Every time we visit one of our national parks I am reminded of how fortunate we are to enjoy seeing a wide variety of wildlife. The poaching of white rhino is an ongoing concern in South Africa – even in our protected areas – and so I always feel privileged to see one of these creatures in the wild.

We are used to seeing black wildebeest in the Mountain Zebra National Park and so it is fun to see blue wildebeest in places such as the Kruger National Park (where all of these photographs were taken).

Cape buffalo occur in the Addo Elephant National Park too, but this one is covered with Red-billed Oxpeckers.

Of course it is always a pleasure to see elegant giraffe.

Impala have been brought into several private game reserves all over the country.

No trip to the Kruger National Park feels complete unless one comes across a lion or two.



South Africa is blessed with several national parks. It takes time and travelling long distances to visit even some of them, yet none disappoint. Today I will feature scenes from a few of them. The Addo Elephant National Park is not very far from where we live and so, every now and then, we go there for a day visit. Given its name, visitors naturally expect to see elephants there:

It is also a good place for birding, where one might be fortunate to see raptors such as this Jackal Buzzard:

The Mountain Zebra National Park is also easily accessible to us and is the perfect place to spend a few days. Visitors here would obviously expect to see mountain zebras:

However, one might also be fortunate to spot a cheetah lying in the yellow grass:

There are red hartebeest in the Karoo National Park – which makes a good stopping point between where we live and Cape Town:

One can also enjoy seeing ostriches striding along the open veld:

The world famous Kruger National Park is several day’s journey from here and hosts an enormous variety of plants, birds, insects and animals. When we consider the alarming rate at which rhinos are killed in this country, we cannot help but feel privileged to see them from close quarters here:

The name on every visitor’s lips is ‘lion’. Mention the word and people speed up and jostle for space to see even the tip of the tail of one. Equally exciting to see though are leopards:

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the furthest away from us and – despite its remote location – is such a popular destination that one has to book accommodation about a year ahead. This is an incredible place for seeing lions:

It is also a marvellous place for seeing the very beautiful crimson-breasted shrike:


So sings the hippopotamus to his fair hippopotamus maid in The Hippopotamus Song by Flanders and Swann:

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood

So follow me, follow

Down to the hollow

And there let us wallow in glorious mud.

Hippos spend up to sixteen hours a day wallowing in rivers or waterholes –– submerging themselves to keep their bodies cool during the day.

Elephants also cover themselves with mud not only to keep cool, but to protect their skin from parasites. It is enjoyable watching elephants in the Addo Elephant National Park either rolling in mud or squirting it over themselves.

Rhinos also use mud to cool their bodies as they have no sweat glands. As with elephants, a thick layer of mud both helps to protect the rhinos from biting insects and traps parasites that might otherwise burrow into their hide.

Buffalos like a mud bath too. They also use mud as a protection from parasites.

Closer to home, every summer we witness the trials and tribulations of the Lesser-striped Swallows that build their nest from globules of mud.

Mud or dust can be important for humans too: geophagy is the habit of eating mud or dust to augment a mineral deficient diet. Some people feel the need to eat a fingertip of dust every now and then for this reason. This craving to eat earth is also known as pica, and may be an indication that young children have an iron deficiency.


The slaughtering of rhinos for their horns is a sad phenomenon that has swept through this country for years. Money and manpower is invested in protecting these beautiful creatures that might otherwise have been deployed elsewhere.

It is not a simple matter of trying to catch poachers before they harm an animal: killing is involved – of both beast and man. Some sources have described the situation as war. Several game sanctuaries in the form of national or provincial parks and private game reserves and game farms are within easy reach of the town I live in. Some of the people who work there live in this town, or shop here, or send their children to school here. When a rhino is slaughtered nearby, sections of this community feel the pain as if it were their own: we mix with the people for whom the sadness is very real. So it is that the fate of the white rhino has become close to the hearts of our community and their plight is felt even by young children, who have shown their concern ranging from celebrating the rhino on birthday cakes.

To raising funds and awareness on a much larger scale.

There is a local Rhino Run too.

I have shown these images before and here they serve to illustrate the appreciation of rhinos that runs through our community – they live nearby and so reports of rhino poaching elsewhere in the country strikes a chord here: what about ‘our’ rhino; will they be safe?

In June 2016, rhino poaching hit home – hard. It was reported that three suspects had been arrested at the Makana Resort in our town. They were linked to the poaching of rhino at Buckland’s Private Game Reserve, where it is suspected the rhino was darted before it was killed and its horn hacked off. Even though the men had been caught red-handed in a chalet with a 10.27 kilograms of freshly harvested rhino horn valued at R1 million‚ a bloody saw‚ a dart gun and M99 tranquilising drug, as well as cell phones and SIM cards, it has taken until now for them to be brought to book.

Earlier this month the three rhino poachers, 40-year-old Forget Ndlovu, 38-year-old Jabulani Ndlovu and 37-year-old Skhumbuzo Ndlovu, faced over 50 charges related to the poaching of 13 rhinos across the Eastern Cape and were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment each in the Grahamstown High Court.

If you wish to read more detailed reports go to:





You will probably get a glut of information about the current fate of rhinos – wherever they occur. It is a species that is so endangered in the wild that it may be on the road to extinction! I am not going to add to the grim news, but have chosen to use World Rhino Day to celebrate these magnificent creatures.

Many groups, including schools, arrange activities to create awareness about rhinos and collect funds for their protection. The photograph below was printed on t-shirts sold for funds.

In various parts of South Africa recently a Rhino Run was held – people paying to participate in running or walking various distances.

Happy Rhino Day 2018