RED HARTEBEEST 2

Here is a Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama) sitting comfortably next to the road in the Addo Elephant National Park. Judging from the droppings surrounding it, it had been there for some time and showed no intention to move.

You can tell it has been sitting very still by looking at the flies on its eye and nose. It did not appear to be bothered by them when I parked next to it to take photographs. As you can see, these antelope have long narrow faces.

The rather soulful look of the adult can be seen in this youngster too.

Here is a mother with its calf.

NOTE: Please click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger view.

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FLIGHTLESS DUNG BEETLES (2)

I have mentioned before that the Addo Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium bacchus) are among the largest in the world and that they play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to decompose the piles of dung deposited both by wild animals and stock animals. As there has been a little rain, this is a good time of the year to see them in the Addo Elephant National Park.

They criss-cross the roads in search of dung, causing some motorists to swerve to avoid them. One can also see them on the verges, as is the one in the photograph above. It is always interesting, however, to see them at work on freshly deposited elephant dung – this one really looks as if it is biting off more than it can chew, or that its eyes are bigger than its belly! Actually, these beetles can roll balls of dung fifty times heavier than they are.

Dung beetles are reliant on dung both for their own nutrition and that of their larvae. Quite understandably, they prefer fresh dung from which to form their brood balls. It has been interesting to read that studies have shown that these dung beetles use the Milky Way to navigate their way at night.

Not all visitors seem to be aware that these beetles are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN list and so do not heed the many signs warning them to give way to the dung beetles on the road. Factors such as agriculture and human interference have led to the vulnerability of these beetles – we need to watch out for them!

NOTE: Click on a photograph iif you wish to see a larger version.

A REFLECTIVE MOOD

Easter is a reflective time of the year and so I offer the following reflections that have all been photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park:

 

This Blackbacked Jackal was approaching the water at Hapoor in a very contemplative mood – it stood there very quietly for some time, possibly aware of the many elephants splashing just the other side of the reeds – before it made its way down the the water in a slow and cautious manner. It displayed patience such as few of us have when we are thirsty.

These Blacksmith Plovers (now called Blacksmith Lapwing) are standing on a barely submerged sandbank in front of the reeds at Hapoor – doubtless enjoying a respite from all the elephant activity that this waterhole is well known for.

An Egyptian Goose enjoying a drink at the Carol’s Rest waterhole.

Another thirsty visitor at Carol’s Rest is this warthog.

I will leave you with these zebra walking along the edge of the Domkrag waterhole in search of a suitable drinking place.

NOTE: Please click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger image.

RHINO POACHING

The slaughtering of rhinos for their horns is a sad phenomenon that has swept through this country for years. Money and manpower is invested in protecting these beautiful creatures that might otherwise have been deployed elsewhere.

It is not a simple matter of trying to catch poachers before they harm an animal: killing is involved – of both beast and man. Some sources have described the situation as war. Several game sanctuaries in the form of national or provincial parks and private game reserves and game farms are within easy reach of the town I live in. Some of the people who work there live in this town, or shop here, or send their children to school here. When a rhino is slaughtered nearby, sections of this community feel the pain as if it were their own: we mix with the people for whom the sadness is very real. So it is that the fate of the white rhino has become close to the hearts of our community and their plight is felt even by young children, who have shown their concern ranging from celebrating the rhino on birthday cakes.

To raising funds and awareness on a much larger scale.

There is a local Rhino Run too.

I have shown these images before and here they serve to illustrate the appreciation of rhinos that runs through our community – they live nearby and so reports of rhino poaching elsewhere in the country strikes a chord here: what about ‘our’ rhino; will they be safe?

In June 2016, rhino poaching hit home – hard. It was reported that three suspects had been arrested at the Makana Resort in our town. They were linked to the poaching of rhino at Buckland’s Private Game Reserve, where it is suspected the rhino was darted before it was killed and its horn hacked off. Even though the men had been caught red-handed in a chalet with a 10.27 kilograms of freshly harvested rhino horn valued at R1 million‚ a bloody saw‚ a dart gun and M99 tranquilising drug, as well as cell phones and SIM cards, it has taken until now for them to be brought to book.

Earlier this month the three rhino poachers, 40-year-old Forget Ndlovu, 38-year-old Jabulani Ndlovu and 37-year-old Skhumbuzo Ndlovu, faced over 50 charges related to the poaching of 13 rhinos across the Eastern Cape and were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment each in the Grahamstown High Court.

If you wish to read more detailed reports go to:

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/eastern-cape-rhino-poachers-sentenced-to-25-years-each/

https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/eastern-cape/ndlovu-trio-sentenced-to-25-years-behind-bars-for-rhino-poaching-20556007

https://www.algoafm.co.za/article/local/99780/ec-rhino-poachers-sentenced-to-25-years-each-

HIPPOPOTAMUS

One doesn’t often come across a hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) in the Eastern Cape, where they have been re-introduced, so I enjoyed seeing these ones peeping out of the water on a nearby reserve. Hippos (as they are commonly called) rely on water and mud to keep them cool during the day and mostly emerge to feed at night.

They are the third largest land mammals after the elephant and white rhinoceros.  See how their wet backs glisten in the sun.

To give you a better idea of what a hippopotamus looks like out of the water, here is one emerging from a water hyacinth infested waterhole in the Kruger National Park.

They might look like cumbersome animals but, as this sign warns, beware of them when they are out of the water: they can be very dangerous as they are both territorial and aggressive.

The scars on the side of this hippopotamus attest to the way they fight each other too.

Note: Click on the photographs for a larger view.

BLUE CRANE

The Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus) is South Africa’s National Bird as it is endemic to this country, barring a very small population in Namibia. Despite its name, it is actually a grey crane. Because its status is vulnerable, I become very excited when I see Blue Cranes in the wild, as I did on a recent trip to the Addo Elephant National Park where a pair of them were scouring the veld for food.

In this photograph you can get a good view of its bulbous head with the conspicuously paler grey patch on the crown and forehead. The long, darker tail feathers (actually the inner secondaries and tertials) show up well too.

From a photographic point of view, I missed the action every time, for it was interesting to watch how these birds would systematically turn over every elephant dropping in their path and eat whatever they found underneath – I presume insects.

This one paused for a scratch. Click on the photograph in order to get a clear look at its claws in the larger view.

“I can stand on one leg too!”

Note: Click on the photographs for a larger view.

FOCUS ON BUFFALO

Size-wise, the African or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is no pushover:

Look at the beautifully symmetrical curve of the horns on this one:

This buffalo must have been in a tussle a long time ago as a result of which it has lost one tip of its horn:

Red-billed Oxpeckers were re-introduced to the Addo and Great Fish reserves in 1990 and play a role in ridding animals of ecto-parasites. Here one can be seen inspecting the boss of a buffalo:

Here is an old buffalo:

Sadly, this is all that remains of a buffalo that was no longer able to defend itself.

NOTE: Click on the photographs if you wish to see a larger view.