Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The African Bush

We were in the Pilanesberg Park over the weekend, with 3 foreigners visiting our soil. We Africans tend to be so blase about our stunning wildlife that we often forget what attracts foreigners to our game parks.

Lion getting up to move the carcass

Showing us his well hung assets :)

Pulling on the carcass

Hiding behind the zebra carcass

We started off at the Manyane gate at 6.30am on Saturday morning and not 100m into the park there was a lone male lion that had killed a huge zebra during the night. By the time we saw him, he'd wiggled the zebra into the undergrowth under a thorn tree. He'd managed to drag the carcass about 150m from the road on his own. He'd killed it almost in the road because there were definate signs of a monumental struggle and the zebra's guts were just off the road in the reeds. We probably spent a good 40 minutes watching him, as did many others coming into the park. After driving around for another hour or so we went back to Manyane to have breakfast and pick up our other visitor who'd decided to sleep in. By the time we got back into the park at around 9am, the male lion had flopped down in the reeds out of sight, but that did not stop the cars piling up to see a glimpse. He teased us every now and then by lifting his tail above the reeds, getting excited yells from everyone in their vehicles. The carcass was still wedged into the bush but the lion was nowhere to be seen.

The rest of the day our visitors couldn't get enough of talking about the lion and how they'd seen him drag the zebra around as if it weighed nothing. Honestly, if we'd seen nothing else for the rest of the day, they would still have been excited about it. Luckily we saw some elephant (nearly got charged by one!), giraffe, loads of buck....and for us too a first - a brown hyena. The photo we managed to get is so blurry though you can just make out the classic hyena shape.

Brown hyena

The two Chinese visitors were in absolute awe from the minute we got to Manyane until we left, even the baboons at the reception and restaurant area entranced them. The German visitor (a young boy of 17) had seen it all before and as only a teen can be, he feigned a bit of teenage boredom. Himself downloaded about 4 gigs of photos from our one Chinese friend (yes he clicked away almost nonstop but got some spectacular photos!).

J and C were more concerned about how much longer we were going to drive around....were we done yet.....when were we going to stop for lunch.....as typical 8 and 6 year old kids on a boring game drive can be. Overall they were pretty well behaved, even falling asleep at the back of the vehicle at one point and finally giving us some peace!

The next time you find yourself in Gauteng, make a point of visiting the Pilanesberg Park. It's an extinct alkaline volcano, one of only 3 in the world, and the most perfect example out of the 3. It's 1300 million years old.

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