Year in the Wild Blog

Kruger continues to amaze

I’ve had some incredible animal sightings the past few days, moving from Berg-en-Dal in the south, to Lower Sabie about 70 kms to the north-east.

Lower Sabie has a reputation for its abundant numbers of wildlife, and it’s well-deserved as far as I’m considered. I’ve seen lion several times, including a mating pair with field guide Irving Knight. They were lying in the road as we drove from camp to the area where we were going to walk. According to Irving, they will mate several times an hour for several days, leaving both pretty exhausted!

Then later in the day, I saw two young male lions who were hunting together (one was blind in one eye) – they popped out right in front of my car, completely ignoring me, moving quickly across the road. They were clearly intent on hunting something because they didn’t waste time crossing the bridge over the Sabie River. It’s quite a sight, and one that I can never get tired of.

On a sunset drive with field guide Robert Ndlovu, we saw a mating pair of leopards. The male seemed to be ignoring the female, which only spurred the female on even more, as she kept sticking her rear into his face! Not sure why he was ignoring her, cos she was beautiful!

Then over the course of the past few days, I’ve also seen a cheetah who had just eaten an impala, as well as white rhinos, plenty of ellie (including lots of babies), giraffes, zebras and a big herd of buffalo, as well as lots of hippo. I watched a goliath heron fishing, and a giant kingfisher catching a fish and smacking it senseless on a rock before swallowing it whole. I listened to lions roaring near my tent, and hyenas howling in response. It’s on days like these that I completely lose myself in my “work”, and forget about time, money or similar pesky limiting things. Ah, life is pretty good at the moment!

The main reason for the abundant wildlife is the large open areas of grassland savanna which attract the grazers like zebra, buffalo and impala, which in turn attracts the predators…and of course, the Sabie River is always flowing, and a constant source of water for the animals during the current dry season of winter. So, you’re guaranteed to see good numbers of game…including hippo, which always cross the road late in the afternoon, on their way from the river to their grazing up to 10 kms away.

Lower Sabie Camp is situated on the banks of the river, and I stayed in a safari tent, which had a superb view. Some people moan that the camp is too busy with tourists, but the reality is that most people love coming here, because of the near-guaranteed sightings of Big 5.

The Sabie River is one of the stronger-flowing rivers in Kruger, all of which flow roughly west to east through the park, from the escarpment on the highveld towards the coast in Mozambique. The state of Kruger’s rivers have long been a subject of concern. Before the water flows into the park, it is used intensively by farmers and industry, so that many of the rivers in Kruger don’t flow as strongly as they used to, and sometimes even dry up completely (when in the past they would flow year round).

Also, the pollution and insecticides used upstream have no doubt had an effect on the ecosystems in the park itself…including strange cases of adult crocodiles dying in the Olifants River, something which is still baffling the ecologists. Despite its huge size and epic sense of wilderness, Kruger is still an island within a much larger human-transformed landscape, and if we don’t look after the rest of our country, it’s bound to impact negatively on our nature reserves.

But for now, I’m just soaking up the incredible atmosphere of Kruger…it’s a real privilege to be here. Will upload some more blogs tomorrow, in which we get within twenty metres of a big male lion on an early morning walk!

One of the young male lions that were hunting near Lower Sabie

Blind in one eye, but still what an impressive stare!

On the move...they were hungry.

The lions crossed the bridge over the Sabie River...almost ignoring the vehicles

View over the Nkumbe Dam, north of Lower Sabie, a great picnic spot

Looking downstream of the dam...autumn colours

Bull ellie

Snoozing buffalo and oxpecker

Goliath heron fishing on Sabie River

The deck at Lower Sabie looks out over the river...one of the best places for lunch in the park!

My tent at Lower Sabie

Giant kingfisher having his lunch - check out the fish scale flying off!!

Leopard! Late afternoon on a drive with Robert Ndlovu, field guide at Lower Sabie

Always good looking

Photogenic from any angle :)

Giant eagle owl on evening drive with field guide Robert Ndlovu at Lower Sabie

Herd of ellie drinking in Sabie River

White rhino calf...

Early morning sighting of lion, with field guide Irving Knight from Lower Sabie, on our way for a walk

The lion preening himself, getting read to mate with his girl

Having a nose clean!

This cheetah had just eaten an impala...check out the blood on his face

Lioness in thick bush

One of the young males near Lower Sabie

One of the young male lions crossing the road near Lower Sabie

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2 comments

  • Hi Scott

    Almost done hey? Well, for great sightings you can go towards the Paul Kruger gate – between Skukuza and Kruger gate there is a couple that also use the tar road as their mating spot and returns every year to the same stretch of tar road every morning between 6 and 8 to mate….she plays hard to get…and he follows her every move! LOL
    We have seen a lot of Fish eagles at Lower Sabie as well as north of Letaba restcamp. There is a small dam off the beaten track and there is a pair of Fish eagles there that likes to be photographed….they sit in the top of trees without leaves….beautiful if you have the right zoom lens!
    Olifantscamp has the most breathtaking views at sunset….! Enjoy the Kruger is never dissapoints!

  • Hi Scott

    Great images.

    The unmarked eagle in flight is a young Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus).
    The distinctive short tail makes identification easy.

    Kind regards

    Rob Nicholls

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