See the bigger picture. At EcoTraining, Makuleke

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The early morning sky slowly starts to get light, however the moon is still the dominant feature in the Eastern sky.

Buckle up, it was a bumpy ride…

Time to head out on what would be both a drive as well as a walk. I was part of the Tracks and Signs module of a group of EcoTraining students who are on a one-year safari guide course.

 

The current vegetation in the Makuleke concession was a contradiction in colours. The ground and most of the surrounding area being bone dry and very dusty, while some of the trees wore leaves that were so green as to be seen as the antithesis of the majority of the open spaces. My self-imposed brief for the images in this posting was to look at the whole picture rather than the tightly cropped work that I enjoy producing. The tip of a tusk, an eye, part of an ear or perhaps the ubiquitous butt shot have all been ‘banned’ in order to show how nature needs to be seen in context, and not just a small portion through a lens.

 

Seeing that I was with a group of EcoTraining students who were doing the Tracks and Signs module of their course, I took a close look at this pile of elephant dung and leaves…only to find that it was full of these tiny spiders!

 

The Pafuri are of Northern Kruger National Park is renowned for several Fever Tree forests. The colour of the tree is in stark contrast to the red soil. Standing amongst these giants is a sobering experience. Bringing home to me just how beautiful the natural environment can be.

 

Baobabs are the most interesting trees. Not only are they the largest succulent in the world, but they also feature in many African legends. Due to its appearance, it is referred to as the ‘Upside down’ tree…easy to see why.

Fun Fact #21: The Creator asked the animals to help plant trees. When each animal was allotted a tree, the Baobab was given to Hyena, was so furious with the choice that he merely shoved in upside down into the ground!

 

At Mana Pools there is an elephant that will stand on its hind legs in order to reach the fruit on the trees. This elephant did not go to those lengths, but it did have his work cut out to obtain a piece of the foliage. It turns out that this one-tusked elephant has a name…Dave…but no-one seems to know after whom he was named. I wish I could say that it was me, but that would be untrue.

 

A lone male buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals to find while out on a walk. Luckily his fellow was a distance away and below us in the Levuvhu River.

Fun Fact #456: When the male buffalo become too old to move with the herd, they leave the safety of that group and go off to either live on their own or to form smaller coalitions with other males of a similar age.

 

Ordinarily, I would have cropped the lone impala on the left. But, to maintain the self-imposed brief, I left the young male in. They were all staring at our walking party as we passed by. Because impala are plentiful in most of the game reserves in Africa, they tend to be overlooked. Spending some time watching these antelope will show that in the correct light they can be stunningly beautiful…and most photogenic.

 

A jump for joy? It was more like a leap to stay out of danger. This Kudu bull took off as soon as he spotted us.

 

This is where scale counts. If you think that trees are small, look again and you will notice an elephant walking along the river bank. Knowing the size of the elephant will put the height of the trees into perspective!

¬†African Time, the pace at which many of this continent’s inhabitants seem to operate. For me, the epitome of that sense of timing is the slow measured pace at which the African elephant moves.

 

Not quite hidden amongst the leaves and the stick-like trees, a lone zebra watches as our vehicle drove past. The colour of the ground-covering made it almost look like it was on fire.

 

It would have been difficult to reduce the White-fronted Bee-eater to a dot in a cluster of foliage, hence it gets to be front and centre in this picture.

 

On the other hand, this African Hoopoe was seen to be part of this tree.

 

Once again, a landscape image, this time with a buffalo, to give it a sense of scale. Mountains, forest, riverbank and water all form part of this continent, Africa, that I call home.

 

Time to head off for a drink. This breeding herd was going towards a nearby water source in the early morning. The little one had no problem keeping up with the herd. Here too the elephants are dwarfed by the trees.

 

It is difficult not to end with an up-close ‘cute’ shot when there are baby elephants around! This youngster was the smallest one in the herd that we spent time watching as they exited the bush and crossed the airstrip in front of us.

 

 

 

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