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 Post subject: adw Back On The Dust Road Again. Nov 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:47 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
During November I had the pleasure of staying at Satara for 16 days. November is one of my favourite months to visit the Park and whilst predator sightings were on the low side, most of those that I did come across were close to the road. That aside I had some memorable sightings and experiences. Talking about experiences the weather was extremely variable with temperatures on some days exceeding 40 degrees C ( the one day at Ratel Pan bird hide the temperature reached 44 degrees!) whilst one day it was overcast and temperatures hit a high of only 22 degrees.
When I arrived on 17 November it was dry and hot. On the way up from Malelane gate it was fairly uneventful with no major sightings to report. Towing a large caravan confined me to the main roads. But subsequent to this trip I have traded my large caravan in for a more versatile 4x4 trailer / caravan.
After I set up my caravan I went for a quick ride on the S39 north of the picnic spot (via the S127).
There was a fair amount of general game and this nice dark giraffe bull caught my eye near the Ratelpan birdhide.

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I found the S125 short of predators but lots of elephant herds were present making life interesting on the narrow road. Here a young female asks me nicely to move on which I did.

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Lugmagdam was drying up very quickly, and although there was some general game around it was unusually quiet. (For me anyway.) As you can see from this photo the water-level was unusually low.

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Vutomi dam was also drying up quickly and also proved quiet animal wise. This was the lowest level I have seen Vutomi dam for a number of years.

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Overall a quiet start to my trip report. More to follow.

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Rhino Poaching - Highlight's man's stupidity and greediness.


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 Post subject: CLEAN>adw Back On The Dust Road Again. Nov 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:06 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 702
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
This elephant bull was seen on the S35.

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From the S35 I turned onto the S37 which proved very quiet this trip. Having travelled the S37 without having to stop I decided to go back to Satara via the H6. I was not concentrating and suddenly just by the Sonop Waterhole turnoff I came across this male lion with his buffalo kill. They were right next to the road and it was extremely hot and the smell of the kill drifted into my car. I later found out that 2 males had made this kill but only one male was present when I was there.

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During the afternoon I came across a troop of baboons which proved very entertaining.

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The following day found me on the S125 again and it was an elephant day. Here a herd crosses the road making sure the young calf is well protected. I suddenly realized that this was a very large herd of elephant and that I was surrounded by the herd. As they were in a placid mood I switched off my car and enjoyed their company.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:13 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Flying Cheetah, Boorgatspook,Pumbaa, Vlakvarkvrou and Anne-Marie for all your kind comments. As for the weather there are some surprises coming up and the lion was very possessive over his kill and for the half hour I was there he never left it.

The Elephants were making use of the green vegetation alongside the S125 and as mentioned earlier it was very easy to get surrounded by these magnificent creatures. The older females seem to get a 'boxy' look as highlighted in the following photo.

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Most of the herds I encountered were placid and I was able to switch off my car and enjoy the herd as they grazed / browsed. The sounds they made during this period was a joy to hear. This young elephant calf decided my vehicle needed a closer inspection.

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Early the following morning I came across this white rhino somewhere in the park. I feel so sorry for these animals as it is unfortunate that they are hunted for their horns and as my signature states highlights man's stupidity and greediness.

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Now for the highlight of my trip. It was late in the afternoon and I was cutting it fine to make the camp gate in time. But I reckoned I had a couple of minutes to spare. I saw this rhino approaching me in thick vegetation. Then it hit me. It was a blackie!!! As it approached I had to change my camera settings for the fading light. I started clicking away. It snorted and charged my vehicle but backed off when it realized my car was going nowhere and turned around and disappeared into the bush. This was my eighth blackie in thirteen months. I felt elated and my adrenalin was still high when I just made camp before closing time.

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More to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:47 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you WendyA Anne-Marie, Ossendryver, Flying Cheetah, Rayk, Billyf, Duke Ellieton and Lion Queen for all your kind comments. Saturday 19/11 started off quiet. I am usually first at the gate and when the gate opens at 04h30 it is still fairly dark. I always wonder just how many predator sightings I have missed even though they might well be next to the road. I do not ride fast and early mornings my average speed is below 30 km/h. So when it gets to 07h30 and no predators I begin to wonder just how many predators have I missed which I should have spotted. That's when I like to have breakfast. So, after enjoying breakfast at Tshokwane I was making my way back to Satara via the H1-3 when close to the S33 turnoff I came across this male lion lying right next to the road. It was 09h30. I don't mind admitting that I enjoy watching lions even if they are resting.

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I always stop and watch a buffalo herd. The interaction between the various members plus that bellowing noise is fascinating to watch and to listen to. I always look for the bulls with the big 'head-set' but somehow these individuals are usually out of photographic range or hiding behind another smaller bull.

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That afternoon I decided to ride out to the Timbavati road (north). Whilst travelling on the H1-4 I came across a herd of wildebeest that was fairly far in. Normally I would not stop for something so far in but the way they were standing in a semi-circle I knew something was up. Through my binoculars and the heat wave I saw some kind of movement in the middle, then the circle broke up and I realised that one of the cows had just given birth. This was the first calf I had seen this trip for either impala or wildebeest. It was an early birth for a wildebeest as their calves usually drop in December. I took a photograph and I have had to crop it a lot so please excuse the quality.

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At the Roodewal waterhole, a firm favourite of mine, I saw some zebra and impala. The reason why I am posting this photo is the impala ram. Just look at the size of his horns. They are impressive. Definitely the biggest I have seen for a long time!

Image

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Rhino Poaching - Highlight's man's stupidity and greediness.


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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:53 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Flying Cheetah and Granjan for your kind comments.
The S39 is a long drive and I usually travel it in two stages but this day I was doing it in one go. There was not much happening and sightings were limited. Nevertheless I enjoy this road for the scenery and the potential that is obviously there. I even came across ostriches on the northern section. Here is the male.
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Waterbuck are common sightings in the park and they are one of my favourite antelopes. Here a male poses for my camera.
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Then on the southern section I came across this male grysbok which stood still long enough for me to photograph him. A fairly rare sighting and I was pleased to be able to photograph him.
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Also on the southern section I came across this female bushbuck. Very shy I battled to photograpgh her as she moved in and out of the bushes.
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No predators seen on this day but then that is what Kruger is all about. Somedays you pick the right route and time and other days .........

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:46 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thanks Wendy, Radman and Anri for your kind comments.
Just a comment on the black rhino. The 'scar' is actually a sore caused by parasites that eat the skin and associated fluids. These parasites only affect black rhinos and not the white rhinos.

Sunday 20th started on quiet note. No predators and no unusual sightings. I did see this waterbuck and as he was facing me direct I thought I would photograph him. No doubt about it they are handsome antelope and the females also have such a 'clean look' about them.
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In the afternoon I decided to drive down on the H1-3 and just past Kumana dam I saw the inevitable traffic jam. It just had to be a leopard. As I worked my way through the traffic I saw the leopard resting in the lower branches of a Sausage tree. I managed to get a few photos of the leopard before the cat decided it was too noisy in the lower branches and jumped up into the higher branches and was almost unsightable. The traffic jam soon dispersed.
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I saw these two white rhinos somewhere. They were enjoying a mud bath and although there were only two cars watching the rhinos felt uncomfortable and moved off.
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On my way back to camp I was stopped by this elephant who made me reverse a short distance. I never get bored by elephants. Without doubt my favourite animal.
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More to follow.

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Rhino Poaching - Highlight's man's stupidity and greediness.


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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:32 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thanks to WendyA, Lion Queen, Pumbaa, Flying Cheetah, Cheetah2111 and Elsa for all your kind comments.
Monday 21/11. Up early and off down south, onto the S125 and then S36. Right up to Lugmag dam I had no predator sightings. Then just past the dam I saw a leopard in a tree. By the time I stopped and picked my camera up the leopard was down the tree and literally melted into the undergrowth. No photo. :wall:
The rest of the day proved relatively quiet and I concentrated on the birds and general game.

Here a young kudu bull remained 'seated' and I was able to get a very close up shot of him.
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As I was making my way back to Satara I saw this Brown Snake Eagle perched close to the road.
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That night it rained throughout the night. Sometimes hard and other times a drizzle.
Tuesday 22/11 it was still raining as I left camp early in the morning. I travelled south again and just past the Sweni turnoff I came across two cheetahs marking their territory. Here is one of them which I photographed in very, very low light.
Image

More to follow.

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Rhino Poaching - Highlight's man's stupidity and greediness.


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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:33 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Anri, Cheetah2111, WendyA and Flying Cheetah for all your kind comments. Its comments like these that make posting a trip so enjoyable for me. I am re-living my trip! :D
After the cheetah sighting I made my way to Lugmagdam via the S125. No further predator sightings to report. At Lugmagdam the water level was still low. The heavy rains did not appear to make much difference. There again LMD is a very big dam. It would require more and more rain to make a difference.
I reached the tree where I had seen the leopard the day before but he was nowhere to be seen. Oh well onto Vutomi dam.
As I turned onto the S33 my progress was halted by a fallen tree caused by the previous nights storm. ( I don't think it was caused by an elephant. I had to make a slight detour into the veld.
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Onto Vutomi dam. Imagine my surprise to see that Vutomi dam had completely filled up so much so that it burst its side bank in one place. Here is a pic of the water flowing from the dam into the Ripape river.
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This dam literally filled up OVERNIGHT. The day before it was drying up fast.

Even more surprising was watching the barbel swimming / flapping / 'walking' upstream from their previous muddy hole in the Ripape river into the Vutomi dam. This was truly an amazing sight. Something I will never forget. Tough and versatile these catfish are!
Image
I will post another photo of the dam later which shows just how fill the dam is.
On my way back to Satara I came across this young impala. I am not sure if he was enjoying the wet weather.
Image

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Rhino Poaching - Highlight's man's stupidity and greediness.


Last edited by adw on Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:40 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
That afternoon I took a drive on the S100 and onto the S36 and S127.
There was a small buffalo herd on the S100. Just look at the bull on the right. He has an impressive set of horns.
Image

Late in the evening in fading light I came across a pair of Giant Eagle Owls on the S127. Here is a photo of one of them. To me they looked like very young adults. Maybe someone with more knowledge about these birds could comment.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:51 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you WendyA, Lion Queen, Sharifa, Cheetah2111, Giraffe and Flying Cheetah for all your kind comments.

Wednesday 23/11. Little did I realize what this day was going to have in store for me. First out the gate and on the road down south (again). At the S33 turnoff I drove slowly and almost immediately I came across a large pride of lions. A quick count revealed 15 of these Magnificent creatures which increased my adrenalin levels dramatically. The time was 05h30 and the light was still weak which necessitated changes to my ISO settings.
Just look at the mane on this male. He is magnificent. (I know I use this description often but he is a fine speciman.)
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The female lions in this pride also looked in excellent condition.
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Here is a photo of mother and daughter who is no doubt being taught about hunting by her mother.
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And finally the second male, also a fine speciman, decided to join the rest of the pride.
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I took many more photos of this pride crossing the road but the above were the better photos.
They moved into the riverbed and eventually settled on the other side of the riverbank. in this photo the lions were playing. Even though they were far away it was a joy to watch.
Image

I was to encounter these lions later but that is for another post.

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:26 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Anri, WendyA, Lion Queen, Sharifa, Cheetah2111, Twigga, Flying Cheetah, Pumbaa, Giraffe, Tobieo, and Radman for all your kind comments.

After the lion sightings I was feeling very good and made a point to come back to this spot to see if they were still around. Onto Vutomi dam were all the rain had brought out insects, frogs and crustaceans which naturally attracted the stork family.
This was my first decent picture of a black stork.
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and a pair of saddle-billed storks were enjoying the feast
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and here is the female
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The lone Vutomi crocodile had left the dam as there was no prey coming down to drink because of the many surrounding rain pools that were in the area. Here the wily crocodile lies in wait in one of the surrounding rain pools.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:43 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Anne-Marie and Lion Queen. Yes I was lucky. When there is a lot of food around I find that is the easiest time to photograph birds. They seem so pre-occupied they let their guard down.

This elephant bull surprised me as he broke from the cover surrounding the narrow road.
Image

Giraffe are regal creatures and move with graceful stride. Close up they are are full ticks and it is no wonder they are usually have a number of ox-peckers in attendance. This dark bull was staring at me as I was waiting / resting at the dam
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:29 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Radman for your kind comments. I am a Nikon man. I shoot with a D700 with 3 lenses. A 70-200mm F2.8 which is used for 70% of my shots. I also use a 200-400mm lens F4 for the far shots including bird shots and for the first time ( recent purchase) I used a 24-85mm for landscape and close-ups of giraffe and elephant.
Cheetah2111 the female saddle bill has a yellow eye, the male a black eye. Also the male has 2 wattles that hang down his cheeks.

The rest of the morning I spent my time at Vutomi dam which was very quiet animal wise, and then in the Tshokwane area. Nothing much to report. At around 16h30 I went back to were I saw the lions in the early morning. They had moved to the far side of the riverbank and were about 400 metres away doing what lions do so well in the heat - sleep. Oh well I thought, I might as well wait and see if anything exciting happens.
Image

Whilst waiting I cleaned my camera lenses when all of a sudden I heard a tremendous noise. Looking up I saw a herd of elephant running away from the lions. They had obviously stumbled across the lions. The matriarch regrouped the herd turned around and charged the lions with trunks blaring. All of you have herd an elephant trumpet. But when 14 elephants trumpet the noise is unbelievable and I was across the riverbed from them. The lions were running. It was every lion for himself / herself. The lions ran into the riverbed with the elephants close behind still trumpeting. I snapped away and then moved forward. The road did a right turn to follow the river. I realised the lions and elephant could soon be on my side of the riverbed. I moved forward.
Here are some of the photos of the chase. Remember they were far away when I took these photos but the noise was still VERY VERY loud.
Image

Image

and here is the chasing herd
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Image

More to follow shortly

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:51 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
As I turned the corner the elephants had just arrived. I knew they would be very excitable and aggressive because of their encounter with the lions so I stopped quite a distance from them. But my definition of a safe distance and the matriarchs definition differed.
Here are the elephants as they arrived on my side of the river. By this time the trumpeting had stopped.
Image

The matriarch suddenly broke from the herd and charged me. I was not prepared to find out if this was mock charge or not but wanted a photo of her. I took this photo with one hand (and through the windscreen) as i was reversing away from her.
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And this is the reason why the elephants were so aggressive. The younsters in the herd.
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The elephants soon disappeared into the bush but my heart was still pumping overtime as I recovered from the charge.

I then started to look for the lions and came across these three lions who had crossed the riverbed.
This young male gave a huge sigh of relief.
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And the look on this male lions face says it all. "What the hell happened."
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Excuse the slight blurriness but I was still trembling.

All the way back to camp I could still 'hear' the trumpeting in my ears. No doubt about it, this was another highlight of my trip, a day I will never forget! :D :D :D

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 Post subject: Re: Back On The Dust Road Again.
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:42 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
Location: Back Home
Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Flying Cheetah, Twigga, Anne-Marie, and Pumbaa for your kind comments.

Thursday 24/11. I had just left camp and it was cloudy and the sun was rising. The entire eastern horizon looked like it was on fire.
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Just before the Nkaya Pan turnoff I saw this impala carcass in a tree. I could not see the elusive leopard anywhere. But at least I knew there was one in the area and I would keep my eye open for him when in the area.
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I saw this male bush-buck on the S33 in one of the roadside pools. A rare sighting for me and only my second photograph of a male bush-buck.
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The abundance of insects and frogs resulted in many raptor sightings and as mentioned earlier the raptors more more approachable with all this food around. I think this is a lesser spotted eagle. If I am wrong please let me know.
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These two young wildebeest calves were seen near Vutomi dam. Very playful and surprisingly I was able to get quite close before their mothers herded them away.
Image

No predator sightings to report on for this day.
More to follow.

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