Thursday – The Duke-chase, day 2 …continued
Thank you all for your notes of appreciation. I see that the most responses from forumites go to trip reports where very little actual trip reporting gets done
I must ask Deebs what the secret is...
With all the time we spent with Duke a stack of places where we would usually stop were passed by – we had a business deadline to meet and for the next four hours we splashed-and-dashed through various sightings of ellies and buffs along the Sabie River.
I certainly wanted to see the buffalo kill of the previous day. Not much remained of the carcass. Rather difficult to believe that the vultures and crocs could finish up a whole buff in a 24-hour period!
A little further we got a view of this male lion on the other side of the Sabie River, at least 500 m away. Again the digiscope set-up with everything on full zoom came to the party… Big5 for the second time!
We had lunch at the Nkulu picnic spot. The baboons here turned out nasty. A very large baboon male kept on getting very close, flashing his eyelids at us and I advised Lillian to be very careful and to watch the blighter closely. Next to us a young Portuguese couple settled in with their lunchbox. The couple incredibly packed the contents of the lunchbox out on the table in spite of the presence of the two very bold animals. A shrill shriek alerted me that something had happened and in turning around I saw the two baboons disappearing around the corner of the toilet building, each with a sarmie in hand. The woman was holding the side of her head, as pale as a hospital sheet, eyes huge with fright. A faint smudge of blood showed on her cheek below the hand holding her face. I tried to talk to them but their English had left them in the lurch in this crisis. While hurriedly shoving their goods into the lunchbox the guy kept on saying: “Is OK… Is OK…” They left in quite a hurry, I hope to get some medical assistance if that was what was needed, and/or some counselling to deal with the shock and to come to terms with Kruger – this wild place in Africa…
The burger I had was divine and the baboons got none of it!
After this commotion I had a quick stroll up and down the river walk and spotted a pair of very special birds for this area of Kruger. White-crowned lapwings are normally only seen at Crooks’ Corner in the far north of the Park.
At Skukuza this Impala lily impressed with its flush of blooms. Adenium multiflorum
, also called the Sabi Star, is the best known of the South African adeniums. It flowers in winter when most of the surrounding vegetation is in its dull winter state. Everything else pales in comparison to the brilliant white and pink bicoloured flowers that cover these plants when in full bloom. Stems of this plant arise from a large underground rootstock. The bark is shiny grey to brown and contains poisonous watery latex. For most of the year the plants do not have flowers or leaves. The leaves are up to 100 mm long, shiny green above and pale below, usually much broader towards the tip, and are carried in clusters at the growing tips of the branches. They are shed before flowering.
The flowers are borne in bunches at the ends of the plant’s stems, each flower 50-70 mm in diameter. They vary greatly in colour, usually with pointed white lobes, crinkly red margins and red stripes in the throat. Plants with pure white flowers are occasionally found. The flowers are sweetly scented. Flowering occurs from May to September. The fruit is usually paired, horn-like pods up to 240 mm long.
The impala lily is on the Red Data lists of Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Most of its distributional range in South Africa falls within the Kruger National Park where it is protected, although it does not have any threatened status in here. The main threats to the species are collection for horticulture, medicinal use, agriculture and browsing by wild animals. Baboons, for example, have been seen uprooting whole plants to feed on the tuberous rootstock.
These plants are usually found in sandy soil or in sediment deposited by running water in rocky habitats, in dry woodland or open grassland and on brackish flats. Where browsed extensively they tend to be small and shrubby. In protected areas, however, they can become handsome trees, the shape resembling a miniature baobab. The plant’s thick, tuberous underground stem helps it to survive long periods without water. In nature the plants propagate by means of seed, which are adapted for wind dispersal by having tufts of silky hairs.
The impala lily is known in Africa and southern Africa as a source of fish poison and arrow poison. The poison is prepared from the latex in the bark and fleshy parts of the trunk, but it is always used in combination with other poisons. Leaves and flowers are poisonous to goats and cattle, but the plants are sometimes heavily browsed by game and are not considered to be of much toxicological significance. It is used in medicinal applications and also in magic potions. The stem and roots are reported to contain more than 30 complex chemical compounds with cardiac properties.
Horticulturally, the impala lily is greatly valued for its flowers. A large plant in full bloom is among the most decorative of all succulents, and is highly prized in gardens where the climate allows it to be grown in the open. Adenium multiflorum
is planted extensively in the rest camps of the Kruger National Park.
The impala lily grows well in warm, well-drained situations where the soil is sandy. In the garden they are ideal subjects for a dry rockery, giving a warm colourful display of bright flowers in winter. As container plants they may be kept in cooler places, but do not water them when they are dormant and protect the plants against frost.
We planned to stop over at the Skukuza nursery on our way out (going home) to buy four plants for our holiday home in St Lucia. I am convinced they will do extremely well there.
Our final sighting was at the Kruger gate – a juvenile martial eagle.
Oom Paul sternly overlooked our departure.
The rest of Thursday and all of Friday would be taken up by work (to pay for the play
). Our next date with Kruger would come on Saturday – I had convinced agraham and his SO, Rosemary to join us on a 4 x 4 trail – initially it would have been the Man-eater near Pretoriuskop, but, because of the extensive veld fires that razed this area, we chose the Mananga trail near Satara instead. Mananga translates to 'Wilderness'. Saturday morning we would leave very early for Orpen gate and enter the park at the closest point to Satara so that we could book our passage along the Wilderness trail and leave plenty of time to do it.
agraham has deservedly gained a reputation as an extremely “lucky” Kruger tourist – we were going to test his luck thoroughly…