Buffalo – up close and personal!

Today we had three encounters on foot with male Cape Buffalo. They can be extremely dangerous and aggressive. We got proof of that today!

The first encounter was with two quite calm animals (the one in this picture).

Then we “bumped” into another bull only 15 meters away from us. He took flight and we extracted to a save location. On the way back to the camp another group of “Dugga Boys” spotted us and chased us across a dry riverbed. We had to take a longer route to get back to the camp. Enough Buffalo for one day – up close and personal!

There are no picture from encounters two and three. We were busy dealing with the situation and with getting back in one piece to the camp – no time for pictures 🙂

PS: If you like to know more about the Trails Guiding Course go to http://www.africanaturetraining.co.za. A great experience, even if you do it for fun and not for professional reasons.

Almost mating!

It was a rainy day today and the morning started with a walk in cold and wet conditions. We heard a pair of Leopards mating. So we fetched a game viewing vehicle to have a look at the mating pair (as it is not a good idea to view mating Leopards on foot :-)).

We watched them for quite a while. The female was quite eager, but the male was not interested at the time. He was just grooming himself intensively. The short video shows a mating attempt initiated by the female. It was the first time that I saw a male and female Leopard together in the wild.

PS: I only had my “Point and Shoot” camera with me on the walk, so the picture and video are not SLR quality, but I thought some of you might enjoy the experience.

 

Ticks and Trails

It is good to be back at ANT Nkombe camp at Sabi Sans Game Reserve. I am a bit tired after my first three walks, but we had already three dangerous game encounters (2xRhino, 1xElephant). This morning I was walking as backup guide. Ross (the lead guide) and me – under Andre’s guidance – brought everyone home safely :-).

On the way we encountered a very dangerous species. A Bont Tick! I had tick bite fever already a few times before and I hope not to get it again (it is no fun :-)). But I admit that – looking at the macro picture – it is an interesting little creature.

The picture below shows Andre and Graham during one of our Rhino approaches.

PS: If you like to know more about the Trails Guiding Course go to http://www.africanaturetraining.co.za. A great experience, even if you do it for fun and not for professional reasons.

Pied Kingfisher

This morning I spent a few hours at Panic Dam in the Kruger National Park, before the start of second Trails Guiding Course in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

My favorite picture of the day is of a Pied Kingfisher taking a bath. I also caught him with a fish in his beak.

It was great to spend a few hours at the hide without rushing around and without assessments 🙂

I will be very busy the next few days preparing for my theoretical trails guiding exam. So there may not be as many blog messages as usual until next week.

Cobras, Pythons, Boomslangs and Mambas

I had a very exciting day and I am very happy that I got my snake handling competency certificate. This morning started with working on various staged situations where I had to remove snakes from various places (Gardens, rooms and trees).

The first snake was a Puff Adder, followed by two Snouted Cobras and two very fast Mozambique Spitting Cobras (I had to catch these on the run!). In the afternoon I learned how to catch African Rock Pythons and how to get a Boomslang and a Black Mamba out of a tree.

One of the Khamai staff members took a few pictures of me working with the Python, the Boomslang and the Mamba (see below). In an assessment at the end of the course I had to capture two snakes (a Puff Adder and a Snouted Cobra) from a garden shed. I passed the assessment! I learned a lot and I hope that I will be able to help with needed snake captures once I am back in Kwazulu Natal. It was an excellent course.

 

 

Pictures (2): African Rock Python Capture

 

 

Picture: Boomslang Handling

 

 

Picture: Black Mamba Capture from a Tree

For more information on about reptile and snake handling courses go to www.khamai.co.za.

No Glass!

Puff Adder, Snouted Cobra, Boomslang and Black Mamba!

From my days at the Nashville Zoo I was used to see venomous snakes only from behind glass or from a great distance. During my first open-air session at Khamai Reptile Centre (www.khamai.co.za) I had some great encounters with a few venomous snakes. The snake handlers at Khamai were very competent and I learned a lot about the animals.

And I got some great photo opportunities. All pictures were taken from eye level (= me lying in the grass on my belly :-)). The only exception was the Black Mamba pictures which I took standing up during a feeding session. In the picture you only see the tail of the mouse, but you can see the black color of the mouth lining which gives the Black Mamba its name.

Today I already got to handle a Puff Adder. Tomorrow follows a full day of snake handling – I am looking forward to it.

PS: Rick, Heather, Dale and Steve from the Nashville Zoo: You would love it out here 🙂

Faces

Facial expression in animals are as variable as in humans. Yesterday I took these three pictures. Have a look at the expressions 🙂

An African Grey Parrot, a Cape Hunting Dog and a Sable Antelope Calf.

Enjoy your week.

PS: I am off to a reptile/snake handling course today and tomorrow!

King Cheetah

Today I saw my first King Cheetah!

I arrived in Hoedspruit a bit earlier than expected so I visited the Hoedspruit Engangered Species Center. This institution is successfully breeding various engangered species. Their main focus are Cheetahs and I was lucky to see a King Cheetah (A rare Cheetah mutation) stalking a small boy who shouted a bit too loudly and attracted the Cheetah’s attention (no worries there, was a fence between the animal and the boy :-)).

More about King Cheetah:

The King Cheetah is a rare mutation of Cheetah characterized by a distinct fur pattern. In 1927, the naturalist Reginald Innes Pocock declared it a separate species, but reversed this decision in 1939 due to lack of evidence. Its species status was resolved in 1981 when King Cheetahs were born at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in South Africa. Two spotted sisters gave birth there and each litter contained one King Cheetah. The sisters had both mated with a wild-caught male. A recessive gene must be inherited from both parents for this pattern to appear, which is one reason why it is so rare.

Land Rover Experience!

Today I did my “Land Rover Experience” training. I drove a brand new Land Rover Defender 110 on the course. It was a lot of fun and I learned a few new things about off-road driving.

So tomorrow I am off back to the Lowveld, after a very enjoyable weeks stay at my friends house in Pretoria.

Have a good weekend!

PS: The pictures were taken with my camera by the official photographer on the course. Thanks a lot!

Advanced Rifle Handling – DONE!

I have successfully completed my Advanced Rifle Handling Course 🙂

This was an important next step towards being allowed to walk with clients in a dangerous game areas.

This short video shows me at one of the seven exercises during the assessment (with a .375 calibre rifle / the first shot is a simulated “misfire”).

On Saturday I will be off to the Land Rover experience, then on Monday and Tuesday a snake handling course is on the program. On Wednesday I start another round of trails guiding contact sessions. Another busy week ahead!

Between now and the 17th I am studying for my trails guiding theory exam. My eyes are a bit tired from all the reading – lots to learn!

PS: If you like to know more about the Advanced Rifle Handling Course go to http://www.africanaturetraining.co.za.