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 Post subject: AFRICAT-KTP (Just another day in Paradise)-FEBRUARY 2008
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:36 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Can anybody tolerate yet ANOTHER Kalahari excellent adventure?! If so, I have some tales to tell....


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:02 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Our trip this year started off exactly as our last trip ended...with a flat tire! I must admit I'm a real Africa fanatic, while my SO, Ed is more sane about the whole thing, but is smart enough to indulge me. He also comes in pretty handy at times...like changing flat tires. Last trip we had a huge thorn in the tire, but I'm not sure what caused this one. I do know I avoided all branches and rocks and anything remotely sharp the rest of the trip, even marking porcupines off my "must see" list, just out of an abundance of caution!

We made it to TR a mere 10 minutes before gate closing time, so our first sight seeing had to wait until the next day when we headed to the Kala. Tented Camp where we were greeted by the resident mongoose.
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The next day we had to drive all the way back to TR to get the replacement tire, so we started very early, seeing the usual cast of characters, as well as giraffes jousting, jackals fighting over a springbok, a large pride of lions very far away, and wonderful birds.
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After a very long day, we arrived back at KTC, watched a gorgeous sunset and relaxed with more of the resident creatures, this time, the geckos, who were also enjoying their meal.
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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:09 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Armed with our new spare tire, we were ready for our morning drive. We watched a couple of giraffes who were obviously in an amorous mood. It was like watching an elegant slow motion waltz, as they moved in a seemingly carefully choreographed dance.
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(They could sure teach those lions a thing or two about romance!)
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We also came across an ostrich that had obviously lost its head. Poor thing.
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(Only to later come across the very one who had found it!)
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Having been cooped up on airplanes and in a car for many many hours the last few days, we shortened our game drive so Ed could go to Mata Mata to jog in an enclosed area. There were some wonderful LBRs cavorting around camp, including one that looked totally miffed because the other one had gotten the worm instead of him (her?)!!

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I went out again that afternoon on my first solo drive of the trip, and got lucky. While heading back to KTC I saw a line of cars stopped just before Craig Lockhart. As I was the last one to the party, I pulled up at the end of the line. CHEETAH! No, TWO CHEETAHS! They decided to go around the cars instead of between, so being the last in line, they walked right past me! I fumbled to catch a shot or two before they disappeared, just for bragging rights when I saw Ed back at camp.
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By the look on his face, I was sure he wouldn't be missing tomorrow's afternoon drive!


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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:10 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks so much to all for the kind comments.

(Day 4 of a month-long visit Sept/Oct 2007)
On the road again! Bright and early (ok, early....)

The rising sun in KTP is jarring. And mesmerizing...It infuses you with a reawakening of all the senses that lie dormant in the artificial world we inhabit most of our lives. You see, smell, hear and absorb so much more clearly and intensely. Today I realize I'm truly in Africa, cares be gone. It takes a few days to unwind and rid yourself of the mundane (work, TV, telephone, work), but I now am completely relaxed in my element. It HAS to be an ancient memory encoded in our DNA. How else to explain this magnetism of the wild?
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We make a bee line to the cheetah area, to no avail. We did see our first AWC and a fresh ostrich kill being attended by jackals.
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(Couldn't he have just ASKED for a feather?! It could have saved alot of grief!)

Back at the outdoor kitchen, I was apportioning our meat and wrapping packages for the freezer, as we have an entire month of braiis ahead and would be leaving for Nossob the next morning. It seemed the Kalahari gods were against me, as a sand and windstorm interrupted my Clingwrap maneuvers. Not to be outdone, I gathered all the heaviest items I could find and subdued the unruly wrap, which had not only turned on me, but on itself as well! Smug and self assured, it then occurred to me how very different one's concerns are when on vacation. I had to chuckle upon reflecting that I was so proud of outwitting Clingwrap! I realized I was truly in vacation mode now, as all the weight of worldly affairs had disappeared.

Up at 5A, packed the car, and drove to Nossob via the dune road. Antelopes, raptors, misc. birds, and a lazy lion lying under a tree dotted the dunes. We watched a gecko on a tree at the picnic area.
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A totally enjoyable, but uneventful, day...until our afternoon drive when we witnessed a truly devastating event playing out....


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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:14 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Krugersdorp
Lovely photos, wow!!!

BTW those 2 giraffes are not romancing, those are males and they're fighting. Quite a non-violent looking fighting method isn't it? :lol: They can cause quite serious injury though!
Notice the tip of the horn is bald (from fighting), females have a long tuft of hair at the tip. :)

_________________
Dec '11 - Storms River
June '12 - Berg-en-Dal


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:03 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: USA
Dreamer, etc : We were there from Sept.11 (arrived at KTP the 12th) thru Oct. 14. I'm sure we all have some of the same photos!
Senyetse...a sheepish "thanks" for the giraffe info. I've seen them fighting before, and this was the wussiest I've ever seen, if that's what it was. They just nuzzled and swayed in tandem and the larger even stood behind the smaller in a manner I thought suggested he was about to mount, but never did.Hm-m-m-m-m.
Pikasso: I resized these from 8x10 @ 300 resolution so they would meet the forum rules. Can I resize them larger and still meet their criterion (criteria?) Again, I'm new to all this.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:38 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Ok, back to the report....

Our afternoon game drive was a leisurely drive around the Marie se Draii (sp?) loop several times, with nothing of note happening. We finally just sat at the waterhole for about 30 minutes, with little activity. As it was approaching gate closing time, we headed back.

About midway betw. the waterhole and the turnoff to the main road, a car had stopped to photograph a LBR, so we stopped so as not to scare it.While waiting, I was looking around and saw something in the distance that looked like a lion body, but had a very strangely elongated face. "Ed, there's a lion headed our way, but it looks funny."

Looking thru binoculars, he discerned that she was carrying a baby cub in her mouth, thus the distorted face from far away.
I unpacked a camera and as she got closer, I saw a very sad sight. The cub was injured and appeared to be dead. She would stop from time to time and glance back, then continue on.
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She walked right up to the front of our car, crossed the road, and I could now see the baby was mortally wounded, perhaps even missing it's rear half. (The other car had driven off without realizing what was behind them, and didn't notice us blink our lights.) The mom was the embodiment of a mother's heartache. Furrowed brow, ears forward, looking very distressed. Yes, it's an anthropomorphic interpretation, but that's how I saw her.
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She very gently laid the cub under a nearby bush. Another car approached from behind, so we told them what had just taken place, and maybe she would have other cubs that had survived the attack. We waited, hearts in our throats, holding our breath, hoping against hope....

I had never before seen a lioness carrying a cub in the wild, and this was not the way I wanted to see my first, much less a second. At long last, mama emerged with another cub. It was ALIVE!
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HIP HIP HURRA-A-A-A-Y !!!

We watched her place it under the same bush, but had to leave immediately, as we had already stayed too long, and time was growing short.

With a mixture of dispair and exhilaration, we opened a bottle of champagne and toasted the live cub, then watched the sun bury our sadness over the tiny life that was over way too soon.
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So for all of you who watched this family over the next few days, this is how it all started. Should anyone have recent updates, I'd love to hear them!


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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:43 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: USA
Perhaps now would be a good time to introduce a little levity into the report...The following are just photos that gave me a grin or two. Hope they do the same for you.
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All-too-obvious Shoplifter

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We TOLD you not to drink the water!

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(So strong she can hold up a tree with a single paw)

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"If I was you, I'd consider changing hair dressers!"

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One too many....

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Two too many!

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"Got anymore o' that stuff?!"

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"Can you hear me NOW??!!"

How about some captions from some of you wild 'n crazy forumites? Maybe a new topic where we submit pics, and people add their own captions. Might be entertaining, as some of ya'll certainly have had me laughing a number of times!


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 2:19 pm 
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Senior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Fairest Cape
Really enjoying your report :clap:



Quote:
Maybe a new topic where we submit pics, and people add their own captions.


If you look under "Quizzes", you can submit caption contests !
What fun.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:38 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: USA
The lions roared all night very close to camp. The following morning we followed 2 large males as they ambled down the road, while 2 lionesses were in the grasses nearby.

We were reluctant to leave them, but I needed to check on mama and "my" cub. Upon arriving at her new den, we discovered she had not one, but TWO surviving cubs! Our smiles widened. Word hadn't yet gotten out, so there was no crowd. Even so, she kept them carefully within paw's reach, and after 2-3 minutes, she scooped them up and hid them further under the bush, away from sight. I managed only poor pics, but will post one anyway.
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Next day, word had spread, so even tho' I was awakened early by the lion serenade once again, cars were lined up and ready to head to the nursery. Much to our delight we found a large male sitting with the female in the roadway. They were both smeared with blood, so must have shared a meal. When the male got too close for the mom's maternal instincts, they got into a spat and she quickly put him in his place! While she was willing to share a kill, she wasn't willing to share her cubs.
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Hopefully they are his and he won't harm them. Time will tell. We continued to visit on a daily basis and by now they were a very popular family. The cubs became increasingly active and inquisitive, and mom had her paws full! The male stayed in the area, but mommie dearest dictated his distance from the den.
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We last visited them just before we moved on to Gharagab on Sept. 23rd, where we had quite a harrowing experience, as some already know!


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Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:14 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: USA
I have already used up my photo quota for the page, which is perfect timing, as there are no pictures of the following !

Our trip to Gharagab began at 6:50A, and while we hated to leave Nossob, the hotbed of lion sightings (until we got to GROOTKOLK!!), we were excited to visit a new camp. It sounded very adventuresome. Two of those adventures we could have done without!

We have a prearranged agreement that if either of us says, "Get in the car (or tent, etc) NOW", we do. No questions asked...do it first, inquire later. The other part of the agreement is if either finds themselves in a serious situation and cannot help the other, we just yell the others name over and over. They then know to take care of themself first, and try to help the other second.

After a lovely drive dotted with eagles and assorted antelopes, we stopped at the last rest stop to use the (old style circular) facilities. I took some pics of Ed as the surrounding grasses were a gorgeous golden hue and the sun was right. He then walked to the men's side and entered the circular walkway between the building and the retaining wall. I went to photograph whatever found my fancy.

Suddenly I hear "ELA-A-A-INE!!!" Then, over and over, "ELA-A-A-INE, ELA-A-A-A-INE!!!!" , in the most haunting, desperate, yet deliberate and decisive voice I've ever heard from him. Fear, yes, but equally focused and purposeful.

I whirled around to run for the car, not knowing what was going on. I instantly saw him running from around the backside of the restroom, yelling my name the entire time. Then I saw it...

A LEOPARD! It lept onto the top of the retaining wall and over the side onto the ground, out of my sight. I had no idea whether it was going to go around the wall and attack Ed or not. After all, they say "Whatever you do, don't run!" It's irresistible to a predator.

I then saw it running over the sand slope and down where I lost sight of it again, briefly. It reemerged , continuing to run away - thank the POWERS that be! I'm sure all three of our hearts were beating wildly.

It seems Ed had walked within a few feet of the leopard, lying at the entrance to the restroom door. Ed says it was sleeping, (tho' a forumite says leopards are aware of their surroundings at all times...so why didn't it leap over the wall BEFORE Ed started yelling?) He knew his fate was TOTALLY up to the leopard, but he was intent on saving me from accidently becoming part of a very bad scene.

Safely in the car, we tried to calm down and absorb what had just happened, and even more frighteningly, what very well COULD have happened! I can't imagine watching and being so helpless, had the leopard chosen a different path. (I guess my only weapon would be the car - Ed could at least live with broken arms and legs.)

Shaken, we drove on to Gharagab where we tried to unwind, relax, and let our minds clear of all the "what-ifs". He swore as soon as we got home our leopard themed bedroom would be redecorated in zebra stripes! Each time I look at the photograph I had taken of him in the golden grasses, mere minutes before the encounter, I think it could well have been the last picture ever taken of him alive.

And then I go give him another kiss.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:07 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Cape Town
we stopped at the last rest stop to use the (old style circular)

Where exactly did this all happen?

The same thing happened to a Dutch lady in November at the rest/picnic stop Lijersdraai

Walked into the circular toilet area......Leopard on a Springbok kill

Again the same reaction, both parties turned and ran in the opposite direction

Can't be good for the heart!!!!

Thanks for the report and photographs


Steve


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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 5:12 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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The only photo I have remotely related to the leopard incident is this grim reminder of a leopard's modus operandi.
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Gharagab's colors are so rich and striking, with the burnt orange sand and crisp blue sky. The setting is gorgeous and tranquil, and would be the perfect venue for reading a great book, or writing one. The sun rises immediately in front of you, as does the moon. A full moon would offer some exciting opportunities for photography...or other endeavors....ahem.
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The only downside for us was the dirth of animals while we were there and the limited game driving options. We saw a few gemsbok and eland, and our hitch hiking mouse, "Fred", who seems to hop into our suitcase and hide away, only to reappear at each new camp. We did hear some quite vocal lions at night, but did not see them.
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The next day was overcast and quite chilly and the only pics I managed were of some birds who flew overhead from time to time.
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I started going stircrazy, so we inquired about changing camps, if any were available, so we'd at least have access to game drives. Grootkolk was open, so we decided to move the following day.

Up and on our way! It ended up taking us 2 1/2 HOURS to get there! Living in flat Florida, speed bumps are our highest elevation, so we have no experience with 4x4 trails. We had deflated our tires with the tourist assistant's help, and off we went. We found the track approaching several dune tops so rutted our vehicle simply spun its wheels, the ruts so deep.

There seemed no option short of getting out and bailing sand from the center into the ruts to give the tires contact and traction. Having no shovel (rental car), we used the top of our cooler box. G-R-R-R!!! Ed was bailer, I was lookout. It was a bit unnerving as we had seen two lions chasing an eland, and still had leoparditis...who knows what lurks just over the dune crest??!! The mind can conjure up some scary scenarios!
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After bailing, and bailing, and bailing, we reached the main road and acted as if we'd won the SuperBowl (or the RugbyBowl???). Sweaty and exhausted, nerves frayed, we checked into Grootkolk.
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(Probably got out of car to bail sand!)
We headed to Nossob to let Ed run, as he had alot of pent up energy to release for some reason. I took the opportunity to go check on my foster lion children, and sure enough, they were sleeping under the same bush, mom and cubs.

I had no idea how prevalent lions would become in the upcoming days at Grootkolk....they certainly gave us our money's worth and more!
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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:35 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Our first morning at Grootkolk started with Ed noticing 2 lionesses walking through camp between our hut and the one right next to us (3 & 4 I think), before I had even gotten out of bed. I jumped up and looked out the bathroom window, but could not see where they went. We made coffee, opened the front door, and before we even stepped out, saw a large male lion sauntering by, headed to the waterhole. I did manage a couple pics, even with my brain not yet caffenated. I then noticed another huge head under a distant tree, and binoculars revealed it was a lioness (or so I thought). They're EVERYWHERE! What a parade, all we're lacking is a marching band.
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A kudu ventured out and was headed to the waterhole, but changed its mind after a brief consideration of the consequences. A huge warthog did the same, (tho' I believe it was reported in the forum he was killed by lions in the weeks after we left).
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When the "lioness" under the distant tree moved to the waterhole, I saw "she" had long fur on its chest, but no mane....so I guess it's either a male or a cross dresser. (Fortunately, I seem to be better at discerning the sexes in homo sapiens than I am other species, but I must admit to being fooled there on occasion too!)
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The large male camped out at the waterhole all day, preventing other animals from drinking. The warthog, springboks, and wildebeests all shot nasty glares and snorts his way, but empathy doesn't seem to be one of his strong points.

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Evening fell and the 2 lions remained just where they had been all day, to the dismay of the thirsty onlookers. The neighborhood AWC came to visit and seems pretty relaxed around people. I fell asleep with her silhouetted on the ledge outside my open window flap.
We heard the lions roar ALL night. Scary, but excitingly so. Things got even scarier early the next morning....


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:45 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: USA
The day started out with a bang, or nearly did, until those in charge nixed the idea....

The lions' calls and answers reverberated throughout the night, vibrating our eardrums quite emphatically. At one point Ed wanted to shut the open window flap, as they seemed too close for his comfort. My bed was nearest the window and I protested, as I wanted to hear all the "night sounds", and this was a very special symphony, indeed!

After a restless night of waking and dozing, our morning started with intense gutteral growls and possessive expletives. They were CLOSE, so we bounded out of bed like kids at Christmas. Yes, Ed was right, they were too close for comfort.

There was a male and female, obviously a mating pair, prowling the camp as if they owned it. Actually, they DID own it for a good portion of the morning, holding us all hostage inside. They were so imposing and intimidating as they walked around every hut, sniffing and growling. The male was like a shadow of the female, his attention and intentions completely focused on her.
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Paw print taken later literally inches from our hut

They jumped over the wall of the communal braai area and examined every inch, strutting and exuding confidence. They came back to our hut and began chewing on the braai grill we had left near the sink, and we could actually hear them breathing! They continued this inspection of all the huts, one by one, showing no reticence, no skittishness, just bold and methodical.

When they returned to our hut, yet again, they peered inside the open window flap where I was sitting on the bed. Lions don't look AT you, they look THROUGH you. They just stood there, two HUGE heads, eyes piercing for long enough that it began to seriously frighten me. I didn't want to try and close the flap, thus moving CLOSER to the window, or make any sudden noise they may react to, but I did want them to move on and stop staring at us.

Ed and I decided at this point it best to barricade ourselves in the bathroom behind the sandbag wall...armed with...you guessed it, a WHISTLE!!! Heh heh. We could hear them pace, breathe, growl. The adrenalin level inside was as high as the testosterone level outside!

I was chomping at the bit to take some pics, but didn't want them to be my last, so we waited until it had been silent for a good while. Peering out the small bathroom flap of the shower, we could see them in the distance moving toward the waterhole. Whew!

I grabbed the camera, asking Ed to "watch my back", and went outside to see what I could capture without something capturing me. They were an absolutely stunning couple, butterscotch tones, amazing eyes, true works of art.
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They kept their eyes on me, as I did on them. After a while they settled down and began mating. The faces the males make are hilarious (lions, I mean...). Afterward, the female rolled over on her back (laughing? perhaps she too had seen his face..)
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"What's so danged funny!?"
They mated four more times between 7A and 9A, having moved too far for photos, but still visible.

As I turned to go back inside.....yet ANOTHER golden boy greeted me....to be continued...


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