffalos.    They are slow stepping, tail swishing, peaceful grazers that might make an uninformed human passer-by consider approaching to say a little hello. That would be a big NO!   With


  Sometimes humans riding around the bush run into lions lying down in the middle of the road. No kidding - the uber cats just plop themselves on all sides of the road as the humans excitedly click their cameras, thanking whatever deity they believe in for their good fortune. After all, not everyone gets lion sighting bragging rights. A friend and I ran across this handsome boy during a recent trip to The Kruger. A giraffe had recently died of natural causes, and the lions and scavengers were gathering. As we approached the sight, we spotted dozens of vultures lurking on the branches of dead trees, like a scene from The Jungle Book, but without the technicolor.  We expected a feeding frenzy, but the sight was calm. The fallen giraffe’s body appeared untouched. Maybe because we were, thankfully, parked at an angle that hid the carnage happening outside of our view. Several lions were lying or ambling around, and watching them was exhilarating - especially since this guy plopped and pose

Cheetah Spirit

  Cheetah Spirit Seeing cheetahs anytime in the bush is a rare experience. But, seeing eight of them at once is a moment so magical I thought I had entered a world where dreams come true.  Recently, someone in our game vehicle shouted quietly, “Look, a cheetah!” And another shouted, “Look, look, they are all around us.”  And I looked to my left, and one was at eye level with me hanging out on a fallen tree trunk. We quietly watch the mother and seven almost grown cubs amble slowly into the bush and out of sight for a couple of minutes. Speechless and in awe, we trundled on, filled with emotion at the beautiful sight of these endangered cats.  Every animal has its own beauty, but the cheetah, with tears streaming from its cinnamon-colored eyes, is the most stunning creature in the African landscape. Like most cats, domestic or wild, they are elegant, stealth, and independent. They don’t hang around in a herd, like antelopes and elephants, nor do they seek the company of other animals. S

Klipspringer: The Baryshnikov of the Bush

  Meet the graceful Klipspringer, the Baryshnikov of the Bush  This is an amazing animal, hardly ever seen because it is shy and camouflages itself in the African koppies - small, rocky hills in the veld. Watching this tiny antelope leap from rock to rock, all of various heights and widths is magical. Why the folks at Disney haven’t created a klipspringer character in one of its animated films is a crime.   All animals in the bush are magnificent for one reason or another, but this rock jumping dynamo of an antelope can leap up to 25 feet in the air. Their hooves are cylindrical and pointed, allowing them to spring from rock to rock on their toes, as gracefully as a ballet dancer at the Bolshoi.  The sight of a male and female leaping together from rock to rock is stunningly poetic and made me wish I had a replay button as I almost couldn’t believe that I was witnessing graceful movements on rugged and harsh terrain. When I saw my first Klipspringer, it stood majestically on a rock, da