Before heading on our morning game drive, we meet at 6:00 for tea and rusks. Not being a huge tea fan, I got hot chocolate. The rusk are hard, cookie-like biscuits that require be dipped into something hot in order to soften. Slightly woken up by the mini-breakfast, we then loaded into the vans with the hope of some new sightings!
Morning Field Notes:
1. Franklins: A dark bird that runs around, rarely flies, and is chicken-like.
· Make loud noises to reestablish contact with one another and see who made it through the night.
2. Impala: 2 males head butting each other to assert which one is more dominant. The one on the right was more dominant.
· They constantly are challenging each other.
· Male needs open space, water, and food to get females.
· Males chase each other and protect their territory.
· To protect from predictors, they go into a light sleep and are aware of the noises around them.
5. Waterbuck: 3 females across the water on the other side of watering hole
· White circle on back is their identifying feature and acts as a following sign (helps younger follow)
· Usually travel in small groups of about 3
· Mixed sex group
· Males know their status
· Hang out in the bush near water
· Only run if approached, but usually stand still if a predator is in their comfort zone
6. Large group of 20-30 impala: some eating leaves of tree; some eating grass
· mixed eaters
· Social structures:
o Many females and one dominant male (harem herds)
o A few males that stick together (bachelor herd)
o Single male who guards its territory to get females within it (occurs during mating season)
7. Grey “Go-Away” Bird:
· Makes a call that sounds like “Go-away!”
8. Marulla tree:
· Makes Amurulla liquor
· Just missed its fruit season
· Elephant love it
· Both male and female trees
· Africa tradition says that a woman can influence the sex of a child by drinking tea from a male or female tree.
9. Trees and bushes: called bush felt
10. Termite mound
· Some mounds are around 100 years old
· Holes in the mound mean it is vacant
· Closed holes mean it is occupied because termites are constantly repairing holes.
· Chimney holes at the base of the mount control and regulate the temperature by providing ventilation. The termites open and close these depending on the position of the sun, temperature, season, etc.
· Unlike termites in the Americas, these do not have the micro bacteria in their stomach that breaks down cellulose and wood.
· They are fungus growing termites and have a symbiotic relationship with it.
· One king/queen gives births to thousands of workers. All are sterile besides the queen and king.
11. Dica antelope:
· live alone or in pairs (pair bonders)
· Tiny and use concealment for their survival strategy
12. Bush Buck
13. Vervet monkeys: 3 across the water in the trees making alarm calls
· make a gurgling sound
· Got curious after deciding we weren’t a threat
14. Brown Hooded King Fisher
15. Zebra: 2
· Made by aardvark eating termites; other animals then occupy it
17. Zebra: small family of 3 standing in road; one male, one female, and one suckling baby
· Stallion is very defensive over his family group
· Each stripe pattern is unique like fingerprints
18. Buffalo: There was a huge herd that we approached on foot. As we grew closer, the wind blew our scent in their direction and they took off in a giant stampede.
· They are social animal and because of this have more access to mates. This allows the young to learn faster and become independent sooner.
· When alerted to a threat they access it, then either run or fight depending on the situation.
Our morning tour was concluded with a delicious breakfast at the lodge. The mango/orange juice mix is to die for!
Afternoon Field Notes:
1. Giraffes: 2 medium sized mothers and 2 babies. Found a giraff skull nearby.
· No exact social structure
· Mothers with babies will hang out together for protection
2. Zebras/impala grazing
3. Lilac Breasted Roller
· Each species has a specific style of flight
4. Giraffes: 2 (one baby male and female mom)
· Female had thin horns with shags of hair
· Baby had tufts of hair that will run off when it fights more
5. Waterbuck: (male)
· limping from a leg injury
6. Warthogs: (about 3)
· When they eat, they bend down and eat on their knees
· Tail straight up is their following signal
· Back into den to better defend themselves with tusk
· Callous mussel
· Go onto knees and eat roots/ short grasses
· Tiny little antelope
8. Huge herd of impala
9. Honey badgers: 2
· Very aggressive carnivores
· In the weasel/mongoose family
· Love honey and will crack open bee hive even though they are being stung a lot
10. Elephants: 2 males
· About 3-4 tons each
· One was breaking down a tree
· Overpopulated in the Kruger Park
After dinner was concluded, a few of us were just sitting outside and enjoying each others’ company, when all of a sudden a lion roared nearby. Everyone raced into the gift shop and slammed the door! There everyone hid until Candie, a lady who works here, assured us that we would be ok. After that, the lion and hyena noises were still intimidating, but we were much more at ease.