Thursday, October 30, 2014

30 October 2014

White Rhinos

One of the things we wanted to be sure and do before we left Africa was to go on a Safari and so, the only way to go on a safari is to go, and that we did. Located not far from Port Elizabeth is Schotia Safaris, a privately owned and managed game reserve which has been owned by the family since 1833. It is also the oldest private game viewing reserve in the Cape Province of South Africa, and also the first reserve to have lions that hunt for themselves. It advertises that it has over 2000 animals and over 40 species on the reserve among which are various types of antelope, hippos, giraffes, ostrich, monkeys, aardwolf, aardvark, elephant, buffalo and lions.
And so with those credentials, we embarked upon our safari adventure. The weather was cool and cloudy with an occasional shower. There are pros and cons to what weather you want. If the weather is wet and cold, the animals hold up in the thick brush and you don’t see much except those that don’t care about such things, like the hippos. If the weather is hot, then the observers are uncomfortable because you are crammed into the safari vehicles with as many others as it will hold – which is not so bad unless you are in the middle. So I would say that we had the best of both ends of the spectrum.
The safari was broke up into 3 sections: 1. About 2 ½ hours of driving and viewing in an open jeep with Dale, our ranger, 2. Supper which included impala goulash , and 3. A nocturnal viewing tour.
 The first part was by far the best; our guide was very knowledgeable about the animals but was not a jabber box. He filled in on how long the animals gestation period was, how big babies were, etc. For instance, a hippo’s gestation period is 18 months and she will not breed again for another 2 years – the calf will weigh about 200—250 lbs. An elephant’s gestation period is 22 months and she will lay low for about 2 ½ years – the calf will weigh about 300 lbs. For a farm boy those details were interesting.
Below we will caption the pictures with some detail that applies to each of them.

On the way to the safari, we stopped at a Fish & Chips dive in Motherwell Township. It is not all that fancy but the food is good.

Inside the Fish and Chips parlor

Outside artistry

The menu

We didn't know for sure if we were eating this critter or not.
With Richard & KayDawn Silcock.
At one time this was a pretty tree but the elephants thought it was better to eat than to look at. The large herd bull is able to reach the upper branches and rip it down.

In order to prevent the elephants from tearing the trees down, the managers learned that if they place a beehive under the tree, the elephants will leave it alone. (The guide didn't say so but the bees probably fly up their truck and sting them. Angie thinks of the children's book about the elephant and the bee.
A five year old bull.
This is the herd bull. One can understand how he is able to tear down a tree. He soon became tired of us watching him and became irritated. The ranger took him serious as he handed the front passenger the pepper spray and informed him how to use it if the elephant decided to attack.The ranger had great respect for him.
The brush this cow is eating has thorns about 2 to 3 inches long but she seemed to enjoy them. Although elephants have large teeth, the guide said they don't chew their food but rather just stuff it into their gut.

As you can see the rhino is not "white" but brown. There are two types of rhinos, the wide mouth ones (as this one is) and those that have a mouth shaped in more of a beak fashion. Because of language barriers, people always thought the natives were saying "white" when they were instead "wide", hence they are actually called white rhinos. Notice his horns are flat. These rhinos were actually tranquilized by poachers who then cut their horns off. Fortunately, they do grow back. The ranger pointed out the signs of a rhino becoming irritated was when his ears laid back and his tail curled up tightly. He said this big guy had attacked the jeeps a few times.

This is the home of an aardvark. When they vacate, the wart hog takes it over, . Other critters also like to use it  while the hog is away.

This is our sole sighting of the Hippos. The are sharing their bath tub with two crocodiles that we could barely distinguish because they just looked like logs floating in the water.
This is the lion herd ruler. In this game reserve the lions are able to hunt for their meals and he was chewing on the remains of a Springbuck. The girls were all gone; don't know if they had gotten their fill or the big guy told them to take a hike until he was done eating.

This was as excited as he got as we watched him have his lunch. Perhaps if we would have gotten closer, he would have gotten a little more possessive.

We found the girls about a kilometer away sunning themselves. Probably resting up before they had to go out and get the master his supper.
Lioness and her cub (about 1 year old).

While we we watching the girls, mister handsome wandered over to see them. It was interesting to watch them greet him. Each one of the females staged themselves to go up and touch his face with theirs and then rub their body against him. When each of the lionesses had preformed their ritual, he laid down and was content.

They provided a camp fire for us prior to supper which consisted of Impala goulash, BBQ chicken, rice, green beans, mushroom sauce, homemade bread and malva pudding for desert.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Thanks for sharing your pictures and experiences!