On route to a similar water hole later that afternoon, we saw a leopard just lying in the sun at the side of the road, followed by the scene of a herd of elephants, good number of hippos, several crocodiles, buffalo, kudu, eland, impala, plains zebra and wildebeest, all sharing this very secluded spot alongside a deep water pool. The site was marked on the map by the name Panic Pool, and I guess this is what would happen if some of the creatures interacted with each other too closely. A troop of chattering baboon’s appeared in the trees over our heads, and they were even more obvious close to our hotel, situated inside the reserve, when they would try to steal sugar from outdoor dining or coffee tables.
The Kruger National Park is the size of Wales, so our exploration was confined to an area around the Sabie River, the Lebombo Mountains and nearby Mozambique. There were several refuges where you could have a comfort stop and purchase food, but even these were full of surprises, with excellent views over the river and marshland where animals roamed completely freely. Our favourite stopping place was the Skukuza Camp, where there was so much to see and to enjoy. The rangers we met were very informative, and had great eyes to spot the wildlife which in most cases were well camouflaged in their natural surroundings. Although there are problems with poaching of rhinoceros, parks like the Kruger seem to have a good animal population. The last census of the KNP revealed that there were 9,000 wilderbeest, 37,000 buffalo, 28,000 zebra, 120 cheetah, 4,000+ crocodile, 460 eland, 13,500 elephant, 8.000 + giraffe, 3,000 hippopotamus, 152,000 impala, 1000 leopards, 1,700 lions, 150 Reedbuck, 300 nyala, 400 antelopes, 4,900 waterbuck, 5,000+ hyena, 4,000 warthog and 120 wild dogs.
The numbers of rhino are not reported due to poaching. We were however really privileged to get so close to so many wonderful creatures. When you visit the zoo as we do frequently you see the animals in comparatively large enclosures and get close up sightings, but the experience and excitement of actually seeing them in their native habitat, at very close up range was just extraordinary. It was a real delight and privilege to do so. I hope you enjoy these pictures taken during our visit. I will be giving a presentation about The Wildlife of the Kruger, Garden Route & Table Mountain National Parks in the Parish Hall at 7.00pm on Saturday 23rd February, in aid of the Jennie Marsh Trust, which is building a school in Uganda.
Buffalo at the water hole
Zebra on the plains
White Rino on the move
Baboon and twins
Female Elephant with huge tusks
Epephants at the water hole