Day 3 of culling…An early morning live alarm clock!…Young kudus visiting without their moms?…Could it be?…

This may look like a bird when, in fact, it was the helicopter we spotted this morning, flying overhead herding animals for the bomas, where they will then be transferred to Lionspruit. Their fate is yet to be confirmed.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 15 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, 2 Moms and Babies, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 1 kudus – inc. Bossy
  • 3 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn, Old Man, and Hal
  • 19  helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 38 mongoose
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
Excuse this blurry photo, taken from quite a distance. This is a red-billed hornbill described here: The red-billed hornbills are a group of hornbills found in the savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. They are now usually split into five species, the northern red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), western red-billed hornbill (T. kempi), Tanzanian red-billed hornbill (T. ruahae), southern red-billed hornbill (T. rufirostris), and Damara red-billed hornbill (T. damarensis). Still, some authorities consider the latter four all subspecies of Tockus erythrorhynchus. The female lays three to six white eggs in a tree hole during incubation, blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings, and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. When the chicks and the female are too big for the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall. Then both parents feed the chicks.

The helicopter is flying overhead right now and has been doing so for the past 3 hours. The sound of the whirring blades makes me cringe. Bossy, my favorite kudu, who’s pregnant, ran off terrified when the helicopter swooped in over her head.  Did she follow the stampede of scared animals to the bomas, where they are being held until they are moved into Lionspruit?

Is Bossy now gone? Only time will tell. She was a daily visitor, often stopping by as many as four or five times a day. She’d look into my eyes, with what almost appeared to be a smile on her “got milk” white mustache, typical for all kudus. I will feel lost without her daily presence.

We spotted this giraffe on our way to Two Trees to meet up with friends.

There are many opinions and rumors about what’s happening with animals once they are gathered. Some say they will be shot. Others say they will live peacefully in Lionspruit with their only threat, the two lions, Dezi and Fluffy, who permanently live in Lionspruit and have for years. Here again, only time will tell what’s happened to the hundreds of kudus being moved over these past three days.

The more I speak to locals, which we’ve done quite a bit over the past several days, the more I accept the reality of this seemingly humane thing to do. Is it a quick and painless death or a slow, painful death of starving with no readily available vegetation during the long winter months?

Three ostriches along the side of the road on our way to Two Trees.

Humans who feed them can’t possibly provide enough food to keep them going throughout the winter. Imagine how much food it takes to feed a 250 to 500 pound, 113 kg to 227 kg animal in a day? It would be impossible to provide them with adequate portions to sustain life.

If they were in Kruger, they’d have larger foraging areas to wander for food. But here in Marloth Park at 6.76 square miles, there isn’t enough vegetation to feed them, the hundreds of impala, the bushbucks, wildebeest, and other foraging animals.

The three ostriches with their heads up.

Even the giraffes, who mainly eat from the treetops, are running out of suitable vegetation. Soon dozens of them will be culled. What will happen to them? It’s a painful reality for all of the wildlife in Marloth Park.

This morning at 6:00 am, while we were still asleep, we were both awakened by repeated loud barks coming from the garden. I jumped out of bed and looked outside to find Broken Horn staring at the veranda door, wondering when we were coming outside to feed him. In one way, we found it humorous, but moments later, I stopped my giggling in the sad realization he, among others, is hungry.

The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a duck, goose, and swan family, Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley. Egyptian geese are commonly seen at the river. Egyptian geese were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians and appeared in much of their artwork. However, because of their popularity chiefly as ornamental birds, escapees are common and feral populations have become established in Western Europe, the United States, and New Zealand.

The trees, plants, and bushes they all consume are sparse. But, of course, they’d come to see us and others living/staying in Marloth Park for whatever morsels we can provide. I get it. Over the past few days, I’m off my “high horse” and surrendered to reality, albeit sadly and painfully so.

Yesterday afternoon Tom witnessed five young kudus alone in the garden with no moms present, which is a rarity. I was indoors finishing the post (I had to get away from the distractions in the garden) to focus and finish up for the day. Tom waited and watched, and none of the usual moms appeared. Undoubtedly, the moms have been captured, and now the youngsters must fend for themselves—another harsh reality.

This distant elephant was making her way to the river.

We met up with Rita, Gerhard, and Don at Two Trees overlooking the Crocodile River yesterday afternoon. I was able to take some interesting photos, which we’ll share over the next few days. After the river, Tom, Don, and I headed to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for another outstanding dinner while Rita and Gerhard had a quiet evening at home.

By 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs, we were back home relaxing while watching another great episode of the streamed Africa series on Amazon Prime, Wild at Heart. In no time at all, I drifted off for a good night’s sleep. Tom often stays awake until midnight reading on his laptop.

Impalas on the hill in Kruger above the Crocodile River.

This afternoon we’re having sundowner guests. There will be seven of us for snacks, drinks, and undoubtedly more great conversation. We’ve been quite busy socially these past weeks, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Now, with only six days until we depart Marloth Park to begin the long journey to the US, we’re winding down the socializing to get ready to leave for almost a month.

With our return flight booked through United Airlines, all we have to do now is figure out a way to get a refund from the former canceled flight. Unfortunately, it’s time-consuming and tricky.

Have a pleasant day!

 Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2020:

Houses we encountered on a walk through the village of Bennabio in Tuscany, Italy, in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

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