SOME ANIMALS IN THE KAROO NATIONAL PARK

Proclaimed in 1979, the Karoo National Park is situated on the southern slopes of the Nuweveld Mountains near Beaufort West and is home to approximately fifty-eight endemic species of animals, quite apart from birds and reptiles. Even though the vegetation is sparse, one cannot expect to see them all in only just over a day. Time, as well as the luck factor, determines what one can see during a drive. The animals we saw tended to be scattered over a wide area and did not occur in great herds.

Among the animals we saw was a kudu bull peering at us from behind a bush.

Later, we were delighted to come across more kudu in the company of Cape mountain zebras.

A lone springbok seemed unperturbed by our presence.

It is always wonderful to come across the majestic looking gemsbok.

The red hartebeest shone like burnished copper in the sun.

A small troop of baboons crossed the road ahead of us and proceeded to fan through the veld where they nibbled on grass seeds and overturned stones looking for insects to eat.

There were other animals too, some too far from the road for a good photograph. Sadly, we had only one full day in the park – we clearly need to spend a lot more time there!

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.

MOUNTAIN ZEBRAS GALORE PART ONE

Appropriately the first animals we spotted after entering the Mountain Zebra National Park were … Cape Mountain Zebras.

The grey sky had nothing to do with rain and everything to do with cold weather: the temperature was -6°C when we set out for our early morning drive.

Not that the zebras seemed to mind the cold. The Red Hartebeest, on the other hand, are huddling in the dry grass to protect themselves a little from the icy wind which swept through the valley.

Note the horizontal stripes that extend right down to the hooves of the Cape Mountain Zebra. You can also see the dewlap on this one’s throat.

These zebras sport a characteristically reddish colour around their muzzles.

Cape Mountain Zebras mainly eat grass, bark leaves and occasionally roots.

Here a curious herd keeps an eye on us.

One cannot help admiring the beautiful area they call home.

It is time for this foal to have its breakfast.

The foal has a woolly covering to help it deal with the icy conditions of winter.