Hopefully you’ve read Part One and know where I’d got to in describing our sightings in Kruger so far. If not: we were spending our day off in Kruger National Park, sightings so far include: giraffes, kudu, zebras, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, jackal, steenbok, a variety of birds (fish eagle, vulture, lilac crested roller, pearl-spotted owlet) and dwarf mongoose.
So, onto the next exciting animal that we saw. I’d been flicking through the map and information on Kruger and had been commenting on some of the animals. One of which was a baby kudu to which I’d exclaimed “Oh, it’s adorable! How amazing would it be to see one?!” And would you know, we came across a couple of them. One of them was quite close to the road and luckily not hidden by bushes, and we got an amazing view of it suckling. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic.
After the kudu headed further into the bush, we moved on, driving past a far off herd of zebras and wildebeest, and then came across our second Big Five animal. The elephant. Or should I say, elephants. Fifteen of them! Ambling across the plain, completely unconcerned by our presence. We decided that the matriarch was the one with a collar, and were aw-ing over the smaller ones when an absolutely tiny one appeared! We were treated to an incredible view of it suckling from the mother. Ecstatic? Now I was thrilled beyond words.
I’ve seen elephants before, but only in UK zoos and this was a very different experience. There is nothing quite like having a fully-grown elephant near you and realising that you are actually a very fragile animal. I can’t imagine what it must like if it were an angry elephant, or what it is like if you were to be on foot.
We spent almost an hour with the herd, and were amazed by other vehicles who either stopped very briefly or just drove straight on. Perhaps they knew of a special sighting further ahead or were limited by time. But we were having the time of our lives just sitting our car watching the herd grazing and watching their interactions. It must be incredible to be an elephant researcher and spend all your time with them.
Eventually the herd moved off into some trees and out of sight, and we carried on. After some further sightings (giraffe, oxpeckers, wildebeest, monkeys, impala), we came across our third Big Five animal. Two male lions sprawled in shade on the edge of the road. Again there was the sense of power from them and feeling rather fragile in comparison, especially when you look at the size of their paws!
To finish off Part Two, we came across a second large dam where we rested for a while watching the hippos as they occasionally emerged from underwater. A crocodile swam in their direction and prompted a discussion of which would be easier to escape from in water and on land. I decided that I would generally stay away from both in either location