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 Post subject: canon-Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:06 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
We put together a hastily planned 7-day stay in the Kgalagadi NP from 09 - 15 June. Unfortunately because of the late decision to visit the park we could only get one night stays at the camps which required us to move each morning - this did not bother SO and I because we were only to happy to be in KTP.

DAY 1

We departed from Upington at 06h00 on Wednesday 09 June well prepared for a chilly assault from the elements. We acquired thermal vests, beanies and one or two other "nice to haves" from Trappers in Upington the day before. We also pickd up our meat supplies from Skaapland. I phone the order trough to them a week in advance and they always oblige by vacuum packing and freezing the meat so that when we pick it up the meat is well frozen. They also supply ice so we pack the coolbox at the butchery - little did we know that the ice would stay frozen for a full week!!

We made good time and were very vigilant for the poor Bat Eared Foxes who often seem to find themselves under the wheels of the traffic. We are always pleased to see this sign - seems to slow down the heart beat and improve the blood pressure.

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We decided to stop at Molopo Kalahari Lodge which is situated about 60 KM from Twee Rivieren for a light breakfast and a bit of a leg stretch. Unfortunately this was not the clever thing to do. SO and I ordered two toasted egg and bacon sandwiches and one small portion of chips which took half an hour to prepare and set us back R100.00!! The service was well below standard and the dining room was verging on sub zero temperatures. So be warned - this is not a good idea!

As we approached Twee Rivieren these scenes reminded us that we were nearly there.

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Our paperwork at reception was handled expertly and we were soon at the filling station putting in diesel and reducing tyre pressure. Sadly the service at the filling station was as poor as it was during our previous visit. I let down my own tyres and cleaned the windscreen myself whilst the attendant (same one as last year) went through the motions of filling up my vehicle. The whole process took about 25 minutes which - there was a queue behind us when we left. This indicates that we really in the park

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Our first night would be at Kielie Krankie so we decided to take a slow drive up the as far as Auchterlonie where a coffee break would be welcome. It was almost symbolic to see the Springbok, Gemsbok and Wildebees looking at us from their vantage points as if to say "Welcome to our home"

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Our stop at the Picnic Site (Auchterlonie) was brief because a very cold wind was blowing which made life a trifle unpleasant. We had a visitor - Spike-heeled Lark

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It was still early to book in at Kielie Krankie so we drove a bit further up the Auob road as far as Gemsbokplein waterhole. En-route we saw and Ostrich family and a healthy looking BBJ (The BBJ's in the park always look bedraggled and under-nourished - or am I wrong?)

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Sadly the weather let us down badly for our evening braai at KK but what can you expect in June? Nevertheless the thermals, beanies, mohair rugs all helped because how can you sit inside when you have a vista like this. The barking geckos were dead quiet as was the waterhole - in fact we have never seen life at this waterhole which is just the luck of the draw. We were unlucky not to be allocated Unit No 4 as requested and were given No 3 which was fine but the noise of the water pump was somewhat irritating. Not many camps have a better view than KK

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.....Day 2 to follow....

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
DAY 2

We braved a cuppa on the deck, packed up and decided to take a slow drive via the lower dune road via Melvlei and Dikbaardskolk to our next destination - Urikaruus which is our favourite camp.

The lower dune road was in great condition which, I fear, encourages speeding. Fortunately we had a good headstart on traffice from either Nossob or Twee Rivieren which made the early part of our drive very special. As we turned onto the dune road we came across this very vocal Northern Black Korhaan

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The early morning sun was nice and warm and this was no doubt appreciated by this Steenbok

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The dunes between Kij Gammies and Tierkop were really beautiful. Unfortunately the Tierkop waterhole was empty - as it was in 2009 when we visited. This is where we saw our first lion. She was basking in the sun and had no intention to move. I suspect the rest of the pride was lying behind the dune out of sight.

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We then headed for SO's favourite picnic spot, Melkvlei. We had it all to ourselves until the Nossob traffic came racing by. We had great excitement - saw a cat coming down the hill towards the picnic site. SO yelled LEOPARD and those who had joined us at the picnic sight all dived into their vehicles for cover. Well the leopard actually turned out to be a really big African Wild Cat who was very camera shy and disappeared back over the hill. Here are a few pics of Melkvlei where we had a good old "fry up".

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Whilst strolling around the picnic sight we spotted this mouse in a camelthorn tree. It was busy eating a thorn. Not sure what kind of mouse it is but it sure posed for a beautiful photograph

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We were very relieved to find that the road to Nossob had just been scraped so continued with our amble up towards Dikbaardskolk. Between Gunong and Kransbrak we spotted a very "tired" looking old male lion lying all on his own which was quite a sad sight (no pic). We were then rewarded with a lovely sighting of a Bateleur that was busy eating what looked like the leg of a Pale Chanting Goshawk. We spent a good 15 minutes watching this magnificent eagle eat his meal, clean his bill on the tree branch before flying off.

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A quick pit stop at Dikbaardskolk and then it was on to the upper dune road. The trip was rather quiet - Kori Bustard and Bat-eared Fox being the highlights.

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The short trip between Kamqua and the Urikaruus turn-off yielded sightings of Martial Eagle and Tawny Eagle. It was interesting watching a group of crows constantly harassing the Martial Eagle. The ME eventually started calling frantically as if seeking help. There was a nest in the tree near the ME but cannot say with any conviction that the nest belonged to it.

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We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the deck of unit No 4 at Urikaruus. This really is a delightful camp to stay in - the waterhole is really close by (very quiet this time round but have seen leopard here). The fire was lit and a good bottle of Cabernet rounded off a great day.

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Back to Kiekie Krankie tomorrow..........DAY 3 TO FOLLOW.......

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:45 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
DAY 3

We decided that we were going to do the hard yards today because we felt that we simply had to do the trip to Nossob - how can you go to the Kgalagadi and not visit Marie se Gat? We left Urikaruus at 07h30 on the dot and decided to follow the route Urikaruus - Kamqua - Nossob - Kij Kij - Kielie Krankie.

What a surprise was in store for us - as we reached Kamqua waterhole we saw two magnificent male lions approaching the waterhole. The slaked their thirst and walked up the Auob River bed for about two km with only us in attendance. What a pleasure it was to see these magnificent specimans who looked so healthy. We eventually could not stay with them any longer because of the long pull ahead of us. In the 45 odd minutes that we spent with this pair only one other vehicle arrived!

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This guy spent quite a bit of time scent marking

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Not much to report from the dune road other than this lovely pair of Lanner Falcons who really seemed to be getting cold. Incidently, the temperature at 07h00 this morning was -7 degrees!!

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We decided not to stop at Dikbaardskolk due to time constraints. The road to Nossob was exceptionally quiet and would you believe it - nothing to see at Marie se Gat. Oh well it was great just being there. We had lunch at Nossob and enjoyed the little ground squirrels

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The trip back along the Nossob valley was more productive producing quite a few herds of Springbuck in the vicinity of Cheleka waterhole

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A pitstop at Dikbaardskolk was worthwhile. The Yellow Mongoose were very active and inquisitive. There were also a number of Turtle Doves around. On the negative side - the ablutions were in a mess and needed a serious clean-up.

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We arrived at Kielie Krankie at sunset and were please to be allocated No 4. The weather was cold but calm and SO and I enjoyed a lovely curry chicken potjie with the necessary liquid refreshment to cap off a good day. The sunset was pretty but not as good as we have seen at KK before

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:26 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:28 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Grahamstown
DAY 4

Today would be a slow trip up to Kalahari Tented Camp. We decided to drive down to Houmoed waterhole then come back in time to check out of KK. On the way up the Auob Valley we saw the usual suspects. It was interesting to note that most of the Wildebees, Gemsbok and Springbuck were lying down which I assume was because of the strong wind that was blowing. Just past the Montrose Waterhole SO spotted these two raptors in a tree. I am not an expert at identifying these critters but have a sense that they are Greater Kestrels (or maybe Juvenile Gabar Goshawks - HELP).

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A little way further up we were fortunate to have a great sighting of Martial Eagles. This guy posed beautifully for us

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He later started calling - have a very gentle call for such a majestic raptor

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This fellow answered the call, circled a few times and landed under the tree

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We stopped off at the Kamqua Picnic site for brunch - could not fault bacon and cheese on left over roosterkoek from last night.

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There was quite a bit of bird life at Kamqua such as this Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler,

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an African Red-eyed Bulbul,

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a White-browed Sparrow Weaver

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and a Crowned Lapwing.

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We then had a visit from an inquisitive (and I suspect hungry) Black-backed Jackal

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This Kori Bustard (there are plenty of them around) was spotted at the Urikaruus Waterhole

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We checked into unit No 1 (Honeymoon Tent) at Kalahari Tented Camp. I did explain to the attendant at reception that I was not on honeymoon and that SO was still the original one. The view from this unit is awesome and one gets the feeling that you are all alone in the desert. The waterhole is a bit far away but there is nothing that a good set of binoculars can't fix.

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


Last edited by canon on Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:41 am 
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Location: Cape Town-but dreaming of KTP
I would like to help out with the ID of your raptors but the pic is a bit small...can you possibly crop so we can have a closer look :D
I think your familiat chat at kamqua is actually a chestnut - vented titbabbler. great pic...still have to get a decent pic of that bird.
Wow..awesome sighting of martial eagle and great photos. :clap:
And that brunch..makes me hungry !!!! :D
:popcorn:

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13-15th Oct Kgalagadi Lodge
16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:26 am 
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Location: Grahamstown
DAY 5

Another windy morning greeted us on the deck but this did not dampen our spirits - we decided to take a drive down to Kamqua and then return to check in at Mata Mata for the night.

There were a number of Gemsbok drinking at Sitsas Waterhole. This is really a pleasant waterhole to stop off at. The big Camelthorn tree provides lovely shelter. This poor fellow was not in good shape, no horns and a growth on his tummy. He did, however seem to be quite happy.

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The wind really got up at this stage making life a bit unpleasant for this group of Gemsbok who had come down to drink at Sitsas

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Our next stop was at Craig Lockhart Waterhole where we witnessed a BBJ attempting to catch Turtle Doves - he made numerous unsuccessful attempts and eventually left with his tail between his legs (for full story see "Hungry Jackal" in Trip Reports)

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It baffles (and saddens) me to see so many of these majestic Camelthorn trees that have died. I wonder if this is the result of droughts or simply old age?

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There were plenty of Pale Chanting Goshawks to be seen - this one had a drink at 13de Boorgat before making way for the Springbuck. Water certainly is the life blood of the Kalahari

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This Gemsbok, together with two or three others came galloping up the valley past 13de Boorgat. They must have been running for some time because you can see that this guy is breathing heavily. I am not sure if they had been "spooked" by something or if they were merely training for the Durban July!!

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We saw about 50 giraffe at various spots down the Auob. It is nice to see that they are breeding - there were plenty of young ones. This fellow seems to have lost his tail!

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The Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters had been rather scarse so we were very pleased to eventually see one. The Crimson-breasted Skrikes are lovely but never seem to sit still for a decent pic!

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We turned at Kamqua and headed back - did not see much new to report except for the ever-present Pale Chanting Goshawk and African Red-eyed Bulbul

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We checked into one of the new Riverside Chalets at Mata Mata. They are really very nice but I cannot understand why the braai was built on the front of the deck because it obscures the view of the waterhole. The improvements at Mata Mata have really enhanced the camp. The opening of the border to Namibia does worry me - there seems to be so much "through traffic" now and I have no doubt that it is taking its toll on the roads. The Twee Riviern - Mata Mata road is the busiest that I have ever seen it.

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:39 am 
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I am so enjoying your report and pics Canon, you have managed to capture some great shots. :clap:
I agree with the Chest-nut vented Tit-Babbler ID and at a push I would say your Raptors are Greater Kestrels going on the tail of the one on the right, but difficult to be certain. :?

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:44 pm 
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Award: Travel tale of the Year - Other Parks (2012)
I am loving your report canon, and your pics are awesome :clap: :clap:
We also saw two martial eagles in May ( still to come up in our trip report :P ), only on a nest just south of Montrose. I wonder if they were the same pair?

canon wrote:
[It baffles (and saddens) me to see so many of these majestic Camelthorn trees that have died. I wonder if this is the result of droughts or simply old age?



When we were on a night drive in Nossob this last trip, our guide Melissa mentioned that the dead trees are the result of a)lightning strikes and b) more interestingly as a result of tree mice which live in the trees and burrough out the insides. Once the tree dies, they move home to the next one. :shock: First I've heard of that, but that's what she told us

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See our trip reports:

Christmas Trees in the Kalahari May 2012

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=62684

and

Kalahari Reflections March 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:59 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
DAY 6

Back to Kalahari Tented Camp today (Unit 7) - we had got used to packing up each morning by now. We once again ambled down the Auob Valley as far as Batulama before heading back to check in. We got very excited when we saw our first African Wild Cat IN A TREE. We were driving between Dertiende Boorgat and Urikaruus when we caught a glimpse of a "bump" on a Camelthorn tree branch. On closer inspection we realized that it was an AWC.

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A little further on we came across this very photogenic Secretary Bird

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On the way back we did the loop via 14de boorgat and were fortunate to see 3 lions sunnning themselves on the dunes. This lady was the only who moved - she got up, had a good stretch and flopped down again

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This Yellow Canary at the 14de Boorgat gave us a great opportunity to take a pic

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We once again bumped into a big herd of Giraffe in the vicinity of Dalkeith Waterhole. They bring such an aura of serenity to the park. This guy spent some time licking his lips

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We checked in at camp, had a well deserved nap and went out for a quick but eventful drive in the evening. We bumped into these soldiers at Sitsas

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Then the highlight of the day - between Sitsas and Craig Lockhart we suddenly saw a movement in the grass, reversed and there they were.....

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This was a collared female cheetah and her two grown cubs. They were very relaxed and we spent about twenty minutes with them. I am not sure about these collars - I realize that there are very good reasons why they are required but I kept thinking that they look so uncomfortable

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A herd of Springbok were grazing nearby which caught the interest of the cheetah family. They sat up and seemed very keen to hunt

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Quite a few vehicles had arrived by now which made it a bit difficult to move. To cut a long story short they had two attempts at catching a Springbok. It appeared that on both occassions the ill discipline of the cubs cost them dearly. They were too impatient and lead the charge too early.

This is an interesting pic - cheetah with two heads???

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We left the cheetah as it was getting a bit late and headed back to camp. We saw a few Red Hartebees on the way

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:34 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
DAY 7

It is amazing how time flies when you are in KTP - our last day had dawned which would entail a long slow drive down to Twee Rivieren where we would spend the night before heading home tomorrow. It is amazing how the best often get saved for last - you will see.

An BBJ glaced at us as he crossed the road soon after leaving the Kalahari Tented Camp

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Between Craig Lockhart and Dalkeith we came across three cheetah right next to the road. They were definitely out looking for some fresh meat. This cheetah was trotting down the road and suddenly spun round to face us. Why, we thought. Well standing right next to us was a wide eyed Black-backed Jackal. They both took off at the same time. The cheetah charged right past us gaining ground quickly on the screaming jackal. We saw a cloud of dust behind us, the jackal went tumbling over, got up and disappeared into a bush. What a lucky let-off! These cheetah then trottted down the road for about two kilometeres before heading into the river bead. Unfortunately we could not wait for any more action because there was a long trip ahead of us

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:10 pm 
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DAY 7 continued.....

After all the excitement we once again settled down to some serious game spotting encountering Giraffe and Gemsbok along the way. It is interesting to note that we never saw any Eland or Kudu during our visit.

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Soon after reaching Montrose we were stopped by a kind couple to tell us that they had just witnessed a Caracal killing a BBJ. What a sighting. They told us where to look but to no avail, the Caracal was too well hidden.

Shortly before reaching Houmoed Waterhole we noticed a vehicle had stopped ahead of us - what were they looking at? To our utter disbelief there were two Leopard Cubs frolicking on the sand dune. This was the sighting of a lifetime for us. These two kept us entertained for at least half an hour before disappearing over the dunes. They were a trifle too far to get good pics so this is the best that I could do

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It was with a great sense of satisfaction that we checked in to Chalet No 1 at Twee Rivieren. All that we had not seen that was in our checklist was an adult Leopard. We actually hoped that the cubs' mother would make an appearance. We had a late lunch and decided to do one last drive to Auchterlonie and back.

Soon after getting to the Auob valley SO dozed off and in fact I questioned our wisdom - was this drive really necessary? I stopped at the spot where we had seen the leopard cubs hoping that they may return with Mom to entertain us further. With SO still in dreamland I decided to do another Km or two before turning for home before the convoys arrive. Ahead of us there were a few Gemsbok grazing, suddenly they all stared intently at the calcrete hillside on our left. I glanced in that direction and can you believe it - THERE WAS A HUGE MALE LEOPARD. That woke SO up!! The leopard was in a little cave and spent a while rubbing his body against the cave walls before leaving his calling card behind

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He then gave a good growl

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This magnificent speciman then walked all along the calcrete hillside. I quickly did a U-turn and drove next to the leopard for a while - he was inching down towards the road.

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By now about six vehicles had backed up behind us, all with a perfectly clear view of the Leopard. He stopped and looked at us for what seemed like an eternity

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It was clear that he intended crossing the road right in front of us. At that moment an idiot from about five vehicles back unashamedly overtook all of us and cut in right in front of me which angered the Leopard AND ME. He then proceded to keep blocking its path untill the poor Leopard made a beeline for it, dashing across the road, through the valley and gone! Sadly this MENEER in his white Toyota Double Cab (CT registration) displayed such bad manners that he should be banned from ever entering the park again. It was an unfortunate end to a great day.

We retired early and had a very comfortable night's sleep at Twee Rivieren before heading back to Grahamstown early the next morning. CANNOT WAIT TO BE BACK - MISSING IT ALREADY.

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:33 pm 
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Excellent trip with excellent sightings and pics therof :clap: :clap: :clap:

The collared cheetah mom is Lisette with her two daughters Pudding and Pie. Part of a study being conducted by Dr Gus Mills.

Pity about the idiot :evil:

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:38 pm 
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canon here is further info on collared cheetah moms

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=23054


further info on leopard cubs

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=26529

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:49 am 
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Canon, what a wonderful and comprehensive trip report. :clap: :clap: :clap: I have stored bits of information away for my first ever trip to Kgalagadi.

Your pictures were truly magnificent.

I think that the "little mouse" that you saw was possibly an Acacia rat. They are often kept as exotic pets due their cuteness and sweet natures. This is a picture that I copied from the net and it looks very much like your little creature.

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Thank you so much :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Kgalagadi in June 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 11:11 am 
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Thank you to all for your interest and comments - I have posted this pic of the male leopard because it clearly shows a distinct right ear which may help to identify him. Is he the resident Houmoed leopard?
If these leopards are territorial I would imagine that there is a distinct possibility that he could be the father of the cubs mentioned earlier in my report

Image

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

15/08 Malelane
16/08 Letaba
17-21/08 Shingwedzi
22-26/08 Balule
27/08 - 01/09 Berg n Dal
02/09 Glen Reenen


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Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by swartj at 19:10:55 Submitted by LesleyWilson at 19:35:17 Submitted by bobbyroger747 at 17:30:58 Submitted by bobbyroger747 at 14:08:36