FOCUS ON KUDU

One of the most majestic animals we see is the Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros). They carry themselves so elegantly and look at one seemingly with the confidence born of knowing they are a cut above the rest. Look at the colouring of this beautiful female kudu with its tawny brown body, greyish neck and the stripes on its back. Both males and females have a conspicuous hump on the shoulder.

Note the fluffier fur of this immature kudu.

Only the male kudu has horns. You can tell this is a young kudu bull for its horns have not yet started to twist into the familiar spiral pattern. The spectacular horns of the kudu are used to fight each other for the right to mate with females.

You can see this pattern in the image below. Note the chevron-shaped white band across the face too.

Kudu are large antelope and rely on their disruptive colouration for camouflage as the stripes help their bodies to blend into the background – from the perspective of possible predators. They sport a mane of long hair from the back of the head to their tail that helps to disrupt their outline. An interesting characteristic of kudu is their large ears.

NOTE: Click on a photograph to see a larger image.

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ANTELOPE IN THE MOUNTAIN ZEBRA NATIONAL PARK

Naturally enough, we expect to see Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra) in the Mountain Zebra National Park situated on the northern slopes of the Bankberg near Cradock.

While we saw a lot of them, a variety of antelope populate the area too. Among these are Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama):

This is a predominantly grazing species that prefers medium-height grass and so are plentiful in the plateau area of Rooiplaat and Juriesdam.

It is wonderful to see large herds of South Africa’s national animal, the Springbuck (Antidorcas marsupialis), grazing in the veld all over the Park.

We did not see as many Gemsbok (Oryx gazelle) as we have on previous visits. This one was bounding across the grassland with considerable haste.

It was very interesting to happen upon a small herd of Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) and to watch how quickly and nimbly they could run up the steep, rocky, mountain slope!

The Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) were scattered here and there. They are mainly browsers rather than grazers.

Sizeable herds of Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) as well as individuals abound in the Park.

EAT AND BE EATEN

The urban lifestyle is so far removed from the natural order of things: eat and be eaten. While some may have fruit and vegetables growing in their gardens or on their balconies, the majority of urbanites rely on supermarkets, butchers, bakeries and the like for their daily food. Meat comes wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, bread is pre-sliced in plastic bags, vegetables are ready picked and washed on the shelves – perhaps even pre-chopped / sliced / mixed all ready for roasting or stir-frying …

That is not the case in nature, where the eat and be eaten order applies.

This is what remains of a Mountain Tortoise:

A Zebra munches the dry winter grass:

What is left of a Kudu:

The grisly end of a Cape Buffalo that had been a meal for many:

This is a Warthog grazing – note the way it rests on its front knees:

They also rest on their knees when drinking:

An elephant tucks into a nutritious meal: