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 Post subject: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip. June 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:24 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)
I unfortunately had to cancel my May trip to Satara. As the camping areas at Satara were fully booked for June I decided to spend a week at Letaba. My trip started on Sunday 10 June as I entered Malelane gate. My trip up to Letaba was relatively quiet. I hoped my trip to the north would result in some Tssessbe and Roan sightings and that I would get a photo of a big tusker.

In this photo the Olifants river was flowing gently as opposed to the raging torrent exprienced during my January trip.
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After setting up camp in Letaba, I had time for a short drive on the S69. It was on this road many years ago that I experienced my only sighting of a Caracul. No Caracul this time but I did come across this bull Elephant in the riverbed.
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Monday morning I was up early and first at the gate. It was very cold especially for Kruger and my car's temperature gauge indicated a temperature of zero!
I drove on the H1.6 towards Mopani. I came across a medium sized herd of Buffalo and this guy caught my eye. He had a magnificent set of horns and gave me the typical Buffalo inquistive stare.
Image

More to follow........

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 702
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Crested Val, Threedogs, Boorgatspook and Chirinda for your comments and encouragement. It is going to be a short trip report due to the fact sightings were on the scarce side but I do have some surprises.
After the Buffalo sighting on the H1-6 I carriend on to the Tzendze loop. I have never had any luck on this loop but I have always felt it was a route with potential. Unfortunately, apart for a few impala, the road was deserted. Onto the S50 past the Nshawu waterholes and not much to report on. On the Tropic of Capricorn loop (S143)
I came across this small herd of Tsessebe. These are my first images on digital for these antelope. (I do have slides from many years ago.)

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Here is a photo of some of the herd.
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And this is another shot of the herd after they had crossed the road into better light.
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And a close-up of mother and child.
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After the Tsessebe sighting I drove on for a couple of kilometres and saw a large antelope standing in the road. It was a Roan! By the time I got to it, it had crossed into the Mopane bush and this was all I could get of this majestic antelope.

Image


More to follow................

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:26 am 
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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)
Thank you Pumbaa, Terri-Lee and Granjan for your kind comments. It is great to have all of you on board.

Carrying on with the S143, which for my money is the best game viewing road in the area, particularly the Tihongonyeni waterhole which is a magnet for general game.
In this photo these three Ostriches have just seen off a sly Jackal.
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On my way to Mopani camp I stopped to admire Bowkerkop with the majestic Baobab standing tall and proud.

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Nearby there was a gathering of Wildebesst and Zebra which I have had to edit due to the direct sunlighjt.
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The Letaba river was flowing gently and here a group of male waterbuck were enjoying the winter sunshine.
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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: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:50 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 Cheetah2111 and Threedogs for you kind comments.

Monday 11th June continued.
Close to Letaba camp there were three elephant bulls in the riverbed. As most of you will know the Letaba river is very wide and this large tusker was of course on the far side of the riverbed. He had a magnificent set of tusks and I was cursing my luck that he was on the far side. I was later to find out that this bull was indeed a big tusker, called Masthulele. His name means 'the friendly one'.
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Monday afternoon I drove on the S47 (the river section) and I have always felt this road had a lot of potential for seeing large predators. I have to admit though, I have never seen a cat on this road. Plenty of elephant though,
and in this photo this young cow flaps her ears at the displeasure of my presence.
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Here a Giraffe has just left the riverbed and warily waits to see if I am any danger to him.
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Near the Mingerhout dam wall I came across two klipspringer. Here the female rests in the afternoon sun.
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On my way back there were a number of elephant herds which were crossing the road.
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Almost at the end of the S47 I came across this rare sighting. A Side Striped Jackal which ran off as soon as I approached. At least I got a shot in.
Image

More to follow............

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:03 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 Crested Val, Cheetah2111, Hilda, Noel, Heksie,Radman, and Pumbaa for your kind comments.

On checking the sighting boards I noticed Lions were in short supply in the Letaba area. Leopard sightings yes, Lion sightings no. On Tuesday 12/6 I decided to drive on the S131 and then onto the S133. A couple of kilometres after turning onto the S131 I came across one of Letaba's elusive Lions. It was still dark and he was walking in the middle of the road but as soon as I approached he walked into the thick mopane bush. It was a frustrating sighting as he soon disappeared. Under the poor light conditions this was the best I could do.
Image

The rest of the trip up to the H14 was un-eventful. This was the first time I would be travelling on the H14. I took this photo at the low level bridge crossing the Letaba river.
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Onto the S50 where i saw this male Ostrich. I may be wrong, but the Ostrich population in the Park seems to have increased over the years. Here a handsome male wanders near one of the Shawu waterholes.
Image

I carried on with the S50 and stumbled across another Tssessbe.
Image

more to follow...........

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:47 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 Heksie and Cheetah2111 for your kind comments.
I travelled further up the S50 to the Shibavantsengele lookout. Although I have travelled the S50 a number of times this was my first detour to the look out point. I must say I found the view limited as the lookout is not high enough. On the road back I did like the encroaching Mopane bush which seemed to give me 'a guard of honour feel'
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Up north I know Giraffe are less common and here an Acacia tree is being browsed by one of these gentle giants.
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Back on the Tropic of Capricorn Loop these Zebra were on the way to the waterhole.
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And here a group of Zebra mingle around the waterhole. I know Zebra are very common but I always enjoy watching and photographing these tough animals. They have certainly earned their stripes.
Image

More to follow.............

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


Last edited by adw on Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:38 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)
On my back I stopped off at the waterhole Shildlayengwenya. I have never seen this waterhole before but it is a tremendous spot and I am sure people staying at Mopani have had brilliant sightings there. I stayed for about 30 minutes and photographed this Water Leguaan which had survived a predator attack.
Image

Riding along that stretch of H1.6 road that runs parallel to the Letaba river I saw a group of cars and thought it must be elephant. Not enough cars for a lion or leopard sighting!! But what an Elephant. It was Masthulele. This time he was close. (Thanks to Aat for identifying him for me). The sunlight was strong and I was photographing right into the sunlight. But I had to take my opportunity. He was very close and I did not want to stay that close to him. As I moved off he crossed the road and the light would be perfect. I did a u-turn but had to wait my turn as another car was photographing him. As they moved off I squeezed my way in. He was right next to the road. So close I had to use my camera with a wide angle lens. Three quick clicks and I had to move off as I did not want to stress the big guy or myself for that matter.
I will treasure these shots forever!
Image

Image

And the last one
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What a magnificent animal. My heart was pounding and my hands were trembling. By the time I got back to Letaba I was still in an adrenaline rush. This made my trip so worthwhile.

More to follow..............

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:25 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 Noel, Cheetah, VicRob, Hilda, John'n'poppy, Pumbaa for your kind comments.

The afternoon of the 12 June I travelled the river road south of Letaba.
Here an elephant is feeding on the banks of the Engelhard dam.
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In this photo a Hippo soaks up the winter sunshine in one of the tributory pools that criss cross the S46.
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The well known Baobab on the S44.
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On the morning of the 13 June i was back on the H14. Here a Giant Kingfisher allowed me to get close to him on the low-level bridge.
Image

More to follow.............

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:40 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 Heksie, Sharifa, Cheetah2111, Threedogs, Hilda, Granjan, and Radman.
Radman, I agree Lions are difficult to spot in the Letaba area. My view is the thick Mopane bush hides them very well, and unless they are in or right next to the road then you simply ride right past.

Wednesday 13th June continued. I decided to take a long drive north on the H1-6. Very few sightings and sightings were restricted to animals being right next to the road, like this elephant with a decent set of tusks. The Fork-Tailed Drongo was making use of the insects being disturbed by the Elephant.
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On my way back, just before the Tropic of Capricorn Loop I saw a herd of Sable crossd the road. By the time I got there this was the only photo I could manage. The Mopane bush was very thick and hid the herd well.
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Thursday 14/6. I decided to opt for a change of scenery and I drove south to the S90. Here the open grassland highlights the Giraffe searching out small bushes to browse on.
Image

Mother and daughter Steenbuck on the alert in the eastern grasslands.
Image

more to follow.............

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:59 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 Noami for your kind comments.

On my way back to I travelled on the H1-4, and this proved to be very much alive with plenty of animal sightings including all the general game, Lion and even a Cheetah in the far distance. The Cheetah was just too far in for a decent photo plus it was laying down with only its head showing. How the other people spotted it I do not know. If it were not for them I would have missed it.

The following photos were taken on the H1-4.

This Reedbuck was just a couple of kms north of Satara.
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These Lions were about 2kms north of the S127 intersection.
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A gathering of Zebra and Impala.
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At Ngotso dam there was a very large herd of Impala and this Zebra was having a roll in the dust.
Image

More to follow.............

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:19 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 Hilda for your kind comments. I hope you enjoy this next instalment.

At the Olifants river a herd of Elephant were enjoying their trip to the river. As we are allowed out of our vehicles it was interesting to watch the herd as they crossed underneath the bridge, listening to their rumbles and splashing in the water with a cool breeze in your face. Life could not be better!!! :D :D :D My favourite wild animal, which I can watch for hours.
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That afternoon ( late) I took a slow drive on the H9 and came across a herd of Buffalo grazing alongside the road. This young cow was in beautiful condition.
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Coming back to camp I once again drove on that delightful 4 km loop the S69. Towards the end of the loop I could not believe my luck when I saw another Side-Striped Jackal and even more surprising he allowed me to photograph him before running off into the river-bed.
Image

and one more click. They certainly look taller than their cousins the Black-Backed Jackal.
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When I got to the river-bed to see if I could see the SSJ I came across another Elephant with decent tusks enjoying a drink of water from a hole he had just dug.
Image


More to follow..........

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:25 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 Pumbaa, Saraf, Hilda, Cheetah2111, Chirinda, Elize, and Crested Val for your kind comments.

Friday 15/6. I decided to try the south again and drove on the H1-5. Just past the S91 turnoff the car in front of me stopped and a lioness had just crossed the road. This is one of those frustrating lion sightings when they keep on walking and dont look back at all.
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Onto the Timbavati road (S39). I wanted to see that elusive cat, the leopard. I have seen a few on this road on previous trips but I was to have no luck today. However just north of the Piet Grobler dam I got a lucky break with another big cat. There was a car a couple of hundred metres in front of me and they just missed the pride coming up and out of the river bed. Three females and at least seven cubs. They crossed the road and disappeared into the surrounding bush. One of the females is blind in the one eye and I photographed her in Sept 2011 when she was on honeymoon. I believe she has had this blind eye for several years now so she is coping well with her handicap.

Here are 2 of the 3 lioness.
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And a close up of the one eyed lioness.
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Here are 2 cubs of differing ages.
Image

This large cub looks in excellent condition.
Image

more to follow............

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


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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:08 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 John n Poppy and Naomi for your kind comments.

I thought I would post this photo of the lioness with the left blind eye. This was taken in Sept 2011 when she was on honeymoon. All the photos were taken at almost the same place on the S39. Her blind eye seems to have less swelling now.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:41 am 
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Ahhh old Blind one 8) She must be doing something right! In March 2011 it was only her 3 sisters and one Male!
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 Post subject: Re: adw's Letaba and Surrounding Areas trip.
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:00 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 Sharifa, Hilda, Pumbaa, Crested Val, Cheetah2111, Heksie, Threedogs, John n Poppy, And Naomi C for all your kind comments.

Friday 15th continued. After the lion sighting I carried on with the S39 and came across a group of Vervets nervously calling their alarm call. I presumed a Leopard was in close proximity but never saw it despite waiting 20 minutes or so.
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The rest of the drive on the S39 was relatively quiet. Travelling towards Satara on the H7 there were a number of Zebra gatherings.
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After brunch at Satara I headed back to Letaba. Just outside Satara I came across this Elephant which had just pushed over this fairly large Apple-Leaf tree.
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Acouple of kms further on I met this Elephant bull which wanted to cross the road and 'politely' told me to get out of the way which I duly did!
Image

I decided to take the S90 back to Letaba. Giraffe on the grasslands are so conspicuous as they browse on very low bushes.
Image

More to follow...........

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


Last edited by adw on Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.

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