Two orbs and an eye!

Today’s images are a bit more “artsy” than my usual wildlife images.

The first is of an Golden Orb Spider on a branch.

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The second is of an Golden Orb Spider at sunrise.

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The third is of an Zebra’s eye just before sunset. (This image is part of my EYES series)

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Enjoy the images!

All three images are part of my “Without the Five” series (images 12-14).

Lost the Herd?

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Today’s Thanda morning and afternoon game drives were amazing.

We sat for almost an hour in between a herd of Elephants while they were feeding, playing and sparring around the vehicle. We watched Lions on a kill and drinking at a waterhole. We found a White Rhino mum and her calf and we encountered a herd of Buffalo while we were looking for the Rhinos.

I got many good shots today but my favorite picture is of this Cape Buffalo bull running down the road looking for his herd. He was quite far away from the herd at the time and obviously was a bit worried about catching up 🙂

A New Cheetah!

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Today was a great day for the Thanda Cheetah population. They were joined by a new female which was released onto the reserve.  The three year old cat was born at Mountain Zebra National Park and came to Thanda via the Hoedspruit Endangered Wildlife Center.

Faye Peters and Phillip Lennon from the popular South African TV program 50/50 documented the event.

The Thanda Wildlife Team (led by Mariana Venter) with the help of specialists from WildlifeACTFund (led by Simon Morgan) worked for seven hours to convince the young lady to leave her boma (A boma is an enclosure in which animals are normally kept at full board from the time of arrival at Thanda to their release onto the reserve).

The Thanda Wildlife Team and Researchers will be monitoring the animal for the next few month to see how she is doing in her new home and I will try to get more pictures of her in her new surroundings 🙂

Enjoy this picture documentary!

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1 – A portrait of the lady!

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2 – Still in the boma.

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3 – Simon Morgan (WildlifeACTFund) trying to spot the cat in the boma.

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4 – Mariana Venter (Thanda Private Game Reserve) explains to the 50/50 team  the use of bait.

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5 – A small step for a Cheetah …    … see you around 🙂

A summer evening with rare guests!

When we were looking for Rhinos in the South of Thanda Private Game Reserve we came across some very rare guests.

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A few Woodland Kingfisher were displaying to one another in the Fever Trees along the Mduna River.

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A little later found a female White Rhinoceros and her calf and ended the game drive with gin&tonics – enjoying a beautiful summer evening in the bush!

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Lions only!

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This morning’s game drive was amazing. We left the Lodge with the intention to track a herd of Buffalo. But on the way out  we decided to have another quick look at our dominate male Lion and the oldest female of the South Pride (“Grandma”), who we saw the previous evening on top of hill.

When we arrived there we met eight Lions – three Sub-Adults (“Uncles” and “Aunt”) and a young Lioness (“Mum” with her two – eight month old – cubs (“Boy” and “Girl”), the Thanda Dominate Male and “Grandma”. This was the complete South pride. Over the next three hours we observed family life and family drama.

“Mum” had kept away the cubs from the rest of the pride for a long time. It was clear after a few minutes that the Thanda Dominate Male  had accepted these cubs as his own, but “Mum” would not allow any of the “Uncles” and the “Aunt” near the cubs. (Note: The cubs were fathered by a male that is no longer on Thanda).

Every time one of the “Uncles” approached “Mum” became very aggressive and the Thanda Dominate Male joined her in defense of the cubs. “Grandma” sided with the three sub-adults and was also quite aggressive towards her grand-kids.

We observed “Mum” fighting for her cubs, the cubs playing, the “Aunt” climbing a tree, one of the “Uncles” mating with the “Aunt” (when the big male was not watching), all of them growling a lot at each other and the “Uncles” and “Aunt” in an attempt to hunt for Impala.

The Thanda guests on my vehicle, Behki and I have seldom enjoyed a game drive more, even so we only drove a few hundred meters during the three hours 🙂

I hope you enjoy this picture documentary!

PS: I have a included a “family chart” to make it easier to understand the relationships.

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“Mum” disciplining her younger brother “Uncle 2”, who tried to get to close to her cubs.

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The Thanda Dominate Male was watching the family drama from a distance.

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The two cubs were playing while the adults were arguing about them!

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The “Aunt” was observing the scene from a nearby tree.

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The (not successful) Impala Hunt 🙂

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“Mum” getting upset again!

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The Thanda South Pride.

The Circle of Life!

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I have recently created this slide to explain the Circle of Life to my guests on one of their game drives.  It is amazing to see all the components of this cycle by just looking around when driving through the game reserve.

This fits well with my favorite conservation quote:

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Dioum


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I was not driving guests today, but I had very special mission.

I took a first series of pictures of three Amakhosi (Traditional Leaders / Chiefs / in the Zulu language: Amakhosi). They are the leaders of the three communities which border Thanda Private Game Reserve.

To meet all three chiefs in their communities I had to drive over 180km through the Zululand mountains. I was glad I had my Toyota Fortuner, a capable 4×4, because I had to get up some very rocky hills.

Next week I will repeat the tour for a second set of pictures of the gentlemen in traditional Zulu attire. It was a most interesting day 🙂

Today’s picture was taken from the top of one of the hills I climbed with my car.

From Europe to Africa

Today’s picture is an image of a European Roller, one of my favorite “Summer-Birds” in South Africa.

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About European Rollers:

The European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering in southern Africa.

Rollers perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, like giant shrikes, whilst watching for the large insects, small reptiles, rodents and frogs that they eat.

This species is striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blue contrasting with black flight feathers. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.

What a morning :-)

When it has rained as much as it did the last few days we cannot drive off-road for quite a while. So game viewing becomes rather more difficult, especially when looking for carnivores.

This mornings game drive was therefore a great surprise. We left the Lodge looking for Lions. About half an hour into the drive we came across a male Leopard walking down the road towards us. Luckily he took his time moving off the road.

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He was followed a few minutes later by a Spotted Hyena, which did not run immediately as usual, but stayed for a “photo shoot”.

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And when we stopped for our morning coffee break a dazzle of Zebra nearby did not run away as usual, but approached us quite close. Two of the males in the group started fighting which resulted in an interesting series of pictures.

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What a morning 🙂 Have a good week!