ELEPHANTS APLENTY

Despite its name, one cannot be guaranteed to see a lot of elephants – or even any elephants – whilst driving around the Addo Elephant National Park. Sometimes one feels fortunate to see a lone elephant, such as this one, wading through the shallow water in the Ghwarrie Dam or drinking quietly with only water birds for company at first.

Note the thick, dark mud sticking to its tusk. It was later joined by a lone Cape buffalo that wasted no time in wallowing in the mud.

The situation at Rooidam was different, for here a small herd had gathered, waiting patiently while a young one found a deeper hole in which to wallow. It sometimes submerged itself so completely that only the tip of its trunk showed above the water. You can see, from the elephant on the right, how shallow the water is for some distance from the edge.

You will notice that most of the other elephants have already covered themselves with mud or sand, which helps to protect their skin from the harsh rays of the sun (as we would use sunscreen) as well as from parasites.

At Domkrag another elephant cut a lone figure as it drank thirstily from the dam. You can tell from the shadow beneath that the sun was high. A strong hot breeze was blowing too which added to the discomfort of the thirty plus degrees heat.

No single photograph can capture the hundreds of elephants gathered at the popular Hapoor waterhole. Far too many vehicles were parked cheek-by-jowl along the edge of the main watering place for another to get in, so these two photographs show a small section of the hundreds of elephants gathered on the other side of that waterhole where, presumably, there must also be access to watering points.

Note: you can double-click on these images for a larger view.

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REFLECTIONS 4

Look at these pools of reflection in a gold fob watch, creating worlds within worlds.

Reflections in nature provide endless fascination and, in this case, add to the peaceful atmosphere of the hippo pool in Ekutheleni early one morning.

The reflection of the lion drinking at Rooidam in the Addo Elephant National Park adds to the grandeur of the scene.

ZEBRAS WIN THE DAY

ZEBRAS WIN THE DAY

The Addo Elephant National Park is dry: not just brown and dry – in places it looks desiccated dry.

dryAddo

Some Schotia brachypetala, plumbago, verbena and pelargoniums make a brave show of their blooms in the swirling dust.

schotia
From a distance too some of the grassland areas look potentially attractive for grazers until one sees the bare patches from close up.

zebradust

The only vestiges of green show where there has been some water run-off from the road. Even some of the waterholes, such as Rooidam, are virtually dry.

Rooidam

A small herd of zebras were the first animals we encountered. Photogenic creatures that they are, they formed the subject of several photographs before we moved on. Little did we realise then that we would see hundreds more before the day was over!

zebraherd

Zebras are so beautiful to look at and they turned out in full splendour, giving us the opportunity to observe – from close quarters – the variations in the patterns of their stripes. Some are broad and bold, while others are paler and thinner. Some stripes are well defined all over the zebras’ bodies, while on other animals the stripes peter out to almost nothing.

stripes

It seemed to be ‘necking’ season for all over we came across zebras resting their heads on each other as if in a show of affection.

affection

A number of foals were evident too. Their furry appearance a stark contrast to the sleekness of their elders. Zebras won the day for their dominance in the veld.

zebrafoal

Warthogs came a close second. Family groups could be seen from far away, close to the road, in the sun, or resting from the 28°C heat in the shade.

warthogs

Although we were told of a large herd of elephants at Hapoor waterhole, we saw only single ones. One elephant walked resolutely towards our car, almost brushing past it within touching distance.

ele1

ele2

ele3

ele4

Another interrupted a buffalo enjoying a mudbath. The latter got to its feet and moved away very smartly then stood and watched from a discreet distance as if to say, “What did you do that for?”

elephantandbuffalo

eleandbuffalo

A few kudu were visible in the bush. The bulls appeared to be skittish, however, and moved into cover upon the arrival of any passing traffic.

kudubush

It was a treat being able to watch a black-backed jackal drink her fill from a waterhole, taking her time before trotting off purposefully as if she had a mission to fulfil.Other animals we saw were a suricate, eland and hartebeest.

bbjackal

suricate

Ghwarrie dam is always a favourite place to visit and, although there were no animals other than warthogs this time, there were terrapins galore as well as South African Shelducks and Blacksmith Plovers.

terrapins

Both Grey- and Blackheaded Herons showed their willingness to be photographed by standing close to the road, their eyes intent on a possible meal.

ghheron

bhheron

A gusty wind sprang up in the afternoon, showering us with dust and fine grit. Clouds were starting to gather and it was, sadly, time to leave. The last animals to be spotted at Domkrag? Zebras, of course!

Domkragzebras

The arid conditions together with the wind and dust are not ideal for birding. I nonetheless saw the following:

Barthroated Apalis
Black Crow
Black Harrier
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Heron
Blacksmith Plover
Blackwinged Stilt
Bokmakierie
Cape Turtle Dove
Crowned Plover
Fiscal Shrike
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Doublecollared Sunbird
Grey Heron
Hadeda Ibis
Helmeted Guineafowl
Karoo Robim
Lesserstriped Swallow
Moorhen
Ostrich
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Pied Crow
Pied Starling
Red Bishop
Redwinged Starling
Sombre Bulbul
South African Shelduck
Speckled Mousebird
Spurwing Goose
Steppe Buzzard
Yellowbilled Duck