Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Holiday Magic Part 2

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. :)

I often think that the abundance of Impala in the Kruger is a shame. Because there are so many of them very few people stop to really look at these magnificent annimals.
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.
I was devastated that I missed his entire crossing. I only saw him when he already reached the opposite side of the road. He walked off into the bush and refused to turn around. This bum-shot was all we saw of him. 
I was elated at seeing my favourite animal, but very disappointed that I missed the first part of his crossing. I was just about to start sulking when I saw the last of the mohecans poke his head through the bushes right next to me.

Now it was my turn to make funny noises! I elbowed Stiaan in the ribs and pointed. This rhino sauntered across the road allowing us a good view. Excited chatter erupted in the car. The smile remained on my face well into the night, but also some sadness. How can people harm these stately creatures. Already in 2012   11 rhino's have been killed in the Kruger National park. In 2011 a record number of rhino's have been poached and 2 sub-species of rhino have been announced to be officially extinct. I wish I could personally strangle every single poacher in the world, weather he is on the top or the bottom of the piramed, I don't care. This has to STOP!! 
That day we crossed the crocadile river back to Malelane with big smiles and a little sadness. Tomorrow we will be back, but so will the poachers...

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