Marloth Park has suffered a sad loss of a beloved animal…

Not our photo. Fluffy, male, and Dezi at the Impala Dam on January 15, 2021.

After a good night’s sleep, I awoke this morning at 7:30 and began my day by checking out the world news, my email, messages on Messenger, text, and WhatsApp, and finally checking out the most recent new posts on Facebook as I always do. I love knowing what’s going on in the world. I also listen to podcasts when getting ready for the day. But more on that later in this post.

When I read the following post this morning that popped up on Facebook, it brought tears to my eyes. Not only was it beautifully written and heart-wrenching, it was sensitive to the reality that few of us in Marloth Park had ever seen Dezi, but that didn’t mean we didn’t love her.

Many nights, we’ve sat on the veranda and listened to hers, and Fluffy’s roar permeates the air. Last night, the roars we heard must have only been Fluffy’s since, by then, Dezi was no more.

Please read the following unedited, beautiful tributes to her and her sad passing.

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Not our photo. Fluffy and Dezi at the water’s edge in Lionspruit.

✝️A TRIBUTE TO QUEEN DEZI ✝️ by Gerrie Camacho.

The roar from the Lionspruit lioness, also known as Dezi, will no longer be heard as she has spent her last night under the Lowveld skies. As of last night, she will no longer join her mate of the past 16 plus years in the always familiar duet of lion vocalization, claiming Lionspruit as their territory. She was a quiet legend and was most probably one of the oldest wild living lionesses but at the age of twenty years had to quit the African bush life.

Few people were privileged to spend time with her, many were lucky to see her, and most owners and visitors had the regular privilege to hear her at night time. After her radio collar transmitted from the same area for the past few days, it was pertinent to go find her on foot in an area too dense to enter with a vehicle.

She was hardly responding to any stimuli of the sound of humans and paid no attention to our approach on foot. A winding pathway was established from the nearest road to approach her by vehicle. Here she was darted and taken to a workable area where she was examined by Doc Peet.

We can only pay tribute to this female who kept a fighting spirit to survive until the last minute. Doc Peet who has been serving the Marloth community voluntarily and diligently over the past couple of years had the sad task to let her pass on as humanely as possible. This task could have been performed more easily, but he chose to help her out of this life with as much dignity as possible. Thank you to all those involved in finding her. Thank you Doc Peet for the professional, compassionate and respectful manner you once again showed while working with this magnificent beast in her last moments under the Lionspruit skies. R.I.P. Dezi!❤️

Also, on Facebook was the following message further explaining her passing:

It is a sad day indeed for all of us who love our own Lionspruit lions.
Yesterday we lost Dezi. It has been a long week of hoping against hope that she would recover from age-related injuries that she recently suffered whilst still living her best lion life. But unfortunately, she was losing ground day by day. Dezi indeed lived to a great age for a lion.
We would like to thank Doctor Peet Venter for his caring, professional input. He concluded yesterday that Dezi was suffering, and it was time to let her go. Thank you also to Gerrie Camacho from MTPA, the Marloth Park Field Rangers, and the Honorary Rangers for this last day of care. A special thank you to Joce Gordon for the time-intensive monitoring, especially over the last few weeks.
Genie Retief, Chief Honorary Ranger.”
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Not our photo. Another gorgeous photo of Dezi.

It is amazing that those of us who love wildlife can feel so deeply for an animal they’ve only heard but never seen. That’s the magic of living in Africa, or anywhere there is free-roaming wildlife. We fall in love with their beauty, uniqueness, and mystery, although we were never able to get too close to her or ever see her at all.

If we are so touched by the sound of a lion, living only meters away from Lionspruit, which abuts our holiday home in the rear, it is easy to understand how connected we become with the animals we see almost every day, who look into our eyes, with trust and interest and depend on us, in the leanest times, to toss some sustenance their way.

Soon, the holidaymakers who came to the park for the Christmas and New Year season will be leaving to return to their homes in other parts of South Africa and, for some, other parts of the world. When they are gone, the vast numbers of animals that routinely visit us will return to us in abundance.

Now, with the rich vegetation for the wildlife to eat after weeks of rain, they no longer need much in the way of pellets. And yet, day by day, they return, much to our joy and appreciation. Sure, we still toss a few pellets their way, the same way you’d offer your dog or cat an occasional treat, knowing with or without this offering, you are still loved, still important in their lives.

In the future, the lion roars we hear at night will only be those of Fluffy and, of course, the remaining five lions currently residing in our presence.

The holiday has ended, but our hope for the future is only just beginning. May the New Year bring all of us peace of mind and comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #284. Festival in the street in India. “Meena Sankranti is an important Hindu festival observed on the auspicious occasion of the sun’s transition from Pisces to Aries. Known as Meena Sankramanam in South India, the festival will be celebrated on March 14 (Saturday), 2020, all over India. Celebrating a Sankranti is often marked with the donation of various things. According to specific personal needs, the people celebrate the event at the onset of every month. Some Indian states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala observe the occasion at the beginning of each month. In contrast, states like West Bengal celebrate the festival during the latter half of the month.” For more photos, please click here.

Dinner on the veranda with friends during a sizzling hot night…Escalated lion warnings…

Thirsty after eating pellets, piglets needed a drink from mom.

Last night’s dinner was easy to make when Rita and Gerhard came for dinner, which was decided on New Year’s eve when they surprised us at Flo and JiJi’s party as described in yesterday’s post, which is found here, in case you missed it. We had already planned a lovely New Year’s day dinner for the two of us, and in our usual manner, we had plenty for two more. We had enough for six more, so we’ll be eating leftovers for the next few days.

I’m thrilled I won’t have to cook for a few days with this awful heat and humidity. Last evening when we were situated at the veranda table with Rita and Gerhard, starting at 3:00 pm, while the meat cooked on the braai, it was so hot and humid, the sweat was pouring off each of us.

Moms and piglets stop by several times each day.

I had a few last-minute items to prepare that required the use of the oven. Rita sat on the barstool in the kitchen while I worked on the food, giving us a chance to catch up on some “girl talk” while Tom and Gerhard chatted outdoors. We often talked about how much we miss Kathy and Don, who are back in Hawaii, and how we wish they could be with us.

We made a plan to meet at Two Trees on Tuesday for sundowners and river viewing. Afterward, we may go out to dinner or each return to our respective bush houses for the remainder of the evening.

Poor mom with no tail.

But, the four of us will stay busy together this summer in Africa, frequently sharing our wildlife sightings and stories that come our way. Every Friday night, the four of us will go to Jabula, sit at the bar for drinks and later move to a table on the veranda for dinner. All of this is reminiscent of old times we shared beginning in 2018 when they first came to Marloth Park, again a couple who came here to this wildlife paradise after reading our posts for years. Little did we know, the four of us would become fast friends.

We introduced them to our friends living here before the onset of Covid-19, and again, typical for Marloth Park, magic happens, and social circles grow. Neither of us has ever lived anywhere where it is easy to make new friends. In our old lives, we socialized with the same wonderful long-term friends year after year, rarely including someone new in the “inner circle.”

This is the mom who lost her tail. She is the mom of Barbara and Lori and the set of two piglets. Poor girl, she also lost one of her latest piglets in the past few weeks. Check out her perfect tusks.

But, as I often say, there is something special about the commonality visitors and residents of Marloth Park possess, a passion for nature and wildlife that has a way of bringing people together. It may be true that those who love nature and wildlife have a different perspective of life, a passion that is unlike any other we’ve encountered along the way. We are very grateful to have met so many amazing people, many of whom have become dear friends.

This is our boy, One Tusk. His singular tusk is larger than any tusks we’ve seen on any other warthog.

As for the most recent comments about the lions possibly having returned to Kruger, it’s not the case. Here’s the latest post from Facebook that popped up last night:

‼️CARNIVORE ALERT‼️
1st and 2nd January 2022
The Carnivore Team has released a warning that the three young lions have been spotted at 16h30, and they are highly mobile and hunting!
A very urgent alert for tonight in the following area: The whole block of Swartwitpens to Seekoei and tomorrow morning from Hardekool to Soenie an urgent alert for joggers and cyclists to be cautious along the fence!
Please do not allow children in these areas period as the lions could be anywhere! 😳
Unfortunately, the warnings are not taken seriously! The onus is on everyone to adhere to the alerts and warn others of the dangers.
Should you spot the lions, phone any one of the following numbers:
Rangers 082 802 5894
CPF/ Nadine 082 672 4545 Gerrie Camacho 082 353 9097,
Ernst Röhm /MTPA 083 626 6309,
April Lukhele: 082 807 1057. Jan Koekemoer 063 053 7601.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding – Carnivore Team, Rangers, MTPA, CPF, Security, and the Vet.”
Broken Horn has been digging in the mud based on his dirty face.
No doubt, this means the lions are still here in Marloth Park, although this time the warning was issued they are closer to us, now under 2 kilometers, 1.2 miles from us. Of course, for our concerned family and friends, we want to assure you we are safe. We don’t go out onto the roads on foot, and we proceed with extreme caution when going to and from the car to the house.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable start to the New Year.

Be well.

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #283. This kind man, Mr. Ganapthay of Cholan Art Village, made the experience of visiting his nine-generation family’s bronzing business all the more special to both of us. For more, please click here.

Exciting lion story in Marloth Park and Lionspruit…Exercising caution in many ways…

Marloth Park has a dedicated group of individuals who volunteer their time and efforts to preserve the flora and fauna of the Marloth Park Conservancy. They are known as Honorary Rangers, and over the years, we’ve come to know and admire several of those special people.

Yesterday, on Facebook, a post was uploaded by an Honorary Ranger that we found to be of particular interest. We are sharing that story today but leaving out the names of the rangers for their privacy. Instead, we’ll insert their initials in place of their names.

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Not our photo. This photo of Fluffy (male) was posted on the Honorary Ranger’s story on Facebook.

It’s important to preface the following story with a description of Lionspruit, a game reserve located within the borders of Marloth Park. From this site, Lionspruit is described as follows on this screenshot. Please zoom in for more detail.

As it turns out, the rear line of our holiday home borders Lionspruit. We can often hear the two lions, Dezi and Fluffy, often roar at night. On occasion, during the day when lions usually sleep, we’ll listen to a roar. It’s music to our ears. Being so close to their habitat has only added to the joy of living in this property during the past 11 months.

Thus, yesterday, when we spotted the following story on Facebook, it was thrilling. Living in close proximity to the animals in our garden, let alone those at a short distance, had been, by far, the most exciting aspect of our world travels over the past nine years.

“There has been lots of excitement about Kruger lions entering Marloth recently, but we in HR are so pleased that our own JG witnessed the most thrilling moment of all. It seems a just reward for her dedication to the wellbeing of our lions. Here is the Facebook story as told by the Honorary Rangers:

FLUFFY RULES HIS DOMAIN!

On December 8th, RD and I were privileged to see Fluffy in attack mode for the first time in all the years that we have monitored the health and activities of our Lionspruit lions.

We were parked on a track next to the fence, quietly waiting, when the drama suddenly unfolded, and we had to hastily put up our windows! A strange lion burst into view, racing straight towards us, with Fluffy and Dezi in hot pursuit.
Fluffy was on the attack against one of the young Kruger males who dared to enter his domain. It was gratifying to see the young male flee, having experienced the wrath of our magnificent lion. Fluffy followed up with some impressive roaring, ensuring the interloper continued to run.
Both lions are in good condition for their ages. Since the incident, they continue to patrol the fences – to make sure those Kruger upstarts do not get ideas about coming back again!

(The somewhat fuzzy photos of Fluffy are proof of the sudden excitement and being taken by R. through the windscreen!).”

When the park is packed with holidaymakers seeking the ultimate excitement and experience in Marloth Park during the busy holiday season, they couldn’t ask for more. With the two prides of lions recently sighted in Marloth Park who have entered via the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park, locals and tourists must exercise extreme caution.

Everyone has been advised not to drive to the areas where the lions have been sighted and avoid making any lion sounds to attract them. Doing so could be life-threatening.

The usual children riding bikes and playing on dirt roads are dangerous and foolhardy during this time. We can only hope that parents will keep their children from being out of the safety of the holiday homes without close adult supervision. With curfews in place before dawn and after dark, we hope everyone will be safe.

Lions roam at night in search of food. Nighttime walks are forbidden and are surely “looking for trouble.” Why anyone would even consider being on foot at night is not only against the rules of the park but is totally careless and also inconsiderate of the lions. If one were to attack a human, it would be euthanized without a doubt. The goal is to get the lions back into Kruger National Park ultimately.

Dezi and Fluffy are busy protecting their habitat, as indicated above in the story, as they constantly peruse the fences/border to ensure no other lions enter their space. We’re listening carefully for the sounds of any of the lions.

Last night we didn’t go to Janula, as mentioned in yesterday’s post. They had a group of 18 coming to the bar at 5:00 om, 1700 hrs, the time we usually arrive. We didn’t want to be exposed to so many people who may be infected with Omicron, which is taking over South Africa as Delta wafts away.

Instead, tonight, we’ll give it a try but will remain mindful of those near us.

Have a safe and healthy holiday weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago today while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #270. This photo is from our post on this date in 2017 while sailing on the Celebrity Infinity along the coast of South America and dining in the fantastic specialty restaurant, Qsine. For more photos, please click here.

Lions still in Marloth Park…Flights, canceling to and from South Africa…What shall we do?

When Melissa Grobler of Dubai, currently staying in  Marloth Park with her mom, a resident, captured these lion photos, this morning we were enthralled. Melissa managed to witness this fantastic sighting of one of the female lions known to roam the streets of Marloth Park.

Finally, this morning, photos were taken of one of the lions that have been spotted in Marloth Park over the past few months and subsequently, posted on Facebook. These are the first photos we’ve seen of the lions. I contacted the photographer, Melissa Grobler, who is currently staying in the park for a few months, visiting her mom, a resident, asking if we could use her photos. She was thrilled to share.

After all the comments we’ve read about numerous sightings since the lions were originally spotted, with no supporting photos, we began to wonder if these elusive carnivore beasts were actually staying here. Often, at night, humans perceive certain animals to be roaming the bush, other than those we see regularly, At times, at night, we’ve often thought we’ve seen something when perhaps the light and the night tricked our eyes.

Melissa did this drawing to outline the shape of the lion she spotted in the bush.

In this day and age, with the advent of rampant cellphone and camera use, we longed to see an actual photo of a lion in the park. It’s not that we doubted their existence here, especially when, in this day and age, rangers and many locals have spotted them, over and over again. But, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and Melissa hit the jackpot this morning.

So, for all the naysayers, here are some good photos of the lions, keeping in mind they don’t care to be around humans and may be extremely poor subjects when hiding in the bush, and mostly making appearances at night in the dark when they are on the hunt for their next meal. Obviously, the pickings are good in Marloth Park with so many animals a part of this unusual wildlife conservancy,

You may have to squint your eyes to see the lion in this photo.

On to other matters…This morning at 6:00 am, I received an email from Expedia, that our flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Tampa, Florida had been canceled by Delta Airlines. Apparently, Delta isn’t interested in flying to and from South Africa, in light of Omicron, the newest Covid-19 variant.

Although, so far, reports are showing this variant is no more lethal than other variants, a worldwide panic ensued and many countries locked their borders to South Africa as well as airlines suspending flights. In this prior post, we commented how we’ve canceled our plans to attend our dear friends, Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida on February 11th.

We were sad and disappointed to be missing this event, which after the wedding, we’d planned to stay in Florida for an upcoming cruise sailing out of Fort Lauderdale on April 8, 2022. After a month-long stay with Karen and Rich at their oceanfront home, we’d also planned to spend time driving through Florida, visiting friends that have relocated to various oceanside areas in the warm weather state.

It’s been a thrill to see these photos. We can only thank Melissa for capturing these photos.

With everyone’s justified concerns about Omicron, we won’t be seeing our friends after all. If the trans-Atlantic cruise actually sails, we’ll come to Florida two weeks earlier and self-quarantine, not seeing any of our friends during this period. From there, we’ll board the cruise. But, by the end of March, new rules may be in place about mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving from South Africa, whether US citizens or not. Only time will tell.

When we decided to cancel our trip to the wedding, we left our flight, departing on January 22, 2022, in place. With Delta, we had until the end of December to move the flight to a different ending point and date without penalty. A few days ago, when I’d made a to-do list on this post, it included moving this flight. Now, this has been taken care of by Delta canceling the flight and offering us a full refund.

This morning after receiving the email, I requested a refund for the flight and we’ll book our exit out of here when we know more. Is the cruise going to sail in April? Will there be flights out of South Africa by then? What will we do about our visas expiring on January 24th? This all remains to be seen.

In the interim, we’ll be contacting all of our friends in Florida, telling them not to worry about being near us since we won’t be seeing them after all. Our biggest concern beyond that is what we’ll do about our expiring visas in January? We may have no choice but to return to Zambia for another short stay and another visa stamp. Will immigration allow us to make this trip once again? Or, will President Cyril Ramaphosa issue another visa extension for foreign nationals based on this Omicron situation?

Only time will tell. In the interim, we will stay positive and aren’t as worried as one may think. We’ll continue to enjoy our time in the bush and see how it all rolls out.

Today, we’re reveling in the lion photos and the excitement each day of wildlife visiting our garden.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #260. We were with friends Lisa and Barry, enjoying one last night together on the ship in a private sitting in the wine room. For more photos, please click here.

A long ago memory with relevance today….Four lions spotted in Marloth Park…Are the animals hiding?..

On a walk in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2012, shortly before we left the US to travel the world, we stumbled across this saying on a large slab of stone.

Around this date in 2012, Tom and I went for a walk in the Old Towne area in Scottsdale, Arizona. We were staying there in a lovely condo for a few months while we wrapped up all the seemingly endless details of preparing to leave the US for our anticipated years-long journey.

We chose Scottsdale in an attempt to determine if and when, in the future, we may decide to settle somewhere. Would Scottsdale be an option? After spending two months there, we found it wasn’t quite for us. But during those two months there, we enjoyed ourselves as our first foray away from Minnesota, where Tom grew up, and I’d lived for over 40 years.

A male waterbuck at sunset on the bank of the Crocodile River.

During that time, we set up all of our new digital equipment, continued making bookings into the future, and handled insurance and other business matters that required attention before we left the US on January 3, 2013, from San Diego, California, on our first cruise. Oddly, the memories of that time are as fresh in our minds today as if it was yesterday.

Today’s main photo popped up from one of the clouds we use as a “memory.” It made us laugh when we remembered encountering this message on a stone slab during the walk that day in Scottsdale. At the time and even now, we perceived it as an omen that we would enjoy our travels together in the upcoming years, knowing the depth and quality of our relationship. We’ve never been disappointed.

Sunset from Kathy and Don’s third-floor veranda.

At that time, nine years ago, we had no idea how long we’d travel, if we’d enjoy it for the long term, after facing many of the challenges we’ve encountered along the way. We knew our desire and commitment were firmly in place along with our established criteria which we’d fined tuned during the ten prior months that we’d spent conducting research.

If you find the sign difficult to read, the quote from Mark Twain reads: “I have found that there is no surer way to find out if you like people or you hate them, than to travel with them.”

How true that’s been for us and surely is for other couples who travel, whether they are partners or friends. Never once in the past nine years have either of us questioned we are with the “right traveler,” the “right companion,” or the right “love partner.”

A crocodile on the move on the river.

After hearing about our ten months in lockdown in India, many have commented that they’d be at each other’s throats being stuck in one room for so long. We comforted each other and provided support and encouragement to one another during the challenging time. In the end, it only made us stronger individually and as a couple. Go figure. Who knew we’d spend 10% of our travels stuck in a hotel room? We are very grateful we didn’t get Covid-19 and that we came out in good spirits.

As for the lions in Marloth Park, four have been sighted over the past several nights by rangers and others. Two males and two females are obviously on the move and hunting for food, which is plentiful in Marloth Mark, perhaps even easier to find than in massive Kruger National Park.

A male impala grazing on vegetation on the bank of the river.

A weird phenomenon we’ve observed these past three days since the sighting has been the lack of wildlife visiting our garden, less daily than we’ve seen since we arrived last January. While in the national parks in India searching for tiger sightings, the rangers explained that the various antelopes, particularly the Sambar deer, give off bark as a warning sign for all animals when a tiger is in the area.

Is it possible our antelopes here in Marloth Park have given off such notice to all wildlife that their lives are in danger with the nearby lions roaming through the park? We feel confident this is the case. Not even Little, other warthogs, or our usual 10 to 12 bushbucks are stopping by. We’ve only seen bushbuck Gordon Ramsay each of the past three days, but he is very skittish and nervous, constantly looking around.

Frank and The Misses don’t seem concerned about the lions in the park. They aren’t much of a meal for a lion.

Word is out not to feed the animals since it will cause them to gather in groups making easy prey for the lions.  With no animals in the garden except for the mongooses, that’s not a problem for us. We haven’t tossed pellets in days while we wait for this scary time for the animals to come to an end.

Hopefully, the lions who’ve arrived from Kruger, from the other side of the fence between the two parks, will return from whence they’ve come. But, if they find the pickings are good here, they may not leave for quite a while. In the interim, we all must be diligent about being outdoors at night and during the day. Lions may prefer to hunt in the dark, but we’ve seen them with “kills” during daylight hours.  Of course, we are being cautious when outdoors, day and night.

Well, folks, that’s our news for today.  Please stop by again tomorrow for more.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #235. This photo from Maui, Hawaii, almost looked like a scene from New England by the sea. For more photos, please click here.

Lions on the loose in Marloth Park…We’re missing the adventure!…Photos…

Two female lions were spotted in Marloth Park! (Not our photo).

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland ran under a democratic nation and established their present constitution in 1937.”

There’s no doubt about it…we’re missing the excitement over this past month when several lions were sighted in Marloth Park, walking about the streets in search of food. Surely, they’ve found plenty in the bountiful wildlife reserve.
It would have been quite an experience to be one of these drivers on the paved Olifant road when these two females, as shown above, sat leisurely on the side of the road, oblivious of the cars stopping to take photos.

There were several occasions in the 15 months we lived in the bush that lions found a way to get into Marloth Park via an opening in the fence, often dug up by warthogs. Unfortunately, we never had a chance to see them, although we went out looking for them, slowly driving from one dirt road to another.

During those periods, we could often hear their roaring at night. Many of our friends in the park are equally excited now, as they see and hear them. Of course, we could always hear Daisy and Fluffy, the two neutered lions who live in Lionspruit, the reserve within a reserve in Marloth Park.

Lionspruit was the location for many fantastic braais and parties we attended at Frikkee’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and many others.  We were aware of Daisy and Fluffy (male) presence in the area but hardly worried about it.

Now the workers, homeowners, and holidays renters are being warned to exercise the utmost caution when walking anywhere in the park or one’s garden. There is always an after-dark curfew in place which is difficult to enforce when there are no police in the park.  

Through the hard work of local volunteers, the park is “policed,” but they cannot arrest anyone. The three security companies in the park join in the “policing” but again cannot stop anyone.

Many may dismiss the fear of lions in the park as being overly cautious. But, while we were in the park, we did a story with photos of Jonas, a local worker, now 20 years later, a popular builder and friend to the park, who was attacked by a lion in Marloth Park receiving horrific injuries.  

Somehow, Jonas survived to share the story and go on to live a productive life. If you’d like to read the story of Jonas and see photos of his scars from the attack, please click here.

Here’s our photo of Jonas when he and Danie came to visit us so we could share his story along with photos:

Jonas has scars all over his body from the attack 20 years ago when he was a young man, riding his bike at night in the dark.

Jonas speaks little English but speaks Afrikaans and Danie translated to English for our benefit on that memorable day. He was so kind to have taken the time to meet with us and retell his shocking story of living to survive a lion attack. We posted the story on March 11, 2018.

We’re hoping no one will be foolhardy and ignore the curfew and stay away from the lions who aren’t hesitant to be present during daytime hours. When such warnings were out during our long 15 months to stay, it wasn’t unusual to see children riding bikes and walking alone on the roads. Who are these people who would be so careless?
 
We’ll continue to check out what will transpire until the lions are darted and returned to Kruger. But, at this point, all efforts have been futile. We miss the park, always will, and hope to return someday soon.
 
Have a safe and fulfilling weekend!
                    
Photo from one year ago today, July 6, 2018:
Mom and Dad were very proud of their family. Ostriches mate for life. For more photos, please click here.

Lions in Kruger National Park…The fascination with lions…The scorching heat continues…

We shot this photo of a female lion taking a drink in the Maasai Mara in October 2013.  Although we had an amateur camera then, as we do now, being up close made all the difference in the world as opposed to today’s remaining lion photos taken in Kruger at a distance. Here’s the link from which we copied this photo with many more lions photos, including one in a tree.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is our resident tree frog, who mostly lives on a light fixture frame on the veranda.  In the winter months, he only appeared at night. Now, he’s there almost constantly except for this particular time when he came down from the light and sat on a chair on the veranda. He eats lots of insects at night when we turn on the light.  

Human’s fascination with lions has persisted for centuries. Their mystery, fierceness, and veracity, coupled with their physical structure and gender differences, have been the primary source of interest for most amateur and professional photographers who are fortunate enough to visit their territories throughout the world.
From Kruger National Park’s website:

“GL SMUTS, LION (1982)

Butch Smuts worked in the Kruger National Park for many years, first studying what was causing a decline in zebra populations and later performing intensive studies on the lion populations in the park, with a special emphasis on the central region of the park. Together with colleagues, they developed mass capture protocols for lions that are still used today. During this research, the first lion ever to be fitted with a radio collar was captured and released to provide information to curious scientists.

Lions are often seen at a distance in Kruger. It’s a rare exception to see them crossing the road, as depicted in many photos.

Over four years in the 1970s, the stomach contents of 257 lions were examined. 47 percent of the lions had empty stomachs. For the remaining lions, ten prey animals had been eaten by the lions. These were impala (30%), wildebeest (24%), giraffe (15%), zebra (11%), warthog (8%), waterbuck (5%), kudu, and buffalo (2% each). A domestic goat (probably from outside the park) and an unidentified animal were also found. When statistical analysis based on the sizes of the animals was performed, the giraffe was found to make up the most incredible bulk of the animals’ diet, followed by wildebeest and zebra.

We spotted the five lions at the Verhami Dam, which no longer has any water during this hot season.

Smuts and his colleagues performed a lion census in the mid-1970s, luring over 600 lions to call centers where the lions could be darted and marked to enable counting. During a five-year period, they managed to capture over 1 200 lions. He found that the central district of the Kruger National Park had over 700 lions, dispersed amongst sixty different prides. There was a sex ratio of two adult female lions to every adult male.

The five lions were all females.

The largest pride contained 21 lions, and on average, there were two males per pride, although this ranged from one to five males per pride. The lion density was worked out as 13 lions per 100km2. They also worked out that there was one lion per 110 prey items in Kruger at that time. This was a strong contrast to the Serengeti where only about one lion per 1,000 prey animals.”

It was scorching that day at 40C (104F) as they sought shelter from the sun under trees.

Although this article is over 35 years old, it was interesting information we hadn’t seen anywhere in our recent research.  Kruger’s website, in general, has been an excellent source of information for us over these past many months.

Surely, calling groups of lions a “pride” has something to do with their proud and confident demeanor.  Hence, the “King of the Jungle.”

And yes, as we peruse the Crocodile River banks day after day from here in Marloth Park, we find ourselves on the proverbial search for lions when we enter Kruger.

We held our breath as we took these photos to steady the camera.

Much to our surprise, we see them more often from the fence in Marloth Park than we do while on a self-drive or professional game drive in Kruger. While in the Maasai Mara in Kenya n 2013, we did see them up close and personal.  

In a mere 87 days or so, we’ll be back in Kenya to visit once again the famed Maasai Mara (as part of a larger Kenya wildlife photography tour) when roads are not barriers to getting close to the magnificent beasts.  

These five may be part of what is referred to as the “Verhami Pride.”  

In Kruger, it’s required to stay on the paved or dirt roads. Thus, our photos may only be taken from the roads when spotting wildlife, making many scenes challenging to acquire.

We took today’s main photo in the Maasai Mara in October 2013. You can see the advantage of being close to the subject when using a less-than-high-end camera, as we had then and we have now.

She couldn’t have been prettier as this little branch framed her face.

Of course, we’d love to have the equipment to be able to get great shots from long distances. But, as we’ve mentioned repeatedly, we don’t want to carry the extra weight around the world, nor can we handle a heavy camera since both of us have bad right shoulders. It’s a reality we have to live with.

From time to time, a few would raise their heads, looking intently for possible prey.

As technology improves over the years, we’ll eventually be able to buy a lightweight camera with more efficiency and clarity. We look forward to that time.  In the interim, we do the best we can.

Here we are attending a photographic safari for 16 nights in Kenya in a few months, were most likely, all the participants will have upscale, sophisticated cameras. We’re ok with this.  

Not everyone has a lifestyle similar to ours with certain restrictions. We’re going on this adventure for the experience and for photos we can share with all of you along this exciting journey, many of which will be as clear as the primary photo in today’s post, taken over five years ago.

They’d lay back down with one keeping a watchful eye for possible action.

We continue here now and will carry on in Kenya, searching for those special wildlife photos. Please stay tuned for many more lion photos during our remaining time in South Africa, which will only escalate once we return to the Maasai Mara.

The scorching heat continues as we sit here on the veranda drenched in sweat.  But, this is what one expects in Africa, so we take it in our stride. As long as we can sleep in aircon comfort at night, we have no problem. That means the power must stay on, another reality of Africa we’ve adapted to over this extended stay.

Tonight, we off to friends Jan and Steve’s bush home for dinner.  Rita and Gerhard are joining us after meeting them last Saturday at Jabula. That’s how it is here, friendly and welcoming, even for newcomers.

Stay cool, stay warm, wherever you may be, to provide the utmost comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, November 28, 2017:
Our ship was this close to the walls to the walls of the passageway of the Panama Canal as this cargo ship in front of us. This was our second passage through the canal since we began our travels. For more photos, please click here.

What a day we’ve had!…Power outage for many hours…Trip to Kruger to entertain us, and it certainly did!…

In this photo, taken at Aamazing River View on Saturday night with friends, I cut off the top of his “tall” fluffy hair, but I like this photo of my guy, Tom.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebras in the garden, including a pregnant mare.  

Today’s post is going to be short and to the point. It’s very late in the afternoon as I type at this moment. We always put our laptops away for the evening while enjoying the wildlife in the garden and dinner on the veranda. Doing a post at night has been a rare occurrence.

Neither of us using any digital equipment until later in the evening when we may watch one episode of a favorite series on my laptop or play with our phones when we go to bed, reading and playing mindless games.

Today’s lion photos were taken at a considerable distance from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger. Excuse the lack of clarity, please.

This morning shortly after I awakened, while Tom watched last night’s Minnesota Vikings football game, streaming on NFL GamePass, the power went out. This is not unusual in Marloth Park, but generally, it comes back on before dark.

When the power goes out, the Wi-Fi also goes out, and there is no way for me to do the post. I have an offline app I can use, but my almost-four-year-old laptop’s battery won’t last more than 90 minutes without being recharged.

A mom and her playful cub.

If I used all my battery power, we’d be left in total darkness when we come inside from the veranda where we may have spent the evening in the dark with no lights to see the wildlife and no lights to accompany our meal, let alone the need to prepare our dinner without power.

We save my laptop’s battery for that one show we may watch at 2200 hrs (10:00 pm) before we’d go to sleep. On top of that concern is that today, still spring, not summer, the temperature has been 40C (102F). Not having aircon by bedtime could result in a highly uncomfortable night.

Two lovely females.

So, instead of sitting around, frustrated and bored in the awful heat, we jumped into the new not-so-little red car (with excellent aircon) and headed to Kruger. One expects that on such hot days, the wildlife would stay undercover and many do.

But today was exceptional, and we had many excellent sightings we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. This time, we didn’t stop at the Mugg & Bean in Lower Sabie for breakfast since I had to eat something before I took the required six Prednisone tablets before 9:00 am for my outrageous case of pepper tick bites.

Her cub was suckling.

Luckily, the tablets are working, and the situation is resolving nicely. However, I’m plagued with the awful side effect of insomnia. The first night I took one of the Ambien prescribed by Doc Theo to help me sleep at night during the 12 day-course of medication.

But after reading about the dangers of this mind-altering drug, I decided I would not take another.  Instead, I’ve had a fitful night’s sleep without using any sleep aids of any type as I’m drifting in and out every hour or so. Overall, though, I’ve had five to six hours of intermittent sleep and feel fine.

Such adorableness for such fierce animals.

This morning I fell back to sleep for an hour which helped tremendously after Tom watched the game. Not out of bed until 8:00 am, the power went out moments after I got up. I showered and dressed in the dark.  

Tom was frustrated being unable to watch the remainder of the game, and I could not do the post. Thus, we decided, as we’ve done during past power outages, a trip to Kruger was in order.  By 9:00 am, we were on our way, hoping the power would be restored when we returned.

Two females who almost appear to be posing.

It wasn’t back on when we walked in the door five hours later. I was concerned about the food in the refrigerator, not so much the chest freezer. Of course, Louise was all over this situation, and the electrician and Wi-Fi guy was here in no time, and now at 1615 hours (4:15 pm), we’re back in business…lights, aircon, and Wi-Fi. Thanks to Louise, Jacques (the Wi-Fi guy), and Moses (the electrician) for restoring the power in the house.

(As a footnote, the power was out in Marloth Park, but when it’s restored, some properties may need to be attended to to get things back up and running correctly. So was the case here.)

Two females with the persistent cub nipping at mom’s leg.

Soon, it’s time to prep the veranda for the evening’s excitement. Since we returned today, we’ve had tons of visitors, including Wildebeest Willie, Mom Warthog, Four Tiny Babies, several Ms. Bushbucks and Babies, two Mr. Bushbucks, zillions of helmeted guineafowl, and Mr. and Ms. Duiker.  

They were all here at once shortly after we returned from Kruger. They scattered when the service staff came to help but surely will be here again as soon as we set up the veranda.  This happens every night promptly at 1700 hrs (5:00 pm).  Go figure.

See you tomorrow with new and exciting Kruger photos! The Vikings won. Tom is ecstatic.

Have a fantastic evening!

 Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2017:

A tour boat under tarps at the marina in the Grand Cayman Islands, a port of call off the ship where we met a couple who’d seen our site and are now also traveling the world. For details and their photo, please click here.

Four big boys near the river…Safari luck prevails…

The four lions had a destination in mind…a recent kill.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This kudu had an anomaly in the markings of dark circles around her eyes.

Having an opportunity to take photos of lions out in the open is rare and unexpected. Yesterday morning on a whim, we took off for the river road overlooking Crocodile River between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

They walked along the river embankment, single file but not too close to one another.

As we approached the “Two Trees” overlook, a regular spot for sighting lions and other giant beasts across the river, we knew we were going to see lions as we approached several vehicles in the parking lot.

Each of the four male lions was obviously on a mission.

Prepared to stretch ourselves to spot a lion or two, often hidden under trees or between craggy rocks and ravines, we were shocked to easily see the four lions with the naked eye walking on the embankment out in the open.

It was a rarity to see them out in the open like this.

We squealed with delight. This easy sighting was truly a first. Weather conditions were right, overcast and dark, and the lions weren’t hiding in the shade as we often discover.

They were moving at a good clip.  We had to change our location to continue seeing them.

Keeping in mind, it’s quite a distance from the fence to their location. I maneuvered my way down a ridge to get as close as possible to the fence. As mentioned in earlier posts, there are two fences one must navigate to get a clear shot into the park.

Finally, they reached the kill, perhaps left behind by another lion.

One of the fences has barbed wire every 15 cm (6 inches), which requires caution when using the wire as a guide to steady the camera for the distant shot. Set further out from the barbed wire is the electrified fence which doesn’t present any risks based on its distance from the barbed wire.

It was difficult to ascertain exactly what animals had been killed.

I commend whoever designed the layout of the two fences. It certainly allows amateur photographers like me to use the barbed wire fence as temporary support to steady the camera.

We, amateur photographers, need all the help we can get in shooting distant photos, especially in cases like ours with less than ideal cameras and lenses.

The four lions didn’t stay at the kill for long.  It could have been decayed or already eaten.

As we took photo after photo, we were in awe of what lies before our eyes once again. But, this time was special. This time was unique. We thought about Tom and Lois and how much they’d have loved seeing these four male lions in plain sight. Hopefully, they’ve recovered from their long travel day(s) and will see this post sometime today.

Last night we had another delightful evening at Jabula Lodge, this time dining with new friends/readers Rita and Gerhard.  The conversation was lively and animated as Rita and I chatted like long-lost friends, and Gerhard and Tom did the same.
One by one, they wandered off, searching for other opportunities.

We’re excited they’ll be staying in Marloth until February, minus a few weeks away for other plans and, we look forward to many more get-togethers with them.

This morning we’d hope to have breakfast at Steop Cafe when we had a few grocery items to pick up for tonight’s dinner at Spar in Komatipoort. Alas, Steop Cafe is closed on Sunday, much to our surprise so we hurried through the market and returned home.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled for these out-in-the-open photo ops.

I’ve already prepared the dinner, which only requires oven time an hour before we dine. Tonight now that it’s clear and sunny again, should be a fantastic night on the veranda.  

Hopefully, many of our wildlife friends will stop by. So far today, we’ve had visits from female and male bushbucks and some exciting birds but no one else. The park is packed with visitors this weekend which once they begin to leave, will increase the number of visitors we see in the garden.

May you have an excellent day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2017:

Tom’s early morning view of the moon setting on the horizon on Costa Rica, taken from the veranda. For more photos, please click here.

A lioness and her kill….Camera issue resolved for now…

A lioness and her kudu kill on the bank of the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This type of chameleon lizard takes on the appearance in its surroundings, as in the case of the tree in this photo. We’ve seen it in this same spot every day for the past week.

A few days ago, while Tom & Lois were still here, we made our usual drive to the river to search for sightings beyond Marloth Park’s fence into the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park.

Each time we find several cars lined up at either “Two Trees” or one of many lookout spots along the river road, we knew we were in for a treat. The enthusiasm is often generated by lion sightings, much more than for elephants, cape buffalo, giraffes, and others.

 
This day was no exception. Photography enthusiasts, both amateur and professional, may be found at the fence striving for the perfect shot of what treasures lie beyond the limitations of the fence between the two parks.
We couldn’t believe our safari luck in getting these photos.
Recently, one of our two identical Canon Powershot cameras got soaked by an unopened bottle of red wine I had in a grocery bag. Since I mostly drink low alcohol wine, I often bring my own bottle to a restaurant and pay a corkage fee which generally runs no more than ZAR 30 (US $2.09) for the entire bottle.
 
Recently Jabula Lodge and Restaurant had started carrying my favorite low alcohol red and white wines, so when I brought the bottle of red, I never used my own bottle, instead respectfully ordering from their supply. 
At the end of the evening, with the wine in my cloth grocery bag, I placed the camera inside it, not thinking anything of it. Lo and behold, as we were getting ready to leave after another fine meal, I placed the bag on the stone floor with a slight thud.
It was quite a sight to observe her bloody nose from eating her kill.
The thud was powerful enough to break the glass wine bottle, and the contents poured all over the camera and the floor. I wiped up as much as I could at the restaurant and worked on the camera further when we returned to the house, taking out the battery and SD card, hoping it would dry out.
 
With the upcoming exciting Kenya photography tour in February, I thought it was a sign I needed a more sophisticated camera. Tom could continue to use the identical second model, and I could learn to use whatever I could find.
 
Knowing the postal service is a nightmare in South Africa and not wanting to pay outrageous DHL five-day shipping and customs fees, my best hope was to find something suitable.
Every so often, she’s stand to investigate her surroundings.
This proved to be hopeless. None of the models I was interested in are available online here, and there was no way we were willing to drive to Johannesburg (minimum five-hour drive each way) to purchase a new camera.
 
At one point, a few days ago, I resigned myself to the fact that a new camera wasn’t in the cards for me at this time, and I’d have to use the one we had left, which is in fine condition.  
 
This would mean Tom wouldn’t have a camera to use during the Kenya trip or any other outings we’ll take to Kruger over these next months. I put the bad camera on the dresser in the bedroom, figuring we’d have to dispose of it at a recycling facility before too long.
Was a male lion in the area that would steal her kill if he spotted it?
Yesterday, a few hours after Tom and Lois left, I decided to try one more time (I’d already tried no less than 10 times) if I could get it to work.  I inserted a battery and SD card, fired it up, and goodness sakes, it worked!
 
The result?  I’m not going to purchase a more sophisticated camera until we get to the US in five months. We’ll live with what we have in Kenya. No doubt, this being a “photography tour” may leave us as the only people in the small tour group with a less than ideal camera for such an event.
 
But, I can’t worry about that. I know we’ll end up with decent photos our worldwide readers will enjoy as they’ve frequently commented positively on our photos. Sure, the photos can always be better, and eventually, they will be as I gain more skill and eventually buy another camera.
Lois’s last time feeding the kudus was yesterday morning before they departed.
The reality remains, our site is about the lives of two nomads traveling the world without a home, without storage, and without a place to call their own. It’s not an arena to boast photographic skills and expertise.
 
Let’s face it. I have minimal photography skills and expertise. As much as I get a kick of out taking some decent photos, it’s just not my major love. My love is sharing our story, year after year, regardless of how exciting or uneventful our days and nights may be.
Thanks to all of our readers for hanging in there with us during this long period in Africa. In a mere 110 days, three months, 18 days, we’ll be on our way to Kenya and won’t be staying in a vacation home until next May. Lots will transpire in the interim.
 
Have a fantastic weekend, living life to the fullest!

            
Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2017:

Tom got this distant shot of the Montezuma Oropendola, which is a New World tropical icterid bird. It is a resident breeder in the Caribbean coastal lowlands from southeastern Mexico to central Panama but is absent from El Salvador and southern Guatemala. For more photos, please click here.