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 Post subject: WendyA KNP-Devastation,Destruction,Beauty;Nature is Amazing
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:38 pm 
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Friday 17 February

And I was off again …

I left Pretoria around 5am and got to Malelane just after 9am. I was a little anxious about what I’d find … I’d read all about the floods and had seen photos in other people’s TRs. I’d kept up to date with the Flood Updates on the San Parks website and had a rough idea about how I was going to get to Lower Sabie.

I checked in at Malelane and the San Parks guy at Reception told me that to get to Lower Sabie I’d have to follow the tar road to Skukuza, and from Skukuza the tar road to Lower Sabie.

“But no!” I exclaimed … “Not all the roads in between the H3 and H4-1/2 are closed.”

“Ma’am, you must stay on the tar roads. The dirt roads are not accessible after the floods.”

I entered the park a little confused but decided that if I was going to have to stick to the H3 and H4-1 to Lower Sabie, I’d do the Matjulu Loop around Berg en Dal to get my “dirt road fix” for the day.

I’d only just entered the loop and saw a San Parks vehicle coming towards me with its lights flashing and the driver was indicating for me to stop.

“What now???” I was thinking.

“Are you a San Parks forum member?” the driver asked me … it was Raymond! It was good to have a chat with him and I learnt that the guys at Malelane Gate were giving out the wrong information :wall: :wall: :wall: … it was only the S25 and the S139 Biyamiti Roads that were still affected.

I carried on. Next thing I heard someone calling me from the bush …

“Hey Wendy, remember me? Last time you saw me I was just a baby but look at me now! Check it out, I’ve got little horns!!!”

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“What, you do remember me??? You’re kidding!”

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:45 pm 
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Friday 17 February cont …

I continued north towards Afsaal. I was amazed at how little water there was when I crossed the Mlambane River, considering it was just a few weeks since the flooding …

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I got to Afsaal around midday (Yes, THREE hours to get to Afsaal from Malelane!) It was really hot. I’d only seen a giraffe, a few zebra, and impala – I wasn’t sure if this was a result of the recent flooding or if everything was just “hiding” in the long grass and trying to keep out of the hot sun.

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I knew before I went that with all the rain the grass would be tall and thick and I had resigned myself to this being a “birdie” holiday. I was thrilled when I spotted this guy in a tree … (a dark chanting goshawk me thinks???)

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I couldn’t believe it when I crossed over the Biyamiti River knowing that Biyamiti Camp had been damaged and that the Biyamiti Road was closed due to damage … this was what the river now looked like …

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Where had all the water gone???!!! Nature is amazing.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:46 pm 
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Friday 17 February cont …

I passed by Mpondo Dam where there was an ellie with a youngster on the opposite side of the Dam; a fish eagle was soaring in the sky and hippos were lazing on the bank.

The rest of my drive on the dirt roads was pretty quiet though I did see this giraffe who’d survived the floods … check out how high the water must have been - his markings have been washed away!

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I also saw these pretty girls …

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Then I heard someone in the bush opening a bottle of champagne. I stopped to see who it was and found the culprit …

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I love the “popping” noises those guys make!

I got to the end of the H5 and pulled on to the H4-2 towards Lower Sabie. The car who had just passed me pulled over and the driver waved a yellow scarf out of the window – it was Elsa, Klystron and DebM.

We had arranged to meet the following day at Lower Sabie, but it was good to bump into them en route and have a quick chat.

I continued on to Lower Sabie, passing quite a few ellies en route. After checking in and unloading the car, I went out for a late afternoon drive.

Again, there wasn’t much game about but I just couldn’t get over how high the river had been flowing during the recent floods …

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I had two rhino sightings that day here are some photos of the best one:-

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 10:49 am 
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Saturday 18 February

It rained last night; I was out of the gate at 5:35am and found this little chap in the road having a drink …

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I took the H10 across the bridge. Mr Goliath Heron was in his usual spot, and a few buffalo were also visible.

I was meeting Elsa, Klystron and DebM at Skukuza at 1pm where Pumbaa was also meeting us. I decided that I would drive “The Triangle” route up to Orpen Dam, over to Skukuza and back to Lower Sabie that day. What a magical sighting I had … a crash of rhinos, Mummy, Daddy, and two little ones.

“So?” you may be asking yourself … “a rhino family, big deal …”

Well, check this out …

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This was when the male first mounted the female. 10 minutes later and he was still in the same position …

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It didn’t look as if “anything” was happening …

Luckily I looked away for a moment as this big guy was heading towards me …

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I had to reverse quite a bit before he decided to go off into the bush … in the same direction as the rhinos …

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He took no notice of the rhinos and walked right past …

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… and the rhinos took no notice of him (Can you see them still “at it” in the background just in front of the bush?!)

These photos were taken 20 minutes after the start of “the event” which I actually don’t think was an “event” …

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Maybe Mr Rhino was just practising to see how long his wife could hold his body weight???

I was keeping my eye on the ellie that had recently gone past … he was still there – view from my wing mirror …

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What a magical start to the day!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Saturday 18 February cont …

Other sightings on the way to Orpen included the following:-

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The korhaan had a little scratch and the wind blew his feathers up showing his red crest …

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… he then started his funny call …

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A little further on and some gorgeous impies …

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Just past Nkumbe on the main road there were bones in the road, white hyena scat was all over the place and the “pong” of a hyena den filled the car. I found a couple of hyenas lying in the grass under a thick bush – it was impossible to get a photo of them but I was really pleased that I’d found them!

I had plenty of time so decided to try the S32 near Orpen. There was a branch lying in the road but it certainly didn’t look like it was there to close the road off …

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but it obviously was there to say the road was closed; there was no way you could get across the crossing at N’waswitsontso …

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 4:07 pm 
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Saturday 18 February cont …

In the riverbed around Tshokwane, an ellie was quenching his thirst …

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I just couldn’t get over the mess left by floods …

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Pictures from the high level bridge over the Sabie River …

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I got to Skukuza where I found Elsa, Klystron and DebM sitting on the bench under the big fig tree. We spoke about the devastation and destruction the floods had caused …

Pumbaa soon joined us and told us all about the wonderful sightings she and Timon had had so far … you can read all about it in her TR “Sunsets with Tuskers at the Horizon”.

I told Pumbaa and Elsa that I’d arranged to meet Barryels and Hilda at Orpen at 11am the following morning and they said they’d try and stop by.

The drive back to Lower Sabie that afternoon was fairly quiet; I added bushbuck, hippos, black storks and a yellow billed stork on to my sightings list for the day.

I was amazed at how quiet it was at Sunset Dam with only hippos, crocs and a few yellow billed storks around … where had all the surfing herons gone?

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 3:34 pm 
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Sunday 19 February

I had a bit of a lie-in this morning and didn’t get out of camp till 6:30am. It had rained fairly heavily last night and was still drizzling. Just outside of camp there was a Whalberg’s eagle sitting in a tree and a few impala around.

I turned on to the S82 where I came across this big chap who had me reversing for quite a bit …

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I sat at Duke’s for a while and watched a couple of Dikkops …

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On the S28, apart from lots of puddles

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I came across a family of warties …

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And then, not one, but two really big kori bustards …

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Then this beauty … (a juvenile martial eagle??? Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

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I crossed the bridge at Lower Sabie to take the H10 to Orpen for my meet with Barryels and Hilda at 11am. The rain was coming down again …

A few kms up on the H10 and I could see 4-5 cars pulled over at the side of the road ahead of me.

One car pulled away and drove up to me. They were really excited to tell me “There’s a big cheetah in the tree”!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 6:04 pm 
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Sunday 19 February cont …

Here’s the “big cheetah in the tree …” though it was raining hard and the light was really bad for photos …

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Here you can just make out (through the rain) the impala in the tree …

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I stayed for a while and got a few more shots when the rain was not quite so persistent …

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It was 9:30am … I had an hour and a half to get to Orpen for my meet with Barryels and Hilda so I continued on my way …

Lots of birdies …

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Can anyone help with the id?

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Just south of Orpen I looked out for the bones in the road I’d seen the day before … they were still there, and I was in luck as Mr Hyena wasn’t hiding today …

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 7:17 pm 
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Sunday 19 February cont …

I got to Orpen with 5 minutes to spare … I was the only car there and could not find my “zapper” so decided I’d just stay put. A few minutes later Elsa, Klystron and DebM arrived. We went around to the look-out point and waited for Barry and Hilda.

There was a big bird in the tree quite some distance away that we couldn’t identify. Elsa has since id’d it in her TR as a Moulting Sub-adult Tawny Eagle.

Here is my rubbish photo of it …

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A few waterbuck were around and it was very peaceful. I told Elsa about the hyena den and the leopard on the H10 so they decided they’d return to Paul Kruger Gate via Lower Sabie and Skukuza that day.

We waited for Barry and Hilda for about an hour and decided they’d obviously got caught up at a sighting or had found that the road they’d planned to take was closed due to the floods.

We left and headed south on the H10. My Hyena was nowhere in sight now …

Elsa, Klystron and DebM Went ahead of me as they had quite a long drive to do that afternoon.

I had a “birdie” drive that afternoon on the H10 …

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I checked my phone and saw that I had signal so sent an SMS to Barry saying how sorry I was that he and Hilda hadn’t been able to make it to Orpen for our meet.

Anyone’s who’s read Hilda’s TR ( The Unpredictability of the KNP) or Elsa’s TR (Hot Summer Nights and all things Wild & Wonderful ) will know the reply I got from Barry … we were supposed to meet at 9:30am not 11:00am!!! I don’t know where I got it into my head that it was 11:00am … :wall: :wall: :wall:

Anyway, everything happens for a reason …

As we didn’t meet up at Orpen, Barry, Hilda and I subsequently arranged to meet for lunch in Pretoria where we spent FIVE hours chatting! We also agreed to arrange a Gauteng meet and this was held on 21 April and was a FANTASTIC day with lots more great people!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 9:53 am 
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Sunday 19 February cont …

Close to Lower Sabie and the cars were there at the side of the road where the “big cheetah in the tree” was.

By this time the rain had stopped …

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Time to wake up …

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“Mmmm … yum, yum, impala for lunch” Mr Leopard was no doubt thinking as he licked his lips!

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He made his way down the branch he’d been snoozing on to where the impala was and started eating …

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Time to move the carcass to a more secure branch …

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Have a little clean-up

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Come down the tree (on the opposite side from that in view) on to a smaller branch then into the thick grass …

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A great end to the day!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 4:29 pm 
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Monday 20 Feb

When I left camp this moring I didn’t really have a plan as to which way I was going to head that day but turned left out of Lower Sabie camp. On passing the S82 I noticed a couple of banded mongooses in the road and watched their antics for a while …

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I crossed over Lower Sabie bridge where there was a large troop of baboons, then turned on to the S29 Mlondozi Road. On the way to Mlondozi Dam there were impala and giraffe …

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and once again, lots of the birds I’d seen yesterday that Sharifa, Norms and Pumbaa ID’s as Amur Falcons …

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I stopped at Mlondozi for a while – the dam was full and the hippos were enjoying the water.

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Through my binoculars I spotted 7 ostriches followed by a lonesome buffalo. They were all walking along very peacefully and stopping to eat along the way. Every now and then the ostriches would take off and as soon as the buffalo realised he was being left on his lonesome, he quickly caught up with them again!

From Mlondozi I took the S122 Muntshe Loop but didn’t see anything apart from impala and a few warties.

It was quiet and I decided I’d return to camp via the H10 and chill.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:37 pm 
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Monday 20 Feb cont ...

That afternoon I drove to the Ntandanyathi Hide. I couldn’t believe how green the water looked …

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The usual suspects were there …

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It was quiet there as well. I returned to Lower Sabie and on the way got a few more birdie shots …

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Time for a sundowner … I was sitting outside my hut with my Savanna Dry when who pulled up …..?????

It was Tiny on another of his Awesome Kruger Tours!!! He, OB from Berg en Dal who was helping him out, and the people on his tour were staying at one of the riverside bungalows and invited me to join them for a braai. It was really good catching up again and it was the first night that I’d been outside after dark as the crickets that were around at night-time were HUGE.

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I tried to stay as far away as possible from the light but did have a few heart-stopping moments when something landed on me and I froze, squeezed my eyes tightly shut and asked Tiny (in rather a high-pitched scream) to quickly remove whatever was on me!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:36 pm 
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Tuesday 21 Feb

Most of the cars in front of me turned left out of Lower Sabie this morning so I turned right.

Impala were there to greet me just outside the gate, and at Sunset Dam that morning apart from the hippos, there were a few pied kingfishers and yellow billed storks around. I continued on the tar road towards Skukuza and was delighted to spot this gorgeous bushbuck …

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A little further on and a green backed heron on the lookout for breakfast …

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Impala having their breakfast in the morning sun …

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Some of them decided that Mummy’s milk tasted better …

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I continued on and added baboons, a duiker, zebra, warties, dwarf mongooses and 3 ground hornbills to my sightings list.

I got to Lake Panic and couldn’t believe my eyes … the bench to the right where you walk in had been taken over completely by this family making their breakfast. I’m not just talking about making some cheese & ham sarmies … these guys had a little braai and were doing the whole fry-up breakfast thing.

Uh … isn’t that what the Day Visitor’s centre at Skukuza is for???

Not only were they taking up nearly half the seating in the hide, the whole place was smelling of fried bacon and sausages … really not what you want when you want to sit and chill at a spot like Lake Panic. There were other people in the hide and everyone was looking at each other and rolling their eyes BUT NO-ONE SAID ANYTHING!!!

I’ve never seen Lake Panic so quiet … there was nothing around – no birds, not even any hippos. I’m not sure if this was as a result of the recent floods or because of the sounds and smells of the fry up breakfast, but I just took one picture showing how high the water was then I was off …

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:53 pm 
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Tuesday 21 Feb cont …

I decided I’d take the S65 Waterhole Road where I found some kudus and ellies, and a snake that I somehow ID’d as a 3-lined grass snake … it was way too quick to get a photo of.

I stopped in at Transport Dam but again, all was quiet there …

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I had plenty of time left so decided I’d return to Lower Sabie via the tar road the whole way.

The bush was really thick and it seemed quiet

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but then this little lady ran out …

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A little further on and some more ground hornbills, one of whom had found a little snack …

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… and then further on … a blackie!!!

Rubbish photos but here’s my proof …

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Some buffalo soldiers taking a rest …

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a giant kingfisher watching the world go by …

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and a big croc on the banks of the Sabie River looking as if he was having a good chuckle about something …

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I joined Tiny, OB and their guests again that evening and we exchanged stories. They’d had a fab time in the park and had seen the Big 5 plus an amazing wild dog sighting where they’d actually witnessed the pack killing an impala. Cheetah was the only thing missing on their list and Tiny decided that they were going to do the Mlondozi Dam and Muntshe Loop roads the following morning before leaving the park and invited me to hop on board with them.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP - Devastation, Destruction & Beauty; Nature is Amazi
Unread postPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 11:29 am 
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Wednesday 22 Feb

Tiny picked me up at about 5:20am and we joined 3 or 4 cars who were already waiting at the gate.

We crossed the Lower Sabie Bridge and were driving up the H10. We’d seem impala and giraffe but then Eagle-Eyed OB spotted this little chap …

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A pearl-spotted owl!!! Only the 2nd one I’ve ever seen in Kruger!

We didn’t find cheetah, but we spotted a couple of black backed jackals, a black bellied korhaan doing his champagne-popping trick, dwarf mongooses, golden orb spiders, a steppe eagle, and we also had some amazing close encounters with rhino and ellies …

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This was the first big ellie we spotted …

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A short distance away was the rest of the herd. Just as we saw them, one of the ellies mounted the other one and starting almost “growling” … that’s the only word I can think of to describe the sound. I couldn’t believe it, surely I wasn’t going to see ellies “at it” now, after the rhinos the other day!

But no, it was nothing to do with mating, Tiny explained that it was the bigger of the males showing his dominance …

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I just love ellies …

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