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 Post subject: Catriona back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report Oct 10
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:48 pm 
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This trip report is so overdue that I am extremely embarrassed :redface: (the trip was in October!) :redface: . I have had such pleasure reading other people's report both before and after our own trip that I was determined that I would write one of my own. Now I have even more respect for those people who write a report as soon as they get home! But, as they say, better late than never, so here goes.....

Although we have been to the KNP a number of times during our visits to South Africa, this was our first visit to the KTP and we were very excited, not least because it was our first holiday without children for more that 15 years! Leaving our 4 children in the capable hands of Granny, even the journey seemed exciting…..

We had chosen the KTP mostly for its remoteness and the peace that we knew we would find (and, of course, the lack of rain – for those of us from England this is often an important element in a holiday!). We didn’t really come with an overt wish-list of animals to see in case we ended up disappointed, although I was very keen to see swallow-tailed bee-eaters and gemsbok and Simon, a pygmy falcon. We both secretly wanted to see cheetah, although we didn’t express this and the children really wanted us to see a honey badger as they had seen a programme about them on the BBC. In such a different place to home, all the wildlife is exciting to us.

Tuesday 12th October.
The drive from Upington to KTP was fantastic – the roads are so empty and there are miles and miles of open landscape.

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Our sat nav tried to tell us that it would take about 7 hours to get to Twee Rivieren – I think that maybe it hadn’t been updated since the road was tarred, but fortunately it was wrong and we arrived after a very easy journey. What a great sight - seen in so many trip reports I have read but even better for real.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:55 am 
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Hmmmm - my first time trying to attach photos. Eventually they seem to be there, so perhaps I'll be bold and carry on.


After booking in with no problems, we paid a quick visit to the shop to see what there was, bought some presents for the family, a pie for lunch, deflated the tyres and set off towards our first camp – Kieliekrankie.

We were keen to get to KK at a reasonable time, so didn’t stop for too much photography, but couldn’t resist this beautiful Northern Black Korhaan

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a rather sad and lonely-looking wildebeest

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and several photos of our first gemsbok .

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Whilst we were stopped to take this photo, a passing man told us that there were lion at Kamfersboom water hole and we drove on just a little faster in anticipation of our first big cat sighting – and we had only been in the park a few hours! The lions, a male and a female, were very thoughtfully lying on a sand bank beside the road, giving us and the several other cars that were there a very good view of them.

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They looked very peaceful and didn’t seem at all inclined to do anything, but they did manage to lift their heads, briefly, and let us take portraits.

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I’d like to point out that when I say that we took photos, we both did, but the majority that we have kept are those taken by Simon as he has a (much) bigger lens that me and I have a habit of getting so excited and shaking too much to get good shots!

We were thrilled by our first sight of Kieliekrankie,

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even more by our chalet and by the wonderful sunset.

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Went to sleep to the beautiful sound of the barking geckos in our very comfy beds.


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:17 pm 
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Thank you for your kind comments - I'm still very new to this and not sure exactly what I'm doing! I'm going to post a little bit more, but don't want to put more on one page that I should.


Wed. 13th October
Woke fairly early to the news that Simon wasn’t too well, so took things slowly and left KK to drive down to Monro at about 6.15am. Caught our first glimpse of bat eared foxes just after we left KK but they weren’t keen to come out from behind the bushes, so we couldn’t get a photo. We were able to get pictures of a Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (after a day or two, we stopped taking a picture of every one of these that we saw as we realised that we would see at least 20 every day! We never stopped thinking how beautiful they are though),

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Namaqua sandgrouse (what beautiful and noisy birds!)

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a very shy hare (not sure what kind),

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a swallow-tailed bee eater (the first picture of many – we spent hours taking photos of these gorgeous birds)

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and a crimson-breasted shrike (we didn’t realise, until we had spent many more hours trying to photograph this bird, how hard it is to get it to stay still long enough to get a picture!).

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Back in camp, poor Simon retired to bed and I spent happy hours trying to get the perfect picture of this striped mouse that lives in the bush next to the cabin

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and just watching the birds, listening to the sounds and relaxing. Later, Simon felt well enough to venture out and we drove to Auchterlonie – what a beautiful but remote and sometimes bleak place to live.

A beautiful but very windy evening lead to a rather interrupted night – I dreamed that every time the wind blew, the cabin moved and just as I was putting on my shoes to run out of the cabin before it slid down the dune, I woke up. I was so happy to discover that the cabin was very secure, if rather noisy with the canvas banging against the frame, in the wind!


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:37 pm 
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Thurs. 14th October
When we awoke at 5.30am, we couldn’t believe the stillness and the complete cloudlessness after, what seemed to us, such a storm. I jumped out of bed to take photos of the sunrise until my hands were stiff with the cold.

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After a short trip out (me still in my pyjamas – I couldn’t wait long enough to get dressed!), we packed up and left KK, heading towards Nossob on the dune road. Although we didn’t see too many animals on the dune road, I loved the way we came up each hill to the crest, never knowing what might be on the other side. As well as lots of quite speedy cars, we saw many birds, both in flight and at rest. We are not very well-versed in African birds, so please accept my apologies if I have got the names wrong…[edit: thanks Carcal for the corrections!]

a black-headed heron

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Female Lesser Kestrel

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Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk

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?? a tawny eagle

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a Lanner Falcon

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another (or the same as before?) eagle – finding it hard to identify….

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which then took off for us…

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and 2 Lappet-faced Vultures with a White-backed Vulture

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.....to be continued.....


Last edited by Catriona on Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:43 pm 
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We stopped for lunch at Dikbaardskolk and had to watch our food carefully as there was a very interested black backed jackal - he was just like a begging dog – but no-one there was falling for his pleading looks

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and plenty of small birds: a small brown one (maybe a warbler of some kind?), [edit: Mario Flycatcher - thanks Micetta!)

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a Red-eyed Bulbul,

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and some Sociable Weavers.

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Simon took a picture of a weaver bird with his macro lens and when we blew it up afterwards we saw this cool reflection in the weaver’s eye…

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After checking in at Nossob, we saw on the sightings board that there had been lion at Kwang waterhole and we decided to drive up there and see if they were still there – they were! They didn’t look as if they had moved for a while and showed very little sign of doing anything other than sleeping….

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….even on their backs!

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Great end to our day!


Last edited by Catriona on Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:39 pm 
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Friday 15th October
We were out of the gates by 6.07am, it would have been slightly earlier but I was far too English about collecting the permit and stood in what I thought was a queue, only to realise that everyone else was just walking in past me and getting theirs! Oh well!

It was still very cold and despite all my layers, my teeth didn’t stop chattering until lunch-time, but the sky was so blue and not a cloud to be seen. We decided to go north and just out of the gate we saw a jackal with its breakfast in its mouth.

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We could see several cars ahead at Cubitja Quan water hole and then spotted a beautiful young male who we had just missed having a drink. He was magnificent, standing in the early morning sun, then he walked slowly across the road in front of us and away across the river bed. What a great start to the morning!

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After he had disappeared into the distance, we carried on driving and a couple of minutes later there was a car stopped watching another male lion in the bushes at the side of the road. He was only standing up for a short time and once he lay down, he pretty much disappeared, so we didn’t get any worthwhile photos. A little while later, a female stood up and wandered away – it was fascinating to see how quickly she completely vanished. It just reinforced how many animals there must be hidden right under our noses, feet away from the road!

As the day went on and it warmed up (a bit – I never took off my fleece but at least I stopped shivering!), we saw increasing numbers of animals around the waterholes and we spent several hours at Polentswa waterhole just watching their behaviour.

The wildebeest were enjoying rolling in the dry mud

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then we were thrilled to see Red Hartebeest approaching – we hadn’t seen these strange animals before - they are so narrow!

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Then a couple of gemsbok came to join the party. I thought this one was particularly fine with his very long horns

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What a splendid scene.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:04 pm 
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We stopped at Lijersdraai to make our lunch, but decided to eat it at the next waterhole as it was rather smelly there – a loo problem I suspect. :shock: We saw jackals at most waterholes, although they often seemed rather nervous

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and we really enjoyed the antics of these ostriches.

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On our way back to Nossob, we noticed how many more birds of prey there were around than there had been earlier in the day, including this ?Greater Kestrel.

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Back in camp, we enjoyed the yellow mongooses running about just outside our cabin

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and went for a walk in camp where Simon spotted this fantastically hairy caterpillar

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and this tree mouse (not a good photo but it was so sweet!).

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We looked and looked in all the trees we could see in camp, but weren't able to find any owls. :( It was great to sit in the hide and see the view for real that we had spent hours watching on the webcam. We saw some very nervous jackals (this may be a naive question, but what is it that the jackals are nervous about?) and heard lots of noise that sounded like it was coming from the hide itself. I looked hard but couldn't see anything and came to the conclusion that maybe it was bats in the roof. A good night of sleep beckoned before an early start.....


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:57 pm 
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Saturday 16th October
Today we were heading to Gharagab and we planned to drive fairly fast up to Union’s End and on to Gharagab so that we could enjoy being in the camp as we were only spending one night there. We left Nossob at 6.03am wearing even more layers than yesterday, but actually it warmed up pretty quickly, which was a relief. We tried to drive at reasonable speed, but it is so hard not to keep on stopping to take photos! It seemed to be the day for smaller creatures, which was fine by us. [Please correct my mis-identifications!].

A rat (whistling maybe?)

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an unidentified small snake

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ground squirrel

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Short-toed Rock Thrush

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Acacia Pied Barbet

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a Lilac-breasted Roller

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and some bigger ones too: a Steppe Buzzard

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and a Booted Eagle (or maybe something else?) [edit: a juvenile Black Chested Snake Eagle]

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Lunch at the Union End’s Picnic spot was wonderful – no-one else for miles (as far as we knew!) and warm sunshine as we looked over the river bed and enjoyed the solitude. (I won’t tell you what Simon was trying to do when we set the timer for this picture!).

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Union’s End was quite a strange place – it was weird to see a fence in the KTP, but I loved the idea that there were three countries just there!

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Last edited by Catriona on Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:19 pm 
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Location: Cape Town-but dreaming of KTP
Hmmm...I am so pleased you have posted that photo of a Short-toed rock-thrush. :thumbs_up: I also saw one a while back in that vicinty but I thought I was seeing things..I was not able to get a photo of it.
As for your snake ...my guess is that it is a juvenile mole snake. :D

And my guess as to what Simon was up to :shock: ...well maybe some things are best left unmentioned ..... :wink: :D

I think also that your Booted Eagle is possibly a juvenile Black-chested Snake Eagle ...

Thanks for sharing this all with us !!! :D


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:47 pm 
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I've just discovered that I have a great close-up of the snake's head - this should really help identification. Definitely doesn't look like the mole snake, but I know even less about snakes than I do about birds! :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:50 pm 
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The turning off to Gharagab was so exciting – knowing that only us and three other cars would be able to come down this road today was great. The sand is such a great colour – it makes everything looks so beautiful.

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A porcupine quill (although I might have preferred to see it on a porcupine!),

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an ostrich egg

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and a Steenbok

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were just a few of the things we enjoyed during our two and a half hour journey on the sand track to the camp. When we arrived, we discovered that we were the only people to be staying at Gharagab that night – we couldn’t believe it! It is such a beautiful place and we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on our deck watching everything around us, like this jackal.

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We made full use of the viewing platform to watch the sunset.

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I REALLY wanted to see a barking gecko, but as much as I looked to where I thought there was one, I couldn’t see it. Perhaps some things are better just to be heard. We sat up much too late, watching the eyes of animals visiting the waterhole and looking for shooting stars – we went to bed when had seen one each – I don’t know about good luck, but we felt incredibly lucky just to be there.


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:58 pm 
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Catriona wrote:
I've just discovered that I have a great close-up of the snake's head - this should really help identification. Definitely doesn't look like the mole snake, but I know even less about snakes than I do about birds! :lol: :lol:

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Okay so maybe now it is a Kalahari Sand Snake....don't think it is a brown house snake ..:)


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:47 pm 
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Quote:
Lets see what the "specalists come up with


Apparently it is a Karoo Whip Snake, and who am I to argue!


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:04 pm 
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Sunday 17th October.
Sadly, Simon was very sick again from the early morning, so I was on my own on the deck from about 5.15am, watching the sunrise and photographing the birds around me. I was so busy looking at the birds, like this Pririt Batis

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and Yellow Canary,

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that, until it was close to the waterhole I didn’t notice this……………..

Brown Hyena!

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Simon managed to drag himself off his bed for a while to take some picture and join in my supreme excitement! I felt so sad that Simon felt too ill to really enjoy the sighting, but at least he was able to come and see. The hyena spent about five minutes at the waterhole, drinking, before it wandered off again and disappeared in to the bush.

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Packing up to leave seemed so much easier after such a wonderful start to the day!


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 Post subject: Re: Oh to be back in the KTP - a very overdue trip report
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:39 pm 
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I really enjoyed the track out of Gharagab – driving up the dunes was such fun!

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I don’t think that Simon enjoyed it all that much – it was rather bumpy for a delicate stomach, but by the end of the three hours it took us to get back to the road he was feeling much better.

We saw this Ground Agama at Lijersdraai, although we took care to avoid the facilities – I suspect that this is where Simon picked up his sick bug.

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Driving back to Nossob, we saw so many birds of prey:

A Secretary Bird in flight and landing

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a juvenile Bateleaur

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(a bit blurry, but what power!)

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and its parents (at least they were sharing a tree)

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Our chalet at Nossob, 5B, didn’t have quite the view that we had had at Gharagab, but it was cool and gave us a great night’s sleep ready for tomorrow’s sightings…..


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