Zebra day!…A delightful visit by nine of these wonderful animals…

A little cuddle among the dazzle of zebras.

Almost daily, warthogs, bushbucks, kudus, mongoose, francolins and other birds stop by for a visit. However, zebras are less frequent visitors. Since arriving here over 3½ months ago, zebras have only graced us with their presence on two occasions. Yesterday, was one of those occasions and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When Tom happened to look out the kitchen window, he saw the zebras in the driveway. He tossed them some pellets. In no time at all, they came around to the back garden.

From this site, here are 25 amazing facts about zebras:

“Zebras are one of the many beautiful creatures inhabiting Africa. Many people know them for their iconic stripes and the never ending riddle about them being black with white stripes, or white with black stripes.

Here are a handful of facts you might or might not know about these striped horses.

  1. The zebra is actually mostly covered in white and striped with black or dark brown stripes, but underneath their coat is black skin.
  2. There are different types of zebra, each with a different stripe pattern. The mountain zebra normally has vertical stripes on its neck and across its torso while horizontal strips cover their legs.
  3. Zebras run in a zig-zag pattern when being chased by a predator making it more difficult for the predator to run after them.
  4. The pattern of a zebras stripes is different for each individual zebra, making them each as unique snowflakes!
  5. The black & white striped pattern of their coats is a good bug repellant, keeping horseflies and other bloodsuckers at bay.
  6. A group of zebras is called a ‘zeal” or “dazzle.”

    It was fun to see two zebras drinking simultaneously.

  7. The Native American culture refers to the zebra as a symbol of balance and sureness of the path.
  8. The Swahili name for the zebra is ‘Punda Milia’.
  9. Romans used Grévy’s zebras to pull two wheeled carts for their circuses.
  10. In Roman Circuses the zebra was usually called a ‘Tiger-Horse’ or a ‘Horse-Tiger’.
  11. When faced by predators, zebras will form a semi-circle and bit, nip or attack the predators if they come too close to them. They will also encircle an injured family member to protect it from further attack if the need arises.
  12. A mother zebra will keep her foal away from all other zebras for two or three days until the foal can recognize her scent, voice, and appearance.

    There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour.

  13. Zebras form hierarchies with a Stallion (male) in the lead, followed by his Harem (group of females) behind him.
  14. When traveling with his harem, the stallion will lead them with his head low and his ears laid back.
  15. Zebra’s bunch together to confuse colorblind predators, such as lions, which mistake the pattern as grass.
  16. Zebras are one of the few mammals that we believe can see in color.
  17. Zebras are actually pretty short and can be 3.5-5 feet tall.
  18. The Grévy’s zebra is named after Jules Grévy, president of France (in 1882) who received a zebra as a present from the emperor of Abyssinia.
  19. Another name for Grévy’s Zebras are Imperial Zebras.
  20. A zebra can run up to 65 km/h or 40 mph.
  21. To sleep, generally zebras don’t lie down – instead they usually sleep standing up.

    We’re so enjoying seeing wildlife drinking from the bird bath where we continue to add fresh water.

  22. Zebras can rotate their ears in almost any direction; this ability is used to communicate their mood with other zebras.
  23. Zebras have one toe on each foot.
  24. Zebras cannot see the color orange.
  25. A species of zebra are called ‘Asinus Burchelli’ after a conflict between William John Burchell and John Edward Gray sparked. Burchell brought specimens from Africa to The British Museum and the specimens died. Gray felt the need to Embarrass Burchell because of the incident; the name means “Burchelli’s Ass”.”

    They drink from the top section and often drop down and drink from the bottom section as well.

We’ve researched a number of facts about zebras over the years and each source provides new and interesting information about these stunning animals.

The sounds of their hooves pounding on the ground, the whinnying amongst themselves over pellets and jockeying for position in the garden leaves us smiling over their demeanor, rambunctious and determined. Each time we drive on Olifant Road, the only paved road in Marloth Park, we are in awe, when spotting them at the side of the road or crossing.

They waited in a queue, taking turns drinking the fresh water.

We seldom see a solitary zebra. They are social animals who travel together covering many kilometers in a single day. Even here in Marloth Park, which is only 3000 hectares, 6.7 square miles, they find plenty of space to wander, whether it’s in the parklands or in the sparsely occupied residential areas, zebras may be found running fast together, or casually grazing on the grass and vegetation.

Residents of Marloth Park certainly appreciate the zebras offering them carrots, apples and pellets when they stop by for a visit.

At this point, we haven’t been offering apples and carrots, but once the winter comes, when the vegetation is sparse, we’ll begin offering these to our friendly visitors.

They were busy eating pellets for quite some time.

Today, we’ll be working on some research for the future and afterward head over to Louise and Danie‘s Info Centre for a short visit. The school holiday period has ended and now, they have more time for a little social interaction. It will be good to see them once again.

If all goes as planned over the next 24 hours, we’ll be off to Kruger National Park tomorrow for a much desired self drive, hopefully returning with many good photos to share here.

A pretty female profile.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 3 2020:

A fish eagle, one of the most prolific eagles in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening with friends…Little annoyances with credit cards…

One Tusk with his hair all fluffed up during the rutting reason.

On Friday night, when we had dinner with Linda and Ken, Tom asked me to bring my credit card that has a substantial credit on it as a result of refunds for trips we’d canceled due to Covid-19 issues we mentioned in prior posts. Unusual for me, I forgot to bring my “phone/wallet” and since I’d planned to pay, Tom didn’t bring his wallet.

As a result, this morning, Tom drove to Jabula to pay our bill using my credit card to further reduce the credit on it. Dawn, knowing we’d certainly return to pay our bill, didn’t hesitate to let us out the door without paying. This morning, Tom drove to Jabula and paid the bill, using my card with the credit on it.

The four babies will soon be on their own, often staying together until they find a mate. Once they mate, they have no involvement with the piglets and wander about on their own, on occasion in same sex groups, called sounders

When there’s a big credit on a credit card, we’ve found that most credit card companies eventually send a check to the address on file. They don’t like customers having credits on a card. I suppose, it means they don’t make any money from us, unable to charge us interest on debit balances. We pay off our credit cards every month to prepare for any possible travel related expenses which may arise.

This wouldn’t work for us. Our billing address is in Nevada. If a check was sent to our mailing service in Nevada, we’d have to pay extra fees to have it sent to our bank in the US. We called the credit card company and asked them to keep the credit on file for three months while we’ll use the card as often as possible to reduce the credit to zero.

Big Daddy and Bossy hanging out together.

We prefer not to use that particular card, in local shops, a favorite card offering many travel benefits and rewards. When out and about, in the past, the card had been used fraudulently, requiring canceling the card and ordering a new one. To get a replacement credit card here to us in South Africa, could take upwards of three months since they send them via USPS snail mail which is a disaster on the receiving end in SA.

During Covid-19, we’ve hardly been on the move, incurring new charges other than rental fees, car rental, food and entertainment. In the pre-Covid past, we’d have considerable sums to charge on credit cards when we were often cruising, flying and staying in hotels. We often accumulated many rewards points. It’s certainly not so much now.

Big Daddy has been enjoying lounging in the garden.

There’s often “little things” like this that we must pay attention to, often by-products of this unusual life we live.. Surely, most of you experience similar issues from time to time and they can be frustrating, however small. We try to stay on top of such things to ensure they “don’t get away from us.”

In our old lives, we frequently had to call utility companies, cable TV and other services for errors in billing or service. Now, with our relatively simple lives, with no bills to pay other than credit cards and insurance, it’s considerably easier.

Two boys in the bush engaged in a little scuffle

Last night, we had another fantastic evening with Linda and Ken. We didn’t get to bed until almost midnight, but managed to get a good night’s sleep. This morning, I couldn’t help but linger for a while when Tom was up and already outdoors. But finally, always afraid I’ll miss something, I bolted out of bed to begin my day.

Recently, I signed up for a free week of AMC in order to watch season 10 of The Walking Dead. I can’t believe I actually love this zombie show. Zombies have never been on my radar. Tom had watched season one through nine with me in India, but finally lost interest with the snarling. I wondered how I’d manage to watch 20 episodes in one week. But I came up with a plan.

Mom and four babies soon to be set off on their own without their mom.

If I could multi-task and do old-post corrections on one screen on my laptop and have the show running on a spit screen, I could get the 20 episodes completed by the end of the seven days. I have until midnight tomorrow, May 3rd. So each afternoon, while I worked on the corrections, I found I had no trouble doing both. By the end of today, I should be able to complete and season and then cancel AMC.

As a matter of fact, I’ve now discovered based on the above scenario, doing the corrections is made easier, if simultaneously, I watch something on the split screen. Tom made fun of me for two reasons; my love of the show and two, my weird ability to do both activities at the same time. He always says, “I don’t multi-task, like you.”

Two impalas in the garden. They are very shy and we’re always surprised to see them stop by.

So there’s our past 24 hours, nothing earth shattering, but nonetheless quite enjoyable. At the moment, we’re both sitting at the table on the veranda on a blissfully cool and sunny day, watching Mother Nature present one of her precious beasts after another, to bring us more joy.

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2020:

A mom and her calf cooling off in the river. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

A most exciting trail cam photo!!!…

Last night’s trail cam photos picked up this porcupine! The prospect of getting this photo prompted us to purchase the trail cam. We are so excited to see this!

Each night since we received the trail cam a week ago, we have been hopeful that somehow one night, it would take a photo of the porcupine that Tom has seen six times and me, once. When I got up after Tom, I asked the new question I’ve been asking him each morning, “Did you look at the trail cam photos? Anything exciting, honey?” He’s said each day, “Nothing unusual.” This morning he said, “You’ll have to see for yourself.” It was at that moment I knew. The porcupine showed up in the trail cam photos. I couldn’t shower and get dressed quickly enough.

Holding my breath, I inserted the card reader with the camera data card into my laptop fresh cup of coffee in hand, and quickly scrolled through the photos to find the photo above. No, it’s not as clear as we would have liked. I did my best editing it a little to enhance the image. But, in the dark, at night, it was the best photo the trail cam could get. Nonetheless, we’re thrilled. Apparently, this porcupine may be a regular in our garden, based on how many times Tom has seen it. In the past month, collectively, we’ve seen it seven times. Sure, there’s a possibility it could be more than one porcupine, but most likely it’s the same one over and over. Porcupines are not territorial as per this statement:

“Social system – Porcupines are solitary during much of their lives. Exceptions occur during the winter when as many as 12 may den communally, and during courtship. Porcupines are not territorial, although an individual may drive others from a tree in which it is feeding during the winter.”

Warthog’s wiry hair on their backs stands up when confronted and during mating activities.

Facts about porcupines from this site:

“Porcupines are large, slow-moving rodents with sharp quills on their backs. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Scientists group porcupines into two groups: Old World porcupines, which are found in Africa, Europe, and Asia; and New World porcupines, which are found in North, Central, and South America. The North American porcupine is the only species found in the United States and Canada.

Sharp quills

All porcupines have a few traits in common. The most obvious trait is the long, sharp quills that cover their bodies. According to National Geographic, some quills can get up to a foot (30 centimeters) long, like those on Africa’s crested porcupine. 

Porcupines use the quills as a defense. They may shake them, which makes them rattle, as a warning to potential predators. If that doesn’t work, they may charge backward into the predator. According to the Animal Diversity Web, the quills are loosely attached, but cannot be thrown or projected. Some quills have scales or barbs that make them very hard to remove. Once a quill is lost, it isn’t lost forever. They grow back over time. A North American porcupine can have 30,000 or more quills, according to National Geographic.

One Tusk,  in his full glory, ready to protect “his tnew erritory,” our garden in Marloth Park.

Size

The largest porcupine is the North African crested porcupine. It grows up to 36 inches (90 centimeters) long. The smallest is the Bahia hairy dwarf porcupine. It grows up to 15 inches (38 cm) long. Porcupines weigh 2.5 to 77 lbs. (1.2 to 35 kilograms), depending on species, and their tails can grow up to 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm).”

When and if we’ll ever get a daylight photo of a porcupine remains to be seen. We’ll continue to check out the trail cam photos every day to see what other treasures we can see that enter the garden in the evening. With winter approaching and darkness falling earlier each evening, we look forward to many more exciting trail cam photos, along with the photos we take daily from the veranda and when driving in the park.

There are glands around the warthog’s eyes that produce a secretion during mating seasons and social interactions.

Next week, when the 10 day school holiday period ends and it’s no longer necessary to make an appointment to enter, we’ll be heading back to Kruger National Park for more stunning wildlife sightings which we look forward to sharing here. Our permanent Wild Card (year-long entrance pass) has arrived and we’re chomping at the bit to get back out there.

Tonight, we’re heading to Jabula for dinner with dear friends Linda and Ken who are here in Marloth Park right now. It’s been several weeks since they’ve been here and we have plenty of catching up to do!

Have a pleasant weekend filled with exciting surprises!

Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2020:

Female lions lounging in the shade, re-posted one year ago while in lockdown in India. For more photos, please click here.

This morning’s events in the bush…Mating season is in full bloom…

Tom noticed this dung beetle rolling his ball in the garden at quite a distance. We were thrilled to get these shots.

We only need to pay close attention to what’s transpiring around us to witness the behavior of the wildlife that is not only funny but astounding at times. This morning was no exception after we finally finished our tasks and were able to sit outdoors on the veranda with our coffee.

This morning around 7:00 am, I got out of bed to open the rolling shade in the bedroom for a peek at what was transpiring in the garden. When I didn’t see any visitors I rolled back into bed figuring I could read the daily news on my phone before getting up.

A few minutes later, I heard a sound on the window’s glass. Bossy, my favorite female kudu, was nudging the window in an attempt to get me up to deliver her some pellets. Of course, I bolted out of the bedroom to ensure she had plenty of her morning pellets. As Tom always says, “They have “us” trained.”

Moments later, he was on top of his dung ball.

Once I’m up, showered, and dressed for the day, the time seems to get away from me. I can’t believe how busy I am some days considering I don’t have to clean the house. With folding and putting away laundry from the portable rack, prepping a few items for dinner, and tidying up before Zef and Vusi arrive to clean, my mornings are full

It’s no different for Tom. First, he empties the dishwasher and puts everything away. Next, he empties the four frozen ice cube trays placing the ice into freezer Ziplock bags, and then into two drawers in the tiny freezer and fills two pitchers of water from the water machine, which is a slow process, and then, refills the trays with the purified water. He does this two or three times a day. We use a lot of ice.

When I think back to those 10 months in lockdown in India, we didn’t use any ice. It would have cost us a fortune in tips to get a sufficient amount of ice delivered to our room each day in their tiny ice buckets when there was no available ice machine for the guests to use.  We simply gave it up along with other familiar comforts during that period.

Two hungry hornbills pecking at the kitchen window, hoping for some seeds. We complied.

Then, he makes a big pitcher of Crystal Lite Iced Tea which arrived in our recent DHL package from the US, just days before we ran out. Louise loaned us a giant spouted jug for the ice tea so he doesn’t have to make the iced tea more often than every three days. That helps.

After most of our tasks are completed, finally, we can sit outdoors while I manage photos, prepare the post, handle financial matters keeping track of all of our spending, often requiring attention daily. Amid all of this, we’re continually watching what’s happening in the bush. Recently, I’ve been back at work on the corrections on old posts and have diligently stuck to my schedule which takes about two hours a day.

Tom grabs the garden hose and refills the water in the birdfeeder. It’s become a daily task when “everyone” is drinking from it now, including birds and Big Daddies. This morning, Tom had yet to refill the birdfeeder with water. Tiny was busy chasing Lonely Girl around the garden, making the mating “train noise” during a series of intermittent advances on this female warthog.

Ms. Duiker has one tiny horn in the center of her head, as opposed to the male’s two horns.

Apparently, he wore himself out and walked over to the birdfeeder for a drink of water. When he couldn’t access the remaining water with his giant tusks, he looked at us, and then, in a frustrated flurry of activity, he tried to topple over the huge ceramic feeder. It teetered back and forth but thankfully didn’t fall over. Obviously, he was mad there wasn’t enough water in there for him to reach.

Tom waited until Tiny moved away and refilled the birdfeeder with fresh water. Moments later, Tiny returned for a series of generous gulps. Caution must always prevail when wild animals are unpredictable and humans can easily be injured.  We always exercise the utmost of caution, coupled with common sense.

Big Daddy was in and out of the garden this morning chasing after the “girls.” Right now, rutting season is in full bloom! Mating pairs are everywhere. We will be sharing some of the mating antics as the days roll on, including a few interesting videos. We’re hoping none of our readers are offended by our photos and videos.

This male duiker has been accompanying her for days.

This is “life,” regenerating in the bush. It’s all a part of the magic and wonder of the wild animals surrounding us each day. When we post some mating photos or videos, we will note this in the post’s heading as “Adults only please” leaving you to decide if you’ll share the post with children and grandchildren. It’s entirely up to you.

Big Daddy, wondering what’s on the menu.

Later this afternoon, we’ll be heading to Komatipoort to shop for groceries. With Linda and Ken coming for dinner on Saturday night and the school holidays, not ending until Sunday, we decided to shop today instead of waiting until tomorrow when it will be even more crowded as the last day of the month. We’ll be well masked, gloved and I’ll be wearing a face shield as an added precaution.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2020:

Tree frog foam nest, made overnight above the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Off on a social visit today…Girls only…Busy morning in the bush…New visitor…

We are so excited to see birds finally stopping by the birdbath for a drink or a splash. Tom keeps it filled with fresh water each day. This appears to be a Blue Waxbill. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I wish I felt comfortable driving a car in South Africa. However, after not driving a stick shift vehicle for 35 years, I don’t trust myself. Also, driving on the opposite side of the road while shifting with my useless left hand only adds to the potential hazards.

Since having open heart surgery over two years ago, I am less coordinated than I used to be. I’ve read that others have experienced the same phenomenon. Perhaps it’s a result of what is referred to as “pump head” from losing some brain cells, after being on the heart bypass machine for several hours during the surgery. Luckily, doing so didn’t impact my memory as it has for many others.

New warthog visitor missing a tusk and both face warts. It appears he suffered an injury resulting in the loss of his left tusk. Face warts may be missing due to inbreeding anomaly. Guess we’ll name him, the obvious, One Tusk.

If there were a choice between memory loss and lack of coordination, I’d opt for the latter. My memory is as clear and concise as it was in my youth for which I am very grateful. My coordination, on the other hand, is only worse than it had been a few years ago when even then, it was lacking.

That’s not to say I won’t ever drive again in countries with driving on the side of the road with which I’m most familiar, the right side. Most rental cars in the US for example, are not a manual transmission. As mentioned in the past, I am not a good driver anyway and have never been.

Duikers in our garden have become braver and braver as they come to trust us while tossing pellets.

At some point in my old age, I am going to have to face the fact that driving is not safe for me, as is the case for many seniors as their coordination and adeptness fail. I’m always sad to hear when an aging or ill friend has had to give up driving for the safety of themselves and others.

What brought up this driving thing is the fact that today before 1:00 pm, 1300 hours, I’m heading out to visit a local friend, Debbie, in Marloth Park. She didn’t have access to a vehicle right now to visit us here so I offered to come to her home and today is the day. Tom will drop me off at her home and pick me up a few hours later. It will be great to have some “girl talk,” something I’ve missed off and on in our travels.

This bushbuck visits for hours each day.

Most get-togethers we’ve experienced since getting to Marloth Park months ago have been as couples, which undoubtedly we thoroughly enjoy. But, those special one-on-one conversations with friends are something both of us had to forgo in our life of world travels.

Fortunately, I’ve stayed in touch with most of my old friends in Minnesota and have an opportunity to see them when we return to the US for visits every few years. And, from time to time, I speak on the phone, on Skype, or on Messenger to my dear friends. from my “old life” and also those new friends I’ve made in our travels.

We’ve named this male bushbuck. Thick Neck, when we observed his neck is considerably larger than the other males.

This Saturday night, our dear friends Linda and Ken, who are headed to Marloth Park from Johannesburg in a few days, will be coming for dinner. It’s always fun to hang out with the two of them. When dear friends Kathy and Don arrive from Hawaii in June and July, we girls will certainly arrange some “girl time” as we’d done in the past.

Also, our dear friends Rita and Gerhard will be arriving in the next few weeks and surely Rita and I will have some girl time during the almost two months they will be here. It’s comforting to know that down the road social interactions will increase adding to the pleasure of our time in Marloth Park.

Thick Neck rested in the garden for hours.

This morning, it was busy in the bush. We saw several “new” (to us) warthogs some with interesting characteristics that make it easy to identify them when they return. Each morning, we’ve been checking the photos from the trail cam’s overnight photos. So far, no porcupine or unusual visitors. As soon as we see any of the less frequent or nocturnal animals, we’ll certainly share them here. In the interim, it is fun anticipating and checking out the photos each morning.

Right now, while Zef is washing the veranda we are inside the bedroom waiting for it to dry so we can go back outdoors. Big Daddy is looking at us through the bedroom window wondering when we’ll come out to toss him some pellets. Hold onto your shorts Big Daddy! We’ll be there soon!

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2020:

Mr. & Mrs. Hornbill eating seeds off the veranda table. We weren’t able to put up the birdfeeder with monkeys nearby and placed the seeds on the table after they’d banged at the window with their beaks to remind us to feed them. For more photos, please click here.

A tree pulled down!!!..Poop in the bush?…

Everybody was busy munching on Big Daddy’s fallen tree.

The only animal in our garden right now is The Imposter, this time, without his little buddy, Narrow Earlier we had visits from warthog Lonely Girl, Wildebeest Wille, and bushbuck Torn Ear, Since it’s Saturday, the first weekend day of the 10-day school holiday, here in South Africa, we feel fortunate to see any wildlife at all.Yesterday, an unusual event occurred in our garden. Big Daddy, (kudu) tore down, using his enormous horns, the main branch of a tree in order to gain access to its tasty leaves. As the low-lying bush dries out as winter approaches, male kudus with their massive size and strength can easily knock down a tree.

I was in the second bedroom, putting away laundry when I heard a huge sound hitting the house. Tom was taking a shower and didn’t hear a thing. I ran outside to see what was going on to find Big Daddy, happily munching on the moist, lush green leaves on the downed tree. I wish we would have seen this happen.

He came in for a few nibbles this morning but moved away when the others came.

But, we managed to take a few photos of the end result which don’t do the event justice. Since that transpired a number of other kudus and bushbucks have stopped by to partake of Big Daddy’s rambunctious event. We have no doubt that over the next week or two while the leaves are still green, he and others will stop by to partake.

It doesn’t appear that there was any damage to the house when the tree was felled by Big Daddy. Thank goodness for that. Few of the low-lying trees in the bush are sizable enough to cause damage if they are brought down by wildlife. We’ve seen such an event by elephants in Kruger National Park but never here in Marloth Park. It was rather exciting. When Tom came out to see what had happened during his shower, he too was in awe of the strength of this huge wild animal.

On another note, one of our dear long time readers wrote a comment on yesterday’s post as follows:

“I just have to ask, with all of the animals visiting, how do you handle their poo and pee? I keep busy cleaning with our two teacup dogs and can’t imagine the odor and waste from the many large animals that visit you.” Thanks for writing, Jan!

Miss Kudu in the backside of the tree and Mr. Bushbuck were enjoying the fruits of Big Daddy’s labor.

I don’t recall that we’ve ever posted anything on this topic. One would think the sight and smell of poop and pee would permeate the air in Marloth Park. It does not. Nor, is it a factor of visitors or residents getting “used to it.” There simply is no smell and rarely, and I mean rarely, do we ever see an animal poop in the garden.

Most often, they head out to the bush to “do their business” Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that most animals won’t poop where they eat, or they prefer the deep bush setting as more suitable for them. Yes, on occasion, we may see a warthog or a kudu pee, but we’ve never seen a warthog, bushbuck or kudu poop in our garden. Even then, there’s no smell. I know this sounds hard to believe, but it’s true.

Even Frank and The Misses who spend considerable time on the veranda each day, never leave a telltale sign of their visits, other than their messy piles of birdseed.

Wildebeest Willie stopped by this morning with a friend.

Before we came to Marloth Park for the first time in 2013, we had wondered the same thing. In no time at all, we realized this wasn’t an issue. That’s not to say, we never see wildlife poop when out and about. It’s easy to determine the massive poops of wildebeest. Most locals chuckle when they see it since it’s such an oddity to encounter.

With wildlife only eating vegetation, there’s less of a likelihood of smell. So there it is, folks, the answer to the question that may have left many of our readers curious as to how we can manage to sit outside, day after day, night after night with animals surrounding us.

That’s it for today! We hope you have a lovely weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, April 24, 2020:

This photo is from the repeated photos one year ago while in India in the lockdown. As we walked the souk, deciding where to dine, these varying roof lines of a courtyard caught my eye. For this post from April 24, 2014, please click here. For the year-ago post with more Marrakesh, Morocco photos, please click here.

Holiday makers arriving in the park starting today…Noisy weekend in the bush?…

Big Daddy is such a handsome animal.

We are located on the borders of Lionspruit, the wildlife conservancy within a wildlife conservancy. From our front yard or back garden, we cannot see another house. The only human noise we hear from time to time is the sound of children laughing while in a splash pool, which we can easily handle, the distant sound of a generator when the power is out and the occasional sound of trucks passing with supplies for a house being built in the area.

Other than those sounds, the only sounds we hear on a consistent basis is the blissful sounds of wildlife; whether its birds, mongoose making their chittering sounds, warthogs snorting and grunting, impalas barking like a dog, various chirping insects and frogs, the lion’s roar, and the difficult to describe occasional sounds made by kudus, zebra, and wildebeest. It’s all music to our ears.

Big Daddy posing for a photo.

One of our favorite sounds is made by Frank and The Misses, a loud bird call like none other, at sunrise and sunset, and occasionally during the day, and the gentle chirp when they happily eat their seeds and drink water from the little containers, both of which we refill several times a day.

Otherwise, the quiet is profound. No traffic sounds, no loud music, with no yelling and loud voices. When we lived at the Orange House in 2018/2019, the human sounds were deafening at times. We could easily see three or four-holiday homes from the garden and hear the rambunctious sounds of holidaymakers during the endless stream of holidays in South Africa.

Marloth Park has distinct rules, available to every visitor in regards to noise. This is a place to come to unwind, relax and revel in the wonders of nature and wildlife. Loud noise is prohibited and may result in steep fines. But, many tourists pay little attention to the rules.

He stood quietly for a few hours watching the action around him with many other animals in the garden.

Not only did we hear screaming, yelling, and “drunk talk” but loud music permeated the air. It wasn’t unusual to hear swearing and name-calling from that location. Here, nothing. At most, we’ll hear the children’s sounds and an occasional car driving past. This house is set back far from the road, making passing vehicle noises barely detectable.

Upcoming this weekend is yet another South Africa holiday, this time what is called a “school holiday” which may be found at this link. For the regular government holidays, please click here.

This upcoming school holiday, of course, meaning kids are out of school, impacts tourism in Marloth Park beginning on April 23 and continues until May 3 for a total of 10 days. It’s during these several long stretches throughout the year that Marloth Park is rife with tourists, with considerable fast driving on the paved road Olifant and all the dirt roads, which often results in the killing of many animals.

Big Daddy in the background with two females ready for more pellets.

As mentioned over Easter weekend, seven of our beloved animals were killed by hit-and-run drivers, some of which were killed instantly and others who had to be euthanized. Each time, we don’t see some of our favorites in the garden over a period of days, we end up wondering if they were one of the victims of these ruthless drivers, until once again they grace us with their presence, filling us with a sense of relief.

It’s highly likely we won’t see much wildlife during the 10-day period when often, they are hiding in the bush away from the commotion or being fed inappropriate foods that they, like humans, can’t help but like. During these periods, we seldom see many of our wildlife friends. In actuality, that has already begun when, this morning, we only saw a few warthogs, bushbucks, and of course, Frank and The Misses, who we’ll continue to see since Francolins are territorial and it’s highly unlikely they leave the property.

Also, beginning this weekend, it’s necessary to make an appointment to enter Kruger National Park. Visitors may use this site to book their appointments. Due to the crowds, there will be in Kruger, we won’t be visiting any time during the holiday period. Also, our usual drives in search of photo ops in Marloth Park will also cease during this period.

Young Mr. Bushbuck hoping for some pellets when the warthogs take over. We always find a way to get some to him and the other gentle bushbucks.

We’re hoping we’ll continue to have sufficient photos during the next 10 days for our daily posts. We’ll do our best to ensure we are able to post new photos. Fortunately, we have enough groceries and bags of pellets to avoid the necessity of driving to Komatipoort to shop, where it will also be very busy.

Oops, I spoke too soon! Nine kudus just arrived in the garden, including some youngsters and Big Daddy. A grouping of kudus like this is called a forkl. The camera is clicking non-stop!

Little, in the side garden, searching for any leftover pellets we’d tossed to the bushbucks.

May your days and nights be pleasant and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2020:

A distant elephant across the Crocodile River. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Fantastic night in the bush…A human and animal kind of night…

Big Daddy lurking in the bush staring at the females.

Last evening when friends Alan and Fiona stopped by for sundowners, we all experienced a night we’ll always remember. Not only was the conversation, wine, cocktails, and food freely flowing, but we were all “gifted” with visits by dozens of wildlife. They came, not only before sunset, but once it was dark, when we turned on the garden light, one species after another graced us with their presence.

Lots of zebra butts facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden.

It was as if we’d arranged this menagerie for our guests and none of us could take our eyes off the garden. Amid all the enjoyment of seeing so many wild animals, the conversation flowed with ease and good humor. Tom and I joked that the word got out that we currently have five remaining 40 kg, 88 pounds, bags of pellets in a corner in the second bedroom.

It’s not natural for kudus to bend over to eat when they’re used to eating vegetation on trees. But, they do bend for the pellets.

Then, again this morning, even more, came to call including wildebeests (gnus), zebras, bushbucks, warthogs, kudus, including one Big Daddy (the first we’ve had visit) who’d somehow managed to maneuver his way through the dense bush to make his way to our garden.

As I write this now, the Big Daddy stands tall in his majestic wonder as shown in today’s photos. To us, there’s no animal living in Marloth Park that commands more reverence and respect than these special massive males. Sadly, on occasion, a foolhardy tourist will not respect their strength and girth and may become injured when getting too close.

One of the two wildebeest hung around with us all evening, well after dark.

Recently, we posted a video we’d seen on Facebook where a man actually touched the head of a Big Daddy, which resulted in an injury to the man’s face. We were appalled by how idiotic the man was to actually think he could “pet” the massive animal. We never touch any of the wildlife nor do we hand-feed any of them.

See the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/377035355798904/permalink/1901623916673366/

The second wildebeest that hung around last night and returned again this morning.

As it turned out, Alan and Fiona stayed until 11:00 pm, 2300 hours, when suddenly we all realized how late it was. A highlight of the evening we all especially savored was when on four occasions, we heard Dezi and Fluffy roaring in Lionspruit. What a fantastic sound!

The evening flew by. Shortly after they left and we were situated in bed with our laptops, I got to work to complete the day’s corrections I’d never finished during the day.  It wasn’t until after midnight that I finally gave up and decided to finish the task this morning.

It was almost dark when we took this photo.

Well, this morning with six zebras, four warthogs, two bushbucks, and the returning two wildebeest from last night, it took me a while to finally get to the remaining corrections from yesterday. Now I am caught up and can get to work on today’s 10 posts before the day’s end.

Today will be an easy day. I’ve already done two loads of laundry and prepared a few items for tonight’s dinner, a well-seasoned chicken flattie to be cooked on the braai. Most flatties are already seasoned with some spices we don’t use in our way of eating. Soon, I’ll soak the chicken in purified water in the big metal bowl to remove all those spices off and then re-season it to our liking.

Such a handsome male kudu.

Tomorrow, we’ll make the second flattie implementing the same process, when we didn’t have room in the small freezer for either of the flatties. Today is yet another gorgeous day, cool and slightly overcast. We are loving every moment of this cool weather.

Enjoy today’s photos along with us. Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2020:

Taking photos through the fence in Marloth Park was tricky, so we got what shots we could.  At times, we were pleasantly surprised at the finished product. For more photos, reposted, one year ago, please click here.

Busy day with much to do…

Two heads are better than one when assessing the pellet situation.

It was a good thing it wasn’t hot last night. Sunday night the power was out for almost 12 hours and we couldn’t use the air-con in the bedroom. On Saturday in the middle of the night, I awoke Tom from a deep sleep and asked him why he was clapping. He wasn’t clapping. The air-con was making a clapping sound every 10 to 20 minutes. What was that about? We shut it off knowing the sound would keep waking us up.

We didn’t want to disturb Louise over the weekend so we tried it again last night, Monday, to discover the clapping continued. With a cool night, we used the fan instead and that worked out fine. Today, Louise set up an afternoon appointment with Chris, the air-con guy, to come out this afternoon. It certainly is better to get air-con repairs handled on cool days like today. Next week it will be hot again when it will be tough to get an appointment for a repair person to come out.

Soon, we’ll be heading to Komatipoort to grocery shop and stop at the pharmacy for a few items. On our way, we’ll stop at the home of the woman from whom we’re renting the treadmill. The next payment for the upcoming three months is due now. I am so grateful I’ve had the treadmill to keep me in shape during these many lazy days in the bush.

Narrow and The Imposter, resting in the garden.

Late in the afternoon our friend and local author, Alan, and his girlfriend Fiona are coming for sundowners. When we return from the market, I’ll get to work to make a few appetizers to serve during their visit. I’ll make enough items, some of which I can eat, and thus, we won’t be making dinner tonight.

Usually, happy hour continues until 8:00 pm, 2000 hours, or later, or when the mosquitoes and other insects are at their worst. It varies every evening so we’ll play it by ear and wrap up the evening when nature dictates. In any case, we’re sure it will be another lovely evening with friends.

Socializing in Marloth Park has been kept to a minimum with Covid-19. Many are afraid to get together, even in small groups, especially after a few deaths from the dreaded virus here in the park. We only socialize with others whom we know are being careful like us.

Mr. Bushbuck, one of many bushbucks that stop by each day.

Speaking of Covid-19, this morning, after applying for the vaccine four times, Louise finally got the SMS message stating my application was finally accepted. Now, we wait for a date and time for both of us. We hope this all works out with the timing before we have to leave South Africa on June 30th for our visa stamps.

Our ultimate hope is that President Cyril Ramaphosa will extend visitor visas for yet another 90 days. Here again, we’ll play it by ear. That would be absolutely wonderful! If not, we’ll make a plan, last minute, to fly out for a few days and then return.

I’ve already started making the appetizers for this evening. Right now, as I prepare this post, we have to leave to bring the money for the treadmill to the owner, and then we’re off to Komatipoort. When we return, I’ll finish this post.

Maturing male kudu, admiring himself in the glass of the bedroom windows.

We stopped at the home of the lovely woman, who loaned us the treadmill and we hit it off so well, we hope to socialize soon. We paid her the ZAR 1800, US $126 for the next 90 days.  It’s been so helpful to me having this piece of exercise equipment, easily at my disposal.

We just returned from Komati after grocery shopping, a visit to the pharmacy and the liquor store. We have everything we’ll need for the next few weeks. Everything has been put away. A few plates of the treats for tonight have been prepped. Soon, we’ll set up the table. The house is clean and tidy after Vusi did another amazing job this morning.

Now, Frank and The Misses are drinking water from the little container we set down for them with fresh water a few times each day. I’d forgotten to put the container down on the floor when we returned and he made his funny noise at me to let me know, he and The Misses wanted to drink.  The Imposter is here by himself, without his buddy, Narrow. Mom and Babies just left the garden after eating pellets.

These two young kudus were very chummy.

Last night, just before going to sleep, I came out of the bedroom to fill a glass of water for my bedside table. I happened to turn on the outside light to take a peek to see if anyone was there. And there she was, Bossy (kudu) and one of her offspring, a handsome young male. Of course, they were staring at me through the glass door, wondering if pellets are served so late at night.

Sadly, I declined to offer pellets since the alarm had already been set and I didn’t want them coming around at night in the dark with expectations. I kept an eye out for them and a short time later they left. This morning they were back and we tossed plenty of pellets their way. We often wonder where and when they hunker down at night and how long they sleep.

From what we’ve read most wild animals sleep in short bursts and for very few hours a day. It’s ingrained in their DNA to keep out a watchful eye for predators. Here is Marloth Park, few predators exist for most of the wildlife. But, still, they remain alert and diligent to protect themselves and their young.

At the far end of our garden, Lionspruit begins where lions Dezi and Fluffy live.  There are hundreds of other animals in Lionspruit, many of whom are possible meals for these two lions. It’s an entirely different situation there and in Kruger National Park than here in peaceful and less-threatening Marloth Park.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 20, 2020:

Hand-feeding Kookaburras in the garden, re-posted one year ago from Australia in 2017. They are carnivores so I fed them raw, grass-fed ground beef. For more photos, please click here.

Repeating the vaccine registration process…Stats on the majestic maturing male kudu…

He stood there for quite a while, but we stayed inside the house until he backed off.

When we didn’t receive a confirmation text expected within 24 hours of both of us registering for South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine, I searched online for possible reasons. Apparently, when the site went live yesterday, we were two of the first 126,000 that registered. I found a mention that due to traffic on the site, we may need to re-register again today.

If you didn’t see yesterday’s post, here is the link to register for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Also, I wondered when I entered our US phone number with a “1” in front of the area code, I needed to use +1, but there weren’t enough spaces in the field to enter the +1 which is the US country code. Today, as soon as I’ve uploaded this post, I will re-register both of us, using Louise’s South Africa phone number for her to receive the texts to notify us that our application has been received and where and when to go for the vaccine sometime in May or later.

I don’t like inconveniencing her like this, but she is always willing to help in any way she can. We are assuming the South African vaccine portal didn’t accept our US phone number. We will see how that goes.

These male kudus when fully grown may weigh 190 kg to 270 kg, 419 pounds to 595 pounds.

It’s a busy Saturday morning in the bush. There must not be as many holidaymakers here this weekend. We’ve had a steady stream of visitors this morning, including the first “Big Daddy” kudu who visited our garden since we arrived in January.

His horns weren’t as huge as a more mature Big Daddy, but in time they will be. His massive muscular body was a treat to behold.

From this site:

“The kudu’s horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not reaching the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six.
Not quite full-grown with horns yet to grow, this Big Daddy stopped by early this morning.

Greater Kudu facts

  1. Kudu are highly alert and notoriously hard to approach. When they detect danger – often using their large, radar-like ears – they give a hoarse alarm bark, then flee with a distinctive, rocking-horse running motion, the male laying back his horns to avoid overhead obstructions.
  2. The common name kudu is derived from the indigenous Khoikhoi language of Southern Africa. The scientific name is derived from Greek: Tragos denotes a he-goat and elaphos a deer; Strephis means ‘twisting’ and Keras means ‘horn’.
  3. The horns of a mature bull kudu have two and a half twists, and, if straightened, would reach an average length of 120cm. However, they may occasionally have three full twists and the record length is a whopping 187.64cm. The horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not reaching the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six. They have long served different traditional communities, as both embellishment and musical instruments, the latter including the shofar, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah.
  4. Male kudus are rarely physically aggressive but may spar during the courtship season, shoving one another with their horns. Occasionally, during these contests, their horns become interlocked and, if unable to free themselves, both males may die.
  5. The traditional sport of Kudu dung-spitting (Bokdrol Spoeg in Afrikaans) is practiced in the South African Afrikaner community. The winner is the contestant who is able to spit one of the antelope’s small, hard dung pellets the furthest – with the distance measured to where it comes to rest. An annual world championship was launched in 1994, with contests held at community events, game festivals, and tourism shows. The world record stands at 15.56m, set in 2006 by Shaun van Rensburg Addo.

Greater Kudu Conservation Status

With only 118,000 kudus remaining in the wild, kudus have a ‘near threatened conservation status’ according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Hunters shoot them for their hides and/or meat and their horns are a much-wanted collector’s item. Local people use their horns in rituals, to store honey or to make instruments out of them. Habitat loss is another threat to the kudu population. Awareness and responsible travel are key to preserve the kudu population.”

Based on today’s visiting kudu, we’re surmising he is approximately four years old. It was quite a treat to see him early this morning. I was still in bed when Tom quietly came to get me to see the kudu and take a few photos. I was awake, reading news on my phone, and couldn’t bolt out of bed fast enough.

We went indoors when he began to approach us on the veranda.

As it turned out, this particular male was somewhat bold, coming up onto the veranda without hesitancy in search of pellets. Tom and I stayed inside watching him through the screen door. Unintentionally (or not), kudus have been known to injure humans who get too close, some fatally. We weren’t about to take such a risk.

Once he backed off, Tom tossed out some pellets for him into the garden, which he was content to eat with enthusiasm. Once he was done, he wandered away toward the driveway. There was no way, with those big horns, he could make his way out through the dense bush, the reason we haven’t seen any Big Daddies in our garden during the past three months. Although, we have seen fully grown males when driving through Marloth Park or when visiting friends with less dense bush surrounding their property.

Today is another sunny, cool day with low humidity. It feels wonderful with the gentle breeze wafting through the bush, the sight and the sound of the leaves falling to the ground, and our ability to see further into the bush. But, with winter (upcoming on June 21st) on the horizon, this is a tough time for the wildlife. No doubt, we’ll do our part to feed the wildlife as much as we can afford.
We hope all of our readers have a fantastic weekend.
Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2020:
Spotting these yellow-tipped stamen on these Anthuriums in Kauai was a first for us. For more photos, please click here.