KTP - The colour hunt is on again! *

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Dewi
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Dewi » Sun May 20, 2012 10:16 am

Hello again !

Update on the Springbok behaviour.......

Territorial males horn the ground and vegetation during the breeding season to communicate their strength and prowess to other males.

Outside of the breeding season, this behaviour denotes social hierarchy and rank amongst bachelor herds.

The vegetation simply gets entangled on the horns during this behaviour.

Interesting to note that Springbok have now been split into three separate species. Latest taxonomy is as follows....

Cape Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis Central South Africa (the one you see in Rietvlei etc.)

Kalahari Springbok Antidorcas hofmeyri Kalahari, Namibia, Botswana etc.

Angolan Springbok Antidorcas angolensis Coastal regions of Angola.

There are other splits to several species i.e. Grysbok, Kudu, Suni etc., So if anyone is interested, I'll start a new thread on these changes.

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:17 am

Young ones and smaller critter – Part Two

Another awesome experience for me was the start of the springbok lambing. We had spent three nights on the Aoub side and then moved to the Nossob riverbed for the next five. Until then we hadn’t seen very few springbok lambs. But on our return they had arrived and were still emerging like green sprouts after a spell of rain. Especially north of Urikaruus it was an amazing spectacle with more newborns each day.

This is the first lamb we saw on our second day:

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And then the next one after our return to the Aoub.

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On our last full day we started our evening drive early to go to Mata-Mata for some shopping. we decided to take a leisurely from Uri and back again. At Dalkeith we arrived just in time to witness the wonder of giving life. Alas, we weren’t able to watch it from beginning to end, but at least we still saw the rear part of a lamb appearing from its mummy’s womb.

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And we stayed with them until we couldn’t no more (nature called again…) and had the joy to watch several attempts of the little one trying to get up. So clumsy and yet so cute – no words can describe the sensation I felt when watching it.

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We also got these from yet a different mum and a very inquisitive child:

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Just awww!

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:18 am

Young ones and smaller critter – Part Three

For now the last part of the series and a random collection of young ones and smaller animals.

The snakes:

Cape cobra – a first for us:

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Mole snake – also a first for us:

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Sorry, that I’m not too enthusiastic with these two new sightings. So far I haven’t learned to appreciate snakes :oops: the way I have learned to appreciate birds for example.

A ground agama at Grootkolk:

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Butterflies at 13th borehole:

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Striped mouse at Dikbaardskolk picnic spot:

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I’m not so fussed about them anymore since one of them smelled my feet at Grootkolk while I was trying to take a photo from a critter at the waterhole. :twisted: There were quite a few of them around and although they are incredibly cute, it starts getting annoying to take care of your door being closed all the time.

Whistling rat along somewhere along the road:

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Nothing compared to the photo I took at Samevloeiing on our first trip, but they are quite sweet, me thinks. But the real cutie pies are about to come now:

Meerkat right next to the road – the closest encounter we ever had :mrgreen:

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And then – wait for it – even babies!!!

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These were two different sightings. The little meerkats we saw just before Auchterlonie.

Remember the lion episode where we trailed the male for ages and I said we had had another highlight that day? Here it comes – an oryx baby! 8)

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Then some serious eyelashes – always getting jealous of those. Steenboks are just gorgeous critters:

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One thing I had to forgo with all the other exceptional sightings we had, were the BEF. Although we did see some, they were mostly rather far off glimpses with them foraging on the other side of the riverbed. This is – still a bit cropped – the closest we got this time around.

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Here is one of the special sightings we got instead – a jackal youngster. This one is an offspring of the skinny stretching jackal you have seen before.

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Two smaller critters especially for Lismod:

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And last but not least our only ostrich chicks on this trip:

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:19 am

Scenery Part One – Blue Skies

I’ll never get tired of those deep blue skies you get to see in KTP. They just make me happy and enhance my mood and well-being considerably.
Definitely more reasons to go back time and time again.

Whether the magnificent sky is riddled with raptors:

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A juvenile pale chanting goshawk on our way to Nossob.

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A black-shouldered kite on our way to Grootkolk.

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Secretary circling the sky over Grootkolk camp.

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Bateleur doing the very same.

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A juvenile black-chested snake-eagle on one of our morning drives from Grootkolk.

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Another juvenile BCSE being harassed by a fork-tailed drongo

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An adult BCSE in the Mata-Mata area

Or the gorgeous scenery created by the clearless sky:

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Even with a bit of the moon still being visible at 10.30 am.

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The first sand storm we were able to watch on the Nossob side.

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And the second one.

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Even the road looks different in the golden morning hours.

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Lastly a photo that has been posted umpteenth times by now, but will never lose its magic.

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:23 am

Scenery Part Two – Golden Hours

Well, golden hours might not be a 100% appropriate for the photos to come, but mostly it’s an apt describtion.

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Early evening at Kieliekrankie.

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Laterish evening at Kieliekrankie

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The medley of colours on the Leeuwdril 4x4 route.

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Sunrise at Nossob.

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Sunset at Grootkolk.

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Within a few minutes and a different angle the sky suddenly looks very much different.

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Sunrise at Grootkolk.

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Peaceful ambience just before gate closing.

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The most eerie light I have ever seen, probably due to the changing weather.
It is almost impossible to capture the atmosphere the way we experienced it.
But KTP was full of orangy-reddish-pinkish colours and I could do nothing except to enjoy in awe.

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Finally the thunderous sky the next day – although there was hardly any rain emerging for the threatening looking clouds.

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:23 am

Colours of the Kalahari Part One – The smaller critters

If you thought you were done with light and lighting, you were wrong. A major part why we love the Kgalagadi so much is bred by the amazing colours. Thus I’ll pay tribute to that on my TR. I have to admit that I retreated to take photos mostly to the early and late hours, unless there wss something very special to see – or a raptor decorating the ever so blue sky.

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Although the waterhole at Kieliekrankie has never proven to be particularly productive for us, I’ll never seize to adore it’s amazing colour.

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The red dunes offer great photo opportunities anyway – like this kori on our first morning.

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Funnily, this one was taken late morning, but with a steenbok against the colourful sand you can never go wrong.

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Namaqua sandgrouse at Union’s End waterhole.

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The industrious and noisy lout at Grootkolk.

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A tawny on one of our morning drives from Grootkolk – still freezing in the inhospitable early temperatures.

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Same goes for this lanner, but at least it knew how to get warm.

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Dikkop, again on a morning drive from GK.

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Secretary on a morning drive from Urikaruus.

And finally two BSKs taken on the day when we had encountered the spooky lighting on the Mata-Mata side:

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:25 am

Colours of the Kalahari Part Two – The bigger critters

Alright, I’ll stop rambling about the colours and just post the pics now.

First up the icon of the Kalahari at all times of the day:

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One of the few hartebeests we saw. Yet again on a morning drive from Grootkolk.
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Lone springbok at Auchterlonie.
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And the lions:

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The one we were trailing for almost an hour.

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Disappearing into the dunes.

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The larger cub at Grootkolk with a pink fur.

And the same colour on the walking plate:
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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:27 am

No more lions, please :twisted:

So, we are back on the Aoub side after that incredible journey with 20 different lions and the Nossob cam event. Spots’ and my mind are firmly set on find ourselves some cheetahs during the last days of our trip. Come on, everybody has seen plenty of them. We want some as well! And to be honest – I wanted Elena or Lisette. There were many more around by now who made themselves visible. Just have a look at Duke and Sharifa’s TR and you know what I mean: Two males that had regularly been seen, the mum with her two cubs around Sitzas and / or Craig Lockhardt. And then some more around the 13th and 14th Borehole. They might have been the collared ones. They might have not been. Something I’ll never know.

Anyway, on our first morning at Urikaruus we set off north to find ourselves the cheetahs. Arriving at 13th there was a whole lot of sweet nothing. However, further up on the loop we did see a springbok mum with her newborn and stayed with them for a while to watch the wonder of new life. Later we found the barn owl at 14th, as you all already know, but the waterhole itself was dead quiet... So we moved on to Dalkeith. We didn’t take the loop as we figured that we’d be able to see the waterhole and if something was there, we were still able to turn around and go there. So dune road it was instead. Checking the waterhole. Nothing... Hence we move up towards Craig Lockhart to see whether we would be lucky there. But shucks yet again. No one at home there either... We discussed trying Sitzas as well, but decided against it and turned around. Approaching Dalkeith loop we again opted for the dune road rather than the loop itself. And just before we were approaching the waterhole we saw two cars parking down there. Why? Binocs out… And there they were!!! Cheetahs! We couldn’t believe our luck! Obviously we were ‘racing’ down to the loop to explore further. And what we saw was this:

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Far off, but close enough for me to make out that this must be Elena with her youngster. Alas, only one left. At some point mum got up and made for the dunes towards the road at the top. But what was that??? The little one was lagging behind, limping badly. I felt a sad sting. Knowing that Elena had lost all of her previous litter of 5 cubs and most of her current litter as well, I felt like crying when noticing the hurt youngster. I was sure this little one wouldn’t survive for too long either. Only a discussion with KG on our leaving day had given me some hope for the cutie pie…
Anyway, we spent 2.5 hours with the two of them, basically chasing them up and down the dune as mum clearly couldn’t make up her mind whether to retreat to her hide out in the dunes at the top road or to wait for some lunch to arrive. She kept walking up and down the dunes behind the waterhole with the little one always trying to keep up with her.

One more cruel shot, but that was all I could get. They never came closer.

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As I am writing this (some days ago already in relation to the time of posting), I read the news about the cub having been very poorly on the 15th November and Elena having been seen again, this time alone, on the 17th November…

Well, even though I don’t feel joy right now, I’ll try to convey the joy we felt the next morning. We had a lone leopard coming to drink at the camp’s waterhole at 5.10 am, quickly followed by a lone lioness at 5.20 am and to round of an exciting morning a spotted hyena also walked past at 5.40 am. Incredible – all that before the gates had even opened. Spots said that we might as well return to bed. :twisted: We didn’t. We got on our way up north again and stopped to meet our friend the barn owl once more. All the waterholes were dead quiet until we reached Dalkeith. Well, actually, there wasn’t a critter around either but two cars were parked in pole position towards the waterhole. So we went to enquire what they had seen so far this morning. A huge black-maned lion had been coming to drink at the waterhole and had chased off a cheetah with her cub who had been stalking the springboks. Elena was still around!!!

We kept driving up and down the dune road at Dalkeith, even spotting the apparently magnificent male lion far off in the dunes, but no sign of Elena and her cub. As we were about to give up, Spots started chanting. There she was – coming down from the dunes on the top road. And what can I say... She crossed the road right in front of us – the little one in tow. We were the only car around!

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That day we thought that the youngster didn’t do too badly as it was quite swift, even with the handicap.
Elena proceeded down to the riverbed and we obviously duly followed. Only one other car was parked down there at that time. We had just settled in after having found her again, when all of a sudden there was big commotion on the other side of the riverbed with the dust flying in all directions. We never saw it coming. Actually, we never noticed a springbok in the vicinity, but Elena had done and had seized the occasion.

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She then dragged the carcass underneath a tree and laid down to rest. I never knew that and wondered why she didn’t start tucking in right away, especially since she looked very hungry, but I was told that she probably waited for the blood to clot in order to deceive scavengers. Well, we waited and waited and waited for the feast to begin, but at some point I just couldn’t wait any longer without risking a major accident to happen, so we had to leave. After that we never found here again…
All in all about 10 cars had been around, with some of them leaving rather quickly again. And one car belonged to a special mite I had the pleasure to meet for the first time. So glad you got to see the two of them as well. (Sorry, can’t reveal who that was – ongoing TR and all.)

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Mel
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Re: KTP - The colour hunt is on again!

Post by Mel » Sun May 20, 2012 10:37 am

The farewell gift

I’m sure you’ll remember him.

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We had come from Urikaruus to Kamqua with nothing exciting to stop for when I saw the kori with his blown neck. So I made Spots stop to get some photos. While I was toying with my camera and trying this and that setting in the dull light of the overcast morning, Spots casually asked what that was further down in the riverbed. I looked and said “Leopard! Actually, no, two leopards! A mating pair! Hang one, I don’t think three leopards are on the cards, let alone four, no five! They are cheetahs!!!” Needless to say, the kori was soon forgotten as we got on our way to get closer to the cheetahs. And I couldn’t believe my eyes! Another collared one. Image So it can’t be anyone less than Lisette! Honestly, how lucky can you get??? I was so hoping to see Elena and Lisette again and got my wish granted basically on the last two days of our stay. Luckily it was still early in the morning and we had plenty of time to sit with them and watch before we had to leave the park.

Mum was dragging the rest of a fresh kill along while her offspring followed. Their faces still blood-smeared from their early breakfast. But they approached the road and came closer and closer! A dream came true! And it got even better with the cubs fooling around, chasing each other, feeding more on the leftovers and the display of ever so tender affection between the whole family. Here you go:

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On a sad note: One of the cubs was limping just as badly as Elena’s little one. However, Lisette took excellent care of him as did its brother and sister by including it in their games and basically treating it equal to all others.
I had pondered about Elena’s seemingly distant behaviour towards her baby on the two days before and when I observed the way Lisette was handling her kids, I felt my suspicion confirmed. She was so loving and kind to each of her offspring that it felt so good that it even hurt whereas Elena had appeared to be burdened by her injured child.


Anyway, I need to force myself not to think of those sad moments and to be honest – with the extraterrestrial sighting of Lisette and her offspring we left the park very joyful and expectantly towards our next visit in October 2012.


Thank you, Kgalagadi for all the marvelous gifts you presented to us. You’re deep in our hearts and we’ll always be back for more – and even less. Image


Thank you also to Amoli, Billy, bobsie-b, Bushcraft, Crested Barbet, Dewi, Fluttmod, flying cheetah, harry, iNdlovu, Just N@ture, Katja, leachy, lion queen, Lismod, norms, Pooky, PRWIN, Ronnie, Spookie, Sprocky, Toko and Wild Dreamer for joining me throughout or on legs of my trip on the memory lane. It’s been a great pleasure to write this TR with all the encouraging and kind comments I have received from you.

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