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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:46 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Saturday 07 April

It was busy in camp last night – it seemed that lights were all in all the huts, chalets, bungalows, etc, and the camp site also looked full. I must admit that every morning and evening I’d drive through the camping grounds and check out the campers … it had been over 6 months since I’d camped in the park and I was actually missing it! So far it hadn’t rained during my trip and I couldn’t help thinking that I could have been in my tent …

I got to the gate at 5:45am … well, I didn’t “get to the gate” … I was so far back in the queue I was next to the “No Entry” sign into the car park … the part that you drive through to get into the camp or Day Visitor’s area!!! Welcome to Kruger over Easter weekend!

I headed up to Sunset Dam where the moon was setting …

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Across the road on the other side, the sun was coming up over the hills …

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Lubylubye looked pretty in the morning sun …

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I could hear baboons barking, and just a little further up from Lubylubye about a dozen or so cars bunched together …

Doggies!!!

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They’d made a kill and this guy still had something in his mouth …

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Blood was still visible on a lot of them …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:16 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Saturday 07 April

I was glad I hadn’t been there a few moments earlier.

They’d got an impala and some of the pack were still feeding at the side of the road … (WARNING … the next few photos aren’t for the faint-hearted)

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Others had obviously had their share and were wandering around or resting their full tummies …

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I decided I’d have a coffee and chill for a bit … there were quite a few cars around and even if I’d wanted to move on, it would have been difficult.

I leaned over for my thermos … oh no! I’d left it back at Lower Sabie!

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Saturday 07 April

I looked around me trying to figure a way out and saw that there was another Kruger traffic jam about 30 metres behind.

A few cars decided to go and see what was happening there so I managed to turn around and make my way back to Lower Sabie and my precious thermos!

Just before leaving the doggies, I heard what I thought was a leopard’s bark …

I seriously thought about sticking around but it was 6:30am and REALLY COLD. I needed my coffee.

I stopped next to the other cars that were just behind the dogs; they’d spotted a leopard. Ahaaa , the “bark” I’d heard must have been a leopard. Ooooohhhh … should I stick around?

I looked at all the cars and decided coffee got my vote … I returned to Lower Sabie.

I left Lower Sabie for the 2nd time that day at 8am and once again headed north. There were a lot of cars now; it was obvious this was a holiday weekend.

I got back to where the wild dogs were. There were only a few cars there now …

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Apparently the leopard had made an appearance and dragged what was left of the impala carcass away! Oh well, you can’t be in the right place at the right time ALL the time!

I drove to Nkhulu and passed the spot where I’d seen the warthog corpse the evening before. Another wartie was sniffing around and I couldn’t help wonder if it was the mate of the one who’d been killed the day before :cry: :cry: :cry: .

Further on and I came across some vervets; they look so cute …

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but can be pesky and nasty (as I experienced that time at Tshokwane when two of them attacked me!)

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I was finishing my December TR on my April trip and the signal at Lower Sabie was lousy so I decided I’d head to Skukuza to see if the signal was any better there and hopefully do a bit of updating …

Dwarf mongooses, a saddle-billed stork, a giant kingfisher, White-fronted bee-eaters, a monitor lizard, impala, ellies, bushbuck and quite a large family of warties went on to my sightings list …

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I got to Skukuza. I got a great signal and managed to do some catching up on my TR but let me just show you what Skukuza looked like at 10:30am over the Easter weekend …

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I wouldn’t recommend anyone going there for a bit of peace and quiet over a holiday weekend!

It got to lunch time and there were even more people in Skukuza. I’d caught up on my TR and decided I’d leave the hustle and bustle and get back into the park.

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:47 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Saturday 07 April cont ...

I headed back towards Lower Sabie on the H4-1. I stopped to take a photo of a communal spider’s nest and can’t tell you how many cars stopped behind me to see what I was looking at or pulled up next to me asking what I’d seen! (You can imagine the reaction I got when I told them "a gorgeous spider's nest"!!!)

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Further on and (apart from lots and lots of cars) a juvenile brown snake eagle …

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I pulled off the main road into one of the lay-bys for a bit of peace and quiet. Messrs Croc and Hippo seemed relaxed …

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and I spotted a few buffalo on the other side of the river …

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On one side of me it was so peaceful … yet on the other side of me the traffic was incredible.

I decided to get off the main road and take the S30 Saltjie Road.

Everything looked so peaceful going over the high level bridge …

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it was just a pity about all the cars on the road …

I pulled off on to the S30 and had an incredible sighting …

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An empty road ahead of me – no cars in sight!

It was wonderful, I didn’t come across one other car on the entire road!

I did come across these guys though …

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and crossing the bridge at Lower Sabie, a gorgeous giant kingfisher and, I think, the most photographed Goliath Heron in the park!

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:27 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April

I drove to the gate just after 6am to allow for the hordes of “Easter Kruger-trippers” to be on their way.

I decided I’d stay away from the traffic so took the S82 again (always a good road to take if you don’t want other cars!).

The S82 that morning gave me kudu, impala, giraffe, a duiker, and a beautiful bateleur …

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I came out of the S82, headed south then took the S130. There was a lovely herd of ellies on the S130 with young ones …

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… warties, wildebeest and a white backed vulture …

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I came to that bit in the road where there’s the dead tree …

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Just past that, heading north on the right hand side is an opening and a lay-by to park up and chill.

“Chill” as in switch the car off, pour a coffee and listen to the sounds of the bush. Not “chill” as in get out of your car, get the cooler box out, have a beer and a smoke, and see if there are any lions or leopards about … just what was happening!

I pulled up and told the folks they shouldn’t be out of their vehicle. They totally ignored me. I lifted my camera and with that, one of the guys put the cooler box in the car …

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He then had a word with his passengers who all got in the car. As I drove by he gave me a hand signal (that wasn’t a friendly wave goodbye) and although I am no expert in lip-reading, he was very obviously telling me (in other words) to go forth and multiply!

I continued north then turned off onto the S137 then down towards Duke’s. Just before getting to the waterhole I stopped to admire a zebra that was coming down to drink. I got to Duke’s and there was a Toyota Quantum parked at the side also observing the zebra making its way to the waterhole.

In the tree, right at the side of the road, sitting in a branch right over the Quantum was this chap:-

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I couldn’t believe it! I indicated to the occupants of the Quantum that there was something in the tree above them; they manoeuvred and I can just imagine their surprise! I don’t believe that they didn’t see it when they pulled up and am sure the leopard must have climbed into the tree once they were there ...

Anyway, I sat there for an hour and a half. I took 140 photos!!! It’s been SO hard weeding these down and choosing just a few to put on my TR ... okay, I’ve chosen more than “just a few …”!

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:03 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April - Duke's Waterhole, cont ...

The zebra continued to make its way down to the waterhole …

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and the leopard checked it out …

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But there was so much else going on …

The hornbills were squawking, both on the ground below and in the tree above the leopard; this seemed to fascinated the spotted beauty.

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:10 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April – Duke’s Waterhole cont …

The leopard was so active. I think it was a sub-adult like the pair I’d seen near Mpondo. He was VERY inquisitive.

After checking out everything that was happening around him, he decided he’d just chill out and observe …

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But like any little kitten, he couldn’t ignore what was happening around him …

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Sorry about the photo-overload - it’s just SO hard to choose only a few shots …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:16 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April – Duke’s Waterhole cont …

He also couldn’t ignore the increasing numbers of cameras that had arrived on the scene and posed just beautifully!

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He decided to put on a bit of a show …

First of all showing us what big teeth he had …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:11 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April – Duke’s Waterhole cont …

Then by getting up and having a little move around …

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So, now in his new position, he continued to pose …

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(Nearly finished with the spotty photos, I promise!!!)

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:31 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April – Duke’s Waterhole cont …

He then had a bit of a clean …

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before it was time to move on. He got up and made his way down the tree …

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He wandered out from the base of the tree …

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had a little sniff on the ground …

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Then disappeared in the grass down towards Duke’s waterhole …

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Now, how exciting was that???????

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:00 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April cont …

From Duke’s I continued south on the S28 … even though I was on a “high” from the amazing leopard sighting at Duke’s, I was still pi$$ed off with the idiots who were out of their car on the S130 and wanted to report them at Crocodile Bridge.

I added zebra and rhino to my sightings list on the drive to Croc Bridge and got some nice shots of general game, including a few of an ellie enjoying the mud at Gezantfombi!

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I got to Croc Bridge reception at 2pm. There was a couple in front of me pondering over a Kruger Map book and arguing with the receptionist …

Couple - “But it’s only 2 o’clock now, we have 4 hours to get to Pafuri.”
Receptionist – “You are only allowed to drive at 50kms in the park.”
Couple – “Ok, so we’ll go to Phalaborwa.”
Receptionist – “That’s still too far, you must get out at Orpen Gate.”

ORPEN GATE????? From Crocodile Bridge that’s 175kms and it was EASTER SUNDAY … the couple would be lucky if they made it to Orpen Dam by 6pm, and if there was a cat or dog sighting on the H4-2 they’d be lucky if they made it to Lower Sabie by 6pm. Oh well!

The couple left and I approached the Receptionist explaining that I’d come across people that morning out of their car chilling with their coolbox in an area of the park where you were not allowed to alight from your vehicle. She looked at me with that constipated look on her face … you know the one … like she couldn’t give a $#it.

Yeah well, I was talking to someone who had just advised a couple that they could get to Orpen Gate in 4 hours on Easter Sunday – what did I expect???!!!

It is just so annoying. For what it was worth, I left details – the time I’d seen them, the road I’d been on and their registration number, though I’m sure the piece of paper I wrote on went straight into the bin. After all, it would have meant extra work for her to get off her backside and take it to someone or make a phone call …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:50 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Sunday 08 April cont …

I returned to Lower Sabie via the S130, S137, Duke’s Waterhole, and the S28.

This is what I saw up until I got to Duke’s …

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I got to Duke’s. There was one car parked exactly where the Quantum was parked that morning. I looked into the tree above them …

:big_eyes:

:big_eyes:

:big_eyes:

:big_eyes:

Guess what was there?

:big_eyes:

:big_eyes:

:big_eyes:

Nothing! Ha – how remarkable and amazing would it have been if the leppie had been back???!!!

I drove to the end of the road and switched the car off. I reached over to pour a coffee. It was like Piccadilly Circus there that afternoon, cars kept arriving, having a quick look around then taking off again – word had obviously got out about the leopard that had been so obliging that morning!

I poured a coffee, took a sip, put my mug in its mug holder then got my binocs out.

Would you believe it??? Still there, but in a tree much further away was the leopard! Excited, I started the car and drove to the other car to tell them “The leopard’s back”.

“What leopard?” they asked! They had been there on the complete off-chance and had heard nothing about the leopard sighting that morning!

We watched him climb down the tree into the long grass …

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He came a little closer and walked on the dirt path before plonking himself down amongst the tall grass …

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The “car park” at Duke’s was filling up again and I decided I’d get out while I could.

On the S28 and there was some “Kudu Love” going on … very sweet the way the bull kept rubbing up against the cow …

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and standing directly behind her as if to say “this one’s mine” whenever another bull was around …

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On the H4-2 just south of Lower Sabie and a huge herd of buffalo was crossing the road. There were lots of calves and a LOT of noise … it sounded as if a buffalo was being attacked.

I looked around, but there was no panic amongst the herd as I’m sure there would have been had there been a predator around. (I found out afterwards that one of the cows was actually giving birth and that’s what all the noise was about – I can’t believe I missed it, but then again, all I was seeing in front of my eyes was spots!).

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My final sighting for the day was this gorgeous Eagle Owl sitting in the tree …

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That evening I got onto the SanParks Forum – I remembered Dinkybird’s topic about Reporting Rule Breakers in the Park. I found the details for Ammon Mhaule and emailed him explaining what I’d seen and letting him know that I had photos to prove it. Mr Mhaule did come back to me; he said they take rule breakers very seriously and will track the perpetrators and take them to court. He asked for the photos and also whether or not I’d be willing to testify in court. Of course I said I would be willing to testify against these people who are just there to ruin it for everyone else … to date I’ve not heard anything but will let you know if I do …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:13 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Monday 09 April

Today was “Going Home Day” for all the Easter Vacationers – YAY!!! The difference in the park was amazing!

I drove south out of Lower Sabie and crossed the bridge. Golly was there, as were the hippos and this Egyptian Goose who I thought looked so lovely in the morning sun …

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I did a U-turn after going over the bridge and headed back on the H4-2 to the S28. Wildebest, impala, dwarf mongooses, banded mongooses, slender mongooses, warties, and kudu were added to my sightings list.

At Ntandanyathi hide all was quiet except the noises from the hippos wallowing in the water there.

I just HAD to go back to Duke’s!!! It seemed that lots of people had the same idea … Duke’s was full and from the look of people sitting on their windows and leaning out of their cars, as well as the array of lenses on show, I’ve no doubt the leopard was back. I wasn’t about to hang around to see though … I’d have had no chance anyway in my little Atos with all the big 4x4s at the front!

Back out on the S137 and another huge herd of buff with loads of babies crossing the road …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:01 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Monday 09 April cont …

On the S130 I saw a bateleur flying overhead with what I thought was a snake. It landed in a tree and I realised it was actually a twig it had hold of.

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It took off with the twig

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and flew to the nest it was building!!!

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The rest of my drive on the S130 added giraffe, zebra, vervets and warties on to my sightings list for the day. I was just coming to the end of the S130 and wondering which way to go when I got a BBM saying there was a lioness with cubs in the riverbed on the H5. Ok, that was the way I was going!

I got there and there were about half a dozen cars. The grass was very tall. I spotted the lioness and had a very brief sighting of one of the cubs. No shots of the cub unfortunately, and this is the best photo I got of the lioness …

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I continued on and sat with this rhino for a while as he rubbed the ticks off his thick skin …

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:26 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Monday 09 April cont …

I found a troop of baboons who amused me through my tightly shut windows!

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a monitor lizard soaking up the sun …

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a hamerkop checking out his reflection …

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a tiny chameleon …

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little piggies …

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then at Gezantfombi, ellies …

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