We are still on our first little drive through the Kruger. :)
This giraffe was beautifull, so relaxed and so close to our car. Giraffes are classic browsers, their long necks giving them access to the highest follaige. They do however bend down to pick up bones or soil that they chew to supplement calcium and phosphorus that is lacking in their diet. This is called osteophagia and geophagio respectively.
I have to confess that Stiaan and I started this trip as non-birders, BUT the feathered creatures of the bush have the tendency to grow on you. By the end of the trip we were spending a lot of time looking up in the sky or scruitinising small branches. Prior to this trip ALL ground birds would be promptly identified as 'boshoenders' a.k.a bush-chickens. This year at every bird sighting we would screech to a halt and out would come the cameras and books. We ID'ed the firs bird as and the second as a shy Red-billed hornbill. Any help and corrections will be more than welcome as we are a couple of Green-hornbills when it comes to birds. :)
There are a lot of elephants in the Kruger Park. In fact there are about 8000 to many! If you think that an adult bull elephant consumes 300kg of food each and every day you can understand why so may there are so many broken trees around and a fully grown bull elephant will expell 155kg of dung each day. That explaines the neetly formed grass packages all over the roads. :)
The short afternoon drive was turning out to be quite spectacular. This was Stiaans very first trip to the Kruger Park and I could see that already he was hooked for life. On that very first day we stopped for everything. We took pictures of everything and when we got home we discussed every sighting untill the wee hours of the morning.
We saw quite a few Grey Loeries during the first few days. These birds are clumsy in flight, but very agile as they moove from branch to branch. It was very difficult to get a clear shot.
Glossy starlings are some of the most striking birds in the Lowveld.
Their feathers have an iredescent sheen that shimmers with hues of blue, green and purple. Remarkably, this effect is not caused by pigmentation and in fact glossy starlings have no colour pigment in their feathers at all. The colourful effect is created by the manner in which the keratin (structural material that makes the feathers strong) is layered. As light falls on the feathers, these keratin layers reflect different wavelengths of light differently.
I told you we took pictures of everything! We even snapped this sossage tree. The fruit is used in an array of traditional magico-medicinal treatments. The unripe fruit is used to cure syphilis and rheumatism. The powdered form is applied to skin sores, ulcerations and acne. Boiled the bark and fruit can cure stomach complaints. The powdered fruit improves milk productuin in lactating woman and will fatten up your baby if you rub it into its skin. The fruits are often strung up in tribal huts to ward off whirlwinds and red dye can be extracted by boiling the fruit.
The best part of the day came very unexpectedly. I was busy studying the map when all of a sudded Stiaan started making weird noises. I looked at him like he was crazy! He pointed into the road... and there he was!
The largest, most beautifull rhino I have ever seen.