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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:05 am 
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I can confirm that Wild Blue Yonder has been offered a modelling contract with a well known (but as of yet undisclosed) European fashion house based in Turin.

He will model a new range called "Rhino Lilly" - informal attire for the metromale (aka David Beckham) and as the name "Rhino Lilly" suggests, it represents both the brute force of a rhino and the aesthetic appeal of a lilly.

A real pitty they did not want to call the range "Impala Lilly", but then again I suppose that would not be a hot seller in Europe.


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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:11 am 
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On a serious note, a big thanks must go to Johan for taking the time and trouble to give such a comprehensive trip report.

I thoroughly enjoyed coming back to the forum once to twice a day to read more of his updates.

I have done a few trails in KNP and this was a special one, there is no doubt about that.

And who would have thought the photos would have come out so well?

A real shame that I will not be there on 25 March, but I will certainly make a point of keeping a close watch of the forum to catch his updates.

Hopefully they get the benefit of some excellent late summer birding - who knows? They might even beat our record!


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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:43 am 
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My resolve to keep the on my bucket list has been strenthened. Did I tell you that I suffer from a "Masochistic Personality Disorder"?

To all those who have jumped on board this report.. the models and the non models.. I have loved the quirky and comfortable feel of the report.. to all these people..

a very warm welcome to this strange forum land :D

Please feel welcome to stick around. Your enthusiasm is catching.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:02 am 
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Location: Winging between the Highveld and the Cape
I miss the trail!

I have been fortunate enough to have visited all bar one of our National Parks, many of the well-known National Parks in the USA and Canada and a fair few in the Antipodes and the rest of Africa. I have met many game rangers on those trips and yet I may happily confirm (rare for a wary advocate!) that our insightful, passionate and skilled guides on this trail, Brenden and Julie, are among the very best. Bravo! :clap: Those going on the trail with these two super-guides in March are in for a treat!

Johan, you have penned a commendably fine report. It was well illustrated, too. Eminently readable reports such as this will no doubt encourage more 'mites to venture away from their cars in Kruger and enjoy the calming simplicity of a walk in the bush. I confess to not being the world's foremost camper; nonetheless, I bore a smile throughout the trip and encourage those 'mites of the more timid persuasion to venture out.

As for Rhino Lily: the new look is taking the streets of Sandton and the Waterfront by storm! This is prompting the [undisclosed] designers to introduce a "casual-office" line, too. A monotone white or khaki t-shirt, worn under a designer dark suit jacket and trousers with sockless loafers and an optional five-o'clock shadow on the jaw is the new look. This was pioneered by Versace in the hit television series, "Miami Vice", in the 1980's and is now making a return, courtesy of Rhino Lily. The new look embodies, as Multiflorum says, the macho-ness of the rhino and the beauty of the lily. Moreover, it blends the subtle power of the suit with the 'I'm on holiday, go away' attitude of the t-shirt and loafers. The modern look for the modern man. We encourage 'mites to submit designs for the ladies' look.


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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:09 am 
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Multiflorum wrote:
On a serious note, a big thanks must go to Johan for taking the time and trouble to give such a comprehensive trip report.

Thanks again Johan. :gflower: Just sad that it is going to end soon. :cry: :D

Multiflorum wrote:
And who would have thought the photos would have come out so well?


If you saw all Johan's photos in the "Id bird Challenge" thread, you would know that he takes the most beautiful photos. :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Johan - what a wonderful report - words, photos, all!

Like MM, I think the thought of the backpack is a bit daunting. I'm the wrong side of 60 (just) and also not tall! I love the whole idea of the bird atlassing on foot, but would have to give it some serious thought (and fitness training).

Hope the next bunch, in a few weeks' time, have an equally good trip. Look forward to the trip report on that one.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:07 pm 
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Johan van Rensburg wrote:
Somehow the dark starlit camp had another magical attraction. Naturally talk amongst us was about nature... about the human race and its role on earth. Brenden sketched the near-symbiotic relationship that the honeyguide has with man, explaining how the honeyguide used to benefit from leading man to a beehive... and then asking the question: "When will the honeyguide quit on us?”


Mutualism is any relationship between individuals of different species where both individuals derive a benefit. These symbiotic associations generally provide workable solutions to many of the basic problems of survival. Providing adequate nourishment is one of the problem-solving advantages of symbiosis.

I suppose symbiosis, in the natural world, could quite easily be compared to a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ or long term ‘Contract’ between two businesses in the corporate world.

Symbiotic relationships such as mutualism are furthermore recognized as an important selective force behind evolution, with many species having a long history of interdependent co-evolution.
The species Homo sapiens is the highest evolved organism on this planet to date thanks to symbiosis and myriad other forces such as natural selection. We therefore owe our success to strategic ‘Contracts’ and partnerships our ancient relatives negotiated for us with nature.

The Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator is the only bird in the world known to regularly lead humans to bee hives. They are not physically capable of opening the hives themselves to get to their preferred source of nourishment; bees, larvae and wax. By guiding man to the hive and letting them open it to harvest, they have overcome this problem.

Their guiding habits are inherited and well developed (interesting that this only takes place in sub sahara Africa - evidence of a very long standing ‘Memorandum of Understanding’). The Greater Honeyguide knows the locality of hives and wait for potential symbionts (humans) to pass by. The bird initiates the guiding by calling from a nearby perch. Upon an approach the Honeyguide flies off with its typical, fast undulating flight, their white retrices stand out like a camera flash.
Flight takes them to a nearby tree; constantly chattering to keep the adherents attention. Arrival at a bee hive sees the Honeyguide change its behaviour. It will perch silently, waiting for the honeycomb to be extracted.

Due to the rapid trend of ‘civilisation’ in humans the Greater Honeyguide is losing its symbiotic capacity and is being replaced by the highly abundant coexisting secondary symbiont – the supermarket.

There are now areas where the frequency of guiding has decreased or even ceased. Another one of the many human-nature ‘contracts’, that have brought us so much success as a species, may no longer be renewed. I fear for the day that the Honeyguide swoops past and disappears into the woodland without uttering a call for us to follow. The day our ancient partners no longer see us as a part of nature.

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"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".


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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:25 pm 
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Wild Blue Yonder wrote:
I have met many game rangers on those trips and yet I may happily confirm (rare for a wary advocate!) that our insightful, passionate and skilled guides on this trail, Brenden and Julie, are among the very best. Bravo! :clap: Those going on the trail with these two super-guides in March are in for a treat!


Wild Blue Yonder, thank you for your kind words. We are the "Keepers of the Wilderness". We will follow the lead of Honeyguides. To give them hope, to keep both symbionts connected.

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"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".


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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:33 pm 
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Thank you Johan .
Brendan , it is this philosophy in your words posted on the Mphongholo trail thread (viewtopic.php?f=133&t=31351&start=225)
which I am quoting below that evokes my longing for the wilderness ... and this is the wilderness that was Mafunyanes home range .

"Light had started menacing darkness as I lay awake in my tent, backpack as a pillow. The incessant dispute slowly spilled over to the birds as the deep vibrations of Southern Ground-Hornbill pilfered the silence and encouraged the day. A discontent Square-tailed Nightjar interrupted their chant as if to gesture his support of the dark.

The last time I had used the shaded Tamboti-leaf carpet near Matiovila as a camp was five months previous. No group had been to the area since, despite the high trail occupancy this season. Access to the 150 000 ha Wilderness Area is restricted by the absence of a road network and exploration can only be done on foot over an extended period of time. This sense of wildness and remoteness unquestionably defines the Mphongolo Backpack Trail in northern Kruger National Park.

Our eight guests lay silent, listening from their tents as the increased radiance restores the confidence that may have evaporated in the darkness. The principles are contradictory of air conditioned rooms, comfortable beds and the multitude of additional reassurances the conventional safari intends. Merely fundamentals hold substance at this juncture, all else counts for naught.

Wilderness is the highest category of conservation an area can ever achieve, yet it should not be restricted by a definition or physical boundary. Wilderness is a philosophy and consequently infinite.

We are familiar with the situation where we have forgotten the name of a place and cannot produce it in spite of the utmost concentration. We have it 'on the tip of our tongue' but it just won’t come out, until we give up and shift our attention to something else when suddenly, in a flash, we remember the forgotten name. No thinking is involved in this process, it is a sudden insight.
Another well known example of spontaneous intuitive insight is jokes. In the split second where you understand a joke you experience a moment of 'enlightenment'. It is well known that this moment must come spontaneously. Only with a sudden intuitive insight into the nature of the joke do we experience the laughter the joke is meant to produce. It cannot be achieved by 'explaining' the joke using intellectual analysis.

Our guest’s connectedness with nature lies on the periphery of their modern being. On the ‘tip of their tongue’ so to speak, and it takes moments of spontaneous intuitive insight to generate reconnection. Creating moments of enlightenment on trail is the challenge of Wilderness guiding. It is the challenge of not being confronted by the limitation of language.

I am by no means suggesting that Wilderness guides are capable of choreographing life changing metaphoric dances and individual theatrical performances around a small trail fire. However, Wilderness guides have access to a unique set of tools with which to create moments of spontaneous intuitive insight. These tools can also be defined as the attributes of Wilderness and include remoteness, serenity, peace, wildness, solitude, harmony, inspiration and reflection opportunities.

With packs on our back and the rehabilitated camp a remembrance, we meander along a non perennial stream in search of its confluence with the Phugwane River. We explore the Mphongolo Wilderness according to our personal requisites. Apart from water availability and heat from the midday sun, we are laden with no restriction. Guiding with such independence and space is exhilarating, but the concept should momentarily rouse a sobering intimidation. “To be abandoned is to grow". Clear water filters into our excavated pit in the dry riverbed. In this moment we take nothing for granted.

The realisation, discovery and understanding of Wilderness is a succession of spontaneous intuitive insights for the impending Wilderness guide. It is not something that can be absorbed from literature, but develops with experience and time in Wilderness Areas. Each individual may develop a personal definition of Wilderness over an undefined period of time. This definition may be expandable and will, in all probability, undergo multiple metamorphoses in due course.
Wilderness may eventually become a ‘state of mind’ an understanding that not only the bright stars in the sky are significant.

Wilderness guiding is the ability to provide guests with what they need and not necessarily what they want. It is far removed from competition, even though the mere realisation could nourish exponential personal development. As much as Wilderness is our message to share, it is our sustenance as guides. In a private capacity it may be described as a recipe for happiness with all the chemicals gone.

Regrettably we live in an era where southern Africa’s affluent biodiversity and Wilderness have been reduced to five mammals and five stars. It is therefore fantastic to have a revival in primitive experiences such as the three backpack trails currently hosted by Kruger National Park. There seems to be an urgent longing by the human psyche, conscious or subconscious as it may be, to experience the Wilderness qualities we have been deprived of since we have become ‘civilised’.

"There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whip-poor-will (nightjar species) or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night?

But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand".

- Chief Seattle (Si'ahl), Native American Indian.

The fire is modest and serves its hypnotic purpose as the darkness consumes our new camp. Our guests have strayed from their modern being, yet the Wilderness knows exactly where they are, it will find them. The Square-tailed Nightjar calls with restored confidence, perhaps an appropriate reminder from a savage chief that we are celebrating life in its purest form."

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KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.


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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:33 pm 
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Eish!

This thread is getting HEAVY!

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Herewith an extract from a confidential company report:

Johan van Rensburg was referred for counseling as a result of testing positive for bush withdrawal symptoms whilst performing his duties.

During the initial assessment the wellbeing practitioner reported that Johan presented being unrepentant regarding testing positive for bush cravings at work. Johan indicated that he only needs the bush occasionally and does not regard the bush “fix” frequency as a challenge at this stage as he is able to control the amount of times that he takes part in such events. The company intervention focused on providing Johan with psycho-education regarding the effects and consequences of his bush addiction, emphasising the impact of bush withdrawal symptoms in his working environment. Johan was provided with information and alternative ways on how to take control and reduce his bush exposure to instill a more acceptable corporate lifestyle. Johan appeared to have gained insight on the effects and impact of displaying withdrawal symptoms in his work environment and his life in general.

He is now seriously considering retiring.

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Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:52 pm 
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Johan van Rensburg wrote:
Eish!

This thread is getting HEAVY!


Very Heavy :D :D

Johan van Rensburg wrote:
Herewith an extract from a confidential company report:

Johan van Rensburg was referred for counseling as a result of testing positive for bush withdrawal symptoms whilst performing his duties.

He is now seriously considering retiring.


:hmz: I don't think counseling is going to help. :roll: The only cure is going to the bush as often as possible. :hmz:
:D :D

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:25 pm 
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So, on that last night out we had another campfire going. I think we were all desperate for the wilderness experience to last… for time to slow down a bit. Julie had the final say on this balmy evening canopied once again by the same brilliant astronomic expanse of the last two nights. She brought us back to earth with her vision of harmony, understanding of and respect for all things living. It was so powerfully articulated that it left us all quietly reflecting for the next half hour or so.

The sandman got to me first and I caught myself nodding off. A breeze lifted the day’s heat and made crawling into a sleeping bag an alluring prospect. Yawning audibly I announced my retirement. By now I had become best friends with the lumps under my tent. We had a good roll-around and I punched the worst of the bulges optimistically hoping to macerate them a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:11 am 
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The breaking up of camp was a sombre affair that started as soon as the light allowed on an overcast morning. Julie kept an eye out for bird action and spotted a comb duck flying over our camp site.

Trekking back to the pick-up point, we had our first view of a yellow-fronted canary, normally quite common, not so this time. A murmuration of wattled starlings and a few greater blue-eared starlings supplied another tick to our atlas list.

A greater honeyguide, chattering away from the vantage point of a tall Mopane attracted our attention. Naturally Brenden’s lesson from a few nights before had our curiosity piqued and we agreed that the prowess of this had to be tested: “Show us the honey!”

Once the bird realised he got our attention, it flicked its tail and flew to the next bush where it waited for us to follow, gradually leading us along from tree to tree. In the end we found a tiny hole in a hollow tree trunk with tell-tale signs of wax around the entrance. However, we believe the nest to have been deserted some time ago. Since we had another destination and no real reason to continue following the honeyguide, we deserted our little friend.

We returned to following the course of the Bububu towards our pick-up point. At the biggest Bububu pond we flushed a saddle-billed stork and spotted a pied kingfisher, our final bird in the pentad, bird number 135.

We dropped our gear on the verge of the gravel service road and started scouting around while we waited for our vehicle. Brenden and Julie soon found some spoor to entertain us with. They picked up the spoor of a rhino cow with a calf and we received a quick lesson in tracking. The best advice given was not to try to follow the spoor nose-on-the-ground, but to scout ahead. We were so taken in by the lesson that the arrival of the SANParks safari vehicle was an intrusion!

Reluctantly we gave up the game and shuffled to the van to load our gear. Lo-and-behold! A cooler box appeared, loaded with ice-cold water, fruit juices, cider and beer! That first larger hardly touched sides. The second one was the best as sip-by-sip the crisp, bitter liquid rinsed the buffalo off my taste buds.

What a trip!

Lots have been said about Brenden and Julie as stunning individuals and extraordinary champions of nature. In truth, what they do is so exceptional that my words fail to do their exploits justice. We three ‘mites and a ghost solute you…

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:27 am 
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....... and the end came to soon. :)

Great report, thanx Johan. :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:16 am 
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Thank you for a very entertaining report Johan! Can't wait for the next one after your trip in March! :D

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