Okay – so we skipped Church today, but we drove by Grace Point Church yesterday so that we knew how to get there when we go next week. This morning we went out to the Rhino and Lion park. I figured it would be 4 hours of entertainment for the boys. Well, I was wrong. Happens that 7 hours later we headed home after a great day of being at the park.
The boys and Lesley started of the day a the cheetah show with Eddy (the star and cheetah). I was busy getting us set up for a game drive at 1200 hours. We met with Stephene our game drive ranger. He was very knowledgeable about not only the animals but the flora and fauna of South Africa. He had been a ranger at several parks in South Africa including Kruger and Madikwe. He also was great with the kids and questioning them about what he had been teaching. (generally mom was quicker to respond than the boys)
So some general notes about the animals we saw today.
White Rhinoceros – When I was at the park in May I had the chance to see a mother and baby. It was spectacular, sometime in the last month the mother had been poached and the baby killed. We did however, on our way out of the park get a chance to see another mother with her baby. All in all I believe we saw 5 different rhinos through the day.
Lion – we went and saw the lions being fed today. 3 males and 3 females. I we sat in an open land cruiser and the lions walked by within 10 feet of us. Stephene told us stories about the older lion. The have named him GT for Goodyear Tire. He has swiped at several tires or bitten them while on the automobiles that were preparing to watch them feed. Stehene also told us some stupid people stories.
Wild African Dog – this was our second stop on the feeding tour; the wild dogs are my favorite. They are an endangered species and are heavily protected by the government. Stephene told us about a story of wild dogs, in Madikwe game preserve the alpha dog was injured and was blinded. The pack had two dogs that would walk on either side of the blind dog to get him to the watering hole and they made sure that he was provided food. Kind of a cool story.
Cheetah – these are amazing animals they are sleek and built for speed. I found out that their tails are flat and are used as rudders as they are running. They can hit speeds of nearly 120 kph (75 mph) but for only about a kilometer.
We left the predator area and drove into the park looking for more animals.
Ostrich we learned were “chickens on steroids” the males had black feathers and the females were a brownish color. We also found out that they have the largest eyes of any bird and their eyes can explode if they are pricked by a thorn; because of this fact ostrich take a wide path around acacia trees.
Warthogs – did you ever notice that warthogs get down on their two front knees to eat. The reason is as they get older the skin in their neck gets tighter and prevents them from lowering their heads. (interesting and worthless knowledge)
We also saw Waterbucks – who can always be found near ? (water of course) they use the water as protection, if they are threatened by a predator the head for the water – but as they run they secrete an oil that protects them from the water but also spoils the meat so that if they are caught / killed their meat is unedible.
An interesting fact – that the Zebra and the Wildebeest depend on each other during the great migration. Wildebeest can not eat grass taller then half a meter and so the Zebra walk ahead of them and eat the grass down from over a meter high to a level that the wildebeest can eat the grass. At the river crossing the zebra take a break under the trees until the crocodiles have had their fill of wildebeest and know that it is safe to cross. Also – did you know that each type of zebra have a distinguishing feature? The park has Hartmann Zebra – they have flap of skin that hangs under its neck that does not appear on any other type of zebra.
Cape Buffalo – if you ever wondered why this animal is part of the Big 5 all you have to do is see one up close. This thing weighs almost a ton and is solid muscle. And can have a bad temper. They have one Buffalo on the park that has gone nuts and has been known to attack cars. We saw him up close today and Stephene redirected his attention away from the cars that were around us.
Elands – the largest of the antelope and the most revered by the bushman. One eland could feed the village for a week. they are huge. The boys learned that the female eland has long skinny and parallel horns, the male has short thicker horns that are straight.
The Black Sable Antelope is the prettiest of the antelope with a dark brown coat and long sweeping horns. Interesting note that they do not communicate through making noise but by the movement of their ears. The Roan Antelope communicates in the same manor.
The Oryx (Gemsbok) is the national animal of Namibia and typically lives in the desert. It can go up to 10 days without water and uses its horns to dig up plant life (food) that may have been covered by the sand in the desert.
Okay – so enough is enough; I had as great of a day as the kids. Maybe more I have driven through the park 2 or 3 times before but never learned as much or saw as much as I did today.