A LONG-TERM VIEW OF A TERMITE MOUND

There is a lookout point on the Kranskop Loop which I have circled on the map of the Mountain Zebra National Park.

One is allowed to leave one’s vehicle to enjoy both a leg stretch and the beautiful views. For some reason I photographed a large termite mound there during our visit in 2014:

Perhaps it was because it is the only one on the edge of the parking area; or it might have been because there is clear evidence of fairly recent repairs to the mound, which you can see in the foreground; it may also have been simply because I find such mounds fascinating. The white spots on the top in this photograph are bird droppings. I thought no more of this picture until our return to the same place in 2016 and I photographed it again:

The small rock on the left is still there; there are leaves on the tiny shrub next to it; and the mound looks in a state of good repair – the community within must be functioning well. Naturally, I photographed it again in 2018:

The small rock and the tiny shrub are still there; the larger shrub on the left has grown larger, actually covering part of the mound – which still looks in a state of good repair. There is no sign of the thorns in the background that are visible in the previous photograph. In 2019, the mound looked like this:

Of course I had never thought of standing at the same place each time I photographed the mound! From this perspective though, you can still see the small rock and the tiny shrub – the other plants that had been growing around the base of the mound have disappeared; the shrub on the left has grown and the thorns are visible – they probably were there before but were hidden from where I was standing. The mound shows some signs of repair, although there are several holes visible on the dome. I photographed it again in 2020:

The little rock remains in place, although the tiny shrub now almost hides it; the thorns are more visible as the shrub on the left appears to have died off; and the actual shape of the termite mound has altered a little. There are signs of repair on the left and the holes on the dome are no longer as obvious. I simply had to photograph this termite mound again on our most recent visit. So, in 2021 it looks like this:

Again, the perspective is different, yet the mound struck me at the time as having ‘shrunk’ a little. The little rock remains firmly in place; the tiny shrub has grown, while the one on the left has dried out so that the thorns behind are clearly visible. There is a bulge on the left where more repair work has been carried out and bird droppings adorn the dome once more.

REGAL KUDU

Look at this magnificent kudu bull:

The photograph below is of a female. She had been browsing next to the road and is making her way through the bush. Although her pose looks a little inelegant, she was through it in seconds and started browsing on the other side.

IT WAS VERY COLD

We usually camp when visiting the Mountain Zebra National Park: the camping area is lovely and provides magnificent opportunities for photographing birds. How glad I am that circumstances dictated that we opt for a chalet during this visit for the prevailing temperature was icy cold!

It was so cold that every morning the windscreens of our respective vehicles bore visual signs of why we felt so icy.

This is an unusual experience for us, so I appreciated the pretty patterns seen from within the warmth of the vehicle.

Even in the mid-morning sunshine, there was evidence of the cold in the stalagmite that formed under a dripping tap during the night.

Here is a section of ice retrieved from one of the swings next to the swimming pool.

The air was crisp and the views stretched out to forever.

We will return once the weather has warmed up a little!

YELLOW GRASS

The bleached yellow or straw-coloured grass is a striking feature of the Mountain Zebra National Park during the winter – along with icy temperatures. The Springbok in the foreground is lying down to seek respite from the latter.

So are these Red Hartebeest, with a single Springbok to keep them company.

This almost colourless grass covers the valleys and spreads up the hillsides onto the plateau. A Mountain Zebra appears to be standing guard over a small herd of Red Hartebeest.

Despite its desiccated appearance, the grass is still nutritious for grazers, as this zebra demonstrates.

As do these herds of mixed antelope on the plateau.

The early morning and late afternoon light turns the grass into spun gold.

MOUNTAIN ZEBRAS GALORE PART TWO

No two zebras look alike, which makes it compelling to photograph the different patterns they display. Apart from that, I enjoy finding an individual with something different about it. During our visit to the Mountain Zebra National Park, this zebra caught my eye as it has somehow lost the tuft at the end of its tail.

This must be a nuisance when it comes to fending off flies, for example. It was soon enjoying a dust bath in a dry dam.

Several others in the herd were doing the same.

Appropriately, the last animal we saw as we were leaving the park was a Cape Mountain Zebra walking away from us: a fine farewell to a beautiful place and these fascinating animals.