Sad sighting in the bush…Oh, good grief!…Tooth extraction socket is infected…

This morning, in the garden when we spotted this injured kudu, we immediately contacted the rangers. Hopefully, soon, they will find her and have the vet help her out. It’s heartbreaking to see such an injury.

This morning, after a painful and fitful night due to pain in my extracted tooth socket (more on that below), I did what I always do upon awakening, say good morning to Tom, who is always up before me, and then check the action in the garden. There were the usual bushbucks, including Stringy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and Holey Moley, and the frequently visiting four adult female kudus, including my favorite Bossy.

Immediately, they approached the veranda when they saw me as I thought about the big bags of carrots on the kitchen counter. I asked Tom to toss some pellets while I got the carrots. Before I turned on my heels, I noticed something unusual about one of the kudus. Her right eye was bleeding.

Her eyelid is hanging there. It is heartbreaking to see. We’re hoping the ranges will get here soon. We’ve done everything we could to keep her here with the other female, but sooner or later, they wander off.

To keep them around long enough so I could take a photo and send it to Jaco, the head ranger in the park, I grabbed the bag of carrots, and we both started tossing chunks to them. I grabbed the camera while Tom continued sending carrots their way but struggled to get a good shot of the injured eye.

After waiting patiently, I managed to get the photos we’re sharing here today. I sent them to Jaco via Facebook Messenger, and within a few minutes, he acknowledged my message in which I’d included two photos and our address. Hopefully, sometime today, they will find her since they hang out in specific areas, and the vet can treat her. I imagine he’d clean it, try to sew it back in place, and treat her with antibiotics. They dart the animals to provide such medical care.

This is what we saw upon first spotting her. Upon closer inspection, we took the above photos.

We may never hear back regarding the outcome, but we can only hope she’ll be found and treated somehow. It was heartbreaking to see. They are such sweet and gentle animals, and it’s hard to see them suffering for any reason. It’s hard enough right now that they constantly search for tidbits of food when the bush is so dry.

Surprisingly, most of the wildlife looks healthy, with few ribs protruding from lack of food. Thank goodness, so many of us feed regularly. The only nature we see looking too lean are those with some illness, injury, or impediment of some sort that prevents them from foraging. If this poor injured kudu isn’t treated, this may happen to her if she gets an infection.

Yesterday, four wildebeest, none of them Broken Horn, who’s a loner, came to call, coming right up onto the veranda to the door, looking for us.

Speaking of infections, the socket where my tooth was pulled on Monday has become infected. The second day after the procedure, I was feeling pretty good. But, on Wednesday, the pain escalated, and I began to be concerned. I contacted Dr. Singh, and he ordered antibiotics, Z-Pack, the 3-day 500 mg dose. I started them yesterday afternoon, at 3:00 pm. I’m also taking prescribed probiotics several hours after the one pill dose.

But last night was unbearable. I hurt so much my ear was hot and red, and my face was swollen. It came on suddenly, in a matter of 24 hours. Dr. Singh had suggested I take antibiotics on the day of the procedure but after taking them for five days a few weeks ago, in a feeble attempt to heal the pain in the tooth after the root canal had been done in that same tooth. But, I said, “Let’s try it without antibiotics.”

We didn’t dare go outside. Wildebeest horns can be deadly.

It continued to hurt when I chewed on that side and brushed my teeth. In the past year, I’ve taken antibiotics four times due to issues with two teeth. When the antibiotics didn’t work this last time, resulting in the tooth being extracted along with all the pins in place from the recent root canal, done in June before we left for the US, I hesitated to take antibiotics. Of course, I hesitated over another round.

This time my decision was wrong. I should have taken the antibiotics on Monday. I was in deep trouble in excruciating pain by Wednesday night that kept me awake for the past two nights. On Thursday, I contacted Dr. Singh’s office, and he prescribed the Z-Pack, which I took promptly at 3:00 pm (1500 hrs). After a horrible sleepless night taking several Paracetamol and Advil spread over several hours, a cold pack on my face, frequent salt water rinses, I finally drifted off.

We’ve never seen them be aggressive to us, but we are cautious. On many occasions, we’ve seen them go after other animals when competing for pellets or carrots. Otherwise, they leave others and humans alone unless threatened.

This morning, I awoke to a 50% improvement in the pain and can’t wait to take the next dose this afternoon, followed by several probiotic hours later.

Tonight, with Rita and Gerhard back from a two-week trip to Germany to see family, we’re scheduled for dinner at Jabula with them and Kathy and Don.. I will spend the majority of today resting and taking it easy. Besides, with the current Covid-19 curfew, we usually leave Jabula by 8:30 pm (2030 hrs) and will be back home hoping for a restful night.

So, folks, there’s our past 24 hours which were challenging to say the least. Hopefully, my situation will continue to improve over the weekend, and Ms. Kudu will get the treatment she needs.

Have a pleasant weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, September 17, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #178. In Fiji in 2015, our neighbor Sewak drove us up this outrageously steep hill in his truck for this view. For more photos, please click here.

Busy weekend in the bush…

Tom was tossing pellets to Broken Horn and a young male kudu we call Medium Daddy.

This morning, we awoke to our usual band of mongoose looking for meat and fat, which we’d cut up into bite-sized pieces after last night’s beef roast Tom had for dinner. I have been eating soft foods until the loose temporary crown gets replaced on Monday when we return to Dr. Singh in Malalane.

Moments later, Broken Horn arrived in his ceremonious manner, scooting every other animal in his path to leave a clear spot in the garden for “his” pellets and carrots. A mongoose grabbed a big chunk of carrot, carrying it to the cement on the side of the pool, banging it over and over again, assuming he could crack it open to see what was inside. This always makes us laugh.

There are about 24 helmeted guinea-fowls that occupy our garden most days and in the early evening until they take off to hunker down for the night.

After a while, a warthog approached him and snatched the chunk of carrot, eating it while making loud crunching noises. It’s a laugh and fun fest every hour of every day. Now, as the days dwindle to our departure, I can avoid feeling sad about leaving, knowing we’ll return 14 months later.

Now, with this peace of mind, I can allow myself to embrace our upcoming trip to Arizona while we stay put for three months in Apache Junction until we fly to Florida in February for Karen and Rich’s wedding.

There were nine kudus in the garden, certainly not the most we’ve seen at once but enjoyable to see.

While we are in Arizona,  I plan to meet up with my sister Julie (who lives in LA) to spend a few days in Scottsdale. We will drive to the airport to pick her up when she arrives, head to our planned hotel where he’ll drop us off. He’ll return to Apache Junction to spend time with his sisters while I am away and then pick me up when it’s time to drop Julie at the airport to return to LA. Julie and I haven’t had much alone time together except when she came to visit us in Kauai in 2015.

We wish we could go to Minnesota, but it will be the worst of the winter there while in the US, so we may not head there this time. However, we may be returning to the US at the end of the booked cruise from Tokyo to Seattle in the spring, a much better time to go to Minnesota. As always, we have to wait and see what happens with Covid-19.

This “forkl” of kudus consisted of eight females and one young male shown in the forefront.

While cases of Covid-19 escalate to some of the highest-ever levels, we’ll be somewhat isolated in Arizona in the retirement community. Few “snow-birds” will have arrived while we’re there, and many, with fears of Covid-19, may stay away during the upcoming winter. There are still many cases of Covid-19 in Arizona, which is in the #10 position of the most cases of all states in the USA.

Of course, while in Arizona,  we’ll avoid crowds and large gatherings and wear our masks anytime we go shopping or to public places. We hope to be able to get vaccine boosters while in Arizona at some point, based on the fact we had the one-jab Johnson & Johnson on the first of July, which means six months will have passed since the original jab by the end of December while we’re still in Arizona. Such a booster for J & J has yet to be determined.

Kudus are gentle and relatively non-aggressive, but caution must be exercised. They are wild animals and rather large, with males possessing massive, dangerous horns.

Tonight, as always, we’re heading to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner. We usually arrive at 5:00 pm (1700 hours) and hang around at the bar, chatting with owners Dawn and Leon and any other guests who happen to stop in. We are careful to maintain safe distances from other guests, particularly those we don’t know who may not have been vaccinated. A few hours later, we head out to the veranda to sit at a table for our meal at dinner-time. On occasion, we may eat at the bar.

Tomorrow night, Kathy and Don will join us for yet another evening at Jabula. Again, we’ll arrive at 5:00 pm, but they usually arrive at 6:00 pm. They are less inclined to sit at the bar and prefer having drinks and food at a table on the veranda. This works fine for us, giving us a little schmoozing time at the bar ahead of their arrival.

After most of the females wandered off, this lone young male and Broken Horn hung around for a while.

Sunday will be a low-key day.  We’ll stay in, make Sunday dinner while I’ll continue to spend the better part of the day working on corrections. I am on a roll right now, getting through a full page of 20 posts each day or more. At this rate, I have 48 pages of 20 posts to complete. As of today, there are 41 days until we leave for Arizona. I am hoping to be done by the time we leave here on October 21st. It’s a lofty goal but doable.

Well, folks, not much excitement around here right now, but we are content. We have power, WiFi, lots of visitors, lots of friends, and the weather will be cool, up until next Tuesday, according to the 10-day forecast. I have a few itching mozzie bites at this time, and we haven’t seen any snakes or many venomous insects in the house. What more could we ask for, living in the bush?

Oops, gotta go! Frank is back looking for his seeds, and Broken Horn is barking from the garden, looking for pellets and carrots! I’d better get this show on the road!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in hotel lockdown for 10 months in Mumbai, India, on day #171. As we wandered through the busy local farmer’s market, open daily, it was hard to decide which vendor to choose for our purchases. We purchased the following for FJD 22, $10.12: two red bell peppers (also called capsicum here); six medium-sized aubergines (eggplant); three heads of cabbage; and eight large carrots. For more photos, please click here.

This morning’s first ever event in the bush with photos!!!…Wow!…

We scurried indoors when this Big Daddy came right up to the door from the house to the veranda.

To all of our friends/readers in the US, we wish all of you a safe and pleasurable Labor Day weekend. Please drive safely, observe local Covid-19 restrictions and enjoy time with family and friends, cooking outdoors, fishing, boating, or whatever you choose to do during the long holiday weekend.

It was shocking to see how brazen they were in approaching us. We stayed clearly out of range the entire time they were here.

As for the weekend here in the bush, Marloth Park is fairly quiet with some holidaymakers, mostly from South Africa, who have come to escape life in the big city and relax peacefully in the bush. Nowhere in the world, we’ve ever been offered the depth of quietude and peace than Marloth Park.

There wasn’t a lot we could do when he approached us, other than getting behind the door. If we tried to scare him off, he could have used his massive horns on us.

Although from time to time that may vary due to visit by those select few who see this magical place as a “party town” where there is minimal police presence with many opportunities to go wild, drinking, to drive fast, and to have little regard for others seeking the peacefulness of living among the wildlife.

I accidentally dropped a carrot which he couldn’t quite reach. He came around to the other side to get it.

Fortunately, where we are located, the property backing up to Lionspruit, we rarely hear any noise other than the weekday construction work on a house across the road. In Marloth Park, there are strict regulations about weekend and evening construction noises to avoid disturbing visitors and the wildlife. Most comply or face fines.

He was contemplating how to get the carrot before he came onto the veranda.

This morning, as I struggled to get out of bed after staying up until after midnight with only about 5 hours’ sleep, Tom came to the bedroom, hoping I hadn’t gone back to sleep to tell me to hurry and come outside. He didn’t want to awaken me if I dozed back off. But, I was wide awake playing a fun word game on my phone.

Such beautiful and majestic creatures! See how he was checking out the bag of carrots.

I bolted out of bed to head directly to the veranda, and there they were…four mature Big Daddy kudus, seeing what we had for breakfast. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. Sure, we get one or two Big Daddies from time to time. But, four was something we’d never seen.

There they were, the four adult male kudus munching on pellets we tossed into the garden.

Quickly, I ran to the kitchen for the remaining carrots from the huge bag we’d purchased at the market last week, and we both started tossing thick, whole carrots in their direction. They gobble them up in minutes, leaving us grabbing for pellets to toss onto the ground. As always, we never feed wildlife by hand, especially not Big Daddies with their enormous horns that could easily eviscerate a human in seconds.

Kudus are not violent animals, but they can startle easily, push one another, or lunge unintentionally. Besides leopards, the occasional lion, or warthogs with razor-sharp tusks, they are the most dangerous wildlife in Marloth Park. Even the adorable male bushbucks who visit us all day and night are extremely dangerous with sharp and long horns. One can never be too careful around any wild animal.

Broken Horn was in the background but he seemed to get along well with the Big Daddies.

It was quite a delightful experience to be among them. We felt very fortunate to be privy to this amazing visit. And even, if they never return together again, we are grateful for the opportunity to witness such magnificence.

Last night, our friends, Fiona and Alan came for dinner. Alan is a prolific writer of outstanding published books on Marloth Park. He is a wealth of stories and information about this magical place, after living here for 20 years, and the time spent with the two of them is rife with amazing wildlife and human stories.

They rarely picked up their heads for full-face photos.

We had a lovely evening on the veranda with them, with our new speaker spewing out music to highlight the evening. We kept the speaker indoors (not too loud) to avoid making too much noise in the bush. The dinner turned out well and the evening flowed with ease. As always, I was glad I’d prepared so much of the meal in advance.

Once they arrived, we savored the starters, we then put the meat on the braai, cooked the rice, reheated the roast vegetables, and tossed the salad with the homemade dressing. We sent them home with a “doggy bag” of leftovers. We had a variety of visitors while they were here, mostly warthogs, bushbucks, and many mongooses, who’ve been hanging around with us for days.

Hmm…another nice weekend here in Marloth Park. Tomorrow morning, I have an appointment with Dr. Singh to have that problematic tooth pulled. If we haven’t posted before leaving here at 10:15 for the long drive, hopefully, I’ll feel well enough to wrap it up when we return.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today. September 5, 2020:

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #166. We visited Blarney Castle as a port of call on a cruise in 2015. For more, please click here.

Adults only, please…Rutting season in full bloom in Marloth Park…Love is in the air!…

The above video is intended for “adults only.” We consider it a part of the wonder of nature, offering us a front row seat on how wildlife find their mates, court their potential mates, and ultimately propagate in the wild. Certainly, some may feel that this is inappropriate. We kindly ask, you do not write to us in this regard.

This is nature at its finest and for us, it is fascinating in providing us with an opportunity to witness the relationships among wildlife as they seek to preserve their species. Although warthogs do not appear on the list of endangered species, like all wild species, they have their place and their raison d’être on this beautiful Earth.

Whether it’s love or purely instinct of the more intelligent animals, like warthogs, is irrelevant. Watching them interact during this busy mating season in Africa is educational and we must admit, at times, highly entertaining, when their behaviors are so unlike our own as humans, with some similarities in regard to “the chase.”

Big Daddy Kudu resting in the bush awaiting the arrival of a female.

No, most of us weren’t courted by our significant others making “train noises.” But, it’s easy for most of us in relationships to recall the methods implemented by members of our species to express an interest. Whether it was a feature of one’s appearance, their scent, often referred to as pheromones, words spoken, or a plethora of other signals humans utilize, knowingly or not, to let the other person become aware of their interest and intent,

Animals in the wild are no different. Their language among one another may not be known to us in most cases, but it’s easy to detect, as we observe them in the wild, that they have no difficulty communicating with one another. Today’s video and a few photos illustrate this point.

Shortly thereafter, this female arrived, sitting a short distance away, an example of a subtle and gentle approach.

Who are we to say it’s purely instinctual when the process can be so complex, as we currently observe each day? Living in the bush, day after day, we are gifted with the opportunity to observe these interactions, often subtle and gentle, and at other times, brazen and forthright as shown in the above warthog video.

We hope in many months to come, we’ll see the “fruits of their labor” and be able to revel in the newborns nature has born to these precious animals. Only time will tell, if we will be able to stay. The warthog gestation period is from 152 to 183 days; the kudu is 240 days; and the bushbuck is 182 days.

On another note, last night, we had dinner with Linda and Ken at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and had a fantastic evening. The food, as usual, was delicious, the service was beyond reproach and the four of us, as always, never had a lull in delightful conversation. Tom and I often arrive an hour before a planned meeting time with friends, to have fun sitting at the bar, chatting with owners Dawn and Leon and their trusty, warm and efficient manager, Lyn.

This is The Imposter, rubbing his scent on a tree We’ve seen a lot of this “marking” on a few chosen trees in the garden.

There were few guests when we arrived at 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, but after we took our table an hour later when Linda and Ken arrived, more and more diners filtered in. It feels safe there with the employees well masked and the tables sensibly socially distanced. Hand sanitizer is readily available in all areas.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner with sundowners with snacks beginning at 4:00 pm, 1600 hours. Dinner, suitable for all of our “ways of eating” will be served a few hours later. Today, it’s surprisingly cool and windy, If it becomes any cooler, and stays this windy, we may have to dine indoors at the dining room table, which we did on another occasion when they were here, when it was raining in buckets.

The reason we’ve recently seen two Big Daddies, certainly has to do with the fact that several females frequent our garden.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as the adventures in the bush, nature at its finest, continue.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2020:

A parade of elephants crossing a dirt road in Kruger. For more 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.

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.

Rental car “safari luck!”…What????…How we’ve changed…Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends in the USA!!!

This Ford Fiesta is quite a step up from the previous little car.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tucker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago, but it has continued to heal, although he can no longer “perk it up.” Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda, relaxing after eating quite a few pellets. He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks.

Yesterday’s drive to Nelspruit was relatively uneventful. The traffic was light.  Passing slow-moving trucks was easier than usual. And, the time seemed to fly by.

The interior of the car is nicer than any rental car we’d had since arriving in Africa.

Neither one of us enjoys long car trips, which may seem to contradict our love of travel. It’s just the method of travel that we don’t love, sitting in a car for hours while maneuvering our way in and out of traffic. 

The 75-minute drive (each way) to Nelspruit shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Still, somehow we’ve dreaded it each time we’ve had to go to the airport to pick up a new rental car or to fly somewhere from the Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger airport, or to the immigration office in the city, all which we’ve done quite a few times over these past many months.

It’s handy to have drink holders for our mugs.

Part of the reason the drive is less than enjoyable has been the noisy little rental cars we’ve had for six of the past nine months in South Africa. We received a free upgrade several months ago for a much better car making road trips more desirable.

Two important aspects of dealing with rental cars in South Africa is one; to always return the car spotlessly clean (interior and exterior) or charges for cleaning will be incurred and two; the gas tank must be refilled to complete at a nearby (to the airport) petrol station or anything less than full will be charged.  

They were huddling together in a small patch of water on the river.

Usually, there’s been a bit of leeway in filling the tank on a rental car, allowing a slight shortage from driving to the rental car return location. This is not the case in South Africa from what we’ve experienced thus far after renting four cars (three months each) in the past nine months (including yesterday’s new rental).

Once at the Hertz desk inside the airport terminal, after the car was inspected for fuel, cleanliness, and possible damages (no issues), Tom and the rep returned to the desk where the old and the new paperwork was processed.

Lots of moms and babies.

As the new paperwork was being prepared nonchalantly, I asked, “What type of car do we get this time?”  The rep replied, “Same as this last one.” I cringed.  
The little car was rickety, noisy, and had tires the size of a toy car, not ideal for these rough dirt roads in Marloth Park.  But, our goal has been not to pay a lot for rental cars. We’d rather spend our money on nice houses, good food and dining out at our leisure.

Elephants of all ages hanging out at the river.

The cost for the three-month rental periods over the past nine months has averaged at ZAR 13930 (US $1000), a paltry amount for a car for such an extended period. 

We’ve been willing to sacrifice quality, size, and convenience when a rental car only costs us about ZAR 4697 (US $330) plus fuel with virtually no additional maintenance expense.

Elephants along the Crocodile River on a hot sunny day.

The last time we picked up a car, three months ago, we were adamantly turned down when asking for a free upgrade. This time I was going to be more persistent. When I explained to the rep and his boss that we’ve been renting from them for an entire year (an infrequent occurrence), they were all over it.

We received a free upgrade for an adorable sporty red car, much nicer than we’ve driven since we were in the US in May/June 2017. We were thrilled. We still only had to pay the ZAR 14328 (US $967) for the three-month rental.

One bushbaby contemplating the entire cup of yogurt she doesn’t appear to have to share this time.

On the return drive to Marloth Park, we couldn’t believe how well Tom could hear me talk with his less-than-ideal hearing. And the smooth ride is astounding. We’re grateful and excited to have a good car for the balance of our time here. Whatever that may be.

The car is a Ford Fiesta. In my old life, I’d never have given this type of car a second thought. Now it seems like a luxury vehicle to me. It’s incredible how our appreciation of “things” changes when we go without for a while.

Ms. Bushbuck and baby. There are several Ms. Bushbucks and babies, with many more to be arriving soon.

I squealed with delight when Louise loaned me the giant rolling pin to make the pie crusts for our early Thanksgiving meal. See, we do change our perception of the value of the simple things in life.

Now, I have to get up to toss some pellets to a gnu, aka Wildebeest Willie, and a pig, warthog “Little,” who happened to stop by to see what was on the menu today…pellets, of course, as always.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2017:
There was no post one year ago today while we were boarding a cruise.

Off to Nelspruit…Return rental car for a new one…Still waiting for immigration response…

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. See more photos from this scene below.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our regular visitor, Medium, got busy with a mature female.  The gestation period is three months. The mating season is from September to December. We should begin seeing piglets soon. They may have from one to eight piglets.

This morning, as soon as we upload this post, we’re off to Nelspruit to drop off the little car and pick up another. This will be the last car we’ll rent while we hopefully remain in Marloth Park for three more months.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The rental car companies, in this case, Hertz, through Firefly will only rent a car for a 90 day period. Thus, we’ve had to start over at the end of each period.  

In the past, the rental return has coincided with our travels outside of South Africa to get our visa renewal for another 90 days. But this time, we’re waiting to hear from immigration if they’ll extend us to February 20th, the day we fly to Kenya for which we’ve already purchased airline tickets.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-grey shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white-collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward-curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

No word as yet on our immigration status but we continue to check every few hours at this point. It would have been great if we could have been informed to appear in Nelspruit yesterday, today, or tomorrow.  

We could have changed the car rental return to a different day (the fee for doing so is minimal here) and “killed two birds with one stone” as they say, avoiding another long drive to Nelspruit.  

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

It could happen that they’re ready to give us an answer (must appear in person) in the next 48 hours and off we go again on the long drive. In the realm of things, it’s an inconvenience, nothing more.

Mom and young giraffe.

On the return drive today, we’ll stop at the bigger Spar Supermarket in Malelane to pick up a few groceries and avoid doing so tomorrow when we return to Komatipoort to visit the eye doctor to pick up my contact lenses and for Tom to select glasses from the supply the doc is bringing from his distant location.

At the moment Tom is at the local car wash. Rental cars must be returned in pristine condition or additional fees will be levied. This includes a spotless interior as well. The car wash at the Bush Centre charges ZAR 60 (US $4.28) for a beautifully hand-done interior and exterior wash.  

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

We’re continually reminded how affordable things are here in South Africa.  Such a car wash in the US would easily be ZAR 351 (US $25). Once again we’ll experience “culture shock” when we return to the US for a visit in about four and a half months.

Apparently, they’d all jumped the fence at Kathy and Don’s house.

Yesterday was hot and humid with temps running at 40C (102F) and higher humidity than usual. Although it’s cloudy today it appears it will be another hot and humid day. Maybe spending three hours in the car in air-conditioned comfort won’t be so bad after all.

A little blurry from Kathy and Don’s garden but I couldn’t resist sharing this adorable impala face.

Yesterday, we did our usual drive, sighting a female lion beyond the fence.  Photos will follow tomorrow. Today, most likely we won’t return until around 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) after which I’ll finish making tonight’s dinner of iced cold dishes: chicken salad, egg salad, and tossed lettuce salad, a perfect meal for a hot day.

We’ll see you tomorrow with more!

Have a phenomenal day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2017:
There was no post on this date one year ago today.

An outrageous and clever kudu’s dining maneuver…A good night’s sleep makes all the difference in the world…

Wildlife never ceases to amaze us, including this kudu’s clever means of 
eating from the treetops by taking down branches with his massive horns.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We couldn’t believe our eyes when this tiny female duiker stopped by yesterday. Females have the tiny single horn and males have two horns.  So sweet!

Yesterday was a mix of good and bad. The good, was spotting many special scenes in the garden. The bad was trying to find a way to relieve some of the dreadful itching I was experiencing worse than any day or night in the past.

After a trip to Daisy’s Den and the purchase of the salve, Zab-Buk, which is known to kill off the larvae left behind by the biting pepper ticks and the body and clothing spray, No-Ticks which is a messy runny yellow liquid to be sprayed on skin and clothing.  
Big Daddy was busy chomping on the two branches he downed using his powerful horns.

I’m wearing long-sleeve shirts each day to keep the messy salve from rubbing off on the furniture and also to prevent the risk of getting more bites on exposed skin. I’m also using mosquito repellent.

All-day, I kept reapplying the salve, and every four hours Tom sprayed me and my clothes with the runny liquid.  By 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) I was so exhausted I went into the bedroom, turned on the AC, and actually slept for almost an hour, a rarity for me.

He stayed busy for quite a while chomping on the leaves.

Feeling better after awakening, while still applying the salve frequently, we set up the veranda for the evening and dined on the last of the leftovers from Saturday night’s dinner. I should say Tom ate the leftovers. During the day I cooked more chicken breasts to have with a salad while Tom went for the full dinner and later on, more pie.

I forced myself to stay awake until almost 2200 hrs (10:00 pm), taking another hot shower before bed and applying more of the Zam-Buk salve. I never awoke once during the night…another rarity for me. After almost eight hours of sleep, I awoke to less itching, swelling, and redness. The two treatment protocols are actually working!

The two branches resting on his back when he was done eating.  He wasn’t quite ready to let them go.
Today’s a new day. No doubt, I’ll surely get more bites in these next three months we’re hopefully still here (no word on our immigration status yet) but at least I now know what to do for some relief.

Yesterday, while on the veranda for most of the day, we had a number of excellent sightings including this amazing kudu, hungry from months with lack of rain and little vegetation stopped by for pellets and the tops of a tree in the garden.
These females and a young male waiting in the bush until Bog Daddy was out of sight.  Then, then moved in for the last few nibbles.

The Big Daddy couldn’t reach the treetops so with sheer determination and expert use of his giant twisted horns, he managed to pull down two tree branches, enough to feed him a good-sized meal.

He ate so much, he eventually decided to leave with many leaves still remaining. In the interim, a small forkl of kudus including females and males waited in the bush to see Big Daddy waft away. Once he was out of sight, they moved in to finish off the leaves on the branches. What a scene to witness right before our eyes!

Then, we were gifted with the sighting of the sweetest young female duiker who may have been no more than a few months old and appeared to be on her own with no doting mother in the wings. She ran off when we offered pellets but in time she’ll learn how vital our offered food source is during this dry season.

In the early evening, Wildebeest Willie and Big Daddy seemed to get along well while eating pellets.

Actually, it’s the rainy season now, and yet, there’s been little rain so far, certainly not enough to “green” the trees and bush to provide food for the wildlife. Many are looking thin and hungry. We’re currently going through one 40kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets every three or four days and will continue to do so.

We’d thought about going to Kruger today but with temps expected in the 40C (102F) range we decided we’ll have more luck driving to the fence at the Crocodile River. The hot weather should bring a lot of wildlife to the water. Also, it’s very windy and wildlife seems to stay undercover during heat and wind.

That’s all for today, folks. As always we’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Have a superb day!
Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2017:

Beautiful scene from the veranda in Costa Rica as we wound down our time. For more, please click here.

Winding down time with friends…Two days until their departure…The activities will continue to the last minute…

A cattle egret standing in shallow water in the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The monitor lizard in our garden came out from her burrow for a refreshing drink of water from the cement pond.

As Tom and Lois’s time here comes to a close on Thursday when they depart to return to the US, we’re packing in every moment with quality time, not only together as friends but also in taking advantage of every opportunity for them to experience more wildlife.

The monitor lizard took off back into the bush.

This afternoon at 1515 hours (3:15 pm) a safari vehicle will arrive to pick us up for an evening at Kruger National Park which includes an afternoon game drive, a bush braai (dinner out in the open in the park in the dark), followed by another game drive in the dark.

Elephant we spotted close to the fence between Marloth and Kruger Parks.

With a spotlight to help us see, we’ll have an opportunity to see those special nocturnal animals that are elusive during daylight hours including many of which are never seen during daylight.

The sausage tree at the hippo pool and bird blind is bursting with these giant pods which will eventually bloom into bright red flowers.  From this site: “The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree. Grey fruits grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds.”

We may have safari luck or we may not but in either case, it will be fun to dine in the bush, an experience we had a few times when we were here five years ago. 

Both Toms splurging on strawberry milkshakes at Aamazing (spelling is correct) River View restaurant when we took a break from our usual drive in Marloth to stop for cool drinks.

Those five-year-ago exceptional occasions were hosted by Louise and Danie, an experience we cannot expect to match in elegance tonight although based on very positive reviews we’re anticipating a wonderful experience. For details and amazing photos for our former Valentine’s Day bush braai may be found here at this link.

Lois, the two Toms and I had a great break in the action.

Of course, tomorrow, we’ll post photos of tonight’s bush braai and game drives, hoping to share some unique wildlife sightings. Tonight’s event is hosted by another company, Royal Safari Bush Braai dinner since Louise and Danie no longer conduct these events in Kruger.  

A warthog stops for a sip.

The ease of booking with Royal Safari Bush Braai makes us feel confident this will be an excellent experience for the four of us and any other participants who will also be included.  

A female bushbuck standing in the water on the Crocodile River in Kruger.

Last night we returned to Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant for Crocodile River viewing and dinner. Ordering off the menu wasn’t nearly as good as Thursday night’s buffet dinner. There’s wasn’t much in the way of wildlife viewing but we took many photos of a stunning sunset (photos to follow soon).

Cape buffalo aren’t the most handsome of wildlife but we’re always thrilled to see them. They are one of the Big Five.

Back at the house early, we prepared the veranda for our usual nighttime viewing but had missed the primetime viewing which is usually before and after dusk.

Two male cape buffalos on the river’s edge.

This morning was quite a treat when 15 kudus stopped by including one “Big Daddy,” four warthogs including “Little and the Girls”, a plethora of helmeted guineafowl, and of course, Frank and The Misses. who’ve yet to produce any chicks.

As I write here now, Vusi and Zef are here cleaning the house and the veranda. Its been fantastic to have the two of them coming in each day and eliminating the massive amounts of dust that enters the house from the action in the dirt garden when the animals come to call.

Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by. She puts the pellets on the veranda’s edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.

For the next few hours, we’ll relax on the veranda until it’s time to head out for our exciting upcoming afternoon and evening.

Be well.  Be happy. 

Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2017:

On Saturday night, after dinner, in Managua, Nicaragua, we wandered through the pool area of our hotel.  For food photos from the dinner, please click here.