A long stretch of the H1-4 road between Satara and Olifants in the Kruger National Park runs through open savanna, a vast plain of pale yellow grass only sparingly interrupted by trees. This area is prime habitat for grazers as blue wildebeest and zebra, although only elephants came out of the shade to withstand the harsh afternoon sun on this unusual warm winter day. While feeding undisturbed on the few knob thorn trees around him, this impressive lone bachelor made his way towards the camera slow but sure, constantly keeping an eye on us. Being in the presence of such a display of power always evokes a sense of fear and excitement that makes me respect and appreciate the natural order of things.
I watched David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities on the BBC last week and thought about our inspiring encounter with this flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis). Although they are often regarded as primitive reptiles, their fast tongue, 360-degrees rotating eyes and spectacular colour make them really sophisticated creatures. We have seen quite a few of these fascinating animals on the occasional night-drive, always wondering how well they blend into their surroundings. In fact, we nearly missed this one sitting on a branch ready to pose for iAMsafari!
Since our first visit to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park ten years ago (then called the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) this place has undergone a real transformation: many new animals have been (re)introduced – notably elephant, white and black rhinoceros – while the vegetation on the coastal wetland savannah on the eastern shore has become more natural, especially in the southern part near the entrance gate. Apart from the already large populations of hippo, buffalo and waterbuck, we were delighted to spot the magnificent herds of greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepciceros) again, one of the crown jewels of iSimangaliso in my opinion. Especially the adult males with their sweeping, curving horns are outright spectacular!
Southern Ground Hornbills (Bucorvis leadbeateri) are one of the most fascinating and striking looking birds to see in the Kruger National Park. We had been lucky to find a pair willing to pose before the camera, crossing the road leisurely in the heat of the afternoon sun and seemingly too weary to even raise their beautiful eyelashes. Soooo pretty!!!