Life and Death in the Savanna - 14 June 2015
We recently arrived back from a round trip to Johannesburg and down to the Kruger Park, then to Mfolozi, the Drakensberg and back home, where we had some wonderful birding opportunities amongst some incredible game viewing in our new Landcruiser safari wagon. In the first photograph we see an interaction between a sub-adult Fish eagle trying to pirate newly caught fish from a pair of Saddle-billed storks (Male in this frame) in the Kruger national park. This photograph although exciting in it's own right hardly captures just what was going on at the time at this much reduced waterhole.
A group of +20 Banded mongoose foraging in the damp mud, a troop of 30 something Chacma Baboons foraging for Water lilies in the shallows (always wondered where the Waterblommetjie bredie recipe came from), a water weed bedecked herd of Hippos in a rock pool, Egyptian geese in argumentative numbers. a number African Jacana flying and lily trotting excitedly about with a pair of Pied Kingfishers hovering above and so much more at this busy place while all the time a lazy crocodile or three were keeping a beady eye on proceedings.
Over the duration of our two night stay in the park, I have never seen so many Hippo in all the time I have been visiting here, droves of them mostly out on the sand banks in the mild sunny winter weather, stunning stuff.
Then there were the Lion sightings first up were three young, +- 18 month olds who decided that they wanted to view the local talent and set up their own Lion jam (as opposed to traffic jam) in the middle of the road. Next a pride of two adult females with an array of youngsters, some really tiny, followed closely by a huge herd of Buffalo, some 1500 strong, politely crossing the road and to top it off a family herd of Elephant crossing the road and this all while we are trying to make the gate on time at 5.30 pm what a place the Kruger remains to be.
We were lucky enough to see a lovely female Leopard in broad daylight. Close to the road but she didn't hang around for too long and later as we were leaving the incredible spectacle of see a fully grown male leopard hanging dead in the upper most branches of a leadwood tree about 30 metres from the ground. Some seriously big leopard must have been trying to prove its point, .....point taken.
We also had the misfortune of seeing the carcass of a dead White Rhino on the far bank of the river we were following but later, on closer inspection of the photograph it would appear that although the horn seems to be missing or is substantially reduced or deformed, a horn that doesn't seem to have been physically removed so hopefully it died of old age, thinking that we'd missed seeing the full complement of the Big 5 by not seeing a single live Rhino we were pleasantly surprised to see a magnificent White Rhino bull just before arriving at the gate where we were about to exit from this amazing wildlife preserve.
Words and photographs by Alan Fogarty