Another outstanding “first!”…A difficult decision…

This is Cupid with a heart-shaped marking on her throat.  She was particularly loving the lucerne.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Wildebeest Willie arrived in time to get in on the action. He ate quite a bit and then decided he’d sit on it only sharing with a warthog or two.

When we often heard our Marloth Park friends talk about ordering bales of lucerne (hay) for the wildlife who are unable to freely forage with the lack of rain during the normally rainy spring season, we hesitated to order it.

The animals are so hungry, many residents have ordered lucerne to be delivered. Although we don’t like the idea of them sharing a food source due to potential health hazards, starvation, in itself is a huge health hazard.
We know this can be a breeding ground for animal bacteria. But, over the past several weeks seeing dozens of skinny, hungry wildlife, we had to make a decision…do we get the lucerne and feed them a protein-rich diet of lucerne or do we continue with just the pellets, apples, and carrots which we’re going through faster than can be imagined?

It’s been hard feeding them enough with the pellets, apples, and carrots. Yes, they visit other homes in the park and are fed, often generously, but few residents are outside on their veranda each and every day and night feeding the animals, as we are.
Daisy’s Den delivers the lucerne for ZAR 145 (US $10.05)  Lucerne is: Oat, barley, and wheat plant materials occasionally cut green and made into hay for animal fodder. It’s a rich source of protein, carbohydrates and minerals ideal for wildlife during the drought.

When we drive around Marloth Park almost daily passing one bush house after another, we rarely see residents outdoors feeding the animals. A rough guess might be, that we may observe one out of 30 homes (on a busy weekend) with occupants outdoors feeding the wildlife.  

While Mark, the owner of Daisy’s Den was still in our garden, 15 kudus arrived in minutes to begin devouring the lucerne with considerable enthusiasm.

On typical non-holiday weekdays, we may not see more one or two residents outdoors feeding the wildlife during our two-plus hour drive through the park. No offense intended.  

Many homeowners only stay in their bush homes a few times a year for short periods. Many residents purchase lucerne to feed the wildlife which doesn’t require the resident to be outdoors.  

More and more kudus arrived to partake in the bale.

Some homeowners go as far as ordering lucerne to be delivered to their bush home while they are away, ensuring the animals still are fed in their absence. How generous is that?

Then, there were 15 kudus with a few off to the sides.

Many homes are rented as holiday homes but most often they’re rented over weekends during holiday and non-holiday periods. The tourists may be in Kruger National Park or otherwise sightseeing spending little time in the gardens of their rental properties.

The local markets sell small bags of pellets that visitors may purchase which is not enough to feed a handful of kudus in one day. Many animals spend the majority of their time foraging for food. A cupful or two of pellets doesn’t put a dent in their daily dietary needs.

We couldn’t believe how quickly they began breaking down the bale.

We struggled with this decision but when we’ve seen nursing moms with ribs showing, injured warthogs looking thin and malnourished and even a lizard as shown in yesterday’s post braving approaching us for food. Of course, we complied as shown in yesterday’s post. Please click here if you missed it.

It took a few hours for a Big Daddy to arrive.  He wasn’t quite as excited about the lucerne as the females and the youngsters.

If we dumped an entire 40 kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets on the ground, in a few hours, it would be gone. Their sense of smell is outstanding as indicated by our above comment as to how quickly the kudus arrived after Mark placed the bale of lucerne in the garden. It took less than 60 seconds for 15 kudus to arrive.

As you can see, we decided to give it a try by ordering one bale of lucerne which was delivered yesterday morning. The response was unreal. For hours we watched a wide array of wildlife come to partake of the bounty.  

Moments later another Big Daddy arrive and the competition began for dominance.

For once there was less “jockeying” for position. There was enough for everyone and the competition was less fierce than usual. As the hours past, the pile of hay became smaller and smaller until it was finally but a light greenish dust on the dirt.  

This Big Daddy wasn’t taking any guff from another slightly smaller male.

And yet, as I write here now, Willie is sitting in the green dust, as content as he could be. He picked over some remaining mouthsful and we added pellets to round out his visit. He seems so content. At this point, he’s been here for the past three hours.

This morning we had a second bale delivered which we’re saving to distribute later this afternoon. At the moment it’s on the veranda far enough back from the edge for anyone to reach. In the interim, the remaining lucerne will be fodder for any visitors mid-day.

They worked out an amicable arrangement and all went well.

Tonight Rita and Gerhard are coming for dinner. They too, after seeing the excitement here, have ordered their first bale which arrived this morning and surely by now are reveling in the pleasure of feeding these hungry creatures.

May your day be filled with meaning and purpose.

                                         Photo from one year ago today, December 11, 2017:

Shoreline view from high atop the city at Puerto Montt, Chile. For more photos, please click here.

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