The escalating cost of feeding our furry visitors without rain…

There were several elephants very close to the road, allowing us to acquire these close-up photos.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Many species visited our garden in the early mornings; kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, helmeted guineafowl, and duikers.  What a great start to the day!

Finally, the hot weather has ended for the moment, and we’re currently sitting outdoors on the veranda feeling cooled and refreshed. Several days of extreme heat plagued this area, and finally, we got a breather for a few days.

Even some of the dry bush has some nutritional value to the elephants. Rain is desperately needed for the wildlife.

We’re hoping the cloudy sky will bring much-needed rain for the vegetation and, subsequently, the starving wildlife. If it doesn’t rain soon, many animals could die of starvation when many are herbivores and omnivores.

Giraffes were making their way up a hill.

The constant feeding we’re doing in the garden of our bush house surely is helping some of the animals with a modicum of nourishment but certainly can’t comprise their entire diet.

Hippos rest close to one another while in the water for added safety.

We’re currently going through a 40 kg (88 pounds) of pellets every three days, which has increased over the year. At this point, at about ZAR 236 (US $17.21), we’re spending upwards of ZAR 2360 (US $172.10) per month on the pellets.

A parade of elephants on the move near the Sabie River.

In addition, we’re spending another ZAR 658 (US $50) for pears, apples, and carrots for a total of ZAR 3018 (US $220.04) to feed the wildlife each month.  Once the rains come and the vegetation is lush, we’ll be able to cut back on the feed as they go about their search for nutrition provided by the bush.

Giraffes have the advantage of not having to share the treetops with other wildlife other than other giraffes.

Do we mind spending this much to feed the wildlife? Not at all. It’s part of the reason we are here in Marloth Park, not only to enjoy the beauty of the bush but to play a small role in providing nourishment for these stunning creatures during this difficult time.

Two hippos and two cape buffalos were cohabitating peacefully at the river.

Of course, we can feed any single animal an entire day’s dietary needs. Even the delicate bushbucks who chew slowly and deliberately could eat us “out of house and home” if we gave them all they wanted. Their needs are substantial.

We were so close to these elephants we didn’t use any zoom on the camera.  

The pecking order prevails in this situation. The warthogs scare off the bushbucks, the wildebeests scare off the pigs, the zebras scare off the kudus, and it goes on and on. All we can do is continue to pay attention to those who haven’t received any sustenance and try to single them out with extra pellets.

They were packed in tight into this good spot for dining.

Sadly, we have a few injured warthogs coming to call, particularly Wounded right now, and we do admit to going overboard to ensure he gets a larger share than some. He looked very thin when he initially appeared, but now he seems to be filling out a little.

Knowing we may play even a small role in helping them during this dry season means a lot to us both. Some locals feel the animals should not be fed and to let “nature take its course.” We understand both sides, but we had to choose one, and we opted for feeding as many other residents have.

They were so busy eating, they barely noticed us.

Some say there are too many animals in Marloth Park to sustain itself, and we also understand this. Of course, if the rain would come, this would alleviate a part of these concerns.  

Plus, with the desirability of this magical place, more and more new homes are being built, which ultimately impacts the size of the bush where the animals can graze. It’s a vicious cycle, but we don’t get into politics.  

The size of these elephant’s feet is astounding.

We don’t own a house here, nor will we in the future, and in reality, we have no right to impose our opinions on others. We can only make choices that feel right for our beliefs and our passions while we’re here.

We’re hoping the rains will come over these next few months to gradually reduce feedings to encourage the wildlife to forage as nature intended.

Such fascinating beasts must be revered and respected.  Sadly, their numbers are dwindling in many parts of Africa due to poaching.

Last night we had a fabulous dinner at friends Jan and Steve’s house with Rita and Gerhard in attendance as well. Perfect food, beautiful people, an ideal setting, and conversations. We’re so fortunate to be among these fine friends, such pleasing surroundings, and the paradise where this wildlife exists.

We’re thankful, so very grateful!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 29, 2017:

Some freighters can carry as many as 18,000 20-foot containers. This freighter was being guided through the Panama Canal at the Miraflores locks. For more photos from the Panama Canal, please click here.

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