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Dune walk with meerkat

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annie R
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Cape Town

Dune walk with meerkat

Unread post by annie R » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:05 pm

Just got back from a wonderful trip to the Kgalagadi (something like our 20th I think), where we saw lots of lions, two cheetah sightings, bat-eared fox and meerkat, but unfortunately no honey badger or leopard this time. The suurgrass was so long after good rains earlier this year that it was almost impossible to see anything on the low road on the Nossob side, but the Auob riverbed was great. Lots of big herds of springbok on the Auob.

The roads on the Nossob side had just been graded so we couldn't believe our luck in how smooth and wonderful they were. But some first-time visitors to KTP who regularly go to Kruger were still complaining – we told them they didn't know the meaning of the term “bad roads”!

We did the 4x4 trail over to Bitterpan wilderness camp and had a wondrous storm that night. Thunder, lightning and 35mm of rain, quite a bit of it inside our tent, but we didn't mind because we got to see water in the pan the morning after, which is usually only a February treat.

One interesting thing was to see the appearance of drinking water taps on all the sinks in chalets of the main camps. Seems there’s a plan to install RO water at some point for the tourists, but there’s no indication of when.

A big sadness was noting how the walk at Nossob camp is falling into disrepair, with many of the info boards broken and lying in the dust. Owen and Hayley Wittridge made a big effort to create that interesting walk, so it’s sad to see what’s happening to it. There was also no water at the waterhole in front of the Nossob hide for a whole week that we know of. Apparently a pump is broken, but since the Section Ranger has just left for greener pastures it seems unsure when that will be fixed.

By the way, those of you who used to enjoy your interaction with the friendly Gert at Grootkolk will now find his smiling face at Nossob reception!

We also went for a walk in the dunes to look at tracks with the retired Prof Anne Rasa at Kalahari Trails Camp (http://www.kalahari-trails.co.za) about 35km south of TR. She's very clued up on insect tracks and other little things - beetles, scorpions, skinks, geckoes, etc. The best part was that she's rehabilitating a baby meerkat (4.5 months old) who was taken from mum and sold as a pet, then saved (some stupid pet owner was wondering why he was so thin and sad when she was feeding him lovely pumpkin; silly woman obviously hadn't a clue that he was a hot-blooded predator craving scorpions and beetles!). Now the prof, who has studied dwarf mongoose in Kenya and yellow mongoose in Kalahari, is teaching him how to hunt with the hope he can one day live wild with another bunch of meerkat in the Free State who have a similar sad background. He wouldn’t survive in the Kalahari – too many predators and too little food.

So little Fizzle (Fidget + Grizzle, which sums him up perfectly) came walking with us in the dunes. If we crouched down to look at a track, he'd climb onto our knee to get a better look around, or go digging in the track we were trying to see, silly sod. Fascinating to watch him eating those big sugar ants, how he scrapes them on the sand a good few times to wipe off the formic acid. We even learnt his different calls -- one for just keeping in touch with us (his family), another alarm call for aerial predators like eagles and a different one for landlubbers like snakes. We followed tracks in the sand to find a stunning horned adder, which he didn't like one little bit, and cried and hid behind the prof's leg! And then there was the fascinating kalahari dune art in the form of flower-like tracks made by burrowing grasshoppers and dancing lady spiders. It's well worth spending a night there to take advantage of this walk, even without the delightful Fizzle!
Last edited by annie R on Tue May 05, 2009 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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