«

The Big Cat

Lizard (of course!)
Lizard (of course!).

Like “Diamonds are Forever” the game park has “The Big Five” which is a very good marketing slogan. These are: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo & Rhinoceros. There is a corresponding Little Five: Ant Lion, Leopard Tortoise, Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew, Red billed Buffalo Weaver & Rino Beetle. But wait, there’s more, The Ugly Five: The Hippo, Vulture, Warthog, Marabou Stork & the Wildebeest.

Like other times you have to keep your eyes peeled and the little fella above was at the side of the road and held his position while I reversed to almost next to him for his picture to be taken.

Giraffe drinking.
Giraffe drinking.

Have seen many giraffe but this was the first one drinking where they first spread their front legs, then bend the knees forward so they can finally reach the water below.

Love the face!
Love the face! The size of the two horns indicate sex, Rose says these are bigger indicating a male.
Mr Whalberg.
Mr Wahlberg’s, yellow beak and feet.
.
Watering time for the herd.

We were staying at a bush camp called Talamati which has the above watering hole just outside the fence and you can sit in their viewing hide and watch the goings on. A borehole feeds the concrete tank as well as the pond in front. This herd seems to visit it a couple of times a day and can be quite entertaining.

.
Big guys drink directly from the tank. Look carefully and you will see a goose on the tank rim. Every now & then the elephants would wave their trunks, he would fly off squawking but always come back.
.
Smaller ones go to the pond. See the little guy?
.
He has just squirted water onto his left side while the mother goose chaperones her chicks.
.
More sparing.
.
See how close to the camp gate they come as  they head off for more grazing.

We head out one morning south from Talamati and have to negotiate some rather iffy sections of dirt road. Usually in a dip across a dry riverbed that has accumulated sand and bumps at it’s low point. A high clearance 4×4 is no problem but my Hyundai Accent rental will not get out if it bogs down. So we decide to come back the long route on the main tarred road and don’t expect to see much game.

The usual, “There’s a car stopped up ahead, wonder what they are looking at”? We slow and gaze into the tree on the left (South Africa drives on the left so Rose in the passenger seat is closest to the action). “It’s a leopard up a tree and he has a kill”, she exclaims in disbelief. For the last few days I had been saying “all I want to see is a leopard in a tree”, now I had my wish come true. This was #5 of the Big Five for us.

He was well camouflaged in the foliage and apparently the first car to stop saw him draging a small Impala up the tree. We were car #3 and savored the quietness till this sighting got mobbed.

.
The Impala is in front of him behind the green branches.
.
A shot with the iPhone. Zoom in and you’ll see him on the thick branch in the lower right third of the photo.
.
Like the lion kill he comes up for air after chewing away on the carcass.
.
As we drove off twenty minutes later you can see the road has become a bit chaotic as cars jockey for a view of the hidden Leopard.
.
Bath time.

Still on the way back to the camp we detour down a spur to a medium sized pond and find these guys having a whale of a time. Luckily they are on the far side but you have to keep checking around to see if some might be headed your way. Few interruptions here as we are off the tar & dirt road.

.
Absolute fun.
.
Something spooked them and there is a rush out of the water.
.
But they come back in again.
.
Little guy is well looked after.
.
These two were romping through the shallows.
.
Headless eagle.

Again, right on the side of the tar road is a Brown Snake Eagle tearing away at some meat.

.
Pretty sure he is a Brown Snake Eagle.
.
Bird of prey.
.
He was tearing apart a small tortoise. Not sure if he had caught it and dropped it on the road to break it’s shell or if the tortoise had been hit by a vehicle.
.
Our cottage at Talamati.
.
Jackal-berry tree.
.
Sunrise.
.
Battle scared lion, fast asleep.
.
Right next to the road.

Leaving Talamati we had one last night in Skukuza before flying home. Again on the dirt road out we saw a car stopped next to this big guy in the shade. At first glance it looked like she was dead but the odd twitch of the ear signaled otherwise. Do you wait for some action or take a few photo’s and move on? We moved on and literally a Km down the road we saw a few cars heading for the “lion sighting”. Word was out. At the tar intersection 5 Km away the green tourist trucks where tearing along so they can show their clients Mrs Lion, if she was still there.

We had been in Kruger for 18 days now, had had a great time and simply mellowed out on the way down to Skukuza.

.
Marabou Storks drying their wings at the Sabi river crossing.
.
Marabou Storks.
.
Baby (Willy) Warthog.
.
Goodby to Kruger.

We went down to the restaurant deck for a last breakfast and saw the dark Dineo clouds roll in from the east. The cyclone would pound the Mozambique coast before dumping buckets of rain on the Kruger veld. All dirt roads would be closed for days as nature takes it course and things dry out.

.
Cyclone Dineo clouds are coming.
Categories Trips

6 thoughts on “The Big Cat”

    1. The book is a do it yourself project. Print out as many blogs as you wish, each one becomes a chapter that you bind together and then you get to title it yourself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *