The Addo Elephant National Park is hot during December. When we entered the gates at eight o’clock yesterday morning the temperature was a pleasant 22°C and three hours later the mercury had climbed to 34°C and well above that by the middle of the day. There has not been much rain of late so the veld is looking dry in most places.

Addo Elephant Park in December

Our first port of call was to Domkrag Dam which is named after an enormous mountain tortoise that used to live in the area. Domkrag is the Afrikaans word for motorcar jack. Apart from Red Bishops flitting in and out of the bank of reeds, a number of water birds were present. I was interested to observe this Spoonbill perched on a dry log in the middle of the dam with only a terrapin for company. Notice how the water has become thick with a growth of algae that clearly shows the trails of swimming birds.


This algae was being collected into a nest by a Red-knobbed Coot.


A group of three warthogs found a clear spot to drink from.


As did a family group of Red hartebeest.


Ghwarrie Pan was clear and calm. A Cape Buffalo had found a peaceful way to keep cool.


Hapoor was, however, the place for observing elephants at close quarters. This waterhole is named after a dominant bull that lived in the area for many years and had a recognisable nick (hap/bite) in one of his ears. It teemed with elephants as they sought refuge from the heat to slake their thirst, spray water and or mud over themselves, and to indulge in social interactions. Some youngsters took special delight in immersing themselves completely in the water and playing with each other while in the dam.




One adult decided to rest his trunk.

elephant trunk

All of this activity was kept an eye on by a Blacksmith Plover and an Egyptian Goose.


It was while driving past Janwal Pan Lookout that we came across this magnificent kudu bull sensibly resting in the shade.


More elephants were spraying themselves at the Marion Baree waterhole.



While another was drinking its fill from a small waterhole in the southern section of the park.


My bird list is as follows:
Barthroated apalis
Black crow
Blackheaded heron
Blacksmith plover
Blackwinged stilt
Cape robin
Cape sparrow
Cape Wagtail
Crowned plover
Denham’s bustard
Fiscal flycatcher
Fiscal shrike
Greyheaded heron
Hadeda ibis
Jackal buzzard
Lesserstriped swallow
Levaillant’s cisticola
Pale chanting goshawk
Pearlbreasted swallow
Red bishop
Redcollared widowbird
Redknobbed coot
Redwinged starling
Sombre bulbul
South African Shelduck
Southern black korhaan
Whitenecked raven
Whiterumped swift


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