Game spotting

27 Jun, 2015

White rhinos and silver foxes, two types of sightings seen in unexpected abundance in the Kruger National Park. 6 nights, 40 game spotting hours, 110 bird species, a python, lions and a cheetah and cub. Yet nothing was more surprising than the numbers of white rhino and prevalence of silver foxes. In the light of their declining number, it felt like a privilege to see this snoozing, wallowing, slow grazing, lumbering creature – the rhino, that is.

The silver foxes meanwhile were maxing out on their Wildcards. It seemed evident that some (clearly living very proximately to the Park) were visiting almost every day. At R435 a year for unlimited access, this works out at just R1.19 a day and you have the possibility of seeing as much as any five star lodger. We spotted a tannie at the bird hide who appeared to be doing her daily bird count. Completely ignoring our muffled shrieks at seeing an enormous python wrapped in a tree, she went on ticking off migrants and non-migrants alike.

In the camaraderie that is the Park, sharing is both expected and acted upon. So if you see a stationary vehicle with some binoculars attached to some humans fixed upon seemingly nothing among the blonde grass, don’t be shy to approach slowly, come to a respectful halt nearby and enquire as to their findings. Sometimes it may be a very disappointing LBJ (little brown job, a type of nondescript bird) that is making them twitch. However, your probe may yield thrilling results. Early one evening we questioned a lone chain-smoking Hilux driver who pointed us toward a desiccated cluster of scrub. So eager was he to help us spot the occasional flick of a lion tail, he tooted the horn of the bakkie. It was so wonderfully counter to bush etiquette that I almost choked on my illicitly smuggled-in G&T. His efforts delivered no reaction from the lazy felines. Some patience did though. After about twenty minutes we were treated to spectacular viewing of the lion couple as they awoke for an evening stretch and a yawning preamble to their prowling.

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