Liza
gardening consultant
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Waterloo, Belgium

Animals!!! Animals born free!!

25 Sep '07 4:45 am
Oh, Jack, dear-dear Jack!! Today I just could NOT help replying to your African Wildlife post!! Having in front of me all those , round baby elephants, running close to their mamas!! SO cute, really!!I have always admired elephants in my life, seen films about them ; seen how baby elephants in Africa are saved when their mamas are killed....by "kind" humans...And how some really kind humans become their replacement mamas, until they grow up and be let free..

And how nice to meet Shelley!! She looks so happy in the photo!! But , what I also liked in your previous posts, is that animals come close to humans, being not afraid to ask for food! How I would love to be me in that lovely photo...No, I do not think I would be afraid...Mark gave me a loud lough with his post, ...because rationally speaking he is SO very right...

I also LOVED the photo where various animals are shown all together! And that lovely blue pond with the lilies and the ..."croc" -- I said to myself, "what on earth is croc here"...And he swims ...so gracefully in the pond...I mean the crocodile....

Well, what an experience , Jack!! Unforgetable, non?? Being really with THEM! Smelling the air and the scents they smell! Listening their voices for real! Experiencing their REAL wildlife environment, NOT on TV....REAL! What a blessing! But everything around seems so very..tree-less.. Is it always, everywhere like this, or just Kruger ??...Because, you live in a tree-ful land...How is it possible that the landscape changes SO dramatically...Temperatures, maybe ?

PS. And, when I submitted my text, I saw the lions!! Glorious!! How exciting!! Glorious posts , Jack!! I mean ALL these African Wildlife posts of yours!! THANK YOU!!!
"..So,perhaps, it is easiest, through awareness of flowers in particular, of their radiant beauty and purity, their vibrant colour, to come to the excellence of the One and be uplifted beyond thought to our divine selves".Dorothy Maclean

Dixie
garden enthusiast
User avatar
Waikato-New Zealand

Kruger park

25 Sep '07 5:46 am
The photos of being there are so incredible,Jack.There is no place like Africa !
Did any other NZers see the TV programme last night about the baboons in South Africa ?There are a group of 36 that are very mischievous and can open car doors,and get in through house windows.Not really as cute as they seem to hapless victims.
I am so much enjoying your trip,Jack.
Dixie.

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
User avatar
SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

Olifants camp

25 Sep '07 8:55 am
After striking camp once we had had our fill of lions, we set off for the nearby Olifants camp, to me the most beautiful spot in the whole Kruger. The camp sits high on a ridge above a bend in the Olifants river, and outside the restaurant there is a shaded area where one can sit and look down on the river and the surrounding areas - much like Nwanetsi but on a vastly bigger scale. Here I can sit for hours with a pair of binocs, and when their are no animals in the riverbed below me or wandering in the plains and hills, then I can sit and study individual trees in the bushveld. Liza, you say there are few trees. On the contrary - there are millions, of great variety, but it is very different from a dense European forest where the trees are of one or only a few species at a time and they cast a dense shade. The African bush is dry, and very hot. Many trees and shrubs (bushes, I suppose is a more appropriate term in the Bushveld!)are decideous and won't go into leaf till after the first good rain.

We had spent a happy hour or so at the observation post when we suddenly saw a commotion. Huge numbers of baboons and impala scattered to the opposite bank, but a group of about 20 big baboons congregated on one point. I missed it, but two of our party saw it through their binocs: suddenly there was a leopard, and he was being confronted by the group of baboons. He fled into the reeds below us, and from a safe distance the baboons kept him covered whilst the others fled to safety. Well, that I guess was the intention. But baboons are only human after all, and rubber-necking is a universal phenomenon. So a great many, especially teenagers, came to join the older, bigger, wiser guards, slowly drawing nearer and cautiously peering at the leopard. For about 40 minutes the guards kept watching him, then gradually lost interest. (‘Short attention span’, the teacher in me took note.) After an hour, as we were leaving, the leopard made an unsuccessful dash for some waterbuck. We wondered if he was sick or injured. For his pride sake I hope he did not realise he was being eagerly watched!

On the way out I photographed the spectacular impala lilies (Adenium multiflorum); it is of the milkweed family and the latex is used as an arrow poison. In an earlier post (before brunch) I showed them growing pink against a hill.

Then we set off on the 4 hour trip west, back to the Phalaborwa Gate entrance and the mountain.
Climbing towards Olifants Camp one looks out over the river.JPG
The grey is trees and bushes that do not yet have their leaves
Rotary friends, coffee mugs, binocs and a view...JPG
Bushveld as far as the eye can see.JPG
Impala lily and aloes.JPG
Outside outside registration there are more impala lilies.JPG
Like a delicate orchid growing out of a baobab-like succulent.JPG
A particularly rich impala lily.JPG
More typical colouring.JPG
Another close-up.JPG
Last edited by Jack Holloway on 25 Sep '07 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
User avatar
SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

Farewell to Kruger

25 Sep '07 6:21 pm
Along the road westward we stop at a dam, to find two groups of elephants enjoying the water...
We arrive at the dam with perfect timing.JPG
On the opposite bank there is already a group at play in the water.JPG
The first group move past in front of us.JPG
Mother and child.JPG
We discover that elephant do it in water...JPG
Which makes sense if you don't have elbows to take all that weight...
Or perhaps they were just teens having fun.JPG
Farewell for now to the Bushveld.JPG

Liza
gardening consultant
User avatar
Waterloo, Belgium

It makes sense..

25 Sep '07 7:51 pm
Thank you, Jack, for the explanation!! It makes enormous sense! This very question bothered me for years...But certain trees --and beautiful ones-- are already green near the waters.That bicolored Lily is such a jewel!

And one more elephant show, has been another precious present for me!! I do feel a deep admiration and tenderness for these huge and kind animals! And I loved your explanation, about....why they do it in the water.. Correct!
"..So,perhaps, it is easiest, through awareness of flowers in particular, of their radiant beauty and purity, their vibrant colour, to come to the excellence of the One and be uplifted beyond thought to our divine selves".Dorothy Maclean

Bambi
Slowly Learning Gardener
User avatar
Kent, England

2 Oct '07 3:04 am
Hi Jack,

I read your lovely visit to Kruger over the weekend as promised, and I was captivated! While hubby watched the rugby, I delighted myself with your wonderful narrative (your descriptions are so poetic, you should definitely write a book - that's if you haven't already!) and splendid photos. I, like Liza, adored the elephant photos in particular (and, oh! the baby elephants never fail to touch my heart!), but all of them were wonderful and only helped along the story. You must have been extremely sad to leave that wonderful place, Jack, but thanks for taking us all along with you.

Bambi
x
"If you'd have a mind at peace
A heart that cannot harden
Go find a door that opens wide
Upon a beautiful garden."
Author Unknown

jack two
member
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The new improved Jack Holloway v.2

Visit to Olifants Camp, Kruger National Park, end April

3 May '08 11:21 pm
Well, here I am again, getting rather off the Moosey topic, but you all seemed to enjoy my last report, so here goes!

My friend Shelley (who spent many years teaching at International Schools around the world, the last in Vietnam) was approached to host two young Swedes coming to South Africa from Vietnam. We spent three night at one of my favourite camps, Olifants, just 10km downstream from Baluli where we stayed last September ( and will be revisiting this September!) It is always wonderful to be with people entering Kruger for the first time, and the Park did us proud: near the Phalaborwa Gate, about 2 1/2 hours from the farm, is the Sable Dam, a wonderful spot to see a variety of animals. Not only did we see a troupe of elephants, with two more arriving whilst we watched, there were also Impala, with the males performing as they do at this season, gathering and protecting their harem. That in itself was a show! We saw warthog, many different birds and baboons whist we were parked there; a wonderful introduction to the interaction that happens in the bush between different species, as well as between individual animals. This is where I realised that Nick is a SERIOUS photographer with excellent equipment (except he had to keep changing lenses!) - I took 520 pics during our 3 days, he took over 2000 and will hopefully plug some gaps for me - obviously I let his photography take precedence over mine, whether to the left or right of us.

Here then is the first instalment: arriving in the park, Sable Dam and the night outing in an open game-viewing vehicle to an observation post looking down on the river where we had a fascinating two hour introduction to Astronomy AND a bonus on the way back to camp!
1 Big male baboon with a bit of a wound.JPG
2 Elephant interaction.JPG
3 The delightful silliness of the Ground Hornbill, one of Africas biggest birds.JPG
4 Autumn colour, Kruger style - mainly Mopane and Kirkia acuminata.JPG
5 One of my favourite Kirkias - on the other side of the road one unexpectedly comes across the Olifants River - a  most beautiful spot.JPG
6 The stargazing expedition, looking back along the stretch of river mentioned in the previous pic.JPG
7 On our way back we are ecstatic to find a pair of lionesses lying by the roadside.JPG

jack two
member
User avatar
The new improved Jack Holloway v.2

Day two

4 May '08 1:10 am
Some highlights of our trip Southwards on our second day...

The next instalment will include two new activities: going out with a ranger on a night drive and an accompanied walk the next morning - my first ever walk in the Kruger where rule number one is DON'T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR EXCEPT IN DEMARCATED AREAS!
8 Zebras must be the park's most photogenic animals!.JPG
9 And giraffe come a close second!.JPG
10 Strange heads and doe eyes.JPG
11 Ipale might be plentiful, but the are also the most beautiful anf graceful of creatures.JPG
12 The Lilac-breasted Roller is one of our most magnificently coloured birds.JPG
In flight the turquoise of its wings is quite spectacular!
13 Elephants in a perfect setting.JPG
The next morning this was the starting point for my first ever game-walk in the Kruger Park...
14 Beauty and the Beast.JPG
These birds pick ticks of mammals and are particularly keen on travelling with the buffalo
15 Since this is Mooseys please concentrate on the trees the bushes and the grass.JPG
16 In the parched veld a stream complete with wild waterlilies and huge green trees.JPG
17 Looking down on a likkewaan, more of a large lizard than a crocodile!.JPG
18 Heron on the Letaba River - the 2 rivers converge a few km beyond the camp.JPG
19 A Kudu bull - our most imposing antelope and emblem of the South African Parks Board.JPG
20 Late afternoon, returning to camp, which looks down on the Olifants in a most drammatic way.JPG

Mark
Home gardener & plant fetishist
User avatar
Berkeley, California, USA

Just as I'd begun to associate Africa with lg estate gardens

4 May '08 2:14 am
.. you remind us that you share the continent with the largest collection of the largest fauna on earth. Your admonition to regard the shrubs and trees was helpful because I had scarcely noticed there were any.

As a former aviary keeper, the Lilac-breasted Roller sure caught my eye. I'd always wanted to find exotic starlings to keep because of the metallic sheen to their feather coloring, which our new world hummers also have. None of these can hold a candle to your Roller though. Special.

My first library obsession was with animals, their behavior and so on. In 6th and 7th grade I read everything I could put my hands on. You wouldn't have wanted to visit a zoo with me in my early adulthood because I would've told you way more than you'd ever want to know. (My brothers, sister and first wife will attest to this.) So thanks for the show.

Now I'm going outside to tend to my plant kingdom collection. Our big party is about a week away, on Mother's Day so there is plenty to do.
Mark in California

Q: "Do you ever sit down?"
A: "All the time until the urge to 'play' some more becomes too strong."

jack two
member
User avatar
The new improved Jack Holloway v.2

Sunset drive and morning walk

4 May '08 8:31 am
Part of the modern, more ecological and adventurous approach to the park is the concept of game drives with park wardens at times the public is not allowed out of camp. Thus our sunset drive that evening.

Almost immediately on leaving camp we come across young hyenas. There natural homes are in second hand burrows. The culverts under the roads have become a popular substitute. At dusk families come out to play, or the cubs (pups?) hang around whilst mom goes ascavenging...

The next morning was very exciting - my first ever walk in the Kruger. Animals have over almost a century become used to humans in vehicles and are not threatened by them. (Well mostly not - we were again in a tight spot with an elephant on our last day, but scooted away before he finally decided we were in his bubble...) However a human on foot will always be the enemy - it is too deeply ingrained in the animals' subconscious, and so we needed to be extra vigilant, and read the elephants' body language very carefully. Sometimes they would mearly keep an eye on one at 10 meters, at others 25m were too close - especially if we were in their planned path. As you can see from pic 33, this actually happened to us - a scary moment, as John, our guide, warned that we were retreating into the bushes were the lionesses were fond of hanging out. It really added a bit of spice to our walk! However more than anything else, it is the unfettered exposure to the beauty of the veld that made the walk so exciting. With the exception of the wonderful and close meeting with the elephants and the possibility of seeing the lions, we could have done better 'sightseeing' if we had spent those two hours in a car. And then of course John was marvellously informative about all sorts of things: long term climate change; management of the fauna and flora; animal behaviour...

But our outing did end on a climactic note!!
21 Two young hyenas - about 4 months old.JPG
22 A reminder that I am a lover of trees!.JPG
23 A young kudu cow.JPG
24 Sunset in the Veld is a grand occasion - but the next evening would be grander still!.JPG
25 The low water bridge at Baluli. We watched the lions from the broader part in the middle last September.JPG
26 The next morning we drive to the waterhole in pic 13 and move into the veld just before sunrise.JPG
27 African sunrise.JPG
28 The lower jaw of a warthog lies in the veld, the only remnant of a recent kill.JPG
29 Doing casual is part of the act - our gude was in fact extremely capable and switched on.JPG
30 Our guides with Nick and Sophie, our Swedish guests.JPG
31 Huge leadwood trees in the beautiful bushveld.JPG
32 Dead leadwoods, one of the worlds most solid woods and a signs of long term drying of the area, can stand for 100s of years.JPG
At the Letaba camp there is a leadwood stump carbon-dated to having germinated around 1100, died around 1660 - when the first white settlers arrived in the country. After all that time out of doors it is still as solid as can be!
33 Taking a submissive posture.JPG
Notice the elephant checking us out, deciding if it was worth his while to go out of his way to chase us... he is now within meters of the point where John decided we should move sideways into the bushes...
34 Picture 13 - now from the other end and after skirting the last elephant to leave the waterhole.JPG
35 2 of the 3 lionesses seen across the frame of the vehicle - 3within 50m of getting back into them!.JPG
...could that please read "within 50m of getting back into the vehicle"...
36 Lioness at large.JPG

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