NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

It was the poet John Donne who first told us that no man is an island, implying that we cannot live entirely without contact with other people i.e. we do not thrive in isolation. Simon & Garfunkel sing the refrain, I am a rock / I am an island, claiming to be self-sufficient – for the time being anyway. To isolate ourselves is neither possible nor a good idea claims the philosopher, Karl Popper (1902-1994). According to him, we are social creatures to the inmost of our being.

True: so are many other animals in their own way, which is possibly why we enjoy scenes such as the ones below as they reflect the empathy we have for others and connect with our desire to be regarded as being ‘special’ to someone.

Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park

 

Zebra in Addo Elephant National Park

 

Yellow-billed Storks in Kruger National Park

 

Giraffe in Kruger National Park

 

Springbuck in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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THREE ADDO BIRDS

A visit to the Addo Elephant National Park is incomplete without observing some of the many birds in the area. Here are three we encountered recently:

A Grey Heron contemplating the prospects of food in the Ghwarrie Waterhole.

This Rednecked Spurfowl eyed us curiously as we drove past along one of the many dirt roads.

One of three Cape Wagtails bobbing across the lawn at Jack’s Picnic Site while searching for insects.

THE LIGHTER SIDE OF JACK’S

We were at Jack’s Picnic Site in the Addo Elephant National Park in the company of some little people. What an interesting place it was for them to explore while the rest of us got a delicious picnic ready: a large dung beetle obligingly made its way across the gravel; two songololos (millipedes) explored the logs and crossed in front of several pairs of fascinated feet.

Other delights included a quick witted Boubou that stole a strip of ham from the picnic table in a flash before anyone else had even had a chance to partake of their own salad buns.

We were serenaded by several Cape Bulbuls – you can tell from the background that this was a dull day weather-wise.

A Sombre Bulbul came to see what could be scrounged from both the ground and the table – it was at this point that one of the little ones pointed out a sign warning visitors not to feed the animals [SO low down and completely overgrown that it was rendered invisible to adult eyes].

The visit from a Cape Robin was a fleeting one.

Perhaps because it had not seen one of these before!

GOOD INTENTIONS GO AWRY

Since it was opened in about 2011, Jack’s Picnic Site in the Addo Elephant National Park has proved to be a popular spot for picnics at any time of the day – and especially over lunch time, which could be anytime between eleven in the morning and three in the afternoon. It is situated inside a 500 hectare Botanical Reserve which is a protected area put aside to monitor the impact of mega-herbivores, particularly elephants, on the subtropical ticket vegetation.

As you can see from the image below, the site is named after a black rhino called Jack:

It is a fenced off area with beautifully constructed picnic sites surrounded by natural vegetation to ensure one’s privacy.

What has always been striking about this site is the deliberate absence of rubbish bins – working on the principle that what visitors bring in they should be prepared to take out. Over the past year in particular I have been struck by the number of visitors asking the caretaker where the bins are – despite the signs explaining why there are no bins.

Of even more concern is that on more occasion I have seen the caretaker actually producing a large black bin bag for visitors to deposit their rubbish in. Why couldn’t they take it home? Yesterday I saw the disturbing sight of a black bin bag tied to the Spekboom hedge outside the ablution block.

Not only was it filled with rubbish, but there was another one filled with rubbish behind the hedge.

The caretaker told me that this is done because tourists keep asking for rubbish bins/bags or – and this is the really shocking part – they dispose of their picnic rubbish by hiding it in the bushes and shrubs surrounding their picnic site “and this makes it difficult for us to clean”, he said.

This is a fine example of how good intentions on the part of the National Parks Board go awry because of the self-centredness and laziness of the public. It is a shame that tourists should flout what is a good idea simply because they do not wish to deal with the rubbish of their own making.

MONKEYS

We seldom come across Vervet Monkeys in the Addo Elephant National Park and so were surprised to see this one as we rounded a corner:

It had obviously rained a day or so before our arrival for there were puddles all over the veld, most notably where the dirt roads were. A little further on we were met by this sight:

Drinking from the puddles in the road.

 

Note the baby tucked under its mother.