Antee

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  1. This will be a fairytale. A story about two places. Far between. But connected in the way of wildlife and for some rare sightings. Part one will be a story about Marrick in South Africa and my search for the shy nocturnal animals who is roaming these lands. Was the reputation true? What did I find? Part two is a story about some characters in Okavango delta in the very high season when the flooding make the life easy for many animals. Not all, some of them will have a hard time. My story will tell... This part take place in Khwai Concession. In Marrick I stayed at Marrick lodge. Trevor Datnow and his crew make this to an exceptional place to stay. In Khwai I used WalkBotswanaSafaris and Gareth Flemix as a guide. Wild camping. Very luxury though with an attached toilet and shower built in the back of my tent. Even a proper bed and staff who make excellent food all the way. This was the real deal. I was there for wildlife, not sitting around in a lodge and spend most of the time to find a sunset point for a Gin/Tonic. Such a waste of time for the most perfect conditions for wildlife and photography. I can drink at home and I can hang around in a lodge at home. But I can definitely never ever photographing "African animals" in the sunset at home... WalkBotswanaSafaris fulfilled all my expectations. So let me introduce the stars of the show. These characters is where the most action were. But there will be others as well... First out, Marrick. My most sought after creature here was of course Black footed cat and Aardvark. We found alot of other things as well... African wildcat! I will tell you more day by day in my next posts. I had three nightdrives and one daytrip to Mokala NP. Oh hell... I almost forgot the Meerkats! There are alot of them around Marrick and also Mokala NP. Nice and cute family. Khwai Concession in Botswana is another story. About a Leopard family... The cub is around 3 month old. A Lion family... With cubs in most ranges... A Wild dog family. On the hunt... And 12 days old puppies who sees the sky for the first time in their life. Especially one of them who got lost and a very rough start (and maybe end) of his life... Here he is. A story about very rare sightings... ...and creatures who have some problem with all the water to collect food... ...while some others have more than enough and take full advantage of the pantry. African darter and Dwarf bittern. Now when the stars are introduced. We can start from the beginning in Marrick on day 1. To be continued...
  2. First of all. When you hear an Agent saying that Tripadvisor should be taken with a "grain of salt" you know that THIS IS what you should do with this agent... As far as I know Porini camps gives lesser percent to agents than many other camps. Simply because they don´t need them. So of course they talking bullshit and want to send you somewhere else. Where they do more money. This is also why Porini can lower the price a bit I think. Porini support the private concessions around Mara instead of giving greedy agents alot of money. A reason as good as anything to choose Porini. Tripadvisor is by far the best source out there together with Safaritalk. Better than any agent in the world. Here, you got real reviews from real people. Porini camps is WAY OVER backpacking standard and believe me, I have backpacked alot This is once again a false statement from your agent. They have everything you can expect out in the bush. But what is more important than the camp is the overall value of the money you pay. If you consider camps, food, guiding, price, wildlife, private concessions, hospitality, nightdrives (real ones after dinner) etc etc. And I can´t see anything who beats Porini when it comes to this. You get ALOT for a fair amount of money. I also find Porini camps very relaxed with different kind of people. If you want luxury lodge and don´t care about the money then choose something else. If you want great value and wants to benefit the private concessions, choose Porini. Kicheche also have good reputation and support the private concessions which is good! By the way, I have never understood why so many choose safari depending on lodge instead of wildlife and guiding? Very weird to me... But then I remember this Indian gentlemen I met this summer in Khwai , Okavango. In a car next to me he told his guide: "Why are we looking at these dogs? I have millions of them at home..." When we were watching a Wild dog den. They leaved after one second... So I guess people are different
  3. The hard thing with Caracal is that you don´t really have a certain place to look for them. There is a couple of places in South Africa with more or less regular sightings but not really reliable. They have a huge distribution but despite this, very hard to find. It took me 9 Safaris... Only 2 species of cats left in Africa now after this trip. Sand cat and African golden cat. Going for the Sand cat in December... I´m sure you will find a Caracal if your are like me and never stop going
  4. DAY 4 This morning we took a big drive to another part of Khwai. In alot drier area, far away from the water with the hope to see Roan or Sable Antelope. There were still water ponds from the heavy rains earlier this year so it would hopefully be animals around... But it was very slow. Great white Pelican waking up in the early sunbeams. We did see some creatures on this long drive in the dry area but unfortunateley no Roan and no Sable. I got another lifer, I do not know how I could have missed them before but I have managed to... Slender mongoose. Also a couple of Steenbok´s They love drier areas so no surprise they were here. The only Giraffe´s of the trip was also in this area. No pics of them as all of you have seen them before Very nice to explore the area and a new environment but slow in wildlife. When we turned around, then the animals started coming back as we approached the water again and we immediateley bumped into another pack of Wilddogs. Smaller pack with only males. They were shaking of the dirt, looking around, and did what Wilddogs use to do in the middle of the day...absolutely nothing. Wildebeest´s in typical Khwai habitat. These Zebra youngsters looked and learned... After some visit from a group of Banded mongoose´s outside my tent i fell asleep... Just to wake upp for another visit to the Wild dog den. They were at home. No signs of the puppies but we could hear them. They were just behind the sand wall. Probably not enough power in the legs to climb above it yet. But any day now... The problem is that I only got 1½ day left after this... The pack did the greeting ceremony and went out to hunt. We followed. The Zebras was safe and they knew it. We lost the dogs somewhere in the thick bush. Well, No Wild dogs eating Impalas but an Elephant eating a stick. You have to be happy even with the small things... The Pelicans in the morning were still around and took off for the nightly sleep... ...and so did we. But first a nightdrive which gave us a few Side striped jackals, Bushbaby and Springhare. For the second time we also saw the same three Honey badger´s as we saw a couple of nights ago. Once again they were too quick to disappear in the bush before I even thought of the word camera.
  5. I guess they also have acess to Ol kinyei concession right? Otherwise I would say its a couple of nights too long. I stayed 4 nights in Ol kinyei with also access to Naboisho and could easily stayed some more. If you have access to them both you are fine. Otherwise it´s going to be too much the same same... if you know what I mean
  6. I have waited long enough now More pics...
  7. Adorable Lion cubs and great sighting of Honey badger! And of course alot more! Great!
  8. DAY 3 Today we skipped the Wilddog den. We concluded that the wilddog puppies is still too small to come out. We drove to the Leopard territory instead. Halfway we noticed some vultures and yes, the wilddogs had make a kill in the very early morning. Nothing was left, only some blood on the ground. However, one of the Hooded vultures had a tag on him. Like all stars he had number 10... Does anyone know where I can send the picture to get some info? Obviously I am not the only one who like to watch Lilac breasted rollers... Red Lechwes also adore them. I didn´t know... Then we met the Female Leopard again. She was patrolling her territory and we followed her... She has a rather big area and it as fun to follow her. Amazing how they exactly know their borders. We left her when she stopped in the shadow under a bush. Nothing more would happend here for a while. We spent some time with a group of Chacma baboons when they took advantage of the extraordinary waterflow in Khwai this year. They are a bit anxious about the water but I guess the water lilies is so damn good that it´s worth getting soaking wet The big boy had a presence of mind to eat on dry land. Another guy who was soaking wet and drying up... African darter. While another fished... Grey heron. Then we ended up in a Hyena den. My guide knew the den from early years but was not sure if it was active or not. But it was. 4-5 Spotted hyenas spent their days here and we were welcomed with a cup of coffee... What more this day? Well, in the afternoon we came across another Leopard. This is a young male, offspring from the old Female Leopard. He still hang around quite close to his birth territory and the female is often forced to chase him away. Life is though when you are forced to move but don´t want to He stalked some geese in the water... Alot of vegetation around so it was hard to see it. Attack! He was sentenced to fail, as he did. He ended up soaking wet in a tree instead. When you are a cat then you have to clean yourself for half a day when you got wet so that what´s he did... Then went even higher... For a new lookout point. We left him as the sun went down and the light disappeared. The nighdrive was a success. First a quick glimpse of an African civet and then my first ever Caracal! My 11th cat species in the world. I couldn´t believe my eyes how relaxed she was. Yes, it´s a she which you can see on the size. In fact we almost drove over it... Such a beautiful cat! I have searched for them (if you can by any means search for Caracals...) for so long and finally, there it was. Just beside us. It was not that hard, right? My guide use to see them 1 or 2 times a year in different parks/concessions in Botswana. Most common in Central kalahari. So we were lucky, no doubt about it. I was the one who did the spotlighting so some cred to myself as well We spent maybe 5 minutes with her before she moved inside the bush. YES, don´t need to look for them anymore. Well, not that i don´t want to see another one but the first one is always the most important We were close to our camp and a great day was over.
  9. Okey, then use a phone and call if you don´t have answer. Send the mail again and they will answer you. I am glad you are going to see the shy nocturnal animals! You will have a great time in a peaceful area with great hosts! Of course no one will stop hunting if you don´t have an alternative. And if people don´t visit for photo-safari then there is no alternative... More photo-tourists means less hunters and the opposite. But people don´t realise this and for real think that they do something good and help stop hunting with boycotte. But it doesn´t work that way and have never worked that way and will never worked that way in the future either. It´s totally the opposite. For the record. Marrick don´t hunt big game such as Elephants, Lions etc etc. They breeding Springboks, Nyala, Sable and some other common Antelopes.
  10. Oh man oh man oh man... First of all. Marrick can be a little slow in responding E-mails but their contact sheet worked for me. You can also contact Trevor Datnow or Marrick thru Facebook. Second. Yes, Marrick do hunting. As many others in this region. Photosafari is more or less non existence here. That is the only way for them to support and be able to pay for their land, earn some money and have workers. The thing with Marrick, which difference them from others is that they have a vision of other income and that´s why they are alone of offering this world class nightdrives. No, you won´t be seeing it at all and you wont be hearing it as it is in another area from where you going to be if you want it to be so. Trevor meets your needs, I am sure. If there is someone there at all. When I was there, I was the only guest... and that is why they need hunting clients. Trevor Datnow, the owner of the lodge have a vision of one day only have photo safari. No more hunting. He don´t like it. He is a keen birder and a photograph by himself. And so are some of his friends I met. My excellent guide on nightdrives, Johnny complained to me about the next guest´s because they were hunters and he didn´t like to guide hunters and don´t want to do it. He love guiding photo safaris though. But that´s their only way to earn money. For me it seems like a very small scale thing. Like I said. No one att all was there during my stay and you won´t notice it at all. If people don´t go there because they do hunting you also support hunting and Trevor´s and Johnny´s whish of only having photosafari will never ever be true. One less photosafri means they need to bring in another hunter instead... So think about it, and do it carefully. It´s way more hunting in other areas you happily going to safari so once again, don´t support hunters and go to Marrick for photo safari! You won´t regret it. It´s a fantastic place!
  11. I am now going to put another perspective on this. Personally, I prefer guides with few words. I don´t need them to say that "there is an elephant", "and here we have an Wildebeest who is 5 years old which you can see on the right angle..." etc etc. I prefer to ask questions instead of being flooded by words when I instead want´s it silent and just take pictures and absorb the nature. I also loves guides who is as much into photography as me and I don´t bother at all that we take pictures at the same time or even him before me. We (clients) are all different. What I am interesting in is that they take me to interesting sightings and put the car in a good position for photo opportunities and good sightings. If they do this, then they can do whatever they like for me. Sleep, read a book, look at their phone, whatever. Which I have also told some of my guides during the years If phones help them doing this, of course you should continue with it! I know people are different and the best is of course that everyone have the same entry point and a routine to not use phones for personal use for example. Oh man, it can´t be easy to be in the guiding-industy with all this customers complaining over different things and that we are in fact all different with different needs. I am one of those who will use Porini again as I love their way of doing it. Great concessions, great guides, good prices and good rating more or less everywhere. I am thinking of going in March actually. We will see what happens.
  12. @inyathi No worry. You are more than welcome to give your opinion regarding hybrid/feral cats. You also know what you are talking about and that is always interesting. Actually I don´t care at all that some ignorant people have left the Trip report. They don´t know what they talking about and probably don´t even like the wilderness nor the animals in it. They can play with their domestic cats or whatever. I like wilderness and species conservation and if you do that you also know about the feral cats/hybrid problems. Like you said, areas close to humans is more exposed to this Feral cat -problem and Marrick is one of those places. There will be no African wildcats left if no one take the Feral cats/hybrids away. It's no coincidence that Australia has a project that is about to kill 2 million Feral cats... I have only the Sand cat and African golden cat left amongst cats in Africa. I will give a try in December for Sand cat. In Western Sahara. Hopefully I will only have the Golden cat left for next year Then I have to go to Gabon...
  13. DAY 2. Early morning and we checked the Wilddog den again for the puppies. Our camp was really close to this den so we could go there and check whenever we wanted. So we did not have to go a detour to get here. Very good. The Alpha male was outside the den with a bloody face. The pack had obviously killed in the night. Not every member was at home and a few dogs looked anxious at the forest... waiting for the rest of the pack to get home. We could hear some action inside the den. We could hear the puppies but nothing really happend and the dogs outside went to sleeping mode. We left them and my guide told me... "we will see the puppies, just be patience. They have to come out soon." Over to the Leopard-story Today the mother and cub was together! The 3 month old cub was a little bit worried about us but not that bad. The mother is a very relaxed Leopard. Like I said, she is an old beauty and only have a year or two left on this earth. She´s struggling the last years as she hurt her back-leg a few years ago. And after that no one have seen her drag up a kill in a tree anymore. This results in very much stolen kills from Hyenas. So she is really struggling to raise this cub. They didn´t do much and laid down in the high grass. We left. We encountered one of the Lion packs in Khwai. Actually they were on the other side of the river, on the Moremi NP side. We waited for them to possibly cross which would be really cool to see. Unfortunately the grown up Lions were interesting in a totally different thing. Alot of cubs in this pack and more on the way. Say hello to daddy... Other things worth notice this day. Elephants thriving in the water. No lack of water here Not so much Kudus around in Khwai, just a few per day. Some lovely males digging for salts in the mud. More Waterbucks around than Kudus. I guess it´s simply because that Waterbucks loves water and Kudus don´t Vervet monkey is on Safari looking for Humans. With all this water, of course the crocs were around. We found plenty of them close to a dead Elephant laying in the water. They had been feeding there for weeks. Saddle billed stork youngsters were harassed big time from Lapwings who probably had a nest close by. The Lapwings hit the Storks time after time after time... So many times that at last the Storks got tired of them and told them to fuck off... Who is hazy now your piece of shit... The African darter took advantage of the overflow. Some other birds around today... Meyers Parrot. Red billed Francolin with chicks. Red billed hornbill. Glossy Ibis. Well, of course alot of other things as well but this was worth mentioning from day 2 in Khwai concession. Also a couple of Honey badgers and an African Civet on the nightdrive. Plus alot of Bushbabys and Springhares. No pictures though. Let´s see what happens tomorrow. Just a boring night in between...
  14. KHWAI CONCESSION , OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA Day 1. Some quick flights from Kimberley, South Africa and suddenly I were in the dusty town of Maun in Botswana. The gate-town to Okavango. I had booked 5 nights mobile camping in Khwai concession. Not very much inside here from this concession so maybe it will draw some attention. I struggled alot to find something that I could afford in Okavango during peak season. As usual I contacted the excellent http://www.safarispecialists.net/ and after many thoughts and mail back and forth they couldn´t help me and sent me too http://walkbotswanasafaris.com/ , which was an excellent choice for me. Only me in the car, wild camping in the bush, as much time out there as possible, no bullshitting with sunset drink (Why spend time with drinks at the best time of the day regarding animal activity and photo light?? I will never undertand this... I can drink at home but I can for sure never ever photograph Leopards in the sunset at home) and also affordable! At last I found what I was looking for. I opted for Khwai concession because I knew it´s a good area for Wild dogs. That was the bottom line for my choice. What I didn´t knew and which I would soon be aware of was that it is also very good habitat for Leopards. Extraordinary good. Not that high density of Lions and very good habitat with large trees and alot of prey make this an heaven for Leopards. Cheetahs are very rare here. Not much open space for them and alot of other predators. The ones they see here is always individuals passing by. Khwai is as the rest of Okavango very very beautiful and peaceful. ALOT of water this year because of the heavy rainfall earlier this year. In some parts it was more water than anyone had ever seen before. Khwai is also open for selfdrivers. I wouldn´t recommend it though as I saw many drowned cars during these days. One of them was completely drowned and they needed to change the whole engine... If you go here by yourself you should be an experienced driver. This is not like Etosha or Kruger. This is wilderness. This is wilderness for real. People have died here because of car breakdown and lack of water and no one to contact. And of course a guide will help alot to find the spectacular sightings this area can provide. Khwai is like 5 hours drive from Maun. Well, this is the background of my choice and why I ended up in this vast wilderness. This is my home for the next five nights. Beautiful setting along the river. The tent had also a small bed and attached shower and toilet. Real luxury wild camping. Far better than a lodge! Alot of water this year! What is normally a small stream is now a big river Immediately on our first drive we went to an old Wilddog den. Maybe they would be denning here this year as well. Jackpot!! They did! It took us 15 minutes to find the Wilddog I came for and my guide was as happy as me for this. This would mean we could follow them all my time here and the best of all... they probably had very, very small puppies inside their den which with some luck maybe would crawl out and see the daylight for the first time in their life during my stay here. This evening not much happening though. Some of them started their socializing ritual but not everyone was into hunting and they laid down to rest again. We left them and would be back tomorrow again to maybe see the puppies or some other action. Here you can see the den. The hole behind the sand wall. This story is also about a Leopard cub and his/her mother. We came across them on our first evening and like the Wilddogs we would bump into them more or less every day from now on. This time the Leopard cub was alone. No sign of the mother. He/she is around 3 month old and the surviving cub of two from the start. The mother is very old. Around 11 years old which is very old to raise cubs. She will have one or two year left before Leopard-heaven. The cub was quite curious at us. The sun went down and we changed position for some silhouette pictures. Some other things around this first evening... ...an Elephant watching the sunset. Red Lechwe´s always alert in the late evening. Yellow billed stork strolling around in the last light. Tomorrow morning we will check out the Wilddog den again.
  15. Like some other already mentioned. It´s worthless to mention the price as it is so many variables in it. The price is old and not applicable at the same time you post it... more or less. And for me, who often travel without a fixed price on special tours I do not even know myself how much I have paid in totally I think it´s better to mention the company or the guide you use. Then you can contact them by yourself or look at their webpage for price and conditions. That´s why I don´t personally post it. I don´t see the info useful.
  16. Yes, Kimberley would be a perfect stop for you. And like I said. Marrick is only 15-20 minutes drive from the airport.
  17. It seems like the best sightings is when it´s windy. No matter if it´s cold or warm wind. Just wind... My guide told me this. But it´s not that Marrick is bad without wind either In fact I believe this whole region supports this rarity and diversity but no one really cares and have discovered that you can make money on this. There is equal places close by with the same good amount of Black footed cat, Aardwolf and Aardvarks but not this organized as in Marrick Lodge, and the landscape is very similar in this Northern cape area so I put my money on that many farmers and land in this area supports the same amount of nocturnal diversity. Farmers and Lodges in the area seems to gathering towards trophy hunting instead. I guess it´s more money. Even Marrick do hunting on their land to support their lodge and the land. They do have a desire that one day (if it´s possible) only do photography tourism. But I guess it´s quite hard in this area.
  18. Well, have put in another tour in 2017. A great travel year! 4 mars - 19 mars. Borneo. 5 nights Deramakot in search for Clouded Leopard, Marbled cat, Leopard cat and whatever we find. 3 nights Kinabatangan with focus an findin Flat headed cat. DONE! 2 June - 6 June. Iceland Puffins and Whales. DONE! 9 July - 24 July. South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland Marrick for Black footed cat, Aardwolf, Aardvark, Smiths red rock rabbit and whatever we find. Khwai, Okavango. 5 nights camping in private concession. Focus on Wild dogs and finding Roan and Sable Antelope which I still not have seen. It will be cool to finally see a kill as well after having seen many failed huntings. Swaziland just for fun to "collect" countries DONE! 3 October - 17 October China, Sichuan province Focus on finding Red Panda, Golden Takin, Snub-nosed monkey, Tibetan fox, Tibetan gazelle, Chinese mountain cat, Pallas cat, Wolves, Asiatic Black bear and alot of other cool stuff. 26 December - 31 December Western Sahara (Morocco) Sand cat mission. Gong to search for the elusive Sand cat for 3 days, Hopefully also finding some Dorca Gazelle, Fennec fox, Ruppells fox, Desert hedgehog, Jerboas etc. etc. Have fun year out there everybody!
  19. Good choice. Very easy to combine with other "Big game" parks. Cheap flights between Johannesburg - Kimberley. And only 15-20 minutes from the airport, you are at Marrick. You won´t be disappointed.
  20. MARRICK DAY 3 Last installment about Marrick. My third and last chance for a decent picture of Aardwolf. I thought back and forth if I would do the last nightdrive or not. The fact is that I was so satisfied with my sightings so far that a quiet evening crossed my mind... But only for a very brief period. I wanted to go out there. But first, in the morning a look at the land in daylight. Some Springboks in the distance... Some beautiful Sable Antelopes. Please note that this is introduced animals outside their natural habitat. Then I spent the day with the Meerkats who lives close by. Very fun and interesting to follow them. See them hunting and collecting food for their youngsters. Always one on the guard when the others collect food. Here he is. This night was unexpected much warmer than the others. A much warmer breeze over the grass plains. We started out with another Smith´s red rock hare on a great distance close to the lodge. Then we met the same female Black footed cat as yesterday. Much closer this time. She was looking for rodents. I don´t know if it was because of the warmer wind or not but this night we counted to 23 Bat eared foxes! One Aardwolf as well. Unfortunateley on very big distance and running away. For some reason, they seem to be always shy and running away. Then something very weird happened. We saw an Aardvark... Well, that is not so weird in Marrick as you now understand. But 150 meters further on we came across another one! And just beside that one, ANOTHER one! We now had 3 Aardvarks within 150 meters of eachother. Very, very unusual even for Marrick. Johnny spotted a small eyeshine pretty far away. We approached gently. At first we thought another Black footed cat but it was not. It turned out to be a Small spotted genet. It couldn´t sit still for a second but we got a nice look at it. A Scrub hare got to be the last thing I saw. By the way, I found it strange that people generally say they have seen one "Scrub hare" wherever you are in Africa. When in fact the Scrub hare is endemic to South Africa. So stop calling every Hare you see for a Scrub hare. Because it´s not. Summary for my last nightdrive: 1 Smith´s red rock hare 1 Scrub hare 3 Aardvark 1 Black footed cat (female) 23 Bat eared fox 30-50 Springhare 1 Small spotted genet 1 Aardwolf Maybe some of you planning to come here for the shy nocturnal animals and I can very much recommend this place. Marrick is a peaceful place. Fantastic food if you choose to let the kitchen cook for you. Otherwise you can also do self catering. Trevor and his staff are really wonderful and helpful. They can fix pretty much everything you want. And if you don´t want anything... you have your free time. Just strolling around the land on your own, follow the Meerkats or read a book in the garden. They also pick you up and drop off at the airport if you want. Great people and you will not regret it if you come here. To give you a hint about what and how much you see in three nightdrives, maybe it helps you decide how many nights you want to spend here, I think 3 nights is pretty much perfect. My total summary of this 3 nightdrives: 5 Smiths red rock hare -- Were lucky the first night as we saw 4. Can be a hit or miss. 4 Black footed cats -- 2 different individuals. One male and one female. 6 Aardvark -- At least 4 different individuals. 3 Porcupine -- Only saw them one night. 3 Aardwolf -- Only distant and brief sighting. Very shy and running away. 2 Large eared field mouse -- Didn´t look for rodents but came across this two. 1 African Wildcat -- Seen on the first night only. 2 Scrub hare -- One at the lodge and one on the grass fields 1 Small spotted genet -- Not that common here. They seeing them on 40-50% of the nightdrives. 1 Hybrid cat -- Not very good sighting. Should be killed to save the pure African wild cats. +33 Bat eared fox -- Well, they are more or less everywhere. +100 Springhare -- Everywhere, jumping around. Time for me to change position. Change country. The story will continue in Khwai concession, Okavango delta, Botswana. For some bigger cats and alot of other things. To be continued... (with this White bellied sunbird)
  21. Well... Malaika is famous but is not very good in spreading her genes. She have only raised 3 of 28 cubs to adulthood. Now one of them is gone before making her own offspring. Left is two males. Her current litter is probably her last chance of being more succesfull. Before she is gone.
  22. Absolutely stunning pictures of Africas rarest large carnivore. They are really beautiful. Thanx for showing them!
  23. MARRICK DAY 2 NIGHTDRIVE Oh man, this night was even more chilly. A cold wind swept across the grass plains. The animals seemed not to care about it as much as I did though... No Smith´s red rock hares today on the rocky outcrops close to lodge. Yesterday they were many and today none. Maybe they didn´t like the cold wind after all. The first creature was an Spotted eagle owl. The second creature of the night was an Aardwolf. The one we missed yesterday. Only very brief sighting of it as it run away on a big distance back into the darkness. Only 10 minutes afterwards there was another Aardwolf! This time much better sighting. Still big distance and a skittish animal who just wanted to escape in the grass but it was a satisfying lifer for me. Unfortunately no pictures worth posting of it. Then we stumbled on probably the same male Black footed cat as yesterday. This time we approached it. To see if it were cooperative. It was very relaxed and I got the pictures I so much wanted. Couldn´t wish for a better Black footed cat sighting than this. A beautiful creature. It was so relaxed that it eventually started to sneak for prey in the grass instead of looking at us. Maybe for prey like this one, a Gerbil mouse or Large eared mouse as it is also called. We saw a couple of them this second night. A "stone" was moving in the grass. That means Aardvark. Jonnhy, my guide, spotted another one for me this night. First in the high grass, but we saw it was moving towards the road and waited for him to come out... ...Which it did. Another great Aardvark sighting! Also around 10 Bat eared foxes and 30-50 Springhares this night. Another creature who seemed to like the cold night was porcupines. Three of them showed themselves this night. Only brief sightings when they quickly moved into the grass and disappeared. No pictures. The last eyeshine of this night was another Black footed cat! This time a smaller female. She was on her lookout point over the plains. They are almost like mini-cheetahs. Very much like to get up on termite mounds for better visibility. Quite big distance and we did not do an attempt to approach as we were more than happy with our first sighting of them. The 3 hour nightdrive session was over and the summary this night were: 2 Black footed cat (1 Male and 1 Female) 1 Aardvark 2 Aardwolf 3 Porcupine 2 Gerbil mouse (Large eared mouse) 10 Bat eared foxe 30-50 Springhare One nightdrive left and the only missing thing now was a decent photo of the Aardwolf...
  24. MARRICK DAY 2 Mokala NP is 1½ hour away from Marrick and this is wehere I spent this morning and afternoon. Mokala NP is South Africa´s newest nationalpark established in 2007. A beautiful park with different environments from rocky areas, to plains, forest and lowland bushes. A great potential for a wide range of species. No big cats in the park... so far. They do talk about introduce Cheetah... They are also in a process to expand the park even more. Also very quite. It seems like Mokala NP lies off the radar for most people. Trevor at Marrick easily organize a trip here if you want to go. He have a retired friend, an enthusiastic birder with a great knowledge of the park, who is more than happy to bring you here. Tsessebe´s walking away in the morning light. Black wildebeest´s thriving in this park. Actually they were a lifer for me so I gave them some extra notice. Walking in gold... Red Hartebeest and Zebra also thriving here. My guide showed me a Barn owl nest with some youngsters inside. Barn owl, also a lifer for me... very strange when I think about it. Roan Antelopes are also introduced here. Even though it´s outside their natural habitat. Both White and Black Rhinos exists in Mokala, the latter is very rarely seen though. I saw a few White Rhino´s this day. Nyala Family drinking... I asked my guide if there is any Meerkats around this park and I barely open my mouth before he said.... "there they are!" A quite skittish Meerkat colony looked at us as we watched them. As in Marrick, Bat eared foxes were very cooperative. We stumbled upon two different couples during my day. Funny looking when they leans back their ears like this... Some other small carnivores... Black backed jackal lurking around a waterhole. Yellow mongoose´s on the hunt... The beautiful Oryx and the "stand still like a stone"-Steenbok were in the area as well. There is some +150 species of birds in Mokala but probably more than that as the birdlist is very much incomplete due to the fact that the park is only 10 years old. We looked a bit for the Pygme Falcon as they are quite common here but unfortunately didn´t find it. The world´s most numerous bird, Red billed quelea was however present in very good numbers... Here sipping for a drink. In some sort of a bird-mayhem they went back and forward to drink. Three banded plover was not very happy with their low numbers compared to the Quelea and started to make more... Didn´t had any expectations at all about Mokala as it was a blank paper for me. But it was a very pleasant day with a great guide and a beautiful, quiet park. If you are in Marrick I do recommend a visit here. Now time to go back for my second nightdrive. I still have some species to tick off. Especially Aardwolf.

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