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Found 6 results

  1. As anticipated in my last trip report ( ) we have decided to return to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park even before we have exited it! Not a difficult decision; the park is awesome, with only a handful of cars driving around, and booking early gave us the opportunity to stay at several wilderness camps. In fact, we stayed at every wilderness camp but at Urikaruus. As we have had plenty of time for preparations, we were adamant not to repeat our “food crisis diet”. Both @@penolva and @@Tdgraves were gracious and sent us their grocery lists. Zvezda did the final selection; I have rolled my eyes when I saw the final list but as a good husband (and the lousy cook from the last trip), I did not comment too loudly. In retrospective: we have bought too much food! Specially meat portions in South Africa are double the size of European portions. And three times better! So we have indulged in "proteins mostly diet" this time. One thing that we did not want to repeat was the long drive to, and specially from the Munchen airport. Thus the airline of our choice that flies from Ljubljana (with connection to JNB) was Turkish Airlines. The price was right, and the connecting times in Istanbul airport also not too bad. Easy decision here. In retrospective: both flights were reasonably comfortable, the food was good, and they were both on time. We will fly Turkish Airlines more often. Decision to fly from JNB to Upington was not so easy, but it proved to be an excellent one. It gave us two days in Johannesburg which we used to the maximum thanks to @@Peter Connan and his friend Marnus, and all members of their families. Mrs.Gemma Dry from Discover Namibia was again our travel agent. Not that I am getting “soft” but really, her services were impeccable, so why not enjoy them also this time?! The Itinerary: 29 Jan flight LJU-IST-JNB 30 Jan arrival JNB, overnight Jo’burg 31 Jan flight JNB-UPN, overnight Upington 01 Feb Nossob Camp 02 Feb Nossob Camp 03 Feb Grootkolk Wilderness Camp 04 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp 05 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp 06 Feb Bitterpan Wilderness Camp 07 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp 08 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp 09 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp 10 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp 11 Feb Kalahari tented Camp 12 Feb drive to Upington, overnight Upington 13 Feb flight UPN-JNB, overnight Jo’burg 14 Feb evening flight JNB-IST-LJU Photo equipment (all Nikon): Bodies: D610 and D7100 Lenses: 20mm f1.8, 24-120mm f4, 70-200mm f4, 300mm f4 Teleconverters: TC14II and TC17II Gear strategy: to use TCs on both bodies all the time to enable lens switching and to prevent sensor dusting. D610 + TC14 for best IQ D7100 + TC17 for longest reach SD cards to last 8000 shots without deleting any. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG; JPEG is Zvezda's request as she wants to check out the photos each evening on her iPad. RAW were 12-bit lossless compressed, JPEG were Small with Medium compression. I have discussed my options ad infinitum with @@Peter Connan; he was a great listener (OK, reader) and expert photographer and eventually I have decided for the above combinations. I was also very close to buying 200-500mm f5.6 zoom, but at last moment decided to skip it (this time around). In retrospective: next time I will come with a 200-500 (or similar)!! We have switched lenses too many times. If not for the TC’s both sensors would be dirty by the mid of the trip! And it was not always easy to decide which focal length and which sensor (body) combination to use at a particular moment. Self driving a Toyota Hilux 2.5D Double Cab supplied by Kalahari 4x4. It was equipped with a fridge and a cooler box. But boy, that were “professor fridge” and “professor cooler”!! Huge, they swallowed all our provisions with ease. Car and fridge worked flawlessly during entire trip. In the park tires were deflated to 1.4 bars. It will be a long trip report! Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!
  2. For those of you interested the results of the 2015 survey these have now been published on the Zambezi Society and can be found here A brief and interesting read which shows that lion and leopard to be at similar levels to 2011 and that some of the smaller predators are making incursions into the area. The cheetah are there but remain elusive.
  3. In one of the many ancient "baoris" or step wells in the Ranthambhore tiger reserve in India, I witnessed an amazing natural history moment on the 25th April 2016. An Indian Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa) had caught a Bull frog. As the snake tried to swallow the frog down, the frog inflated its body and kept trying to force himself out of the snake's death grip. The struggle between the predator and the prey went on for about 10 minutes and I could see that the frog was bleeding in a few places. After about 10 minutes when it seemed as if all was nearly over for the frog, the frog, surprisingly managed to break free of the snakes jaws to disappear in the mucky water. The frog's escape was so fast that we could not even get one shot of that. The Rat snake is a very aggressive hunter but the Bull frog is no push over.
  4. The South African part of our 2014 Safari trip For Botswana part here We arrive a little late at the passport control in Maun International Airport due to our chat with Cassie. The flight to Joburg is smooth. As I pick up my luggage I realize, that somebody had opened my bag. Luckily nothing is stolen. We get to the O.R. Tambo Garden Court hotel, where we pick up our stored luggage. That worked fine! After dinner we go to bed. Next morning we pick up our rental car for the ride to Kruger National Park. We will be staying 2 nights in Berg En Dal restcamp and 4 nights in Satara restcamp before we fly to Cape Town. On our drive to KNP we realize that there are lots of radar controls on the way. Luckily they are not hidden, so we were not caught. We arrive 4pm in Berg En Dal, we don´t go out for a game drive. It was a long drive and we decide to rest. To our enjoyment a family of mongoose stays just outside our hut. 20.11.2014 we go out at time. It´s gonna be rhino day! Unfortunately we also see a dead rhino close to Biyamati. The horn is cut. I really feel bad, thinking of poaching. But it seems it has not been poached. Talking to a guide later he says, that more likely the rangers have found the animal dead and cut of the horn to prevent it be taken by poachers. We also see the usual suspects. Also a pride of lions have taken down a buffalo. We can only see them from far away. Back in camp, we decide not to go out in the afternoon. Mercats are visiting us while the mongoose must have moved to another house. 21.11.2014 Time to leave Berg En Dal. We again see rhino. All in all on our days in KNP I counted 39 sightings. On the way to Satara we see elephants, buffalo, Kudu, secretary bird and the ever present impala. Close to Skukuza we see a pack of Wild Dogs. They are just lying in the shadow doing the lion thing. Satara: I just love Satara. In the camp you always get to see good birds. Some years ago there was a honey badger raiding the bins. I hope he´s still there. There´s good predators around as well. In the evening we have our first sighting: a Leopard in the bushes. Not good for photography, but my wife says, it counts! 22.11.2014 We decide to go west, looking for that leopard. First thing we see is a cheetah. Moving on we see Giraffes and Wildebeests. We come to the Timbavati Road crossing. Time for another decision. While Claudia want to go South, I vow for North. North we´ve seen a pride of lions some years ago, so let´s go north along the Timbavati. First 30 minutes are a bit boring: nothing. I begin to regret we went that way. Then we see a nice bateleur eagle followed by some giraffes. All of a sudden I see spots: Leopard in the tree! A huge male alone for us. No cars around! Happiness! It´s just a 2 minute sighting, than he´s gone down to the river. After the coffee break we head back slowly to camp. We find some vultures on a carcass. Close to camp a proud Waterbuck. In camp we are visited by a Crested Barbet, African Hoopoe and a Redbilled Hoopoe. In the afternoon we decide to do a short drive east. We just see Impala and a Hippo outside the water. We turn around after a while and go west again. Maybe there´s another leopard again. We don´t get far. On the Nsemani Dam there´s lots of animals. Rhino in the distance, Giraffes, Crocs and Elephants. We call it a day and go back to camp.
  5. In the absence of the RPS trips and with the NCS lodge not yet up and running, here is a 6 person set departure itinerary we've put together at Chalo Africa for Nov 2014. Dates are fixed and itinerary is not customizable (at least not the LPNP portion though we'd be happy to tack on anything else before or after this safari). Guide info coming shortly but please feel free to contact me with any questions if interested in this safari. Places will be booked on first come basis.
  6. RIPPING THE HEART OUT OF CONSERVATION On Thursday 25th October the Wildlife Forum met in Cape Town to consider a Protocol which is nothing short of a declaration of war on our wildlife. Small livestock farmers have complained that their livelihoods are threatened by stock losses caused by predators, mainly caracals and jackals. They say that their only defence is to launch a predator extermination program.. Conservationist respond by pointing out:- 3]1. That the farmers’ refusal to employ herders or to kraal their animals at night is the real cause of stock losses. Poor animal husbandry is to blame. Farmers throw their sheep out into the mouths of predators, leaving them unprotected day and night out in the veld. 3]2. Extermination of wildlife will not solve the farmers’ problems. These methods have all been tried before and have failed. The report by Professor Bothma, commissioned by Cape Nature, examined the infamous “Oranjejag” where a similar predator elimination campaign was conducted in the Free State. That slaughter by hunt clubs over a period of years killed 87,000+ wild animals - of which more than 60,000 were harmless non-target species, such as Cape Foxes. 3]3. Bothma points out that more jackals and caracals were killed in the last year of the Orangjejag than ever before. In other words, the mass slaughter certainly devastated wildlife populations - but did not eliminate the clever predators. 3]Unfortunately, the Bothma Report was only completed after government had already decided to give in to the farmers’ demands. Citing food security as an overriding factor, government pressed Cape Nature to sign a Protocol with farmers’ representatives, permitting livestock farmers to form district-wide hunt clubs and to use gin traps, guns, poison and even helicopters to assault the province’s predators. One would expect that the Bothma Report would have knocked out the Protocol and saved our wildlife from persecution but politicians everywhere are more interested in votes that in science. If government does not care about the science, perhaps it will care about losing votes. South Africans who care about their wildlife heritage should talk to their MP’s. (There is indeed a threat to food security in S.A. but it is not caused by jackal and caracals. In my humble opinion it is caused instead by political ideology and populist demand - the national government’s Land Reform Programme.) Our wildlife heritage is under threat. Government intends to implement the Protocol notwithstanding the scientific evidence that this will impact biodiversity out of all proportion to any temporary respite for farmers. The message from Professor Bothma is that both sides must compromise if we are to reach practical solutions. The conservationists publish horror photos of the injuries caused to wild animals by gin traps. The farmers respond with horror photos of stock animals attacked by predators, including gruesome pictures of calves being eaten alive as they are being born. Gin traps. If we had been given the time to question the farmers’ representatives more closely, I would have put the following ideas to them:- 3]1. We ban the manufacture, import, sale, possession and use of all leg-hold traps, soft and hard except where special permits have been issued by Cape Nature. 3]2. Farmers whose particular conditions require the use of gin traps must apply for permits to Cape Nature, who will only issue permits AS A LAST RESORT for the use of approved traps and after imposing strict conditions on their use. Permit restrictions might require the use of cell phone alarm systems so that the farmer knows instantly when the trap has closed. Herders. 75]1. Farmers undertake to kraal their sheep at night and/or employ herders wherever possible and employ other defensive non-lethal methods of reducing stock losses. Margins in farming have shrunk and more active management is now necessary. Throwing sheep out in to the veld to look after themselves is outmoded. 75]2. If rigid labour laws are preventing farmers from employing herders then some special dispensation for herders is needed. Perhaps prison labour could be used, thereby reducing overcrowding in prisons and relieving the farmer from the burden of paying wages. In school holidays perhaps children could be allowed to earn a little money herding. Gin Trap Destruction Festivals? With good faith on both sides, this system could work. Farmers would avoid the damaging results of a confrontation with their own consumers and no doubt there are media and public relations opportunities in publicly destroying old gin traps. No doubt the big retailers would participate in enhancing the image of farming in SA. Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO Co-authors of: Kalahari Dream

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