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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:01 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
(Sorry, I had to get some sleep....)

In the middle of the day when it got too hot and the animal activity level had lessened, Ed and I went walking around the grounds at TR hoping to spot some owls. We found a pair in a tree behind the pool, and another tiny one as well.
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We made our way around to the area in front of the gas station, opposite the entry gatehouse, and walked around looking for squirrels, insects, anything interesting.
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Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that really startled me!
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A cape cobra within mere feet, head reared, with that nasty look on its face they perpetually wear!
"Ed, don't move."
We both froze, then slowly started backing away. The cobra began relaxing (as did we), and when I felt far enough away that it was no longer within striking distance, I took the above picture, though it doesn't show him as fully erect as he originally was. He began slithering towards a nearby hole, and disappeared down it.

Moments later, he popped out of an adjacent hole. Except this time he was no longer light buttery yellow, but a darker gold-yellow. H-m-m-m...I didn't know cobras could change colors like chameleons...
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I took some photos as he went from hole to hole, inspecting each one. Suddenly, the ORIGINAL light yellow cobra reemerged...there were TWO cape cobras!
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We continued to watch both of them, trying to keep our eyes on their whereabouts at all times. At one point one of them flushed out a large gecko. The gecko flew across the sand at breakneck speed, on tippy toes, barely touching the ground! It was so comical to watch, and too fast for any photos.
"Hey, Ed, that's EXACTLY what YOU looked like when you saw the leopard!" We enjoyed a good laugh.

We began discussing what were the odds of the first snake just HAPPENING to go into the ONLY hole with another snake in it...
YIKES! Does EVERY hole have a cobra waiting to strike?!

Spooked, we decided it best to go back to our room and find something else to occupy our free time...
Imagelarger


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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:34 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
...picking up where last I ended brings me to my next topic:

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE KALAHARI, STAYS IN THE KALAHARI !!


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"Hey!! GET A ROOM!!!"


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Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:06 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to reply. Very nice of you, as I know everybody has busy lives.

First, a couple pics of the cobra taken down on its eye level:
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One other "old" pic I found while looking for photos to send to Pikasso, which I like as it shows "mom" moving the cub from a different angle:
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Our last full day was upon us way too soon, and I tried not to dwell on that, but to enjoy it fully. I went out on the AM drive solo, determined to find the leopard mom and junior. I sat at the first waterhole (forgot to look up how to spell it...duh....) for quite awhile, but the only action was the crow harassing the eagle (photo posted on page showing fights betw. animals). When it could not get the eagle to leave, it finally walked over and actually pulled the eagle's tail! It was very funny and totally unexpected to both myself AND the eagle. The eagle abruptly left, with that "I was already leaving anyway!" attitude. Goes to show, just a momentary lapse of having your finger on the shutter and you might miss a cute interaction...which I did.

After a number of crossword puzzles, it was getting late and the sun was getting high in the sky, so I decided to abandon the stakeout. I drove from tree to tree, rocky ledge to rocky ledge, examining every nook and cranny, looking through binoculars but not expecting to find much, as there were no cars at all around. (Must have been something interesting elsewhere, but I didn't get the memo.)

FINALLY! At first I thought it must be a mirage and I was hallucinating because I WANTED it to be a leopard so badly. The sun was too bright, she was far away in the shade on a tree trunk under lots of foliage, but that was just fine by me!
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Junior soon joined her up on the top bunk.
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After awhile of enjoying them lounging about, a group of wildebeests approached in single file, which initially drew their attention, but mom lost interest, and simply watched the parade. The wildebeests did not seem to notice them.
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Later, a single eland passed and mom showed interest again, but didn't follow through, much to Junior's dismay. She seemed more interested in resuming her nap, but scolded Junior before jumping down from the tree.
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I suppose he had probably called her "an 'ol warthog" or something equally derisive for not fetching him a snack.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 6:27 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
Okay, so I've already proven I'm a risk taker, live Life on the edge, live by "nothing in MODERATION, everything in BALANCE...", but taking on the Sanparks photo police...HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS, HERE WE GO....WEE-E-E-E-E

(Will only post smaller version, so hope to evade incarceration)

Back at TR I bragged about my diligent detective work in successfully locating the leopards, then began downloading and sorting photos from the trip, only to realize there must have been a "Kalahari Idol" audition going on the whole time we were there!

( For those of you with "REAL LIVES" who don't pollute them with mind-numbing TV, "American Idol" is a talent search with mostly singers hoping to be "discovered".)
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I'm assuming the ostrich must have won, as he kept taking bows...
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After all, he was the only one savy enough to bring backup singers...


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:40 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
OOPS...Looks like the page was turning while I was in the middle of typing my entry, so I needn't have sweated upsetting the pic police. Guess I'm not such a rebel after all.

Our last afternoon drive took us to Rooiputs, where we eavesdropped on a pair of giant eagle owls. One was sitting on a nest, the other in a nearby tree, calling and responding over and over. It's times like these I wish I could speak a second language, something natural, not manmade, perhaps elephantese or lionese.

As Einstein noted (paraphrasing), because I have eyes, I cannot see, because I have ears, I cannot hear...We are indeed imprisoned by the limitations of our senses. Oh to be able to tap into the secret lives of meerkats or elephants! Can you imagine being a butterfly, whose olifactory senses are in their feet!? Gives a whole new dimension to "Watch Your Step!"

We had passed a large group of lions on our way doing wonderful impersonations of boulders, and they were holding the same positions upon our return. Would be great at charades, huh? We slowly made our way back to TR, enjoying the squirrels and admiring the wildebeests and elands at Sameoviil....something, something, something....sorry.
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While some drives are more spectacular than others, the sunsets often deliver a nice punctuation to the day's end. A few favorites from our trip...(I'll wait while you go get a glass of wine. Sweet dreams.)
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We ended our evening at the TR restaurant having springbok pie, hot mud puddings (YUMMMMM to both) and a couple of brandies while reliving the high (and LOW!) lights of our trip. We always spend our last evening exchanging our "The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY" lists, wherein we each share favorite moments. This trip had been exceptionally thrilling, action packed, and an emotional roller coaster, so it was a very lively and engaging evening for both of us.

One photo made the "good", "bad", AND "ugly" lists...the one of Ed taken just before the leopard encounter. COULD have been ugly if that was all I was left with, bad as it was actually a very harrowing experience while being played out, and good since it turned out as it did. It will be a cherished reminder to me of the fragile nature of life and an imperative not to take it for granted.
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Now, all you forumites, go tell the Mr, Mrs, or SO you love them...and throw in a big 'ol bear hug and a sloppy kiss just for good measure!

(I went out next AM for a quick look-see, so that will be my last post....see you then.)


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:42 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
Hi Suej,
We were there from Sept. 11 to Oct. 14, 2007. I can't wait to get back, but am debating with myself whether to go to Kruger or back to KTP....photography SEEMS better in KTP just because of sticks and stones and messy backgrounds, but there are so many fabulous species not found in KTP. We used to visit several parks each trip, but decided to stay in just ONE this time, and are very very happy we did. You can really follow the various sagas being played out in the animal's lives, rather than just seeing a momentary snapshot. So many special experiences, so little time!


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:32 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
Yes, Suej, fully agree, (also Ngorongoro Crater...if you put non Sanparks comments in parenthesis, they can't see it..heh,heh). But we keep coming back to S.Africa as the infrastructure is so much better, ok, except the road into KTP...and we much prefer going it on our own. We can spend an hour watching a whale breach, too long savoring a sunset, or an hour staking out a waterhole hoping for a leopard mom, which a group would never abide. We like the privacy of braaiing at our own choice of times, our own start and stop times, and all the luxuries that being on your own time affords.

But the main reason, and I truly mean this, is the PEOPLE...we have NEVER, not even ONCE, had anything but kind, generous interactions with everyone we encountered. Be it the other local or international visitors, PARKS employees, or the policeman who stopped us for passing on a curve and gave nothing but a smile after our lame excuse. The forumites are a cross section of all S. Africa has to offer, and they are indeed what the world needs now!


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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:23 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
Thanks, Dreamer!

Our last morning in KTP, so I was up and raring to go as soon as the gate opened, as I couldn't stay out very long. I went out by myself, as SO wanted to get a run in before the LONG haul home.

I saw the leopards right away, though quite far off. Having passed on the wildebeest carpaccio yesterday, mom was in hunting mode. She began stalking a lone springbok, edging slowly towards it, but the meal-to-be spotted her when she entered a clear opening, and took off. Mom and son walked quite a distance, trying to sneak up on a jackal, ignoring a wildebeest, but was not successful. They decided to mark a tree, then some rocky outcroppings, and appeared to have abandoned the idea of breakfast, so I moved on.
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I headed to Rooiputs to see if the pride of lions we had seen last evening were in a more energetic mood. YEP! They had already ambushed a wildebeest and were chowing down. Most of them were already full, stomachs bloated and growling, and had moved away from the kill, but one lioness was still nibbling.
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I would loved to have had the time to stay with them, and watch as the scavengers started to move in, but I had to pull myself away and return to camp, check out, and head to Upington. It was so hard to leave....

And so, like the Kalahari sandstorms that perform their rapid fire pirouettes then end much too quickly

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our whirlwind trip to a place of the heart where even the smallest of creatures can strum your heartstrings, was over.

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We began the long journey home, never looking back...
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...for if I did, I would never have left at all.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:48 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: USA
While Ed was reading this trip report, he reminded me of another encounter we had with a leopard on our very first trip to the KTP, so I decided to post it as a post script to this report. If there is a statute of limitations on trip memories, please move this to another thread, or delete.

This happened in 1998, ten years ago, so the photos are poor scans of pics, but are posted for documentation purposes. Excuses, excuses....

Our stay at Nossob had come to an end, so we left early that morning en route to TR. We took the dune road, hoping to find some snakes along the way. At Munro waterhole we came upon a couple of parked cars, so we stopped to investigate. There, hidden behind some low lying bushes was a cat of some sort. A cheetah, we presumed, as "leopards are elusive, and you rarely, if ever, see one!"....or so the fable went.

Binoculars in hand, we discerned it was in fact a LEOPARD! The very first one we'd ever seen in the wild, so we were extremely excited. It just laid there, occasionally raising its head, in a lion-at-midday impersonation. Z-Z-Z-z-z-z-...
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After quite a while of doing nothing, it seemed to be interested in something, raising its head, then slowly rising to its feet, eyes transfixed on something, we-knew-not-what.
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Cool! It began stalking an unseen prey beyond the two cars in front of us, or so we thought. I looked to the left, but could see no antelopes or larger game, concluding maybe there was a ground squirrel or something small I couldn't see on the other side of the cars. It moved o-o-o-h so-o-o-o sl-o-o-o-w-l-y. Focused, totally concentrating, eyes locked in on its intended target. We kept looking around to see what had piqued its interest???
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"Ed, can you see what it's stalking?!!?"
"Yeah, the baby in the back seat of that car!"
"WHAT???"
"They better roll up their windows, NOW!!"
"Oh my....please, please roll up the window!"

At the last moment, the young couple must have finally realized that THEY were the target of the hungry leopard, or more probably, their small child (in either a car seat or a carrying tote) in the back seat. They frantically closed the window....and the leopard sprung, landing with its paws against the glass!
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It jumped at the window several times, clawing and scratching, trying desperately to get inside. It then walked around and attacked the other side window, again unsuccessfully.
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It then began biting the hood emblem and searching underneath the car for a way in, very methodically. Our hearts were pounding and a few expletives were muttered, but mostly great sighs of relief that the child was safe. The couple ,(German we later learned) decided it was too close for comfort, so they started the car and moved away.

The leopard paused, and regrouped...PLAN B.
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It now turned its attention on the second car, though there were no children in it that we could see. It sniffed every inch, bumper to bumper, peered in the window...
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...and decided to climb onto the hood.
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This must have frightened these people enough, as they, too, decided it was time to leave (or perhaps they just needed a clean pair of underwear...ahem).

As we were the only car remaining, it was our turn to be the plate du jour. We were in a 4x4, and the others in Sedans, so we were chosen last as the least vulnerable. Considering a leopard's climbing abilities as well as its weight, we did not want it landing on our windshield and breaking the glass, so we decided it best to leave as well. While I didn't mind video taping the movie, I had no desire to star in it!

Wide-eyed and hearts racing, we left the poor soul sitting forlorn in the middle of the road, hoping no one else would come upon this scene unaware of what had just transpired, and be caught off guard by this aggressive and desperate leopard.
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Upon reaching TR, we told of our encounter at reception and were asked to show the video (no digital for me in those days) to the ranger. He said the leopard looked sickly, perhaps had rabies, and they would go dart the animal and perhaps it would need to be euthanized. I would love to hear from the others who were there, or the ranger if he's still around, as to the rest of the story....

Oh yes, we took the time while at reception to cancel our NIGHT TIME GAME DRIVE IN AN OPEN VEHICLE ! Yes, call me a scaredy cat!


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:12 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
To all- thank you for sharing my memories and experiences and mostly for your thoughtful replies.

Jeremy D.- as a new member, WELCOME!. I can't wait for your trip report as well. I read them all and the forum is a wonderful place to share with kindred spirits.

Africa is not a "vacation" or "holiday", it's a vital part of who you, and all your ancestors, throughout every generation, were. There is a web connecting us all, with this wonderful wilderness as its soul. If you sit quietly, you will feel its hand upon your shoulder, much like an old friend ,its tug within your heart, and its inexplicable magnetism. It has the profound power to speak of ancient memories, to the very core of your being, if you will just let it.

Can't explain it. Don't want to. Just want to be enveloped in its majesty.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:34 am
Posts: 56
Location: Hannover, Germany
Hi Africat,

thank you very much for sharing your experiences. It is unbelievable what kgalagadi offered to you. :clap: :clap: :clap:
Believe me, kgalagadi wants you to come back... :pray:

In the beginning of your report you asked for news regarding the cubs from Marie se draai. I am sure we saw them on 23rd of feb this year and the two cubs looks very good. It was the same area you saw them.

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Enjoy your trips!

_________________
Michael

kgalagadi wildlife pics now at http://www.michapro.de


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 2:30 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 927
Location: USA
Spotted Cat: Thank you so much. I'm happy to share with you and every forumite both my memories, and all of yours.

Little Simba....WOW! I'm sitting here now with big 'ol tears in my eyes looking at "my" adopted kids! How unbelievably beautiful they are! Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Their little lives began with such a horrendous attack on their sibling and I'm sure they'll have many adventures still to come, but I'm so pleased they've made it this far. Hip-hip-hooray!

You've not only made my day, but made me anxious to return and see those precious little faces for myself! A kiss coming your way...


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:27 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:25 pm
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Location: USA
Hi Ingrid60 (a.k.a. my fellow inmate from Grootkolk prison!)

Thank you for the kind words, as well as for your report! I'm really enjoying reading it knowing we were all there at the same time but saw many different things.

As far as speaking English, it is I who am so impressed with those who speak more than one language! Not only do I admire your linguistic talents, but I find the descriptions of people for whom it is a second or third language, very endearing, poignant, and most refreshing. To express concepts in a new and often wonderfully poetic fashion is very creative!

After all, what's the WORST thing that can happen if you get it a little incorrect? You put smiles on the faces of many around the globe, and isn't that something to which we should ALL aspire?!


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