Year in the Wild Blog

Kruger catch-up – week 8 – Mopani, Shingwedzi and Sirheni

During week 8 and 9 of my Kruger trip, the good folks from 50/50 TV program came to join me in Kruger. They convinced me that I should be on TV – apparently I have a reasonable enough face (just) for TV – although I’ve been reassured that most of the series will feature other people and wildlife. The series runs from this November until end of next year – a five-minute insert every three weeks. We’ll be shooting in the next few months around the country’s other parks, cherry-picking some of the best protected areas I have been to in my past three years of extensive travel.

Phillip Lennon from 50/50 is a one-man extroardinaire cameraman, producer, director and editor, and it was great to work with him. I am sure he will craft something good from my bumbling, mumbling exploits. As good a job as Phil did to make me look half-decent, one thing is for sure – David Attenborough won’t be losing any sleep at night. Wow, it’s difficult being a presenter! I guess I was also very tired towards the end of my three years in the wild and two months in Kruger, and for most of the time I’ve been talking to the animals – so I had to spruce up my act quite a bit.

Big thanks to field guide Bishop Shilowa at Shingwedzi for being so patient with me and Phil. Bishop is one of my favourite guides in Kruger, and I recommend him highly to visitors to this camp.

Saddle-billed stork catching a fish, south of Shimuwini. I think these fish were already dead - at the same pool of water, I spotted a yellow-billed kite swooping down from the sky to grasp a fish, ala Fish Eagle style. The low oxygen levels in the pool, and the lack of running water at this time of dry season probably kills the fish, and makes it easier for predators like these birds.

 

Some big bull elephants crossing the road just north of Babalala picnic site in the north of Kruger.

 

Those same bulls walking towards me...

 

Brown-hooded kingfisher...such pretty birds. And they tend to be good posers for photographs, sitting still for decent periods of time.

 

Breeding herd of elephants coming down to drink from the waterhole at Sirheni Bush Camp.

 

An African harrier hawk (also known as gymnogene), on the river road just north of Sirheni

 

Elephants playing in the water in big pool on the Mphongolo River near Sirheni

 

Ellie heaven...when you see these creatures enjoying themselves like this, I always wonder: how do hunters justify killing them?

 

A typical Kruger taxi, in rush hour traffic

 

This is one of my favourite guides in Kruger - Bishop Shilowa is based at Shingwedzi Camp, and he's got a really relaxed - yet friendly and enthusiastic - way about him. One of the best guides I have met on my travels.

 

Field Guide Bishop Shilowa alongside a pool on the Shingwedzi River, downstream from Shingwedzi Camp.

 

Phil Lennon (with Bishop Shilowa) filming me for the upcoming insert for the 50/50 TV program.

 

One of the bigger bulls in Kruger. I saw this bull four times near Shingwedzi - those tusks are going to grow exponentially in the next ten years - seems like the legacy of the Magnificent Seven continues to live on!

 

Phil and I spotted this pride of lions feeding on a buffalo kill in the Mphongoloo River. There were only two other cars at the sighting...if this was in the south, there would have been at least twenty cars crowding the scene! One of the reasons why I prefer the north.

 

Breakfast never tasted so good.

 

Bearded woodpecker in Shingwedzi Camp

 

These are tilapia fish, photographed in the Shingwedzi River, from the main bridge near camp.

 

Tree squirrel stocking up on his provisions, and snacking too.

 

Toothpick! Always good to reach those hard-to-reach places.

 

White-fronted bee-eater...I tend to prefer photographing some subjects in soft, indirect light. While it's always nice to have a reflection of the sun in the eye, I find that soft light brings its own appeal to the colours of the bird's feathers. I've found this also with macro photographs of fynbos plants, in particular.

 

A herd of wildebeest early in the morning, coming to drink from Mooiplaas waterhole. At this time of year, during dry season, the waterholes are meccas for animals.

 

At Mooiplaas waterhole near Mopani Camp, I watched these two lionesses (one of which was collared) lie in the grass, waiting for antelope to come and drink. The one lioness made great efforts to stalk some zebra and tsessebe, but without success.

 

Collared pratincole, photographed at Mooiplaas waterhole - these migrant birds to Kruger aren't commonly seen, and are considered "near-threatened".

For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Check out my Flickr photos at www.flickr.com/scottnramsay and my Instagram photos at www.instagram.com/wildscotty. Twitter on www.twitter.com/yearinthewild.

Thanks to my partners Cape Union MartFord EverestGoodyear, and K-Way.

As well as WildCardEeziAwnFrontrunnerGlobecommHetznerNational LunaOutdoor PhotoSafari Centre Cape Town, Tracks 4 Africa, and Vodacom.

Conservation partners BirdLife South AfricaBotswana Department of Wildlife and National ParksCapeNatureEastern Cape Parks and TourismEzemvelo KZN WildlifeGorongosa National ParkiSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

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