To come back to the present drought situation in the park - the borehole supplying water to the Bulkraal picnic site has dried up. The picnic site, popular amongst local day visitors, had to be closed because of this.
In the past the Klipspringer Pass has lived up to its name on about every occasion we travelled it. Klipspringers are normally abundant. However, with this trip (driving the pass 4 times) we only saw a pair of klipspringers once - rather low down in the pass. The last few years it seldomly happened that you do not see kudu in the lower part of the pass. But with the sweet thorn trees standing naked without leafs, there is no reason for kudu to be in that area.
We kept our eys open for the breeding pair of Verreaux's Eagle (African Black Eagle) that normally keeps in the vicinity of Rooivalle - but no luck. We hoped to see them breeding in the nest on the rocky ridge below the Rooivalle viewpoint (as we've seen them some years ago), but it does not look as if that nest is used anymore.
We had some beautiful sightings of Pale Chanting Goshawk and Rock Kestrel. We saw a pair of Secretarybird, three Stanley's Bustard and quite a few Karoo Korhaan on the eastern side of Potlekkertjie Loop. The ostrich population in that part of the park has surely increased dramatically - probably enough for a cheetah or two already. It was also a hopeful sign to see quite a lot more springbok than 2 years ago.
Red Hartebeest and gemsbok were abundant. We saw one antelope which could not be positively identified as it was against the sun - but it was either a Mountain Reedbuck or Grey Rhebok. We have not seen Eland on many occasions in the park, but we were lucky to find two females on the middle plateau during one of our drives. Both zebra species are quite regularly seen. Most of the Burchell's zebra in the park are exceptionally light coloured on the rumps and legs. The core population originally released in the park was derived from Cape Nature's project to try and breed the Cape Quagga "back". They (Cape Nature) started off with animals selected for characteristics which corresponds more or less to that of the extinct Cape Quagga.
This time the black rhino eluded us. We found fresh tracks on the first part of the Afsaal 4x4 Loop (around the drinking hole), but no other signs of them. I am pretty convinced that the two we found in the Doornhoek valley (nearly two years ago) are not in the area anymore as the valley is also very dry with hardly any leafs on the trees and shrubs.
The old "house" at Afsaal is a rather cute building. We stopped there and (against the rules) walked to the "house" where we enjoyed a nice cold beer under the veranda on the stoep. My SO (who grew up on a nearby Karoo farm) became very nostalgic while there and wished that SANParks will make it available as an overnight facility for visitors to the park. I believe it is presently only used by SANParks officials.