We had seen mum cooling herself down in the mud of the riverbed earlier that afternoon. But when a foul smelling odour of territory-marking secretion reached our tents later on, we knew a den of hyena’s would be nearby. The whole family emerged out of their holes early that night and we had a close encounter with them just outside the gates of Letaba. Its reputation as a craven scavenger is perfectly demonstrated by the fearful, almost ashamed body-language of these six month old cubs, constantly glancing at everything except us.
“Much as I love the lion, elephant, kudu and eland, the animal closest to the earth and with most of the quintessence of Africa in its being is for me the buffalo of the serene marble brow.” – Laurens van der Post Buffalo are one of my favourite subjects. They show an interesting spectrum of behaviour ranging from docile to outright malevolent and offer enough drama for a good photo. This old bull didn’t show much action, but the worn boss of its horns and two diligent red-billed oxpeckers did the trick.
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!!!