Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Kruger & Sabie Parks in the fall.

My house in the evening light.
Arrived in South Africa late afternoon on 23rd March & immediately transferred to the Sunrock Guesthouse, where I met Ted from Sweden & Sylvia from Switzerland. Both were excellent company & we had a very nice evening together.

The wonderful Sabie River, as seen from Sabie Park.

Looking across the Sabie River into Kruger.
Sabie Park is looking great after the recent rains.


Arrived home the next day after flying to White River & picking up my truck. My little house was predictably a tip, as no cleaning had taken place since January because of the sanctions against me by the Sabie Park management. The next day I arranged for the same two cleaning ladies as before & they worked very hard & had my house livable again in a few hours. I then walked around & the bush looked beautiful bathed in green after the recent long belated rains.

On 27th March I spent the morning birding around Sabie Park. Best bird was an Open billed Stork flying down the river.

Creek near Phabeni Gate.

Wood Sandpiper coming into summer plumage.

Red crested Korhaan.


Three banded Plover.

The next day I spent in Kruger on a local route. It was lovely to experience this magnificent national park again. I never get tired of the place & there are always surprises in store. This morning I was enjoying a picnic atop a local koppie & sat about 50 meters from my car when a male Leopard just walked out of the bush, saw me sitting down with coffee in hand & just sauntered by without a care in the world! My camera of course was in the truck! Damm!

Best friends!

Nice teeth!
See ya!

 I then continued towards home & found a pack of Wild Dogs resting by the roadside. They didn’t do very much in the morning heat but I did manage a few close shots.

However my daily dose of excitement was not yet over! After breakfast I decided to have a shower. Big mistake!

I stepped out of the shower this morning straight into a Black Mamba, which lunged at me & struck the bath towel in my hand! I managed to avoid it but it pursued me through the house. I got one of the walking sticks & tried to get it through the front door, but it once again went for me. It then went back down the corridor & back into my bedroom. I closed the door. I got the snake catcher & we spent two hours looking for it in the bedroom. We didn't find it! This means I can't use the bedroom with all my stuff there. Luckily I have clothes in my truck.  When we were searching the bedroom we found both snake urine & droppings + the remains of a lizard meal. So it has been there for quite a while! This is the second time this has happened! I must be blessed. I also feel lucky to be alive, as without that bath towel I wouldn't be here now!

In hindsight I reckon I heard this snake when I was asleep the previous night. I heard a distinct bump in the night when I was asleep, which brought me to half consciousness. I dismissed it of course, but it was almost certainly the snake moving around & bumping into things. They can be surprisingly noisy when in a house in unfamiliar surroundings. I have probably being living with a black mamba in my house for weeks without knowing! This is not a good prospect!

The 29th I once again went into Kruger along the main road from Skukuza to Numbi Gate. I then exited the park to do some business in White River & Nelspruit. The highlight of the morning were three male cheetahs atop a termite mound, but there were so many cars milling around, that I couldn’t be bothered to wait in line for a photo. I would much rather find my own on a small gravel road somewhere. Selfish I know!

Having a real good time!

Getting out to greet his mate.
Best buds!
Then the shoving starts!
Play fighting.

This was my view of the northern Drakensberg 
on the way home!

In the afternoon I retraced my steps & spent a pleasant hour at Transport Dam watching two Elephants play fight. They were just good mates having some fun.

The bee hive is in the box on the left.

Today was overcast, so the bees not active.

I enjoyed more Elephants on the Waterhole Road close to home. The national parks authorities are conducting research to see if the aggressive African bees can stop Elephants from using a particular waterhole. Well they can’t, the Ellies just move around the other side! Hilarious really!

 Wild Dogs are well known for being completely 
indifferent to humans & their vehicles. 
 Having a dust bath!
This was something that I had never seen before: 
this animal was sniffing up inside the wheel arch!
Obviously an interesting smell up there!

This dominant male dog was inspecting urine deposited
 by a pack member a few minutes previously.
He then placed his mark over the top of it!

They don't stay still for long. On the move again!

On 30th March I once again entered the national park, this time for just a short run out. But I once again bumped into a different pack of Wild Dogs, this time seven animals in a totally different area. Witnessed some interesting behaviour. 

View from Nkumbe lookout.
Notice how dry the veld is.
Just 15 kms away Orpen Dam is full!
Yellow billed Stork
Wire-tailed Swallow
Lions, doing what they do best!

On 2nd April I did a full day inside Kruger. It was unseasonably hot & not much noted. However did come across a coalition of five sleeping male Lions. One was even snoring, so not much action here. This coalition of males seems to be getting commoner these days. I wonder why? 


Later on in the early evening I came across a Leopard in a tree, but the light was all wrong for photography. Surprisingly few birds as well!

I normally don't moralize  on this blog, but today was an exception. While I was watching the above Leopard, there was a car in front of me, packed full of Indians (the ones from the sub-continent)! There were two young men in the front, maybe mid to late twenties. One of the guys said hi in a broad Yorkshire accent. And as I replied, he said you are from Yorkshire as well! So I told him where I was from. He beamed at me! He said we are from Batley! We then started talking about rugby league, All the while with a Leopard up a tree, close by! After I drove away, I started thinking. These guys & their families were as Indian to look at as one can get. But there was no we are from India ie Mumbai etc. It was, we are from Yorkshire & we are bloody proud of it. When you think of the Donald Trumps of this world, & to a lesser extent Nigel Farage, banging the anti -immigrant drum as hard as can be. People are people the world over, with the same aspirations & dreams as the rest of us. I felt so proud of my friends in the car (who I don't really know) & I felt even prouder of my home county who had taken these people in & made them feel at home. As I drove, I felt a tear in my eye, but I had a big smile across my face as well!

Here it comes!
Spotted Hyena at dawn.
Leopard Tortoise
A young Rock Monitor Lizard.
Tree Agama.

It is the 4th April & I spent all day in Kruger. My first good sighting, as often is the case was a Spotted Hyena loping down the road soon after dawn. Normal kind of sightings until I got to Nukulu, where a large male Baboon attacked me, by hitting me in the chest with his two front legs. His jaws went around my binoculars! What the hell? If I hadn't been wearings my bins, I would have had a very nasty bite. Well you may be pleased to know things got better from then on! I met a nice couple of German ladies (mother & daughter), who were basically my kind of people. Smart, funny & interested in all things to do with the natural world. We had lunch together at Skukuza & said we would keep in touch.

Sabie River, near Lower Sabie.
The wonderful Sunset Dam.

Later on, I met Emma, who was researching the effect of African Bee Hives as a possible deterrent to Elephants drinking at waterholes. Remember, from the other day? Well we had a brief chat & I sent her a couple of photos, which I hope are of some use. Keep up the good work girl. The natural world always has room for inquiring minds.

The fantastic Waterhole Road.

Cape Buffalo - one that became a meal!
Plenty more around though.
Cooling off!

One of four White Rhinos.
Adult male Waterbuck.
A young male.
Male Impala
This young male had just scraped his scent glands
 on this small bush.
He then attempted to spread the scent 
all over the bush with his foot!
I have not seen this kind of behaviour before.
He then placed his horns there, 
presumably to get the scent on them.
Southern Ground Hornbill
Shelly's Francolin
Uncommon, localized & difficult to see!

Spent most of the 5th at home do bits & bobs around the house. It is amazing how much there is to do! Went into Kruger for the last couple of hours, nothing special but the light was fantastic for photography! Typical! Got stopped coming out of the park. Had to put up my roof top tent, take everything out & put in back in again. A 30 minute job! I suppose it is for a good cause. The Rhino poaching is totally out of hand these days.

Young male Bushbuck.
White breasted Cormorant.

On 7th went to pick up my mail at Skukuza. Had a little run around & saw nine Lions, but they were distant & yet again sleeping!

Black Storks.
From my house this morning.
In my driveway today!

My driveway was very busy today!
Young Blue Wildebeest.

Spent all day on 8th around the house doing little jobs. Was rewarded by 7 Black Storks on a sand bar in the river. A top number for here. Also 12 Trumpeter Hornbills were my first for a while. Had a good collection of animals around the house. In short a really nice day.

The next two days were spent assessing the damage on my property from activities a couple of years ago. 519 have been illegally cut down & removed from my land! Watch this space!

I left Sabie Park on 11th April. The weather was just beautiful & it was a lovely drive to White River. I put Stoffel to bed & then caught the short flight to OR Tambo where I had an agonizing five hour wait, as I was on standby! I made it though! Just!


  1. Good grief, Steve, scary tale which brings back old times! Hope you manage to catch the beast.

    1. Hi Pen,
      I didn't! It is still there. But I have moved out!

  2. And Susie loves the pics of the dogs!

    1. More dogs to come! Ask her to check out my blog after 8th April. I have some interesting shots!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Steve,
      Good to hear you are OK.

    2. Hi Khalifa,
      Great to hear from you! I am fine will be back in Abu Dhabi on 3rd May, so I will contact you.
      The snake is still there! It just doesn't want to leave!

  4. Hi dad
    Great photos! We never got round to showing each other photos in Singapore after all.

    Love you

    1. Hi love,
      No we didn't! Please send as soon as possible.
      Have a wonderful time in Oz.