A few readers enjoyed the glimpse of zebras in my post on the landscape of the Eastern Cape, so I thought of providing a few more pictures of them for your enjoyment. These photographs were all taken in the Addo Elephant National Park. The first shows a zebra in a field of gazanias. It is wonderful to see how this park transforms into a floral wonderland once the first spring rains have fallen.
While we often see herds of these beautiful creatures in the open grasslands, occasionally one or two walk purposefully next to the road. What a joy it is to see them from so close.
This one has a particularly intricate pattern on its back.
While this one shows recent battle wounds. Males attack each other quite fiercely to gain or maintain breeding rights.
During the winter, even dry grass contains some nourishment.
Lastly, a photograph to demonstrate how useful zebras find their tails to ward off flies and other biting insects.
An advantage of overnighting in a national park is that one can enter the game area before sunrise. We left our Forest Cabin to go through the gate at half past six: the air was cold and felt ‘heavy’ to breathe; the horizon was only beginning to blush in the east; and there was a heavy dew on the grass. While this is a magical time in which to see a variety of animals, it is not kind light for photography. Rooidam waterhole looked for all the world as though it was a simmering cauldron with steam rising from its surface. We could barely see the pair of Egyptian Geese preening themselves near the edge:
The darkness was fading fast though, which meant that within a few minutes I could capture their ghostly reflections in the water. A little further along the road we came across the first of many zebra, their manes almost glowing as the sun rose higher:
The colour of zebra changes according to the light and where they have been rolling on the ground. These two were walking away from the rosy sunrise:
Our early rising was rewarded by this magnificent sighting of a herd of buffalo grazing out in the open:
The early morning light now cast a golden glow over everything. We drove on for a closer view of them:
These two on the edge of the herd are covered with a thick layer of mud. Moving on to Hapoor Waterhole, we spotted a terrapin catching the early morning rays of the sun:
Zebras feature very often in this blog, which is no wonder for they are a magnet for me. They look beautiful out in the wild and so, how can one resist photographing these two standing so closely together?
As you can tell, I find zebras endlessly fascinating – look at this gangly youngster.
Having mentioned the Addo Elephant National Park in my previous post, I delved into my folders to find a selection of photographs from a 2017 visit to give you an idea of some of the interesting things you can see there – apart from lions, hyenas, caracal and aardvarks that is. There are a number of carefully managed waterholes dotted about the park where, while exercising a degree of patience, one has the opportunity to see a variety of animals and birds. The Domkrag Dam is a favourite place to stop, for one is allowed to get out of one’s vehicle for a better view of the water over the low Spekboom hedge. On this occasion we were able to watch a small herd of Burchell’s zebra approaching from across the plain to drink.
Domkrag Dam is named after an enormous mountain tortoise that used to live in the area. What is significant about this tortoise is that it had the strange habit of walking underneath cars and lifting them up with its enormous strength! The shell of this famous tortoise is on display in the Interpretive Centre at Main Camp. Burchell’s zebra are frequently seen sharing the grassy plains with herds of red hartebeest.
Jack’s Picnic Site provides a welcome stopover for a comfort break and is well equipped with picnic sites, each containing a wooden table with benches as well as a place to braai if one wishes to cook one’s own food. Each site is well hidden from the one next door by a thick hedge of Spekboom and other indigenous bushes. It is a particularly good place to photograph a variety of birds from close up as most of them have become used to the coming and going of people throughout the day – and are always on the lookout for a fallen crumb or two! Something else that are a special delight to see there are the odd millipede or two, which we call songololos in South Africa.
The Spekboom Hide is also an interesting place to stop. Again, one can leave one’s vehicle here and enter a Spekboom thicket to peer through a strong elephant-proof fence to see what might be drinking from the waterhole on the other side. On this particular occasion a baby elephant caught my fancy even though it was part of a small family group of various ages.
Apart from animals, I am keen to watch birds in the Addo Elephant National Park. While waterholes are a good place to see waterfowl especially, there are often some interesting surprises along the roads too – such as this Spotted Thick-knee peering at us from the bush.
Much more easily visible are the Red-necked Spurfowl, the sight of which always brightens my day.