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 Post subject: Bush Baptist KTP - a river runs through it! Feb 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:41 pm 
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Got back just into this morning.

All 6 trips I have done to KTP have been great. This one is no exception, and one of the best.

Just gimme a minute or 2 to recover and I will let you in on it.

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:25 pm 
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Thanks all.
@ Kamadejo maybe...

First bit of background.
About 6 months ago the daughter of longstanding friends decided to marry her English boyfriend in CT. I was asked by some guests if I knew where they could go on a good safari. I volunteered to take them to a magic place. They accepted. My daughter warned them that I was hard core and would have them at the gate at 6h00 every day. That did not scare them, on the contrary they wanted to.

Next. Day 0, the drive north. (don't miss it - it had some great surprises)

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:20 pm 
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Day 0 - The drive north.

I got into bed at 2h40 on Sunday after a great wedding reception. :dance:

After a good sleep, the rest of the day was spent packing. The others, comprising 2 couples and a single guy, arrived and we set off at 18h00. One couple had already spent 2 months in Africa, including Egypt, *t*sh*, Ch*b* and *k*v*ng*. There they had seen lions. They had hired a Hilux and we set off 3 to a vehicle.

I rang the control centre at Keimoes and it was again confirmed that the only passable bridge was in Upington. The route was the one advised, namely a dirt road detour 11 km north of Kenhardt via Louisvale to Upington. The sun set as we were about to ascend Piekenierskloof pass, to the delight of my visitors, then the night closed in and the view diminished – or did it.

In the wee hours, we took the dirt road detour and to our amazement it was alive. We saw 2 honey badgers dart across the road and my first ever aardvark ghosted on the side of the road. :thumbs_up: :dance: :clap: There were a few other glimpses of what appeared to be striped polecat, aardwolf and other small creatures. How do you explain to first timers that they have already had some awesome sightings when the marketers plug the big boring 5, :doh: :wall: but my reaction got the message through.

As the sky lit up, we saw the red Kalahari sand and arrived at the new impressive reception centre at 2R at 6h05. :thumbs_up:

Next - Day 1 - Magic to Mata Mata.

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:00 pm 
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Day 1 - Magic to Mata Mata.
Kgalagadi Guru (KG) advised us that the road to Leeudril was good for Leopards, so we stopped off at the loo and drove past the old reception building and who should be loafing around (at 6h30 mind you) but KG himself. We exchanged cheery waves as we went leopard hunting. No leopards this time but a spotted hyena disappearing up the dune with what looked like a vital organ trailing from its mouth. Back at 2R, we had breakfast while birding, and saw a pair of Jacobin cuckoo, but they did not wait for the camera. But after we set off, we found this chap who did.

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Pygmy falcon, the smallest raptor in Kgalagadi!

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This is the Oryx, or Gemsbok. The park was originally proclaimed in 1930 to conserve these magnificent antelope.

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Drama! We came across bits of a springbok carcass being eaten by 7 tawny eagles and 3 bateleurs, 2 immature. Most of the tawnies were ‘blonde’.

This was very exciting for our party as one lady in particular was very interested in the birds, and with this the enthusiasm grabbed the others as well, but soon was to come the defining moment.

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13th borehole – 4 lions. Doing what they do best in daytime – sleeping. This was what they wanted to see, free wild lions. For me, I never tire of the Kalahari lion. He/she is a lot more muscular and impressive than the Kruger counterpart, which I can see, tick and move on. 6 KTP trips, 6 x lions seen. 100% hit rate. We stayed quite a while and my guests were beaming.

As we approached Mata Mata, they were impressed with some giraffe and a bat eared fox family.
Other highlights were large herds of oryx, plenty gnu and springbok, with 10 different raptor types, kori bustard, spotted & giant eagle owl, swallow tailed bee-eater and this guy who usually is a blighter to snap, crimson breasted shrike.

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KG had warned us of large puddles on the road but we saw nothing serious, plus the river was flowing, he said, 15 km from MM in Namibia. I saw a dry riverbed at MM.
After a less than perfect braai, we settled down for the night. I was camping to give the friends time and space together, but in the night I woke to a mighty wind and then torrential rain. When the alarm went, I got up and expected to put my feet in water, but my spot near the fence was just about the only bt on the camping area not under water.
Next - Day 2 – Games and grief to Nossob

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Day 2 – Games and grief to Nossob

My daughter had warned my travelling companions – all less than half my age – that I am hard core, and would have them at the gate at 6h00. The general reaction was ‘great – that is what we are here for’. 6h00 was cool and drizzling, and I was mildly annoyed that the permit guy was 5 minutes late and appeared out of the gloom when I was about to give up on him. (You hand your permit in when you arrive in camp. The theory is that if they don’t have your permit at gate closing time, you could be stuck and they will come looking for you.)

We splashed our way out of camp and down to the riverbed which was covered in shallow pools of water. I had previously said to my companions that if they think they see something, that they should ask the driver to stop the vehicle. We had already seen some lion rocks, wooden cheetah & leopard and even an elephant tree. It is a patience game that many of you probably play. The animals seemed to be still in bed (except for a giraffe near KTC) as we descended from the river bend bypass, when I heard “I am sure I saw cheetah under that tree”. I stopped the car and we scanned it. In the poor light the unmistakable shapes moved. Well spotted! 2 were sheltering peering out for any sign of breakfast. It caused a buzz even though it was far off. This is the only pic that was not completely blurred.

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I have often said, with tongue slightly in cheek, that Afrikaans people are only interested in lions, and have been taken to task, but as we watched, a chap drove up, (Free State registration) glanced at the cheetahs, and asked me “Het julle leeus gesien” (Have you seen any lions). I told him about yesterdays, and he took off without another look! Nuff sed.

The giraffe family.

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We had fun splashing through puddles seeing very little except this curious mother & calf down to Kamqua, where we took the dune road towards Nossob as planned.

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We decided to show the group as much of the park as we could and the eastern side looked brighter. We came across this nursery which was part of a large herd.

By now it had stopped raining and the file engine had a thick coat of whitish mud and looked quite ghostly. I drove over a rise and slid past the turnoff to Morevet waterhole as I braked. I started to reverse and felt and heard a loud bang. To my horror, I realized that the other car had come over the rise and we had collided! Fortunately the young Welshman driving the other car had grown up on a farm and had expertly tried to avoid the thoughtless idiot who was reversing blind and towards the middle of the road, and managed to miss running straight into the back, but had clipped his rear fender against my rear lights.

A few minutes later we resumed the journey, thankful that there had been no injuries and the damage was relatively slight and that both vehicles were drivable. I felt a complete idiot, but as the others had accepted it philosophically, and there is not much you can do about it at Morevet, I made an effort to get over it and enjoy the rest of the trip.

As we were about to drive away from Dikbaardskolk, I told them that this was the loo where the lioness raised her cubs recently. We splashed & splashed our way to Nossob, and passed the friendly tractor guys who were looking for stuck sedans to pull out. Well done, very pro-active.

Marie se draai didn’t deliver, for once, and we had lunch at my favourite camp. I took them to the hide where at last I could tick the only outstanding stork on my list – Abdim’s.

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Maybe this view is familiar.

The sun was doing its best to dry up the puddles, but we had fun helping by splashing the water onto the banks as we drove through.

Nobody has seen much so we more or less wrote the day off as far as spotting was concerned, but near Craig Lockhard we came across a Kgalagadi traffic jam, 5 cars.

To be continued…

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:31 pm 
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@Nina! - thanks, we were relieved too. It could have been a lot worse.
@KDU - the Abdims have been at Nossob before, so they seem to be regular visitors at this time ofthe year. We also saw a flock flying near 2R.
@RayK - they did not flag, well most of them.

Continued

It is unusual in Kgalagadi not to see what others are looking at as we parked at the tail of the convoy, so we moved into a gap and asked what they were looking at. In the direction of the pointed finger was an African wild cat. It popped its head up and down behind a fallen log.

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Then it pounced and came up with a mouse in its mouth. A KILL! The AWC proceeded to eat it and popped its head up from time to time to brag about how clever it was.

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As the driver, I have more important duties than photography, so I get what I can.
But back a bit to the dune road. We saw 3 ostrich families, with up to 17 chicks. Here is one I managed to get a pic of – almost.

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Not much further on, we saw a pair of jackals lying down looking around. We chatted to a guy who told us that there were lionesses in the background. After a few minutes, two wandered into sight and had a bit of a romp while the solitary springbok in the foreground kept a wary eye on them. Then they flopped down into the grass.

The only other excitement on the way home was a family of bat eared foxes that entertained for a few seconds.

The braai was more successful tonight. Rain seemed far away as I got into my tent to a distant flash of lightning.

At 2h45, there was what the bible describes as a ‘mighty rushing wind’ that blew my tent in on me. Even I, as a Capie, know what than means – rain in 5 minutes. I found my shorts and put them on (although in the dark…ag let’s not go there) and got out of the tent to fix it. I could not fight the wind and as the rain started, I put the whole blinking lot into the back of the bakkie bit by bit and slept (better than I thought I would) in the cab. The rain was torrential, and again the camping area was flooded as I drove up to the chalet shared by my younger companions approaching 6h00, as I pondered the wisdom of giving them time & space without me.

Day 3 – A river flows and …

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:24 pm 
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@billyf - thanks
@Hugh - more to come
@VGS - This is the rainy season in KTP, but they are getting a lot more than their fair share.


Some sideways info.

We drove 3 to a vehicle (x2) and the 3 differed on every drive, so I got to bore tham all with info. So far they were very happy with what we had seen. One lady is an avid birder and was chuffed with the sightings and was becoming very good at IDing the birds, and the others were enjoying guessing - often correctly - the raptors.

Although we had seen fair lions, distant cheetah, an AWC kill, and I have only ever seen 8 AWC in the wild - 2 consecutive kills in KTP -, I felt that we needed a 'defining' sighting.

Those of you who have been there know what I mean. The sighting of a trip that blows you away. The one that gets the adrenalin flowing as you fumble for the camera in a tizz. We had not had it yet, but I needn't have worried. I was not to be disappointed.....

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:06 pm 
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Day 3 – A river flows and …

Packed and out of the gate by 6h10. There were no tyre tracks on the road as it still drizzled.
We had a lot of fun splashing around and there were long stretches where the riverbed contained water.

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Even the birds were looking a bit sodden.

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We saw the occasional oryx, gnu & springboks, but it was the water that entertained us today.
There was continuous water from 13th borehole to just before Urikaruus, where we crossed the riverbed, and we saw the water flowing across the road and an ‘arrowhead’ of water trickling about 100 metres downstream towards Urik. :dance:

It was difficult to explain how rare this is to a Welshman, who sees rain every day almost, (maybe he brought it with him).

At last, a yellow ribbon. We exchanged pleasantries and sightings with RichardJ. At Auchterlonie, I suggested that we cross the dune & take a look at the Nossob river side & have lunch at Melkvlei.

I have often had great sightings along that stretch and to be honest, after what we had seen already, the morning had been a bit disappointing from the sightings point of view.

Image
Pic by Sophie Williams

The dune road was a bit of splashing fun, a pair of bat eared foxes scuttled off, and the kori bustards were too far off the road to get them to fly.

Kij Kij has delivered in the past, so we scanned carefully, but the presence of prey probably meant the absence of predators.

We set off to Melkvlei for lunch, but 2 km down the road I checked the far side of a tree and suddenly realized in a split second that we had found the defining moment. Nobody else had seen it and I screeched to a halt to turn around, and the other vehicle asked what we had seen.

It was the carcass that had caught my attention...

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:20 pm 
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Image


Image


Image


The skies had cleared on the Nossob river side, which had not had anywhere near the amount of rain that the Auob river had had.

I have never seen a mum with 4 cubs before and never this young. My young friends were blown away. We were very happy with our sightings so far, like watching your favourite team play live for the first time, but this felt like they had just scored a goal or a try.

We were alone at the sighting (evidently just having missed Dreamer!) - yes Krugerites, alone - and enjoyed watching how the cubs came one at a time to eat, how mum kept a watchful eye in all directions. If I had any doubts that somebody was secretly disappointed so far, they had been vanquished in an instant. Much later at Melkvlei, nobody dawdled over lunch so that we could enjoy it more.

When we got back there the 3 cars we told about it were still there, so now there was a KTP traffic 'jam'. The cheetahs had retreated into the shade, but were still visible. Also, the raptors and others were arriving to wait their turn on the carcass.

Image

I am amused. I have posted advice on another thread 'Where to see cheetahs in Kruger'. I should have said "Forget Kruger, go to Kgalagadi", because this was only our first cheetah sighting of the day........

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:01 pm 
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Image


Black Chested snake eagle in flight by Sophie Williams.


Image

Verreaux's (Giant) eagle owl by me.


We headed back to 2R and saw quite a lot of the usual suspects, gnu, oryx and springbok, with some red harties.

Just after Samevloeiing, a traffic jam!!! - 4 cars. They were watching the Fat 4.


Image

I could only get 3 in the shot, sorry. My first ever 9 cheetah day. The previous best was 4. We went to 2R and unloaded the cars, had a swim and set off leopard hunting, as KG had told us of a few hot spots.

The fat 4 had hardly moved a muscle as they lay 400 metres before the dune road turnoff. We had gone another 2.5 km towards Leeudrill and somebody shouted "LEOPARD!"........

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:25 pm 
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'LEOPARD!"

WHERE? :dance:

OVER THERE -------->


Image

The excitement faded as I realized they were not leopard bums, but cheetahs number 10 & 11 for the day. My heart sank, I mean today we have seen nearly 3 times the highest count on any previous trip to any park, never mind day, and I was a bit disappointed. Sorry, I know I will regret it in the future when we see no cheetah and I will beg for just one of these.

Image

Pic by Sophie Williams

This was only 2.5 km past Samevloeiing, 3 km from the Fat 4.

We had an otherwise quiet drive scouring the calcrete cliffs for old spottie to no avail, but we did see a leopard tortoise :wink:


Image

Back at the ranch, we had a quick swim and prepared for our special guests who were coming for a braai.

We first corresponded 10 years ago when he was in Kruger, and have spoken many times, but only met face to face once before, but we greeted each other like the old friends we have become. KG introduced us to his charming wife and his alert and contented son.

As the night unfolded, so did the ideas we exchanged and my guests got the feel of an 'insider' experience. I realize it is a privilege to be privvy to more than just being a tourist and we all had a great evening. Even KG gave the braai done by a Londoner the thumbs up. Sadly, the time flashed past and all too soon it was time to say goodnight.

But we were all booked on a morning walk tomorrow, led by guess whom? KG of course!

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Everyone else found it amusing that the Fire Engine looked a ghostly pink in the early morning gloom. It was covered by a thick layer of adhesive dried mud that had previously been on the roads. We met our companions on the walk, Anne-Marie, Anne-Catherine and Click-click - all forumites!

We set off in the vehicle, accompanied by KG, who was leading the walk, and Leon, a guide who was being assessed.

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At Samevloeiiing waterhole we parked and alighted from the vehicle, where KG gave us the run down on what to do and what not to do. We set off in single file.

Image
pics by Sophie Williams.

We were in high spirits, and were hoping to see

Image

or

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or even

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We had not got very far when KG took us to see a branch that had recently fallen from a tree under the combined weight of a huge sociable weaver's nest and constant rat urine.

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We walked along the old tourist road that had been replaced by the dune road and came across many interesting things and caught a far glimpse of various game that had seen us first and kept their distance. Although we did not see much close up, It was my first KTP walk, and just being out there far from everything was a great experience. We climbed the calcrete ridge and retutned to the vehicle with a 'cheetah' view of the procedings. Although it is a desert environment, you can find a lot of places to hide.

All too soon, the walk was over and we were back at the vehicle. We drove back to 2R and found 2 cheetah just past SV. They looked a lot like the 2 we saw yesterday, 3 km away.

We were due to go on a sunset ride so we decided to have our main meal at lunchtime, so we deciced to have a short drive. Who should we see just past SV, but the Fat 4 on the way to Botswana.

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Then we found this poor lost soul at Monro. I tried to explain the way to Nossob, where his mates all were but he seemed not to understand....

Image

Not much happened on the way back to camp.

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:02 pm 
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Over an early lunch we discussed what to do between then and our sunset ride.

An afternoon siesta was suggested but the sentiment of 'I came to see animals and I would like to get out there as much as possible' won. My kind of people!

After a quick swim, we went leopard hunting again.

KG had told us of all the 'hotspots' and we searched them all to no avail.

After a light leftover supper we assembled for the sunset ride, and whom should we see there, but Anne-Marie, Anne-Catherine and Click-click!

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:45 pm 
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We were not even out of the gate when we saw this young fellow - Verreaux's (giant) eagle owl

Image

Sunsets in Kgalagadi are hard to beat

Image

We were off towards Leeudrill on our yet to be realized, leopard road. We were all bursting to see one. We saw the usual as dark fell, and in the gloom, we saw a flock of Abdim's storks in the sky. I jusy hope the Monro guy had seen them as well.

We were amused by spring hares and saw Cape fox and even went beyond the Leeudril end of the road towards Rooiputs to no avail - no leopard.

At one stage, KG stopped the vehicle and turned around to face us, and went into a lengthy explanation of the colour of animal's eyes when light is shone on them. Quite far in front of the vehicle, an animal appeared in the headlights, to the excitement of the passengers. KG threw it a quick glance and dismissed it as an oryx and continued the explanation. Through my binos, it looked like a VERY deformed oryx and the wrong colour. I suggested that we investigate it, as did others in a rising chorus and KG reluctantly abandoned the story to move us closer to this chap.

Image

ODKs eat your hearts out! This is what a brown hyena looks like :dance:

When KG had wiped the egg of his face, he completed the 'eyes' story, and we continued in high spirits.

Once again it had been great to be out in the African bush after dark.

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KTP - a river runs through it!
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:37 pm 
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Waking up on the last morning is always an anticlimax. But we had decided to get up at normal time and go on a short drive, then pack & go.

Guess where we were off to - no prizes. Leeudril.

No leopard this time again, but Sophie was thrilled that we saw a mousebird - white backed - my first in KTP.


Image

While we were watching it, a mongoose crawled up another tree and raided a nest near the top.


Image

Pics by Sophie.

Still, it had been a quiet morning but as we approached Samevloeiing waterhole, I saw a car parked right at the end of the short road, facing the bush.

I went to investigate....

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