Exciting night in the park…Immigration concerns for South Africa…

With a story of around 3.048 meters (10 feet), this bull giraffe is two stories
tall. Their legs are taller than the average adult male.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Bushbabies are loving the little cups of peach-flavored yogurt we put out for them every night at dusk.  They fly through the air so quickly it’s not easy to get a good photo in the dark.

Each night we spend outdoors, which is when it hasn’t been windy and raining, we experience something new and unique. Two nights ago, it was 30-minutes of screeching by the bush babies in the tree in front of our veranda. 

From this site:  “The cattle egret feeds on a wide range of prey, particularly insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, flies (adults and larvae), and moths, as well as spidersfrogs, and earthworms. Cattle egrets often hang around large mammals such as this hippo, feeding off their scraps. In a rare instance, they have been observed foraging along the branches of a banyan tree for ripe figs. The species is usually found with cattle and other large grazing and browsing animals and catches small creatures disturbed by the mammals. Studies have shown that cattle egret foraging success is much higher when foraging near a large animal than feeding singly.”

Last night, bone-chilling sounds were leaving us bewildered and curious as to what it could be. Louise and I texted back and forth, trying to access what we were each hearing. Our properties are only a few blocks apart, and she and Danie could hear what we were hearing. They have many years of experience in determining these sounds, and it was fun to go back and forth with them via text.

Louise suggested at one point that it was hippos. We’re a good seven or eight-minute drive to the Crocodile River, but that’s over rocky dirt roads. As the crow flies, we may only be one or two kilometers from the river. Hippo sounds may be heard as far away as eight kilometers (five miles), so that might be what we were hearing.

Hippos spend most of their days foraging and lounging in the river.

Within about 10 minutes, the sounds changed while our ears were tuned to the curious sounds we were hearing. With his impaired hearing after years on the railroad, Tom could easily hear all these sounds along with me.

We heard sounds similar to the howling of wolves or wild dogs. We listened in awe for every loud outcry, uncertain as to precisely what it may be.  After about 15 minutes, those sounds ended, and different sounds commenced.

When driving through Kruger National Park, visitors seldom see hippos if they stay on the main paved roads.  One would need to venture off onto the dirt roads leading to the river. We took these photos from the fence between the Crocodile River and Marloth Park.

Lions have recently been sighted in Marloth Park. Of course, we’d be thrilled to be able to spot one, let alone take a photo. The new sound was clear and definitive…the roar of a lion. 

And yes, we know to be ultra-careful if a lion is nearby. There are several steps to reach the veranda, and it’s unlikely a lion would climb steps to get to us. Nonetheless, we’d most likely go indoors taking photos through the window. 

Often, when we spot giraffes, they are foraging in tall trees, obstructing a clear view for a photo.

However, many year-long residents of Marloth Park have never spotted a lion in the park, other than in Kruger. Over the years, numerous sightings have been observed and documented, including recently before and after our arrival on February 11th.

Many have ventured into Lionspruit, another reserve located within the confines of Marloth Park, and have never seen the two resident lions that remain inside.  A month ago, we visited Lionspruit, but the little rental car couldn’t handle the rough road, and we exited as soon as possible.

These leaves must have been delicious for this giraffe to be willing to bend “down” to eat when most often they stay at eye level or reach “up.”  They will bend down to drink.

Finally, the loudest of the nighttime sounds in the bush changed to the usual hum of crickets, frogs, and birds, and we wandered off to bed. Although few visitors stopped by in the dark last night, we thoroughly enjoyed the bush babies and the various sounds of the night.

This morning, at 5:40, am (of course I was awake), Louise texted me to let me know that seven hyenas were sighted in Marloth Park by Field Security (the rangers) at Oliphant (the main tarred road) and Wild Dog Road, quite a distance from us.

From this site: About Giraffes: The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the largest rudiment and the tallest land mammal. We waited for an extended period in an attempt to get a full-body photo of this huge male bull. This giraffe is known to be the largest in Marloth Park. This is not due to its long neck alone. The adult giraffe’s legs are taller than the average human. The average height of a giraffe differs between males and females. Male giraffes (or ‘bulls’) can be up to 18 feet (5.5 meters) tall.”

Of course, we can’t help ourselves; we’ll be postponing today’s planned trip to Komatipoort tomorrow for grocery shopping to drive around the park to see if we can spot the hyenas. It’s doubtful we’ll see them, but it’s fun to go searching.  We do this almost every day anyway as if we’re on a daily treasure hunt…and treasure it is indeed!

This male bull is well-equipped for the current mating season if the size of his testicles is any indication.

As for immigration, a few years ago, one could drive less than an hour to the border to Mozambique, spend the day and re-enter South Africa for a new 90-day visa which is now illegal based on immigration law changes. As a result, we must leave South Africa by May 10 and cannot visit any bordering countries to get our visas stamped for another 90 days.

We have to leave for a bonafide trip, not just one or two days and spend time in another country in Africa beyond the bordering countries. We’re working on this now and hope to wrap something up in the next few days. Once we do, we’ll certainly post the details of where we’re going and what we’ll be doing. Please stay tuned.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2017:

When they miss the bit of meat, it doesn’t hurt at all if the kookaburras pecked at me instead. For more photos, please click here.