Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Little Safari

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park straddles portions of the northern border of South Africa and southern border of Botswana and encompasses the much of the region known as the Kalahari desert. Being in this place has made reality a childhood dream to step inside a PBS nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough. I can vividly recall being mesmerized as a child by images of the nesting behaviors of the sociable weaver (Philetairus socius) and here we couldvsee them in nearly every large tree! I've included a few pictures but I left most of the photography to Becky and Alan.

Shortly after our arrival Friday evening we took a ranger guided drive through a small portion of the park. Normally the roads are closed after dark, but with the ranger we were given the privilege of seeing some of the Kalahari’s nocturnal wildlife. There were black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas), cape foxes (Vulpes chama), african wild cats (Felis lybica), steenbok (Raphicrus campestris) and spring hare (Pedetes capensis) among others. The highlight of the evening was definitely witnessing the successful hunting of a dove by a striped polecat (Suricata suricatas).

Our trusty safari vehicle

On our first self guided drive we headed to the far western side of the park, to a camp called Mata Mata. Along this there-and-back drive we had some very special sightings. There were two families of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis), spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), and my personal favorite, the honey badger (Mellivora capensis). Of course, there were other critters about. We became rather nonchalant about seeing secretary birds (Sagittarius serpentarius), kori bustards (Ardeotis kori), ostrich (Stuthio camelus), springbok (Antidorcus marsupialis), gemsbok (Oryx gazalla), and blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus).


We weren't supposed to get out of our vehicle, but we did often. Above you can see Alan trying to sneak up to some giraffe for a better photo.

On our last day we woke up early with the hope seeing some of the famous black-maned Kalahari lions (Panthera leo). While we were unable to see any of these amazing creatures we were fortunate enough to take in more of the surreal desert landscape and I even got some climbing in...

The drive home was long but uneventful. Now we've returned to the 'Ernie' house and I'm glad to be getting back to the fantastic climbing. I've done alot of stuff quickly on this trip and now I feel ready to put some time in on harder climbs.

A giraffe skull

7 comments:

J V said...

Alan blends in well. I bet they never even smelled him.

shannon said...

Miss you guys!

Peter said...

this is getting ridiculous update please!!! at least a picture or something!

J V said...

uh. yeah.

shannon said...

This blog used to be cool.

Peter said...

16 days since your last post...

Becky said...

yeah seriously.