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 Post subject: Spotted Cat and SO - 7 days in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:57 pm 
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Only five sleeps and we're off to Kruger :dance: This time we'll stay at Croc Bridge for the duration of our holiday. I have asked for our favourite rondavel, so I'm holding thumbs!

Not one trip is the same, so what awaits us this time?

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:59 am 
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Haupie wrote:
o yes, and tannie, are you taking the shortcut thru Swaziland again? :huh:


Never gonna let us live that one down are you Haupie - with friends like you - la la la :shock: :twisted:

Heck SC i'd love to go with on this trip shortcut or not :D

Just another jelous one wishing you a fab trip enjoy and let your hair down :wink:

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Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:07 pm 
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OK, everything's packed. Pheww ... at long last!! Will try and get on the forum while SO's doing the braai thing.

See you when I get back! (hope to meet p@m at LS) 8)

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:07 pm 
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Thanx Dotty :) I was elated to be home in time to do the packing. A bit hectic, though ....

We're back safe, everything's unpacked and already the blues are setting in :( the only consolation is that we're going again is September. I'll start working on my TR soon. :)

Thanks to all for wishing us a fabulous trip :)

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Unread postPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 10:32 pm 
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As promised, my first instalment of our recent Kruger fix …

“Mom, slow down to a panic!”. I looked at my daughter and took a deep breath. Good advice, but easier said than done! We’re supposed to leave the next day and I’m still stuck in my hospital bed! Three days lost … I should’ve been packed and ready to go by now. A lot of breathing exercises later and I got the green light.
I won’t say a word about the packing … phew!

We left at 7:00 am on Saturday, 19 April. I couldn’t believe we were actually on our way! Through the Border post without any difficulty and we really enjoyed the trip through Swaziland. They must have had some good rains, as everything was lush and green. Lilacbreasted Rollers perched on the power lines as well as Forktailed Drongos. Among the many birds seen, were Whitefronted Bee-eaters and Blackshouldered Kites.

Meat is not allowed through the Border post and if you are foolish enough to take the risk, you’ll be in BIG trouble AND without your meat! So our shopping was done in Komatipoort ….and then the last few kilometres to Croc Bridge!!

Crossing the low water bridge, we looked at each other … this is it!! Smells, sights and sounds we’ve missed so much. The river was fuller than we’ve seen it last October and the noisy Egyptian Geese welcomed us with gusto.

Booking in formalities over and done with and to my delight, we were handed the keys to no 9 bungalow. My favourite! It was a hot day and the cool interior of our ‘home’ for the next week was just what we needed. Already the vervet monkeys were gathering to snatch anything left unattended. Cute, but also a nuisance, because nothing can be left outside on the porch. Everything unpacked and sorted out, we had a cup of coffee and just ‘chilled' for a bit before going on our first afternoon drive.

A warthog family came trotting by. Mommy stopped and inspected a spot where a lot of leaves were piled next to the fence. Suddenly a lot of digging and soon she found her way in, followed by her offspring.

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Image illegal entering, I would say :lol:

Two elephants slowly worked their way through the reeds across the river. A lone buffalo in the water, a kudu bull browsed lazily and impala came down to drink, followed by a few wildebeest. Not too bad!

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We went for a short drive a little later on, not much seen other than impala, wildebeest, giraffe and warthog. It was getting time to return to camp, but we wanted a picture of the setting sun.

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Back in camp, SO got the fire going and it was the opportune time to pour a glass of wine… this is life! Down by the river hippos were communicating in their familiar grunts, snorts and whistles. The moon was an orange in the sky, reflecting on the water gurgling in the stream below. Slowly turning a creamy yellow and casting shadows all around. One shadow moved … a buffalo grazing close to the fence. Hyena doing his umpteenth round along the perimeter and I wondered if there are still people feeding them?
We heard a leopard calling not too far away, kindling my hope that we’ll meet sometime soon…..

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Last edited by Spotted Cat on Fri May 02, 2008 10:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:09 pm 
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Morning to all, time to continue ….. April 20th

All the ‘must not forget this’ packed for the day and we’re ready to go. Left camp 10 minutes after the gates had opened and decided to take the H4-2 to Lower Sabie. p@m had send a sms the day before we arrived and told us to be on the look out for wild dogs that had been seen regularly in the vicinity of the H5 turn off. “You never know, maybe we’re lucky “. Yeah, yeah … I know – right place, right time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say it every day!
I love the smell of the bush, the sun glistening on dew drops. Kruger is not just about the excitement of seeing a kill, the big five or the wild dogs I’m so eager to see. The beauty of nature, the awesome interaction between things big and small can be easily overlooked.

Impala, the occasional zebra, a few wildebeest and a lone vulture are the first on our day’s sighting list.

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“There!!” But as we got closer, my wild dog turned out to be a hyena in a hurry to get to only he knows where.

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Unfortunately, not a dog in sight! We did see an elephant and 2 Rhinos, but not close enough to take pictures. Closer to LS, a herd of elephants down at the river and a troop of baboons basking in the morning sun …

Sunset is always a good place to stop for breakfast or lunch. The hippos were very active with a lot of splashing and snorting going on. The usually loud and very busy Egyptian Geese were nowhere to be seen. A Saddlebilled Stork was taking a morning nap, while a couple of Yellowbilled Storks were ‘fishing’ for their own breakfast in the algae green water at the edge of the dam.

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“Look back,” SO’s voice very calm, but I know that tone … and he knows me. I nearly choked on my breakfast! The whole back window was filled with elephant!!! He was literally inches from the car! I have NEVER been that close to an elephant! :shock: That explains SO’s tone of voice …. I am petrified of elephants!!! I only want to see them at a distance – across a river, hundreds of meters into the bush and better still, facing away from me. What on earth am I doing in Kruger then? “Face your fears,” they say … I’m working on it.
These pics were taken when he was already well on his way

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I know half the world must have seen this photo by now, sorry WTM if you have to see it yet again … it gives me cold shivers, but also vindicates my fear.


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We took the S28 back to camp, stopping at Nthandanyathi hide. During our last visit in Oct 07 we could not even enter the hide – it stank too much! In the meantime they have started fitting screens that can be opened for viewing and taking pics . The job is not finished yet, but already it’s making a difference. A screen door at the entrance prevents the culprits from entering and leaving their ‘parcels’.
A lot of hippos in the pool, a bit overcrowded after Nhlanganzwani dam were breached. Black Crakes were trotting on bent reeds searching for food … and whatever could be found on a hippo’s back.

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It was really hot, temperature of 30 degrees at 10:00 in the morning. Despite the heat, there were a lot of game on the S28. Large herds of zebras and impalas. Warthog, baboons, 4 Rhinos and an ostrich were also added to the sighting list for the day.

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12:45 and we’re back in camp. Not too many birds around, even the vervet monkeys were too lazy to bother us. We had lunch and watched the warthogs grazing inside the fence. I wondered if they had applied for permits to enter? :D
We spend a few hours in camp before taking a short afternoon drive. The S28 was busy, a lot of traffic but very few animals. A storm was brewing … heavy clouds moved in, driven by a strong wind accompanied by thunder and lightning. It was time to call it a day.....

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:54 am 
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Hi SC, gr8 report with gr8 pics. Thank you for sharing!
Had a similar experience with an Ellie on the Kanniedood gravel road close to Shingwedzi. I have a wife that has the same fear of Ellies as you. I stopped next to the road to check something my son had spotted on the left side of the road. He asked if I could reverse a little and being the loving father that I am :lol: id so. My youngest daughter then 3 calmly said "Kyk pappa die olifant" at which I turned to see this huge Ellie a few metres; moving towards us, from the car. Needles to say reverse has never been disengaged so quickly and never a pull away so swift and sweet!!!!!!!!

My wife needed the bathroom after this :redface: :lol: :D

Keep the TR coming.


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 9:53 pm 
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Yeah SC rub it in, that salt in the wounds - trust me it doesn't hurt :cry: Naahhh just joking mom - great report - love the pics and living the memory of it with you....now just to get the schedules to line up again and we'll do another trip together

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 10:13 pm 
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Dots!!! Just waited for you to turn the page :wink:

Annalie and Bunnyhugger - 'just wait and see' .... the Cat's back for the next fix!

Thanks for your patience, On to the next day … 21 April 2008

The wind, thunder and lightning of the previous evening were just enough to prevent us from lighting a fire. In the end dinner was lamb chops fried in a pan and the traditional Saffie krummelpap with tomato and onion gravy. Well, not what we planned, but good enough to stop the hunger pangs.

We got up early to be out of camp as soon as the gates opened. There was a definite change in the weather. Overcast and chilly, but still no rain. It’s always a matter of “I’m doing the driving, so I’ll just follow your directions”. Silly, I know, but that’s our little game. Which way to go? I chose the S25 (Crocodile River Road) towards Berg-en-Dal.
As usual our regulars …. Zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, warthog and impala . Only one elephant and luckily at a safe distance!

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AND our first lion sighting of the trip!! It’s very obvious that there will soon be new additions to the pride. Excellent camera (Canon 350D fitted with a Sigma 50-500mm lens) ….and I made a mess of a wonderful photo opportunity!


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These pictures were taken on our way to Gardenia Hide on the Mpambane Loop

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It was cold and rainy with no animals at the water hole. The S118 was just as quiet. On the tar road to Afsaal we came across this beautiful Leopard Tortoise

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And this fellow Imagetrying to catch a little bit of sun



Afsaal was a welcome stop. Stretching stiff legs and trying to get the circulation going again, we went looking for the resident little Scops Owl


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We met up with a couple from our neck of the woods, and were horrified to learn of the leopard killed at Lower Sabie. I do not know the details, so I’ll appreciate any info that can help shed light on this incident.

We took the H2-2, turned onto the S114 and to my horror saw people standing next to a safari vehicle. As we drew closer, we could see that the hood was open and SO stopped to ask if they needed help. The young man had been battling for some time to get it going and was predictably nervous because he knew there was a herd of elephant not too far away. The Austrian tourists were not worried at all, but we could understand the guide’s concern for their safety. With SO’s help the problem was sorted out and we waited until another vehicle arrived. Handshakes, smiles and we were all on our way again!

I have finished the rest, but I think I have to wait for the next page before I can continue with pics? So help me out!!

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Last edited by Spotted Cat on Wed May 21, 2008 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 1:59 pm 
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Helloooo :lol: Thanks for all the help! I knew I could count on you :wink: You are so right, spotted cats are elusive ... this one was yanked back to the 'real' world for a while :D

I really appreciate all the comments ... The kudu pic is also my favourite.

@ DB - thanks for the info!

to continue ....

I was looking for the crocodiles seen by other forumites earlier this year at Biyamiti Weir, but no luck! Apart from a herd of elephants down in the dry river bed, we didn’t see much on the Biyamiti Loop.

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It was 17 degrees with a slight drizzle when we arrived at the Muhlambamadvube water hole (still trying to pronounce that one) It turned out to be quite interesting. A few waterbuck were grazing, trying to ignore an amorous male who was very interested in one particular lady. Pretty lass, or maybe it was the chill in the air that made her hair stand on end!

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A family of Ground Hornbills …. I liked to watch the youngster coaxing the others to feed him

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We took the Bume Road and then the S102 to Mpondo dam. A lovely Waterbuck on the dam wall and two lions on the opposite side – not a good pic, but lions nonetheless!


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Onto the H5, then the H4-2 and the last few kilometres back to camp. What a nice surprise … just inside the gate, parked at the tented camp, a car with a yellow ribbon! I was determined to find it’s owner, but priority number one was to get ‘home’. It was 3:30 and I was glad to get out of the car. Our neighbours cornered us the moment we got to the rondavel – they were ecstatic! They have seen the Big Five during their MORNING drive on the S28!! Good for them! *sigh*
Ou little family of warthogs were back, doing some 'gardening'.
I'm sure the staff never need to mow the lawn :lol:

Image

Going to the shop to stock up on our goodies for the next day, I walked past the tents looking for my fellow forumite. The first person I asked turned out to be the right one… Mgoddard! It’s great to meet someone you’ve only ‘seen’ on the forum. We chatted for a while and she invited us to pop in later for a glass of wine. Second surprise! Ecojunkie was in the camping area and would be there as well.
Mgoddard , Steven and ecojunkie … thanks for a wonderful evening! Mgoddard had invited us to stay, but we usually braai extra goodies for breakfast and it was getting late. We said our goodbyes and headed back so SO could get the fire going.

The braai thing done, we were having coffee and listening to the bush sounds when people started gathering at the fence. Two elephants were slowly working their way down to the river. How is it possible that animals that big can move so silently?
As I’ve said before, I’m terrified of ellies! Heart pounding, I followed SO to the fence. Hiding behind him, as if that would help! Fellow Scardy Cat Club members, I was facing my fears!! Not again, never again …. I couldn’t breathe for a week without hyperventilating just thinking about it! I didn’t wait for hubby, I was gone as silently as the giants had appeared.

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 7:59 pm 
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Mgoddard, it wasn't easy declining your invite for dinner!!
Wow, just the smell of it made my mouth water :wink:
Let me tell you folks, this is one remarkable lady! She makes the fire (wood only) and knows what she's doing. SO made the appetizers and it was deliiiicious!
Hope we meet again some day!

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:02 pm 
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This did not happen in Kruger, so I hope I'm allowed to post it.

I’m placing this to show that there is always the possibility of the ‘isolated’ incidence when you are out in the bush … and to warn people that animal behaviour cannot be predicted. They do not read books and do not adhere to any rules. They are what they are…WILD animals!!!

The camp referred to is unfenced ….

Bay man cheats jaws of death


Watched by his nine year-old grand-daughter, a Richards Bay man survived after being clawed to the ground in a leopard attack on Thursday evening. Piet van der Walt, a retired master builder and a long-time Richards Bay Rotary Club member, was counting his blessings after having escaped with relatively minor injuries from what could have been a fatal attack.
His children had flown out from the UK and Australia for a family wedding and the group of 10 adults and four children spent two nights at Mpila camp in the Umfolozi game park.
On the second night they were all in their tents and Piet was making a potjie as the sun went down. “I was on a chair with my back facing towards the bush to shield the fire from the wind”.
“As I watched my grand-daughter Jessica approach to about three metres from me, I was suddenly pulled backwards from the chair as the leopard clawed my forehead. We had seen hyena earlier and my first thought as I was pulled down was that this was a hyena attack. I screamed and with blood running all over me I ran towards the tents”.
Fortunately Jessica had run away first and was able to describe the animal ‘with spots and a long tail’.
His screams of shock as a huge flap of skin was stripped loose from his forehead to the back of his neck roused family members and staff at the camp to begin a frantic race to stabilise him and rush him to the Bay Hospital.
Piet’s daughter, a staff nurse, stemmed the massive flow of blood and packed his head with towels.
Along the way a call was made to alert the doctor and upon arrival he was taken to surgery for treatment and cleaning of the gaping wound.
“The doctor told me he stopped counting stitches after 100. My big fear after the attack was that I would die from loss of blood,” he said, and added that he was surprised at how calm he was and that he had not felt pain at any stage throughout the incident.
The story was also taken up by the husband of Mpila camp manager. “I heard his screams and ran out. While everyone was attending to Piet’s injuries I walked around with a torch and a gun. Not 15 metres from the scene the beam shone onto the leopard’s face. It sank down and crouched, ready to jump on me. I kept the torch shining in his face and fired warning shots and it ran off.”
Environmentalists believe the leopard’s uncharacteristic behaviour indicated that it may have been suffering an injury and was looking for easy prey.
This is the first such incident recorded at the camp.
Still retaining his sense of humour, Piet added: “At least Jessica will go back to Australia with the most amazing story to tell – of how her Grandpa had survived a leopard attack in darkest Africa”.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:28 am 
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Annalie :redface: I am ashamed!!! I apologise profusely ... am working on it now! The page must turn, so please eat some popcorn to help me out :wink:

Dotty ... Illie - I'm also starting to wonder about "my" warties.
they are beautiful because they are so ugly :lol:

The park attendant eventually fixed the spot where they used to enter and it was interesting to see how they tried to get past the stakes that kept the fence anchored firmly to the ground. Needless to say, they just found another spot!

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 8:30 pm 
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Thank you, thank you :clap: :clap: The page has turned!! :lol:

It's been weeks since my last post, but at last I can continue … I’m already looking forward to our next trip, but I promise to finish this report first!

23/04/2008

We left camp just as the gates opened. Temperature was 8 degrees, quite chilly with the windows open. We want to experience nature – smell the fresh air, hear the birds sing. I don’t have the nerve to go on a bushwalk, so this is the closest I’ll get to the “open” feel of the bush (apart from game drives, of course). :redface:

We took the S28 again – still my favourite, although we have had very quiet drives at times. First photo opportunity, Kori Bustards! We have never seen a group of three before, so this was a first for us!

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Apart from the usual game, we saw a total of 7 rhinos. Quite a treat!
From the very big, to the not so big …. A cute little fella!

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Other sightings included elephant, wildebeest, zebras, impala, warthogs in numbers (I really think they are adorable), baboons and giraffes. I've heard that the one's with the "tufts" on their horns are ladies - true or false?

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I’m amazed that each zebra has it’s own unique pattern and that the fouls can distinguish to whom they belong. I’ve also never seen a ‘thin’ zebra!

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Another beauty! I think a wildebeest’s skin looks like suede and I’ve often wondered if it feels like it too.

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Just before turning onto the H4-2, a hippo grazing in broad daylight, quite a distance from the river - and giving us the 'evil eye' for even trying to get a pic!

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On our way to Sunset Dam, an elephant small enough for me to take a pic … umhh, just to show that I’m really working hard to conquer my fear.


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Then the perfect shot – the not so dangerous end of an ellie. But keep your distance when he wants to do his business. :wink:



Image


We had breakfast at Sunset, watched the hippos and crocs basking in the sun. I wonder if anyone has got an idea of how many there are? Will it get over populated in time? Do they move freely between the river and the dam if it gets too crowded?
I know crocs and hippos have been seen crossing the tar road. Maybe just visiting the next door neighbours :D

The water in the dam was very green with algae and we were discussing an article that has been published in the “Low Velder” (Friday April 18, 2008).

Millions of litres pumped from dam

SKUKUZA- Five zebra died from blue-green algal poisoning in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and rangers and conservation management officials are now performing draining operations at Silolweni Dam to prevent further deaths in the area.
This follows eight months after Nhlanganzwane Dam near Crocodile Bridge Camp had to be breached after white rhino, zebra and wildebeest also died from poisoning. In total 54 carcasses were detected during an outbreak in 2005 which included white rhino, lion, cheetah and zebra.
KNP rangers from Tshokwane first became aware of the situation at Silolweni Dam when vultures were seen circling nearby last week. On investigation, five zebra carcasses were found and Tshokwane section ranger,Me Steven Whitfield, suspected that blue-green algae (cyanobacterium) was responsible for the deaths.
State veterinarian, Dr Roy Bengis, of the department of agriculture’s veterinary services, confirmed the cause of death after full post-mortems were performed on two of the carcasses. (The liver is worst hit by the poison and is mottled and swollen. Fluid can be found in the lungs with haemorrhaging in the heart muscle.)
Samples from the dam confirmed that the water contained a high percentage of blue-green algae.
“We understand that the high concentration of this algal poison was built up due to the large numbers of hippo currently frequenting the dam and we have found that the most effective way to discourage them, is to lower the level of the water,” explained Dr Freek Venter, the park’s head of conservation management.
According to Mr Raymond Travers, spokesman for the KNP, there are roughly 70 hippo in the dam. These large numbers result in higher levels of urinary and faecal eutrophication which, in turn, results in an abnormally high level of the algae, Microcystis sp. Early rain with no follow-up precipitation to flush the system also raises the level of the algae.
About 180 000 litres of water per hour, 24 hours a day is being pumped over the dam wall and back into Silolweni Creek. “This does not pose a risk to animals grazing in the veld as the water runs off quite quickly and the algae dies as soon as it dries up,” Travers says.
The dam is expected to be drained within 10 days.
Rangers were however concerned about the large population of both black and white rhino which often visit the dam and the decision was taken to burn the surrounding grass in an attempt to discourage all grazing animals from visiting it.
The dam will be filled in the next rainy season. Other dams were also found to have algae build up, though not as severe and they are being monitored closely. No more deaths from algal poisoning have been reported from there since last week.


What a sad situation – lets hope Sunset with it’s high numbers of hippo will not become another ‘hot spot’.

See you soon with the rest ....

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:41 am 
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According to a research report of the CSIR it is a bacteria, known as cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. It was also stated that the toxin from cyanobacteria is complex and resembles cobra venom in some ways. In some forms the toxin is carginogenic and in other forms potentially lethal (in tests done in laboratories).

I hope something can be done to prevent further unexplained wildlife deaths.

Thanx for posting the article SC.

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