Thanks for playing everyone. :)
While riding around in Pilansbery Game Reserve, I came across this young zebra who was only a few weeks old.
He kept on hiding bedind the branches of the tree. I wonder if he thought I could not see him.
The night is uneventful, but after the lions the previous day, it is just as well. Enough excitement for one day! Packing in the mattress and mozzie net, I head out for my favorite camp. This is best of all for photography as it is not so bushy, but it is a long drive and will take me most of the day. I head past where the lions were. There are hundreds of vultures sitting in the trees in the area, a lot of jackal and a few hyenas. These are the cleaners of the veld. By the time they have finished, there will be nothing left but a few bones. There is no sight of the lions and I guess they got chased away by the hyenas who are their mortal enemies. Some hippos are wallowing in the water. Their Greek name is derived from a word meaning “river-horse” (they do not look horse-like to me, but then, I am not Greek) Because of the sensitivity of their skin, they do not come out of the water to feed during the day. Mating takes place in the water and is a funny sight to see. They have a single calf which is born in the water. After mating, the female will chase the male away. They are found in two groups, females and young together, and all male groups. Hippo’s tusks are considered to be finer ivory than elephant and have been widely hunted for this reason.
It is a good place to have my morning coffee and I sit watching all the activity. The jackal, hyena and vultures are scrapping over the carcass, each one going in to grab a mouthful when it can. Naturally it is packed with cars so one can hardly move.Part seven coming soon……….
I am driving slowly as usual, while other cars zip passed. I am looking for predators so early in the morning. There are baboons and monkeys, I see a hyaena and many birds. The road twists and turns along the river. I stop at a lookout point and decided that this is a good place for coffee but first scan the area with my binoculars. There, lying on the lower branch of a tree across the small river is a leopard. Without the binoculars, he would never be seen as he is partly shaded and is lying very still. Coffee is forgotten. I wonder how many people have passed and stopped here without spotting him. Another car pulls in and is gone. He continues to sleep until the next car comes, then jumps down and is gone. I sip my coffee and watch if I will see him reappear in the bushes near the tree but nothing. Female leopards have been known to kill their young in times of drought. This ensures that she survives and can have more little ones at a later stage. If already pregnant, she can actually stop the progress of the fetus until things are better and food is available again. Both males and females are loners, but a female is sometimes accompanied by her cub which stays with her for about two years. Herds of animals are along the river bank, there are crocs and hippo in the water. Waterbuck feed in the shallows. They love the water and are never far away from it. If they are chased by predators, they dash into the water as they know that the cats will not follow them in. Although they are scared of predators, lions will not kill a waterbuck. When they get a fright, the adrenalin causes a very bitter substance to be pumped into their blood and this makes them inedible. I see a beautiful pygmy kingfisher, they are tiny and can almost fit into ones hand. There are Spoonbills walking along turning their heads from one side to another while their spoon shaped bills gather food. Saddlebills stand for a long time in one spot in order to find fish or frogs, and a Hammerkop is collecting mud to fix his nest. This is always a good place to stop but not good for photography as most of the animals are on the other side bank and too far away for descent pictures. Time to move on before it gets too hot. There are a few cars parked up the road and I make a dash to see what they have found. Cheetahs! They are lying on a small hill of sand, probably dug up by antbears when they made their burrow. There are three of them. I think they are males. Excellent photo opportunity and I get a roll of film shot. They are very fast animals and are built for speed with their slim shape. The San people have a lovely story on why they are the only one of the cat family to have non-retractable claws. In the beginning of time the cheetah and the wildebeest had a race. The cheetah knew that he was not fast enough and went to the wilddog and asked to borrow his feet as the claws would help him win. The race started and the wildebeest was in front but cheetah was catching up and going past. Then wildebeest fell and broke his leg. Instead of going on to win, cheetah stopped to help wildebeest and because of his kindness, the gods let him keep the claws. Part five coming soon……..