Chillin’ at the Klaserie Sands River Camp waterhole.

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With apologies…”If you go down to the waterhole today, You’re sure of a big surprise”  Songwriters: Jimmy Kennedy / John W. Bratton. Teddy Bear’s Picnic lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc. Who needs to go out on a game drive when many of the species you are looking for will come to you when there is a constant water source during a dry spell. The waterhole at Klaserie Sands River Camp is just such a source.

 

This quote from American author Jodi Picoult sums up what I feel about this continent that we call home: “Africa – You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God. You watch the slow lope of a lioness and forget to breathe. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heat, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.”

 

If I was at all uncertain as to how deep this waterhole was, then that question was answered as soon as this large bull stepped in to cover himself with water and mud.

 

Personally, elephants at a waterhole are always a joy to watch. But they do tend to become rather possessive and will often chase away other animals and often the larger bird species like Egyptian Geese as well. This particular animal, having slaked its thirst was now after some of the choicest leaves on this tree that was on a small island within the water. At almost full stretch, I was hoping that he would not lose his balance and topple into the water.

 

As happy as a warthog in the proverbial? This family seemed happy enough to both drink the water as well as wallow in the mud along the edges.

Interesting fact: Female warthogs and their piglets have white bristles on the sides of their jaw to mimic the larger tusks of the males. Male warthogs often look like they are having bad-hair days.

 

A Bateleur (Short-tailed Eagle) takes flight. One of my favourite raptors, the word “Bateleur” means a tumbler, juggler or acrobat in French. This relates to its courtship flights style. It is also one of the easiest to identify given the fact that its tail is extremely short in comparison to other eagles

 

Just a mouthful for a hungry feline, but often not worth the return on investment for the predator. A fully grown male Steenbok enjoys a drink while remaining alert. One of the smallest of the African antelope species and more often seen in pairs as these tiny creatures are monogamous and are said to pair for life.

 

Proudly African! The iconic African Fish Eagle whose cry is often referred to as the sound-of-Africa. Once heard, never forgotten.

 

“Where do YOU think you are going”? Elephants will often hold move through the bush like this. Trunk-to-tail, giving these rather social animals a sense of security.

 

After the domestic chicken, the Red-billed Quelea is the most populous bird in the world. with numbers exceeding 1 billion worldwide. They are hated by farmers as flocks numbering 1000’s of individuals can settle on a field and strip it bare of crops within minutes. Watching them fly in a wave-like formation that went from where they were perched in the branches of trees to the water’s edge was most spectacular. How they do not crash into each other has become the subject of many research papers.

 

“There, there…all better”. Touch plays an important part in the life of elephants. Hence the constant contact between members of a breeding herd or bachelor group.

 

These female Impala have to be able to multi-task efficiently. Being one of the apex prey species, they have to stay alert at all times. Especially when eating or drinking. And they have to do a lot of the latter as they are one of the most water-dependent antelope species.

 

A view from the deck on the main building as the darkness envelopes the bushveld and the waterhole is lit by hidden spotlights. The animals that come to drink in the darkness can differ vastly from daytime visitors. The nocturnal animals seem not to be affected by the light.

 

Most of this particular afternoon had been spent with a large pack of Wild Dogs at a waterhole near a neighbouring Lodge. When the dogs got up to hunt 4 hyena started to follow them, thinking that there might be a (relatively) free meal up for grabs should the pack be successful. It turned out that they were, however, the hyena quickly ripped the luckless Impala away from them and proceeded to dismember and eat it near the River Camp waterhole. We got back to the camp only to find some of the hyena drinking at the waterhole…

 

To show you just how quickly things can change. Guests would have gone to sleep on November 22, 2019, with an empty riverbed in front of River Camp. I bet that some of them did not even believe that this was an active river! And then in the morning of the 23rd, they would have awoken to the fast-flowing river that features in the image below!

 

Update: When we left on the 12/11/2019, the riverbed in front of the camp was bone dry. On the morning of 23/11/2019, the Ntsiri River flooded in the early morning and this video, https://web.facebook.com/klaseriesands/videos/440415606660278/?t=45,shows just how fast things can change. With thanks to the camp staff for posting this earlier.

 

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