Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation…Rescue and release…Last night’s dinner party for eight

Deidre feeding one of the tiny rescued genets at Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is the adorable bushbaby, named Doc which I fed by hand in June. See the links included here today from the prior posts to see me feeding him.

Several months ago, we wrote a two-part series on Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hectorspruit, South Africa. Those stories may be found at this link for Part 1 and this link for Part 2

Wild ducks found a home at Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
With friends Lois and Tom here, we thought it would be a rewarding experience for them to visit the facility with us, meet director Deidre, and experience the wonders of the work done by Deidre and her staff of volunteers who are committed to working with her in her unfaltering dedication to “rescue and release.”
These two tiny genets, only a few months old, require Deidre to feed them every two hours around the clock to thrive.  

Visiting with Deidre and her precious little creatures, all of whom who’d never have survived without her care, love, and attention, proved to be more rewarding than we expected.

Lois, holding one of the baby genets while standing next to Linda, one of Deidre’s new volunteers.

As a repeat visit for Tom and me, we found ourselves reveling in the wonder of this extraordinary place, especially when we had an opportunity to share it with our friends.  

Several peacocks are residing at the property.  This particular bird was intent on making lots of noise and showing off. 

The following afternoon we headed to Lisa’s home in Marloth Park for a second visit to share the value and reward of rescuing the precious bushbabies with the same plan for eventual release into the wild once they are well and able to thrive on their own.

The peacock flew into a tree to make some serious noise to entice us with his majesty further. 

We shared some wine with Lisa and visited Deidre, who lives in Marloth Park, and heard wonderful stories about wildlife, rescues, and releases. It was, again for us, a significant and interesting visit.

Deidre is currently caring for six jackal pups which will eventually be released into Marloth Park to balance the ecosystem.

We encourage anyone who loves wildlife to consider donating, even the smallest amount, to help support this worthy cause by visiting Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre  Facebook page, where amazing photos and information may be found.

What a view of the Crocodile River at this location, with many opportunities for wildlife sightings.

From there, we began getting ready for Sunday night’s dinner party for eight, which included the four of us, Louise and Danie, and a couple to whom they’re renting the same house we rented five years ago, Rita and Gerhardt, who are from the USA and Germany.

There were two tortoises at the facility who’d also been rescued and rehabilitated.

Much to our delight, Rita and Gerhardt had found out about Marloth Park from our website, which they began reading a few years ago. When they saw our endless posts of how much we love it here, they decided to come for a three-week stay.

The next day we visited Lisa at her home in Marloth Park, where, as a volunteer with Wild & Free, she rescues and releases bushbabies. Such dedication.

They contacted Louise from references on our site and eventually rented the house we’d enjoy so many years ago. As we had at the time, they’re seeing plenty of visitors in the equally conducive environment.

It was fun talking to Rita and Gerhardt about their travel lifestyle through Europe with their vehicle, the equivalent of a very sophisticated motorhome. They have a home in the US in Oregon, where they often travel a lot as well.

The bushbabies live in a bushbaby villa in Lisa’s closet in her bedroom. Nocturnal, the bushbabies can now go out into the wild at night through her open bedroom window, and they experience life on their own.

The food worked out well when we’d made a pumpkin soup, low-carb chicken pot pie, broccoli salad, lettuce salad, and ice cream bars for dessert. Rita is also gluten and lactose-free, so the meal worked well for her.

Lois, holding a newborn bushbaby Lisa had recently rescued.  All the bushbabies will eventually be released except for one named “Special Needs,” who has brain damage from hitting his head on a ceiling fan when kept as a pet. Lisa’s cared for him for the past few years and will continue to do so when he isn’t able to make it on his own in the wild.

As soon as we’ve uploaded today’s post, we’re off for a drive in Marloth Park to hopefully spot more of Mother Nature’s wonders, ending with a stop at the local market for a few items for meals for the next few days.

Tonight, we’ll dine out at yet another local restaurant as we strive to provide Tom and Lois with a wide range of experiences in Marloth Park.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2017:

Close up of an iguana face at Zoo Ave in Costa Rica, a rescue facility. For more photos, please click here.

The wildlife drama continues..Lions, lions and more lions, including a cub and a croc!….Guest photographer’s rhino shots!…

This male stole the warthog kill from the females, eventually leaving the remains for the hungry females.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Enormous crocodile at the Crocodile River.  It’s no wonder that humans and boats aren’t allowed on the river.

Yesterday around noon, Tom noticed a posting on Facebook on the Marloth Park River Viewing page stating lions had been sighted from the fence in the park into Kruger National Park.

Bloody-faced lions after eating their kill.
We wasted no time grabbing cameras, binoculars, and repellents and heading out in the little car to see what we could find. We weren’t disappointed. I must explain that simply knowing lions are located across the river is only a small portion of getting some decent shots.
Female lion on the hunt.

The scenery on the river banks along with the lion’s colors makes it nearly impossible to spot them, even though the viewfinder of a camera or the lens of binoculars.

Four female lions were lying on the rocks.

Tom makes every effort to provide me with landmarks that indicate where he sees the lions using his binoculars. But this is tricky. Everyone has a different way of explaining what they see through their own eyes, often different from what others see through theirs.

Two female lions were lying on the rocks.

After considerable effort and having no luck spotting them through the viewfinder in the camera, Lois stepped in and in a single sentence from her description, I was able to spot the lions. From there, magic happened.

Another view of four female lions on the rocks on the bank of the Crocodile River.

And, although the photos aren’t as perfect as I’d like based on the limitations of the only camera and my occasionally unsteady hand from such a distance, overall we were pleased with what we’re sharing today, not due to any skill on my part but based on the scene that unfolded before our eyes.

The four of us were thrilled to witness these magnificent scenes.

Nature?  Wow!  Remarkable! How did we get so lucky to witness such acceptable acts in heart? Undoubtedly, part of it is “safari luck,” which Tom and Lois certainly seem to possess, as well as we’ve been in awe over our sightings since they arrived ten days ago. The time is going so quickly.

Mom and baby.  

Not only has this tremendous experience reshaped their views on wildlife and nature, but it’s also provided us with an opportunity to see these fantastic scenes through their perspective, only enhancing the enthusiasm we’ve already experienced in these past eight months in Marloth Park.

The cub wanted to nurse, but mom was having none of it!
Although mom was turned away, we couldn’t resist posting this photo of the cub.

I couldn’t wait to return to my laptop to download the photos we’re sharing in today’s post. As often is the case, we deleted many of the lesser quality shots and saved the best for posting on our site.

The cub gave up the pursuit of suckling and settled down.

As for our guest photographer, Lisl, whom we met at Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant on Thursday night, we’re grateful she took the time to send us her three photos we’re posting today.  

Lisl also took this excellent rhino photo to forward to me. Thanks again, Lisl.

I had made the mistake of bringing the destroyed camera to Ngwenya instead of the working camera and wasn’t able to take the precious and unusual shots. Our friend Tom only had an iPhone with him and it doesn’t have the capability of distant shots.

Lisl’s photo as darkness fell.

Subsequently, I approached Lisl as she sat on Ngwenya’s veranda with her son and husband, asking if she’d send me a few of her photos. What a kind person she is to have done so! Thanks, Lisl! It’s so appreciated!

Lisl, our guest photographer, took this rhino family.  Thanks, Lisl!

As for today, we’re staying in while we prepare an American-type dinner for guests Louise and Danie and a couple from the US we’ve never met, Gerhard and Rita. We’re looking forward to another beautiful evening in the bush with friends!

Be well.  Be happy!

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2017:

Basilica Nuestra Senora de las Piedades church in Naranjo, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here. 

A fantastic evening with friends…Rhino Day!…

 This short video illustrates females rhinos “thinking” about their next move.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tusker stopped by for a bit of a nap.

It’s Saturday morning, but somehow it feels like Sunday, most likely because we had a dinner party last night.  Everything is all cleaned up.  Last night, after our guests left, Tom washed tons of dishes, and this morning we put them all away. 

We had an exceptional evening filled with lively chatter sharing our mutual love of travel, wildlife, and nature, which seems to be the focus of most conversations between residents of Marloth Park.

Our delightful guests are all Marloth Park Honorary Rangers which added another layer of conversation we found particularly interesting and appealing.  Their dedication to protecting the health and well-being of wildlife, nature, and people is unstoppable.

This morning, I laundered all the placemats and napkins while Tom scraped the wax off the veranda floor that had spilled from a repellent candle when I accidentally bumped it while serving dinner.  All is well. 

Two female rhinos on the trail of a nearby male.

We never leave tasks such as these for Marta, instead of leaving the bed-making, floor-washing, and dusting. With the kicking up dust by wildlife in the “dirt garden,” there’s new dust on all surfaces every day. 

I’ve noticed lately when speaking to South African friends that they refer to their “yard” (an American expression) as a “garden.” However, there may not be anything growing of significance other than trees and the low-lying bush.

Some homeowners in Marloth Park have planted various plants, but if they want them to survive, they must enclose them, or the wildlife will eat them or trample on them.  Instead, many have chosen to go with the “dirt garden” like ours.  It’s more practical in this environment and requires less upkeep and maintenance.

Today, we’re sharing photos and another new video from our recent visits to Kruger National Park.  At this point, we’re both looking forward to our next outing to Kruger, after all the success (safari luck) we’ve had lately, especially in sighting the rhinos in today’s post.

And, here are the girls!  Not much is “girlish” about female rhinos!

Here are some fun facts about rhinos from this site:

“Did you know that the word rhinoceros is a combination of two Greek words: “rhino” meaning nose and “ceros” meaning horn? Various other animals have the word rhinoceros as part of their names because they all have horn-like appendages. For example, the rhinoceros fish or the rhinoceros chameleon!

1. Rhino horns are not bone but made of keratin – this is the same material found in hair and fingernails. The rhino’s horn is a compacted mass of hair that continues to grow throughout the rhino’s lifetime, just the way our hair and fingernails grow. The black rhino has two horns – the foremost is more prominent than the other – while the white rhino has more of a stump for a second horn.

2. Rhinos have thick, sensitive skin that can react to sunburns and insect bites – hence they love the mud as it acts as a sunblock and protects them from insects.

3. Tapirs, horses, and zebras are the closest relatives to the rhinoceros. These animals are the odd-toed ungulates – the rhinoceros has three toes on each foot, and their tracks resemble the Ace of Clubs!

4. The collective word for a group of rhinos is a “crash” of rhinos.”

5. Their horns are not used for defense purposes. They’d instead use their teeth to keep their opponents at bay. Black and white rhinos do not have incisors but rather have three premolars and three molars on each side of their upper and lower jaws.

6. With the consumption of large amounts of plants for nutrition, the rhino has got to get rid of the food somehow – this would be in the form of 23 kilograms of dung in a day! Did you know that each rhino’s smell is unique and can identify its owner? For example, a young rhino’s dung smells different from that of an adult, and a male’s poop smells different from a female’s. Rhinos communicate by using these piles of dung to leave “messages” for other rhinos. This is one way of marking their territory.

Two female rhinos were crossing the road.

7. The difference between the white rhino and the black rhino does not emerge from their color. The white rhino came from the word “weed” in Afrikaans, which means “wide” and describes its mouth. The English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted wyd for the word white and hence the white rhino. The black rhino got its name from the dark wet mud in its wallows that made it look black. But both the black and the white rhinoceros are grey.

8. The black rhino is a browser and gets sustenance from eating trees and bushes. With its wider mouth, the white rhino has a long flat upper lip that is designed to graze grass and prefers to walk with its enormous head and squared lips lowered to the ground.

9. Rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers – in Swahili, they are the “askari wa kifaru” – which means the rhino’s guard. The “askari” eats ticks and other insects that it finds on the rhino and creates a commotion when it feels any danger, alerting the rhino.

10. Most wild rhino calves will never meet their fathers – after mating, the male and female rhinoceros typically separate and move on. Once the calf is born, it will spend a few years with its mother but never meet its father.

11. Females will reproduce every two and a half to five years and remain with the calf for about three years.

12. Black rhinos prefer to eat at night or during dawn or dusk. When it is too hot, they take cover under the shade.”

This was the first time we observed rhinos crossing the road.

Each time we see rhinos in the wild, we are enthralled.  They aren’t always the easiest of wildlife to observe when they may be tucked away in dense bush areas.

While in the Masai Mara in Kenya in 2013 (returning in eight months), we couldn’t get as close to rhinos as we have in Kruger National Park on several occasions since our arrival in South Africa in February.  We feel very fortunate to have been “up close and personal” on several occasions and look forward to many more opportunities.

As for today, we’ll be heading out this afternoon for one of our frequent drives in Marloth Park to see what wonders await us during our usual two-hour drive.
We feel great and, we feel grateful. 

Have a great and grateful day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2017:

View of a bay of Lake Minnetonka from friends Connie and Jeff veranda when we were invited for a fabulous dinner. Connie’s a professional chef, and we enjoyed every morsel. For more, please click here.

Rhino day!…A comedy of errors, well, sort of…Stuff happens…

Due to other vehicles in the way, we couldn’t get a photo with all four of them together. But, we were thrilled to get these. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Large insect in the plunge pool. We lifted her out with the net and sent her on her way.

Yesterday at 9:00 am, we left the house to head to Kruger National Park to meet up with friends Cathi and Rick, with whom we became friends in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015. We’ve been so excited to see them again here in South Africa.

Only on one other occasion had we been this close to rhinos in Kruger National Park.

Having visited Africa in the past, their enthusiasm for wildlife and nature provided the four of us with a commonality of interests that we share with many of our friends here in Marloth Park. We were excited to see them and looked forward to the day.

With a plan to meet at the Mug & Bean Restaurant located in Kruger National Park in the Lower Sabie area at 11:00 am, we felt confident that leaving by 9:00 would get us to the location without a problem, leaving us plenty of time to stop for photos of any possible sightings. Visitors must drive slowly based on 50 km per hour speed limits (31 mph) and frequent wildlife crossings.

There were four rhinos by the tar road.

By 9:30, we were inside the Crocodile Bridge Gate and ready to travel the hour-long drive to Lower Sabie, a popular spot where visitors to the park can take a break from game driving, have a meal, buy souvenirs and relax, entranced by wildlife on the Sabie River. (Over the next few days, we’ll share many photos from this spectacular location).

Such peculiar-looking beasts, aren’t they?

With breathtaking sightings along the way, including the “crash” (yep, that’s right, a “crash” of rhinos) of four rhinos grazing and lingering on the side of the Gomondwane Road, the tar road that runs through the park, we had plenty of time to stop for photos and still arrive at the Mug & Bean at 10:50.

We had an excellent start to the day. We encountered three of the Big Five in the first 10 km (6.2 miles). Oddly, even with great “safari luck,” we’ve yet to spot a lion or leopard in Kruger during these past four months of many visits to Kruger.  (We arrived in Marloth Park precisely four months ago today, on February 11th). 

From this site: “Members of the rhinoceros family are some of the largest remaining megafaunas, with all species able to reach or exceed one tonne in weight. Their skin looks a little too large for their bodies. They have a herbivorous diet, small brains (400–600 g) for mammals of their size, one or two horns, and thick (1.5–5 cm) protective skin formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure.”

Surely, in time we will see lions and leopards.  In the interim, we’re not obsessed with the fact we haven’t seen them yet.  It’s more of a fluke than anything. And, due to the fact we jump for joy at the sighting of any wildlife, including those in our yard daily, we’re pretty content.

We made our way to the Mug & Bean, one of few “trendy” type restaurants we’ve seen since back in the US a year ago at this time. The photo-laden menu was a wealth of delicious-looking options, many of which I can’t eat, but there were several possibilities with a few modifications.

From this site:  “They generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to exist on more fibrous plant matter when necessary. Unlike other perissodactyls, the two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths, relying instead on their lips to pluck food.”

No Cathi and Rick and the four friends that had joined them on this African adventure. We were situated at a good table with a bird’s eye view of the entrance to the restaurant and waited and waited and waited. I ordered an iced tea.  Tom didn’t call a thing. We both wanted to stay and dine with our friends once they arrived.

Several times, one of us got up from our table and searched the area, thinking we may have somehow missed them. It made no sense at all. Two hours passed, and we finally gave up. There was no WiFi available, and the hotspot we’d borrowed from Louise for our time in South Africa couldn’t get a signal. There was no way to call or communicate.
Grazing togetherness.

At first, we shrugged our shoulders, thinking somehow our wires had crossed. But then, we became worried something dreadful may have happened to them.
As a result, the return drive through the park, even with many more sightings, left us feeling a bit disjointed. What had happened? They wouldn’t intentionally “stand us up.”

Once back home, around 4:00 pm, I received a peculiar message from Cathi using a park employee’s email, wondering what had happened to us. In the interim, we’d called their hotel, leaving a message. They urgently contact us to let us know they were OK.

In 2017, 1028 rhinos were poached in South Africa, most in Kruger National Park. For more information on rhino poaching, please click here.

What if they were kidnapped, car-jacked, or had an accident on the road? We had no way of knowing. They weren’t at their hotel. Once we received the message from a stranger’s email, we felt somewhat better.

This morning, there was a lengthy text from Cathi to which I responded with neither of us understanding how and why we never saw one another at the location. It will remain a mystery forever.

From this site:  “Rhinoceros are killed by some humans for their horns, which are bought and sold on the black market, and used by some cultures for ornaments or traditional medicine. East Asia, specifically Vietnam, is the largest market for rhino horns. By weight, rhino horns cost as much as gold on the black market. People grind up the horns and consume them, believing the dust has therapeutic properties.”

After speaking on the phone this morning, we redefined a new plan for this Wednesday at 11:00 am, when we’ll return to Kruger, and this time, without a doubt, we’ll find each other. Go figure. Stuff happens. Again, in the realm of things, we’re all safe and healthy. Besides, we all had a great time on our game drives through the park. That’s one drive that’s not hard to take.

Baby and mom walking off together.

After a fitful night’s sleep (or lack thereof) for both of us, we’ll lie low today, perhaps considering a 20-minute nap at some point. It’s not quite as cool as it had been, but we’re comfortable on the veranda awaiting the return of the wildlife who seem to disappear each weekend and magically return by Monday or Tuesday.

Oops!  Gotta go!  Ms. Bushbuck (Tom’s Girl), her baby, and auntie just arrived, and she’s peeking over the edge of the veranda, batting her lovely long lashes, with a look that says,,, “What have you got for us today? Pellets, carrots, apples?”  

Tom ran for the pellet container while I grabbed the produce bowl I prepare each morning from the refrigerator, and in a matter of seconds, they were gracefully nibbling on the treats. They are so dainty when they eat.

Have a great beginning of another week in June with summer rapidly approaching for some, and for all of us in this part of the world, winter is on the horizon. 

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2017:

Metal sea sculptures for sale at the gift shop in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (To respect the privacy of our family members while visiting Minnesota, we continued to post photos from our last port of call. Soon, Minnesota “year ago” photos will commence). For more photos, please click here.

Rhino day!!!….Safari luck prevails once again…Kruger National Park didn’t disappoint…

When we first saw this dark mass from afar, sleeping under a tree, we weren’t quite sure what it was.  As we drove closer, we realized it was a rhino.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites, ticks, and other insects that may burrow under their skin, as is the case of this kudu.  We spotted this scenario in our yard.  Sadly once the insect is extracted, the oxpecker may continue to peck at the injured site, making matters worse.

As mentioned in yesterday’s bushbaby post (click here to see it if you missed it), when the Wi-Fi went down in the area and unable to complete the post at that time, we decided to drive to Kruger National Park’s Crocodile Gate entrance.

Kruger is huge, as indicated here: “The largest game reserve in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is larger than Israel. Nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometers, 218 miles (20,000 square kilometers, 77 square miles) from north to south along the Mozambique border, is given over to an almost indescribable wildlife experience.”

We’d seen rhino while on safari in the past, but never lying down like this.  Our hearts were racing with excitement. Notice the two cattle egrets sitting atop the rhino.

As mentioned, many have stated it’s necessary to enter the park early in the morning to see much wildlife since many species seek shelter during the day’s heat. That makes a lot of sense.

This may generally be true, but on several occasions during our last self-drives in Kruger, we’d seen plenty of wildlife midday. Also, with the Wi-Fi out in Marloth Park, at least we could go to the entrance gate at the Crocodile River and sign up on-site for a one-year pass to the park, referred to as a Wild Card.

We were hopeful they would stand up.

There is a daily fee of ZAR 318 (US $27.02 per adult per day) for foreigners to enter Kruger National Park. At a combined cost for both of us at ZAR 636 (US $54.04), it would take only six day’s entrance fees to make purchasing the ZAR 3800 (US $322.92) a sensible situation. 

We spotted another big animal at a short distance and drove a little further down the dirt road, hoping she’d be standing when we returned.  Alas, safari luck kicked in and she was on her feet when we returned only five minutes later.

Undoubtedly, during our combined full year in South Africa, we’ll be in and out of the park more than six times, mainly based on yesterday’s incredible experience (not to be expected on each occasion). Also, the pass allows access to dozens of other parks in South Africa, some of which we may visit down the road.

We’d attempted to purchase the Wild Card online, but the website was very confusing. Usually, with patience and perseverance, I can figure out such a site, but it was nearly impossible in this case. 

This view was slightly obstructed by the brush, but we maneuvered the car for better views.

Instead, Louise explained we could buy the Wild Card at the gate which took about 20 minutes, including waiting time for our turn. Of course, it’s required to have passports on hand. Credit cards are accepted for payment. 

Nearby at another tree, we spotted a rhino mom and her baby, born this season and still closely attached to the mother.

Once the Wild Card’s “temporary” pass is issued, it’s required to complete the application online to have the permanent card mailed to the purchaser. Louise gave us her address since mail isn’t delivered to this holiday home.  

Based on what we’ve read online, the permanent card could take a few months to arrive. In the interim, we can use the temporary pass to enter at any time we so desire.

As often is the case, there’s a nearby warthog longing to be in the photo.  Upon closer inspection, it appears two warthogs were standing next to the rhino.

For those who may be attempting to complete the purchase of the Wild Card online (can’t be done in person), be aware that finding the page to enter the mailing address is tricky to find. Here’s the link to complete the purchase of the Wild Card.
With our temporary card on hand, we could enter the gate and proceed on our way. But first, we needed to buy a map at the rest stop/souvenir shop near the Crocodile Bridge entrance where there’s a petrol station, restrooms (no restrooms available further in the park) and a few campsites.

Rhino’s mom and baby lay back down in the shade.

We entered the souvenir shop and purchased a recent version of a comprehensive map booklet at the cost of ZAR 120 (US $10.23). While I bought the map, Tom borrowed a squeegee from the petrol station and washed the little car’s dirty windows. Next time, we’ll do this before we leave for the park.

Our expectations for the day were relatively low when we didn’t get on our way until 10:15 am, late for any significant sightings. We figured we’d spend a few hours driving on the paved roads, and if we didn’t see much after an hour or so, we’d turn around and plan to arrive another day, earlier in the morning.

Again, we waited patiently, and mom stood while the baby sat up on their hind end, nose touching mom.

With 150 mammals species and 500 birds in the park, indeed, we’d find a few photos ops to begin sharing with all of our readers. Little did we know, we’d have such a spectacular day that now we’re convinced we can visit Kruger at any time of the day as the mood strikes us and, when possible, go early in the morning.

Young rhinos typically stay with their mom until they’re three years old, after which they venture off on their own.

As we began the over two-hour self-drive in the park, we were stunned by how much we spotted.  We needed to get back before too late to do the day’s post, and by 1:30 pm, we were back at the house on quite a high from our experience and subsequent photos.

By dinner time, I’d uploaded yesterday’s post. After dinner, we reviewed our photos on the flat-screen TV using our new HDMI cord. It was quite a treat to see the images we’d excitedly taken during the relatively short period. Now, we’re anxious to return and may do so once a week in the future.

Back down, they went to finish their nap in the shade. Mom realized we weren’t a threat and relaxed with her beloved offspring.

Tomorrow, we’ll share more photos from our adventure, naming it _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ day. Can you guess what that may be?

Happy day to all!       

Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2017:

This is one of our favorite photos in Tasmania, taken through the glass of the living room window as the sun began to set. Please click here for more photos and final expenses for our six-week stay in the Huon Valley, Tasmania?.

Rhino day…Lions, and more lion in a tree…Cheetahs…Tanzania tomorrow…

How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot?  I must be dreaming!

I purposely shot this photo to include the window ledge of the Land Cruiser to illustrate how close we were to this female lion. Never once, did we feel at risk during any of our sightings.

The black tear line differentiates in part, the difference between a cheetah and a leopard. 
She just wouldn’t open her eyes in the bright sun.  
Notice the difference in coloration and the lack of the black tear lines, making this a leopard. We spotted this one and a few others at dusk. They are nocturnal, often difficult to spot.
Anderson spotted this scene from afar, taking off on a mad dash to ensure we could get as close as possible to see this oddity, a lion in a tree.
Lions seldom climb trees in the Masai Mara. Even Anderson, a guide in this area or 14 years, was excited to see this rare find. Actually, he was excited to find all that we were fortunate to see.
As the young male lounged in the tree, the remainder of the family engaged in some serious power lounging below him.
 We couldn’t have moved any closer as were we all thrilled to be able to get these close-ups.
 “What a glorious day! Brother in a tree. Me, under the tree with my mom and siblings.”
 If you have a cat as a house pet, you sure can relate as to how these photo ops present themselves.
 Getting more comfortable in a tree is tricky.
 Finally, the perfect position for the lion in a tree, a rare sighting that we treasured.

As we work our way through the many stories and photos to share of our safari last week, we can’t help but marvel over the amount of action we’d witnessed in the short 3-day safari. Any longer and we’d have been overwhelmed trying to sort it all out.

With over 600 photos taken, approximately 400 saved for review, deciding which photos to post has been challenging. Daily, as I begin to write here, I mulled over those we haven’t posted, reviewing them with Tom for feedback.

Choosing our remaining favorites, our stories evolve along a natural course. At times, I find myself smiling so much that my face hurts.  At other times, tears flood my eyes, tears of joy for the experience, tears of sadness for the hard lives of the animals and their young, and tears of hope to someday return.

In the bush, it became so clear to me about the life cycle, how every creature placed on this earth by God, your chosen higher power or by nature itself, has a purpose and a natural food supply in its nearby surroundings, man/woman, animal, and vegetation;  animals, animal or vegetation.  That’s it.  Nothing more.

It part, it made me laugh since I guess I really have reverted to the beginnings of man/women in my diet.  All I eat is animal and vegetation.  Ironically, the Masai, whose story we’ll share in the next few days, only eating animals, no vegetation. They live very long lives and are slim and fit. 

Today, we continue on, the smiles still on our faces for the dream we chose to chase, for the knowledge we chose to gain, for the people we’ll never forget, for the wildlife presenting itself into our willing hearts and in a small part, for our own desire to put aside fear and apprehension to stretch ourselves to the limits.   

Rhinos are elusive, hard to find. We met several people on the return flight that never completed “The Big Five,” unable to spot the rhino or the leopard.  The animals almost lined up for us to spot The Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari.
Anderson explained that there are 30 rhinos remaining in the Masai Mara with only 10 on the side we were on of the Mara River. During our safari, we photographed 5 of the 10.

When we spotted this mom and baby, we went nuts with enthusiasm, deciding to wait patiently to get a better shot.  At this point, we were about around 100 feet from them.  A skittish male, perhaps dad, took off when he saw our vehicle approaching.

Off they went with caution and bulk in search of their next vegetarian meal.

Finally, mom and baby were in view.  My heart was pounding with excitement as I tried to hold the camera steady to get this photo.
Suddenly, what may have been dad appeared, rather grouchy and annoyed by our intrusion. We didn’t move or talk, practically holding our breath as she/he moved on.

Either this rhino has a partially pink lip or her tongue was sticking out. Look at the three birds sitting on her. We were thrilled for this close up as Anderson maneuvered the Land Cruiser to our best advantage.