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 Post subject: Half day trip to Addo
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 2:44 pm 
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Hi all :)

This past weekend I eventually did what I have been wanting to do for a long time, take a day trip to Addo. Living in PE, means that Addo is really close, however I never really got round to it, until last week when all of a sudden I just decided that on Saturday, a close friend of mine and myself would go to Addo. Below is a trip report from the day (sorry no photos at the moment, need to get them developed onto disk, which once done, will then post).

My friend had a test in the morning, so it was agreed that at 10:30 I would meet at her house and we would go from there. As it turned out, 10:30 became 11 as I had some last minute padkos to organise. We left at about 11:30, but had to stop for a quick snack along the way. This all resulted in us only arriving just before 1 in Addo (we went along the N2 and at Patterson turned left - which I highly recommend as the road is way better than the other route).

Well the shortness of the trip did not result in a lack of sightings. To be perfectly honest, the trip was amazing with a first time sighting of something special, which I will get to a little later.

We entered the park, and the first sighting was that of a group of piggies feeding next to the road. They were very relaxed and we could clearly hear them tearing the grass from its roots. We then turned left onto the loop that has the Domkrag Dam on it (The map supplied by the park, which I am using does not indicate loop names). Just before the dam, we came upon a car that had stopped. I stopped and asked what they were looking at, but my friend found this very embarrasing, telling me that they were just chatting and that we must drive on, which we did. We then stopped at the dam, and had an amazing view of a herd of elephants drinking. The interesting thing was that they were not drinking from the dam, but were drinking from some sort of man-made fountain. It was very interesting watching them take turns covering their trunks over the opening and then sucking the water up and then drinking.

By fortune I managed to overhear a lady say that it was amazing that so many people were out of their vehicles with the lions so close. Not having been to the park since the lions had been introduced, a sighting of a lion was definately at the top of my wish list, so I immediately asked her where they had been seen, and sure enough, she said to turn left and just a little further on, on the left hand side a male was sleeping. Remembering earlier, I drove to the exact spot of the parked car, and sure enough, not 10 metres into the bush was a male lion, in the depths of slumberland, not moving a muscle. We had not been in the park for more than 20 minutes, and had already had a major tick, I was so excited. Knowing that the male would probably spend the rest of the day there, we decided to move on and did a quick u-ie and continued on the loop, once again passing the dam. I was also amazed at how close the lions were to the people, thinking back now, it was fairly dense bush around the parking lot, and if the lion decided to take a walk, Im sure it would have only been noticed by the people too late.

Continuing on, we had a sighting of a large leopard tortoise next to the road, and then a huge herd of very relaxed Kudu. Overall we saw loads of Kudu, but I noted two things about them, firstly that they all looked very thin and scruffy compared to other Kudu seen in other parts of the Eastern Cape and also in Kruger, and secondly, that the majority were seen out on the plains, compared to my usual sightings of them in fairly dense bushes in Kruger. Anybody know why this is?

Carrying on with the trip report, we continued on the Domkrag loop and then turned left onto the road down to Carols Rest. This road did not dissappoint, with a large number of sightings. This included a herd of approximately 15 ellies walking through the bush and eventually coming out parrallel to the road in a long line. We also managed to see Zebra, what I think was Eland in the distance as well as other herds of elephant, loads more Kudu and Warthog.

Arriving at the Carols rest waterhole, we were greeted by 3 ellies drinking as well as 2 Dagga boys grazing a short distance away (these are the first Buffalo that I have seen during the day, not sure if these have been introduced and are not nocturnal like the original Addo Buffs?)

We finished the loop and turned right, back to the Domkrag loop to check on the lions. Not having gone more than 20 meters up the road, I noticed a car stopped. I looked to the right and noticed some more Kudu. I was about to leave, when all of a sudden I noticed it, a CARACAL. :D This is a first for me. Quite ironic, because of Friday I was reading on Friday about how a forumite had seen 7 this year, and me saying I wish. Boy do wishes come true!!! The Caracal was quite far off behind bushes, but I managed to get one photo of it. It then dissappeared again, but soon one of the Kudu started walking in that general direction, and all of a sudden the Caracal appeared with the Kudu right behind it. It then dissappeared again, so I decided to follow the Kudu's movements, and which worked as I managed to get one last glimpse of the animal before it finally dissappeared for good.

After this amazing sighting, about 2:30, I was so excited. We had been there for only about an hour and a half and had seen sightings I could only dream of!!!

We returned to the lion, and found it in the exact same spot. Luckily for us, as we got there it rolled over a bit and so we managed to see a bit more of it. We moved on again, and then drove down to Hapoor Dam. The only sightings along this road was a few warthog, 3 dung beetles on the road (all alive, and all dodged) and a few Kudu at the Hapoor Dam.

From there we travelled up to the Zuurkop lookout, and really enjoyed the view. Managed to see another lone Dagga Boy walking along the road down to Carols Rest road from the lookout, but that was pretty much it. From there travelled back to the main road and on to Gwarrie Pan where we had a lovely sight of 3 Ellies coming down to the waterhole and drinking. We finished the loop to Hapoor again and returned up the main road again, the only nice sighting being meerkats (Timon and Pumba tick completed :) ). We once again returned to the lion and after waiting a while in line, managed to see him again, still in the same place. We were happy to see though, that he had been joined by his coalition partner, who had been sleeping unseen under a bush close by. Just before we had got there, he had moved and "Cuddled up" right next to his buddy.

We then left very happy with the afternoons worth of sightings. All in all I can say that I was very impressed with Addo. The abundance of game, especially in the Domkrag and Carols Rest area is amazing, you literally see animals all across the plains.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip report as much as I enjoyed sharing these amazing sights with you. Sorry it is so long, but that was the nature of how great the afternoon was. I hope to now make Addo a more regular trip, and when I do go, I will be sure to post here. :D

Cheers :D

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:32 am 
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Hey,

Thank you so much for your replies. I will hopefully develop the photos this weekend and will post ASAP.

Michelle, regarding the Meerkats, I saw them near Hapoor Dam. Hopefully they will still be there. From Hapoor, turn right onto the Mpunzi loop. We saw them probably about 50 meters up the road on the right hand side, about 20 meters in. Looked like they had burrows there, so hopefully will still be there when you go. The caracal sighting was a "right place right time" sighting, but judging by other forumites regular sightings (actually 11 not 7 in one year), the chances are good :D

BTW all, any comments on the Kudu. Comparing the photos of Kruger Kudu on the forum to my memory of the Kudu in Addo, the coats of the Addo Kudu are definately longer and more scruffy looking, they also look a lot thinner in my opinion. Anybody have an answer why this is?

Thanks so much. Photos to come soon I hope :wink:

Cheers

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 1:26 pm 
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Patto, I had the very same observation about the kudu. I was in both parks in July and the difference was very obvious. The Addo kudu are smaller, leaner and a lot more hairy and scruffy. I don't know if these photos will show the differences as good as seeing them in real life.

Addo (July 23, 2007)
Image

Kruger (July 31, 2007)
Image

Does the local knowledgeable folks know why they are so different?


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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 1:56 pm 
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You guys could possibly be look at "Greater Kudu" vs "Lesser Kudu"

Some Reading

I am not 100% sure of the lesser Kudu distribution though.

Also, remember that these animals' gene pools are separated by thousands of kilometers, so they will over time start looking different. Also, the Addo animals have a much smaller gene pool, so inbreeding is a great possibility, especially with the previous absence of predators, which could also account for poor condition of the animals.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:18 pm 
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I was just looking up the differences between lesser and greater Kudu and they are actually quite different. The lesser is obviously smaller and do not have fringes of hair on the throat. The lesser kudu have more stripes on their backs. Lesser kudu are not found in South AfricaMaybe the Addo kudu as you say have developed different coats because of the climates etc. I must admit I have always thought that the Kudu were in superb condition. I was last there in Feb 2007. Maybe the change of season has something to do with their coats ????

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:41 pm 
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Thank you all for the help. I googled "lesser kudu" and found a few photos, and it is clear the Addo kudu are definately not lesser kudu.

I however dont think it is a climate thing, as friends of mine have a farm close to Addo with Kudu on it, and they look a lot like the Kruger kudu I tend to agree with Loams that the kudu might be starting to show signs of inbreeding possibly. On previous trips, the Addo kudu were quite scarce and very skittish, now they are everywhere and not too scared (as mentioned in my original post that the majority seen were out on the plains around Carols Rest loop road). So if the population has grown largely from a small base, there is definately the risk of inbreeding. I know that with the introduction of predators, population growth sounds weird, but could this be the case, a growth in population from a small group resulting in inbreeding?

Thank you.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:29 pm 
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I have to been Addo a few times and at various times of the year. It has only been on one occasion that I saw many Kudu on the plains. The Kudu were grazing which to me was most unusual.I thought they were browsers. Anyway back at camp I queried this and I was told that kudu do like new shoots of grass and during this time they will defintely graze..therafter they will revert to eating leaves off trees. Maybe when you saw all the kudu in the plains they were devouring new shoots of grass ???? Some photos of kudu that I took in Feb this year ...all healthy looking specimens!!!
Image
Image
I might add that the Kudu sightings were very scarce in February..mostly they were well hidden and took one look at us and ran. It is most interesting to read about your experiences of kudu in the park. Maybe somebody can shed some more light on the topic.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:18 pm 
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Hi,

Just got my photos back from the developing, and they came out really badly :cry:

The colours are all wrong, and when I phoned the place, they said they did not do colour corrections for CD developments and that is why the colours were out, try telling me this before hand. I have never had this problem with any other photo shop. While I was there another lady was also moaning about here prints, so maybe this is a common thing. They said I can return the CD and they will try fix it then, so hopefully will be ok.

When I eventually get them back will try post.

Thanks for your patience :)

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