2018 South Africa and Botswana Trip travel blog


Older couple with some tame birds at a picnic site

Got up very early at 4:30am to join my 5:15am morning bushwalk. A few French people, an Israeli father and son, and an Australian were in my group. The two armed rangers told us they grew up in a very remote region where there is still wildlife. They learned animal behavior, footprints and calls from childhood. After they went to school they learned English. We drove passed a fenced area and the ranger told us that belongs to 10,000 hectors wild buffalo sanctuary. In early 90th they were dying of tuberculosis and mouth-and-foot diseases. South African government decided to capture 200 disease-free buffalos as the breeding stock in case the diseases wipe it out. After all these years the wild buffalos developed resistance to the diseases and not dying from them anymore. The captured buffalos had been offered to zoos and private game reserves. We saw some elephants, giraffes, impalas, zebras, kudus, waterbucks, bushbuck, duiker and warthogs. A lion mother with two cubs were spotted by a ranger but we decided not to approach them. The ranger would have to choose either shoot the lion mother or let one of us been eaten. Neither is a good choice. The walk was interesting, and I enjoyed on foot to experience where the rhinos, elephants and lions live. It felt wild and desolate. The grassland is about 2 to 4 feet tall with some bushes and trees dotted. A perfect cat country. The rangers identified some footprints and told us about the usages of some bushes and plants.

After the morning walk I had something to eat at the restaurant, then I set on foot to explore the camp. I walked among the huts, RV parks and day visit areas. By then about 10:00am it had become hot, and there are not many birds around. I decided to take a drive to a picnic area and a bird hide nearby. At the picnic area there were a few birds that learned to associate people with food. A very tame Red-billed Spurfowl, Cape Glossy Starling and some Yellow-billed Hornbills were taken food from people’s hand. The Spurfowl even stood on a man’s shoe to jump up to get the bread offering. The couple was from another region of South Africa. Each year they take this trip to visit the parks for a month or so in winter. Their two daughters live in England and Australia. I found that it is very common for young white people to leave South Africa for Europe, Australia, Canada or the US, only their older parents remain. It is very similar in rural China to have just the older people and the grandchildren. I wonder what is going to happen in the future for SA.

Took a nap and joined my night drive. The 2 hours of night drive starting at 8:00pm was not good. The only animals we were able to see were elephants, impalas, wildebeests, warthog, and large spotted genet. Probably I will not see cheetah and leopard on this trip. This was my last chance. During the day it would be impossible to see them.

Tomorrow morning, I have an early drive starting at 5:00am. It will last about 3 hours. After that, I will have some breakfast and go check out some watering holes

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