Antelope altercation in the garden…The worms have turned into moths…They are everywhere…

Big Daddy and Norman engage in a dominance dance in the garden.

Antelopes are prevalent in Marloth Park. They include, based on size: kudu, nyala, impalas, bushbucks, and duikers. It’s a rare occasion to witness disharmony among these animals, other than pushing and shoving when jockeying for pellets, even common among family members of the same species.

It’s been a rarity for us to see fighting among the various species of antelopes when they visit the garden. However, since Norman has become such a regular here, we’ve noticed that he gets defensive when there are the Big Daddy kudus in the garden, whether close to the house or at a distance of fewer than 30 meters, which is, by his standards, too close for comfort.

As we’ve shown in past photos, Norman fluffs up his hair to make himself appear larger and hangs his head low. We aren’t sure if dropping down his head is to add to appearing larger or if it is a form of submission. Most would assume, by watching him, that its submission.

From time to time, they slowly move around the garden.

The massive Big Daddies respond to Norman’s sign of courage and strength. They certainly don’t run off frightened by Norman, but they recoil to a certain degree. If it was submission, it would be counterintuitive to appear larger, to make the male kudu with massive horns become frightened of him.

In any case, it’s interesting to observe. Of course, we’re a little concerned they could engage in a fight which would be disastrous, and there would be nothing we could do to stop it. In some instances, in the wild, these animals have fought to the death when protecting their territory, food source, or females and family members, although from what we’ve read, it’s very rare.

Norman with his head down during his “fluffing up” session.

As gentle animals, they aren’t explicitly looking for a fight. We proceed with caution when offering food when the other is nearby to avoid the remote possibility of an altercation.

Today, Tom observed these scenes shown in the photos while I was showering. A short time later, when I came out of the bedroom, they were both still in the garden, doing their dance of dominance, Norman more than Big Daddy.

It’s always interesting to watch the behavior of the wildlife in Marloth Park. Spending most of our daylight hours outdoors, it’s inevitable we’d often see how wildlife interact with one another. The most aggressive animals we’ve observed are warthogs who will fight with any other animal over food, territory, or mating rights.  The next most often we’ve seen is zebras among themselves when vying for pellets. They will kick and bite one another to get the next morsel into their mouths.

He doesn’t respond to my voice when he is in this position.

That awful invasion of slimy black worms continued for several weeks but ended about a week ago. The older worms have morphed into annoying giant black moths, flying around inside the house and the veranda. There is no way to escape them, although they are bothersome but harmless.

All we can do is keep the exterior doors open, hoping none will get into the bedroom (we keep that door closed at all times). If we shut the exterior doors, the house’s interior gets too hot, and there’s no aircon unit on the main floor other than in the bedroom. In time, these moths will disappear, and then some other annoying insect will take over. After all, TIA, “This is Africa,” and that’s what happens here.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2022:

Bossy’s baby suckles while another female looks for pellets. For more photos, please click here.

We were so wrong!!!…

    Last night, the porcupine returned to the garden.

Sometimes, we write about a decision we’ve made and post it here, only to find out one or two days later that the decision was made hastily. I admit that in my enthusiasm for a new topic, I may prematurely post a decision we’ve made but have yet to investigate seriously enough for it to become a certainty.

This was the case for the post I wrote yesterday, found here with a heading that read: “Enough procrastination for now…Finally, we’re making decisions…Fun new photos…”

Sometimes, Bossy visits without her baby.

I jumped the gun stating this before we conducted ample research to determine if staying in the UK for 68 days made sense or even taking the ferry to Jersey to see our friends there, staying for a week in a hotel. When we started adding the expenses relative to both of these experiences, the cost went far beyond what was practical for our budget.

We don’t mind exceeding our chosen monthly budget when we’re cruising or on a special expedition of one sort or another. But, living in a location for a few months is time we prefer to maintain a tight reign on expenses in order to be able to embark on cruises and such special outings from time to time.

These are pits from marula fruit which the kudu eat and spit out the pits when done chewing. Eight kudus stayed in our garden all day eating the fruit since we have a prolific marula tree hanging over the house. There’s controversy over whether animals get “drunk” from the fermented fruit. But, based on the numbers of kudus we had sleeping in the garden yesterday, we considered this may be true.

Long ago, we made a decision to avoid tapping into our investments to support our world travel. If we started doing this, it could easily get away from us. Plus, if we take money out, we are taxed on it, thus increasing the cost of any particular event.

In the post, on October 22, 2019, found here, we listed our final expenses for our stay for 62 nights in the UK as indicated below:

Expense     US Dollar       GBP
Holiday Rentals  $ 8,381.40  $ 6,426.17
Southampton Hotel (2)  $    276.94  $    213.35
Car Rental + Fuel  $ 1,985.64  $  1,529.73
Dining Out  $    675.07  $     520.07
Groceries  $ 1,502.48  $  1,157.50
Pharmacy  $    478.20  $     368.40
Tours  $      42.00  $       32.36
Total  $13,341.73  $10,247.58
Avg Daily- 62 ngts  $     215.19  $     165.28

Here is an estimate of expenses, if we spend 68 nights in the UK, (rounded off to the nearest dollar for illustrative purposes):

Expense     US Dollar           ZAR
Holiday Rentals  $ 10500.00  $ 160538.00
Hotels  $  2500.00  $   38223.00
Car Rental + Fuel + Ferry  $ 5800.00  $   88751.00
Dining Out  $ 2300.00  $   35194.00
Groceries  $ 1800.00  $   27544.00
Pharmacy & Shopping  $    650.00  $     9946.00
Tours  $    400.00  $     6121.00
Total  $23, 950.00  $ 366482.00
Avg Daily- 68 ngts  $     352.21  $  5389.00   

The above totals clearly indicate the approximate 30% increase in expenses we’d mentioned in a prior post, that we’re seeing three years after our visit in 2019, after carefully researching expenses in each of these categories.

It’s unusual to find kudus laying down in our garden. But, after eating dozens of marula fruit, they may be sleepy.

We fully realize inflation would impact the costs wherever we may go in the world. We are prepared to adapt to those increases. But 30% in an already high-cost country makes us realize we need to shop elsewhere.

As a result of yesterday’s extensive research, we reviewed the list of non-Schengen countries and have gone back to investigate which may be excellent options for the 68 nights we need to fill. Keeping in mind, the purpose of researching the expenses for a potential 68 nights in the UK is while we await news from Azamara as to the new itinerary for the cruise at the end of June, sailing out of Istanbul.

If we find the ports of call on the new Azamara itinerary are those we’ve visited in the past and don’t care to see again, we’ll have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund. If that proves to be the case, the 68 days in the UK becomes a moot point and we must find where we’d like to go until the next cruise on November 8, 2022. In that case, we’d be left with 202 days to fill. We have some ideas in mind and will share that information when we know more.

The kudus stood at the edge of the veranda eating the marula and dropping the pits onto the veranda floor. Tom swept them off a few times.

It’s not that we’re running out of countries to visit. It is just that after the pandemic with many travel changes throughout the world, and now the war in Ukraine, we look at where we’d like to travel with a new and different perspective.

To wrap this up, next time we post statements about what we plan to do, we’ll make sure it’s affordable and logical, considering the above situations and also the cost of living in any specific area. Now, our only option is to wait and hear what happens with the Azamara cruise to Russia via the Black Sea, and then, from that point, we’ll conduct the appropriate research, sharing details when we pin things down.

Thanks for your patience. Humm…19 days and counting until we depart South Africa for a short stay in the US, then off to Fort Lauderdale for our transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Silhouette. We love this cruise line and this class of ships and look forward to cruising once again.

Be well.

 Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2021:

There were several fast-growing ostrich chicks close to a house in the bush. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…An important message for residents and tourists in Marloth Park…

This is a Bovine Tuberculosis-infected kudu we spotted only the day after being educated on this dreadful disease, mainly kudus in Marloth Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Another view of an Egyptian goose (from yesterday’s post here) recovering from an amputated foot due to a severe injury. He’s recovering well and will soon take flight.

First, we must qualify today’s post with this important and heartfelt message: We are not wildlife experts in any manner, nor do we profess to be. The minuscule amount of education we’ve had on Bovine Tuberculosis has been gleaned from others and by reading online scientific reports from universities and veterinary medical resources. We do not intend to express opinions or engage in any controversial conservation issues of which there are many. Our intent is purely to report what we’ve heard, seen, and read about potential means to reduce the incidence of Bovine Tuberculosis here in Marloth Park and save these magnificent animals from extinction in this magical place.

From this scientific abstract at this site:

Five kudus (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), three bulls, and two cows within the Greater Kruger National Park complex were diagnosed with generalized tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium Bovis. The lesions seen in these animals were similar to those previously reported in kudus and included severe tuberculous lymphadenitis of the nodes of the head and neck (that resulted in noticeable uni- or bilateral swelling beneath the ear), thorax, and the mesentery. All the animals also suffered from severe granulomatous pneumonia. The lesions in the lungs were more severe cranially and had a miliary distribution elsewhere in the lungs. Based on the DNA patterns of the M. Bovis isolates, at least some of these kudus were infected with strains commonly present in tuberculous buffaloes, lions, cheetahs, and baboons in the Park. In contrast, other strains from these kudus were quite different and may reflect another source of infection. The presence of tuberculous kudus in the Park is expected to complicate control measures that may be instituted to contain or eradicate the disease in the Park.

Here is another scientific report to review:

When we took the above main photo of this kudu with Bovine Tuberculosis, we immediately contacted Evan with the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers to notify the rangers of this kudu with TB. Sadly, this infectious animal had to be euthanized.

Most likely, in contact with other kudus, many other kudus will have become infected through saliva and other bodily fluids. There is no known vaccine or treatment available to treat or cure Bovine Tuberculosis, a dreadful and painful condition affecting animals in Kruger National Park and here in Marloth Park.

According to local medical professionals, the kudu we spotted is only one isolated case of many already infected in the park. Eventually, the death toll could be staggering. Also, other wildlife carries the disease, which may or may not exhibit symptoms.

There’s no means, at this point, of eradicating TB other than removing all kudus from Marloth Park and starting over with an entirely new healthy generation of kudus. From our understanding, even newborn kudus from an infected mother will have the disease.

We look at all the beautiful kudus here in the park and can’t imagine many are sick. Perhaps, we all can take it upon ourselves to look for signs of TB in our visiting and grazing kudus throughout the park and immediately report the time and location of the sighting. 

Here are some of the more obvious indicators that we may be able to detect in visiting kudus:
1.  Tumors on the head, face, and neck
2.  Excessive salivation
3.  Curly hair on otherwise straight-haired antelope
4.   Sores on the hooves

Of course, we asked, “What can be done to abate the spread of this disease?  Is there anything homeowners, holiday renters, and property managers can do to reduce the risk?”

Although the disease cannot be eradicated by any of our efforts, it can be controlled to a degree by residents implementing the following steps:

1.  First and foremost, it is to stop feeding wildlife in troughs. This is the quickest way TB is contracted between infected and healthy animals. 
2.  Regularly and consistently clean out waterholes, remove all the water, wash the foundation in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly, and replacing with fresh, clean water. This should be done at least once a week. No doubt there are waterholes no one in particular controls, but the goal is to “reduce” the risk of infections, if at all possible.
3.  If you feed wildlife in bowls or other small containers, wash them daily with hot soapy water.
4.  Regularly and consistently wash bird feeders in the same manner as above.  As we all are aware, kudus will eat from bird feeders if they can reach them.

Currently, there is no surefire test for tuberculosis in kudu. Deidre of Wild & Free Rehabilitation and Dr. Dawid Rudolph is developing an accurate test for TB in kudu. Still, funding and research must be satisfied to accomplish this monumental feat.

Deidre Joubert-Huyse (no relation to the property owners) is a kind, dedicated and hardworking individual committed to rescuing and releasing injured and ill wildlife that fit within the guidelines of a safe future release. Her primary concern is tuberculosis in kudu while she continues to aid in the recovery of many wild animals at her facility in Hectorspruit. Deidre explained that she often has to make tough decisions but always with the animal’s best interests as a top priority. Her Facebook page is found here.

There are no easy answers here. And, with all the best intentions in the world, residents in Marloth Park can only do so much. The love of the majestic kudus and other wildlife in the park has become a way of life for many, not only from a caring and emotional place but also from the reality of generating interest in attracting tourists to holiday homes and small businesses located in the park.

We share this message today with a sense of sorrow. We hope that if all residents band together to aid in the reduction of the risks and spread of Bovine TB for the kudu and other wildlife, change may eventually come to fruition.

Yes, we know. We’re only here in Marloth Park for a short time, one year total, as a part of our continuing non-stop world travels, which is nothing compared to the many years most of you have cared for, loved, and nourished these fine animals. 

However, as outlined in yesterday’s and today’s stories, these current circumstances made us feel compelled to share this message and support your efforts, big and small, in effecting a change in reducing the potential for tuberculosis among the kudus (and other wildlife) in Marloth Park.

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2017:

Daphne Islet in Victoria, British Columbia. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…An important message for residents and tourists in Marloth Park…

One of two barn owls in an outdoor cage. Deidre released this own into the wild last night. Here is the video from the release.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is the more colorful male of the snake-eating peacocks, happily visiting Wild & Free Rehabilitation grounds.

We met Deidre Joubert-Huyse at “movie night in the bush” on February 25th, shortly after we’d arrived in Marloth Park, which was hosted as a fundraiser for Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation. That post may be found here.

We were interested in the event and the intent of the rehab facility, with its focus on rescuing ill and injured wildlife in Marloth Park and surrounding areas. A few days after the event, we met with Lisa, one of Deidre’s assistants, who’d hosted the event at her home here in the park and who’d rescued several bushbabies with the plan to return them to the wild, which has since been accomplished. That post may be found here.

We drove through a beautiful orange grove to arrive at the Wild & Free Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release facility in Hectorspruit, located about 30 minutes from Marloth Park.

When we think of rescue centers, we often recall visiting various rescue facilities we’ve seen throughout our world travels. Although many of these facilities rescued animals from rehabilitating and releasing them into the wild, many did so only to present them as “zoo” animals. The owners and managers would generate revenue from tourists. 

Although not accurate in many cases, this discovery has been disheartening over these past years of world travel.  We couldn’t avoid feeling that the animals were exploited by leading the public to believe the facility owners’ ultimate intentions were to aid in wildlife conservation when in fact, it was not.

Deidre Joubert Huyse, who developed and ran the rescue facility, met us at a local petrol station, and we followed her to the center. We’d had a hard time finding it without her assistance. For Wild & Free’s Facebook page, please click here.

Thus, when we attended “movie night in the bush” some months ago, we took it with a grain of salt. Was this another case of a few people who love animals, caring for them for their gain and altruistic reasons? How wrong we were! In this case, we loved being wrong!

As the months passed and we’ve become more knowledgeable about the health and well-being of wildlife in Marloth and Kruger National Park and, as we listened to endless conversations revolving around varying opinions on how wildlife health should be handled, Deidre’s name came up over and over again, always with the utmost of regard for her work, skill, and dedication.

We were impressed by the organization, cleanliness, and commitment evidenced in the facility.

Most recently, as mentioned in an earlier post that may be found here, we were inspired by Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Ushie and Evan to write a story on alien invasive plants that impact not only the park but also areas throughout the world.  That post may be found here.

After an orientation of the impact of alien invasive plants, Uschie and Evan gave us an entirely new perspective of plant life and wildlife, particularly here in Marloth Park. For us, it changed everything.

Wild & Free is supported through donations for the facility, medical care, and the feeding of the various wildlife rescued by Deidre and her staff.

Sure, it’s enticing and easy to get caught up in the magic of the visiting wildlife in the park and the “fun” of self-driving through Kruger National Park, sharing photos and receiving “oohs, aahs, and likes” from our worldwide readers when we post photos that appeal to their tastes.

But there’s so much more than that. And, with our vast local and worldwide audience, we are entrenched in the perfect arena to “get a message out” about the protection and preservation of that which surrounds us here in Marloth Park and throughout the world.

The ground surrounding Wild & Free is located on the Crocodile River at the ultimately most exquisite river view we’ve seen anywhere in the world, a perfect environment for rescuing and recovering wildlife by Deidre’s dedication and commitment.

No, we’re not going to become banner-wielding enthusiasts to distract us from the primary intent of our site, living as homeless nomads as we travel the world for as long as we physically can. Our daily posts encompassing the joys we derive from the wildlife we encounter and the scenery we behold will never change.

When Uschi and Evan explained the symptoms and horrors of bovine tuberculosis and how it’s impacting kudus in Marloth Park, we were both heartsick with this information. What could anyone do? Was there something we could do? This story over the next few days will explain everything.

Deidre had to amputate the foot of this Egyptian goose who suffered a severe injury after being tangled in a fishing line. It’s only been three weeks since his surgery, but he’s adapting well and will eventually be able to return to the wild.  For now, he happily stays on the grounds of the facility. 

We left their home with this bit of knowledge, unsure of where to take it from there.  Ironically, the next day, while on our usual almost-daily two-hour drive through the park searching for the unusual, we spotted a kudu with the obvious signs of tuberculosis on her face for the first time. These large bulbous tumors can manifest all over their bodies. (Photos we took of this kudu will follow in tomorrow’s post, Part 2).

Had we not met with Uschie and Evan the previous day, we’d have dismissed these tumor-like structures on her face as some congenital disability or physical anomaly. Instead, we forwarded the photos to Evan, and he reported it to the rangers, who’d have no choice but to find and euthanize the diseased kudu. Bovine TB is highly contagious to other kudus and wildlife (not necessarily spread to humans).

These two genets were soon to be released into the wild.  These two were at the facility due to the urbanization of their natural habitat, and they were separated from their mothers.

From there, in our discussions with others, Deidre’s name kept coming up along with the government vet, Dr. Dawid, who is working with Deidre in an attempt to discover ways to possibly control the spread of this life-taking disease among kudus (and potentially other animals as well) via adequate testing which is in its infancy.

So, here we are, especially after meeting with Deidre yesterday at her amazing facility in Hectorspruit, finding ourselves committed and dedicated to sharing this newfound information with those who may be able to play a role in saving lives of many kudus.

The scenery surrounding the rescue center is so astounding it took our breath away.  It bespeaks a “healing” environment.

Thanks to Deidre and all her hard work and unbridled dedication in aiding in the real and dedicated rescue and release of many species that surround us in magnificent South Africa and in her research and intent to impact Bovine TB. 

A special thanks to  MP Honorary Rangers Ushie and Evan for contributing their time to educating us on these critical issues in Marloth Park. We still have a lot to learn and will continue to seek information from those who teach us so much.

These peacocks are known to kill snakes with the utmost expertise and precision.  Each day, they hang around the rescue center, pecking off seeds and various treats they find on the grounds. These are the females.

Tomorrow, we’ll share how each can play a vital role in reducing the spread of this horrible disease affecting the gorgeous wildlife in Marloth Park. Please check back for more.

Wild & Free Rehabilitation may be reached here for donations.

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

Buildings on the grounds of the Butchart’s Gardens. For more photos, please click here.