The Africa Journals
Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.—Kurt Vonnegut
I am in that blissful state just before sleep, my brain replaced by soft cotton, no cranial clutter keeping me awake.
WHAM! I sit upright in bed. My first thought is, “What are those baboons doing now?”
That sounded like a line drive past the first baseman that struck the roof of my hotel room. I wait, wondering what could have made it. No one’s playing baseball in the dark around here.
There’s no knock at the door, no fire alarms igniting flight response, nothing. I’m trying to blame the baboons, but can’t imagine what those crafty critters could have done this time.
Aha! This time I’m awake and I think I know what’s happening.
Outside my room, directly outside, is a large marula tree and its fruits are landing on the metal roof. There are a few more and then silence. I go to sleep.
|Fruit of the marula tree.|
The marula tree is another of those multi-purpose African trees, like the baobab. Warthogs, elephants, waterbucks, giraffe, and kudu eat the fruit and leaves of the marula tree. Humans like the tree too, for the cream liqueur made from the fruits. For more info about this tree and its uses, see http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_marula.html
Plus, there are anecdotal accounts of elephants becoming intoxicated after eating the slightly fermented fruits.
|This is a Southern Cat's-eyed Emperor moth. When threatened, the upper wings move to show coloration on the lower wings that looks like eyes, thus scaring off the predator.|
The first light of an African dawn scatters the clouds on the horizon as we journey into the park.
A giraffe greets us first thing.
A bushbok gazes from the brush.
A coucal warms itself in the early morning sun.
We see an elephant eating fruits of the marula tree.
|At one point, the elephant pushes the trtee trunk to knock down more fruit.|
Absolutely beautiful light in the early morning.
Ah, better views of the Cape buffalo, one of the Big Five and very, very unpredictable. It's never been domesticated, unlike the water buffalo.
|Note the huge boss on the buffalo's head where the horns cover the head.|
And what have we here, just trotting up the road?
And right beside us.....
To join the pack behind of us.
A few more approach.
And go on by. Breath-taking. These African Wild dogs are true wild dogs, not domesticated dogs gone feral. Adults weigh between 40 - 79 lbs, stand 30 inches at the shoulder, and are 30 to 60 inches in length, plus the tail.
They have a reputation for vicious killing tactics, stampeding a herd, grabbing one animal by the tail as another grabs the nose and the rest disembowel the animal. They are not pets, but wild wolves of Africa.
|These tiny antelope stand only 22 inches high. They stand on the tips of their hooves and all four feet can fit on a Canadian dollar coin (called a Loonie).|
|Photo borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.|
And then, oh my gosh, is this African Wild dog road pizza?
Nope. Just as our guide had told us earlier, the wild dogs will sometimes sleep on the road for its warmth in the early morning. They just stayed right there, never looking up, while four or five safari vehicles crowded around.
Brian tells us the wild dog in highly endangered and we are lucky to see them. Efforts are being made to save them.
|This is an eagle called a Bataleur. They are up to 22 inches long with a wing span of six feet.|
A black-faced monkey grooms her young one.
And, a one-horned impala finishes our morning drive. It probably lost the horn in a fight, says our guide.
Now it's back to the lodge and some relaxing time before our afternoon safari.