Daily Archives: May 2, 2019

Now where was I – and where are we?

So the last blog was written on the road from Etosha National Park and Windhoek where we stayed the night. We are now back in Johannesburg after an eventful time at the Windhoek Airport – more on that in a subsequent blog.

Anyway, after the sighting of the lions and their kill, we were off for a surprise adventure. Shaun is big on surprises! On the way we spied dung beetles. Now I had no idea how excited Terry would get about seeing dung beetles, but it was right up there with my marriage proposal. For those of you unfamiliar with dung beetles, let me explain. These little guys and gals create a ball of dung by rolling a bit around and around a pile of dung. They are very industrious because the ball becomes the home of the larva. Who knew.

Then you start rolling. I seem to recall Shaun saying they are upside down – which makes sense – who wants to stick their head in a pile of dung, anyway? Roll little guys roll.

They are also a little combative as we saw. One guy had worked himself up a pretty good ball when another one came over and tried to take it for his own. There was a little scrap and the interloper lost and moved on.  The locals call them “klepto-copters” because of this thievery and their funny way of flying, like a helicopter.

Feisty little guys

Now on to the surprise. Shaun had been promising us we had have a good look at a Hippo – up close and personal.

Enter Jessica. Jessica is a “tame” hippo. She was washed up on the bank of a river after a flash flood. Her “owner” was looking at the damage from his veranda when he saw something move in debris. Much to his surprise, it was a baby hippo with the umbilical cord still wrapped around its neck. He took it in and he and his wife nursed it with a bottle. She now swims freely in the river, venturing out to play with the wild hippos during the day but always coming back in the evenings.  She has reached sufficient weight to hold a male during copulation, which occurs in the water, so the keepers are hopeful of another little one soon. He says emphatically that he plans to be in the water to catch it as Jess gives birth.  Agreed–this couple are a little out there but very loving of animals.

Cindy, Terry and Gary had no difficulty feeding her.

Geoff, not so much. At some point a male scared her and now the men are not allowed to talk to her or

kiss her – that may not be a bad thing. I am serious about the voice thing. The woman in the background is very strict about that.

On the way back we stopped to see a Baobob tree. They can grow for hundreds of years. They estimate this one is about 500 years old.

Can you spot Cindy and Terry?

After a rest it was off for another game drive. We didn’t spot much – a cheetah and a couple of rhinos

Just a couple more grazing rhinos – white ones.

There is a wonderful concept here called sundowners. It is much like our happy hour, but they always try to find a spot where one can watch the sun go down. Here are a few of our sunsets.

After the sun goes down, the moon comes up.

Terry is always up for a sundowner.

So after sunset, we’re off for a little night tracking. We pull around the corner, off on track and onto another and

An amazingly beautiful animal.

sitting on the road about 25 feet in front of us, there he was. The last of the big 5–a leopard.. He was incredible. He just sat there watching something, not bothered in the least by us, the truck or the light Patrick the tracker was focusing on him. We were wild with excitement, but had to remain very very quiet so that he didn’t wander off because he was disturbed. After about 5 minutes though that was what he did and despite a valiant attempt by Shaun and Patrick, we didn’t see him again. We were very fortunate that he found us because they are the most difficult of the big five to spot.

We slept well that night.

Have You No Shame Terry?

Here we are in our little safari vehicle, heading back to Windhoek, Namibia to catch the flight back to Johannesburg and then home. Our big adventure is over and what an adventure it has been. As you can surmise, between lack of internet access, long driving days on washboard roads and wine filled evenings, it has been difficult to find the time to keep our blog up to date. So, over the next few days we will attept to give you some flavour of what we have seen and done.

Many of you may think that Terry is a gentle, elegant soul who exhibits proper decorum almost all the time and this is often the case. There is another side to her however.

We visited an elephant sanctuary where injured or dangerous elephants are being looked after. They use them to educate people about elephants and their lives. For example,

  1. through their feet, they know where other elephants are up to 64 kilometres away
  2. their ears flap for air conditioning
  3. they are predominantly either left-tusked or right-tusked
  4. their society is matriarchal
  5. the bulls have glands just behind their ears which give off hormones when they are in heat
  6. lions give way to them at waterholes
  7. after voiding their bladder and bowels and then walking backwards, they very studiously avoid walking through anything – really.

This is Tembo, a bull elephant who was saved from being killed because he was dangerous. He is roughly 35 years old. We had the opportunity to touch his skin which was very tough and filled with crevasses.

Tembo is a LARGE bull elephant.

The big teeth are great for chewing up to 250kgs/day of leaves and grasses. Yes 250kgs/DAY

Their hide is amazing

The three amigos

Terry got to view and touch various parts of Tembo’s hide, tusks, etc.

Warning: This photo may leave some of you disturbed. Tembo doesn’t seem to, uh, retract.

As I said, Terry got to check out much of Tembo!

The next day we met Becky, his sister. When people say someone has a memory like an elephant, they aren’t kidding. Shaun spent time with Becky when she was growing up and hadn’t seen her for over a year. He told us that he has to be very quiet as she would recognize his voice and come up to the vehicle, which can scare some people. He wasn’t wrong about the recognition. She was passing us and suddenly turned toward us as she reached the row in the vehicle Shaun and I were sitting in and raised her trunk to us as she smelled Shaun. When I took the camera away from my eye, I realized how close she was – CLOSE!

Becky is big – but not as big as her big brother.

Close – and I mean close!

These two are her kids. They were tussling for a bit and then started walking down the road, pushing against each other like kids in the back seat. Eventually she had had enough and separated them.

“He’s touching me.”

“That’s it. I’ve had enough!”

In the evening we went on a game drive. It is very cool to be out after dark, which occurs around 6. The animals are very different. Impala, for example, are very skittish during the day and can suddenly take off for no apparent reason. At night, however, they will just stand there mesmerized by the lights of the vehicle and just let the cars drive through the herd. While we were driving, we saw a mother and baby giraffe. The mother was standing stock still looking straight ahead. As we turned a corner, we spied two lions slowly tracking the giraffes. We followed the lions for some time as they stalked them. At one point a small (maybe 20) herd of wildebeest ran in front of us – it was just like you would see on TV. It was amazing, the speed and the jumping they exhibited. Something none of us will soon forget. Anyway, back to the hunt. The lions managed to separate the mother and baby and took after the baby. We lost touch with them however as they went into the bush. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any good photos as they just kept moving in and out of the bush.

Stalking

The next morning it was a game drive and walk to see the cheetahs. They are amazing animals. These two are brothers and quite devoted to each other. As we wandered around the area they followed along. Apparently they don’t see us as threats or food. Having said that, Andy the guide, did carry a rifle.

What a beautiful animal

Later we came across Tombi. She was raised in the camp but still hunts in the wild. Terry got quite friendly with her.


After several more sightings of various and sundry animals, we came across the lions. 

A lion and the kill


They had not caught the baby giraffe, but at some point during the night they had caught and killed an impala. Now your “Learn Abput Lions” lesson.  The hunter is the female. It’s her job to catch and kill their food. It is then her job to turn it over to the male lion, whose job it is to eat the kill. This guy had eaten almost an entire impala and literally had difficulty moving. Nevertheless, as he laid by the remains of the carcass, he wasn’t about to share – even with the cubs. When one of these two cubs got too close he swatted him away – not about to share anything.

More later.