Skukuza 9-18th February

Skukuza 9-18th February

Again, my apologies for the break in comms. I have never had such a disjointed Kruger trip before. Flooding has closed off many of the gravel roads, many days have been rained out all together, IT problems and I have had domestic issues to see to.

Tuesday 9 – 10th Some welcome sun makes for an upturn in the photographic prospects. Again the beautiful Salitje S30 is the road of choice with most of the other gravel roads closed.

Baboons silhouetted against the rising sun

Such is the beauty of this road that I would be happy to travel along it every day.

Thursday, 11th By way of a change we are taking the S65 road out west from Skukuza this morning. This road has been closed throughout because of flooding. The early morning sky really shows the atmospheric instability.

Everywhere the grass is long and lush and only when we reach the reservoir do we encounter open ground. – perfect for three lionesses that are enjoying the early morning sun.

We pass the koppies – scene of the ellie attack on a car some years ago. I include here a photo that I took the day after this incident happened.

Note the Yellow-billed Oxpeckers which are becoming so common

At last the Maroela loop S83 is open and we enjoy an evening drive along this splendid road. But the following photos illustrates what a problem Kruger Park faces.

Some years ago the park scientists concluded that Kruger could accommodate a maximum of about 7,000 elephants. The “greenies” pressured Sanparks to stop their culling program with the result that the ellie population now stands at about 20,000. And the trees are feeling it as the elephants strip away the bark for food. This and the burning programs has seen to it that the number of large trees in Kruger is fast diminishing. Vast areas in especially the east of the Park have no trees at all left – tragically. This is one of the reason why the Park is closing down artificial water points in an effort to decrease the elephant numbers.

The Sand River looking towards the confluence with the Sabie River in the distance

Friday, 12th The weather forecast has it that we are in for four days of continuous rain. Renette who has stoically borne the adverse conditions pleads a visit to the grandchildren so impulsively we take off to Jo’burg. Fortunately, we have some kindly neighbours in the campsite who will keep an eye on the caravan for us. In our absence another 100mm of rain falls.

Thursday, 18th I drive down on my own from Jo’burg today. Entering the Park at Malelane, I note that all the minor streams and rivers are flowing even stronger than before we left.

A brood of Helmeted Guineafowl chicks.

This afternoon I go out in really beautiful, autumnal light over the Sand River but, finding the Maroela Loop S83 closed, I continue to the H12 which cuts across to the Sabie. Here I come across a pack of wild-dogs in the road.

Eyeing out some impala.

It would seem to me that these dogs are really thriving in the Park as one seems them now quite regularly.

The setting sun catches a Bushbuck Ram