Early in the morning, we took the road for our third full day in KNP. We couldn’t be more pleased. Up to that point, we had seen 71 different species and a total of approximately 400 individual animals. These are amazing figures, we could anticipate KNP would be fantastic, but we couldn’t anticipate it would be so fantastic!
At January 6th, the day became with a look at the Sabie river, from the Skukuza camp, while Carol, my wife, was getting ready to the day. It was great to see two Chacma Baboons in a bridge over the Sabie river, besides two mongooses we couldn’t really identify, by the river. Here is a picture of one of the baboons. I really like this pic, even though the quality is not great (it was far away)!
This day we had to move from Skukuza to Tamboti, nearby Orpen, certainly the greatest place we slept, with the canvas tents. Incredible!! If you never tried Tamboti, do try! It was a fantastic experience, which makes me anticipate, now, how it will be to sleep in the wilderness camps in Kgalagadi.
Even though the trip was longer than originally planned, since we did not manage to find places in Satara, as in our original design for the trip, it was not hectic at all. The only reason why we had to be attentive to avoid losing the time for the gate in Orpen was that H7, the Orpen-Satara Road, provided such incredible sightings that we almost lost our time…
In the beginning of the morning, our first plan was to visit Matekenyane Koppies, where we couldn’t stop in the previous day. So, we went down Napi Road (H1-1) in order to visit the Koppies, and then came back through the same road to reach the Lower Sabie Road (H4-1). After making a short connection through H12, we followed the Skukuza-Tshokwane Road (H1-2). A stop in Tshokwane was great for resting and eating, and then we took the road again, going up the Tshokwane-Satara Road (H1-3). We entered the N'wanwitsontso Loop (S86) and returned to H1-3. We originally planned to enter to see the Southernmost Baobab, but we were worried about time when we reached it. This plan was left to the return to the South part of the park. We reached the Orpen-Satara Road (H7) and followed to Orpen, where we made the check-in to Tamboti. It was great to reach our tent in Tamboti, where we unfortunately slept only one night. We plan to come back to KNP in 2014 or 2015. Certainly more days in Tamboti is a great idea!
This was probably the best day in the whole trip! So, let’s go for it.
Let’s begin then by our sightings in our way to the Matekenyane Koppies, through the Napi Road: 1 Grey Go-Away Bird (Lourie) (Corythaixoides concolor
), 1 Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica
), 1 Cape Glossy Starling (Lamprotornis nitens
), + 4 Grey Go-Away Birds, 1 Red-Billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus
), 2 Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris
), + 1 Cape Glossy Starling, 1 unidentified duck in De Laporte waterhole, 1 Red-Breasted Swallow (Hirundo semirufa
), 1 large group of unidentified Swallows, 2 Swainson’s Spurfowls (Francolins) (Pternistes swainsonii
Our first 5 Grey Go-Away Birds were great. Really amazing calls, they indeed seem to be saying go away! Some recordings are available at: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?qu ... pecies_nr=
Their calls can also be heard in this nice source available in the web: http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/bir ... ncolor.htm
In the IUCN Red List, they are classified as Least Concern, showing stable populations. In fact, it is a common species along its range of distribution. This species occurs from Zambia, Malawi and coastal Angola through to southern Africa, and generally prefers dry savanna, broad-leaved Burkea africana woodland, dry riverine woodland and suburban gardens. It eats mainly fruits, flowers, leaves and buds, supplemented with small invertebrates. Its foraging activity usually takes place in tree canopies, where we saw them, but sometimes it goes to the ground to feed on invertebrates and low-lying plants.
We saw Grey Go-Away Birds several times during the trip, always feeling too fascinated with them to obey their “go away” calls! We were eager to see a closely related species, the Purple-Crested Turaco, with its outstanding colors, but it just became part of our wish list for the next KNP visit. For the relationships between these species, see: http://tolweb.org/Musophagiformes/26401
(a great source for taxonomic and evolutionary information)
It was also interesting to see the Giant African Land Snail in its own environment.
This species was introduced in several parts of the world, including Brazil, and, due to its fast development and high fertility, it is now listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world. As a voracious feeder, it became a serious pest organism affecting agriculture, natural ecosystems, commerce, and human health. It often harbors the parasitic nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis
, which can cause very serious meningitis in humans. In Rio, several cases of this meningitis happened in the last summer. It is curious, however, that this species is used for religious purposes in the Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé, as an offering to the Orisha Obatala, as a substitute for the African Giant Snail (Archachatina marginata
) used in Nigeria, because they are known by the same name (Igbin) in both Brazil and Nigeria (Léo Neto, N. A.; Brooks, S. E.; Alves, R. M. R. (2009). "From Eshu to Obatala: Animals used in sacrificial rituals at Candomblé "terreiros" in Brazil". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 5: 23).
And here our first (of many) sighting of a Helmeted Guineafowl, a common but enticing animal.
Their nice and characteristic calls can be heard here: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?qu ... pecies_nr=
This bird is certainly not threatened, Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, with stable populations. It is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, although generally absent from rain forest and desert. Its distribution in southern Africa has expanded with the spread of agriculture. Helmeted guineafowl has been widely introduced into the West Indies, Brazil, Australia and southern France. This bird is indeed common here in Brazil. Anyway, they are among our favorite animals, thus, we took many pictures of them, and bought several decorative pieces based on them…
Many raptors prey on them. It is, however, a fierce animal: Breeding couples can attack potential predators such as baboons and jackals. It is the best known of the guineafowl bird family, Numididae.
By the side of the road, we saw then this Red-Breasted Swallow.
One only recording of its delicate singing is found here: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?qu ... pecies_nr=
This species is classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, in fact with increasing population. Its range has expanded south and east due to the availability of road culverts as nest sites. It occurs from West Africa and Congo through Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. In fact, it is an intra-African breeding migrant, arriving in southern Africa around August-September and mainly departing from April-May for non-breeding grounds in the equatorial region.
In Matekenyane Koppies, we saw 1 Emerald-Spotted (Green-Spotted) Wood-Dove (Turtur chalcospilos
), 2 Cape Glossy Starlings, 2 Burchell's Starlings (Lamprotornis australis
) and 1 Cape Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia capicola
Here is a picture of the Emerald-Spotted Wood-Dove.
In this link, we can hear the calls of the Emerald-Spotted Wood-Dove: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?qu ... pecies_nr=
Its classification in the IUCN Red List is Least Concern, and its population is stable. It is fairly common in many parts of southern Africa, being found in woodlands, savanna and valley bushveld. It forages on sparsely vegetated ground, as in the place where we saw it. Little more is known of its diet other than it feeds on fallen seeds and fruit.
Unfortunately the day was foggy and the view from the Matekenyane Koppies was not as great as we anticipated.
Returning through the Napi Road, we saw 2 Burchell’s Zebras (Equus quagga), one group of Impalas, and 1 Yellow-Billed Kite (Milvus parasitus). But no great pictures.
1 June 2013 - Twee Rivieren
2 June 2013 - Kieliekrankie
3-4 June 2013 - Kalahari Tented Camp
5 June 2013 - Twee Rivieren
6-8 June 2013 - Nossob
9 June 2013 - Gharagab
10 June 2013 - Grootkolk
11 June 2013 - Nossob
12 June 2013 - Twee Rivieren
P.S. Just to share another taste I acquired in South Africa. I discovered there South African progressive rock (http://www.rock.co.za/files/top_SA_prog.html
) and, being a CD collector, began buying them and playing them in my internet channel: http://blip.fm/MDiversidad
Does any forumite share this taste?