Bothongo Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve wildlife Part 2.

The Blue Crane is the national bird of South Africa, but do you know why? "Xhosa people call the Blue Crane “Indwe”. When a warrior showed bravery in battle, he was honoured by the chief by having Blue Crane feathers put in his hair. These warriors were then known as men of “ugaba”, or trouble, meaning if trouble arose, they were the ones who could restore order".





A face that only a mother or another Maribu Stork could love?

Just one of the species that I saw while spending a weekend at Bothongo Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve.

Do we all know what the Big 5 are? Lion. Rhino, Leopard, Elephant and Buffalo. So named as they were the most dangerous of species to hunt on foot.

Then there is the Little 5… Rhino beetle, Buffalo weaver, Lion ant, Leopard tortoise and elephant shrew.

And then the ‘5’ to which the Maribou Stork belongs…the Ugly 5. Included in this rather unfortunate group are Spotted Hyena, Marabou Stork, almost all of the Vulture species, Warthog and Wildebeest.

Just one of the many animals that visitors to this Nature Reserve can get to see, either by riding around in the park, or visiting the animals in their enclosures near the Boma Restaurant, which is the oldest of the restaurants on the property.

From the official Bothongo Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve website:

Why is it important to learn about animals and the environment?

Not only will the world be a dull and gloomy place without animals, but we wouldn’t be able to survive as ecosystems would collapse. Eventually, the world will be rendered a planet not suitable to sustain human life. Each species play a special role in the environment and it is up to us to protect every one of them. By becoming an ambassador, you give a voice to these animals by spreading the word and showing the world that every animal counts!

On the Ambassador Tours you may get to see White Bengal Tiger, Small spotted Genet, Bat-Eared Fox, Fennec Fox, Black Jaguar, Eurasian Lynx, Clouded leopard, Ocelot, Serval, Marabou stork, Klipspringer, Pygmy Hippo, Striped Hyena and Cheetah.

The Ambassador tour is aimed to provide more info on the species in our care, why they are here and what role they play in the environment.

The animals on the Ambassador tours are in large enclosures that are specially designed to make certain that they get exercise and are able to interact with others of their species.

I have to admit that in most instances where there were fences between myself and the animals concerned, I did try to make certain NOT to include the fence, more for aesthetics than for ethical reasons.

As I mentioned, there is an area near the Boma Restaurant where one can wander around unsupervised or do a guided tour if you are there at the prescribed times.

The plains game has the run of the facility and visitors can either do a guided game drive or can self drive to all of the predator enclosures. This included the lion (both tawny and white that are kept separately ), wild dogs and cheetah enclosures.




Are these two all that is left of our proud Springbok rugby squad? Did you know that this is our national animal?

And a quick fact to stun and amaze your family and friends when you next see one of these is that their scientific name is Antidorcas marsupialis. How do they get grouped with marsupials that have pouches? Well, when they pronk and the white tuft of hair on their rump is exposed, that hair is kept in a pouch!

This pair is part of a larger herd that is free-roaming on the property.




Cute they might be, but this Cape Ground Squirrel can be your friend or enemy when you are walking in the bush.

Their alarm call will alert animals that you are in the area, and by the same token, if you hear their call without them having seen you, that call can warn you of the presence of possible danger.

Did you know that the collective noun for his species is a dray or a scurry? I did not until I looked it up while they were foraging around my car in the parking lot at the day visitor area.




I don’t want to look at you…

This is a zebra species that I don’t get to see very often, the Hartmann’s Zebra. How does it differ from the Burchell’s Zebra that we find in the Lowveld and on the large migrations up North?

Burchell’s zebra prefers arid savannah with access to water, while the Hartmann’s is found in central and southern Namibia in the rugged terrain of the mountain escarpment and adjacent flats.

The easiest way to tell the difference aside from the habitat is that in the former, the stripes extend under the belly, while in the latter the belly is white.

Hartmann’s also have a pronounced dewlap and the mane does not stand as erect as that of the Burchell’s, as can be seen in the photograph.

I do hope that you, dear reader, are paying attention as they WILL be a pop quiz at the end of this post!

These zebra are also free-roaming and I usually found them on the road to my accommodation in the morning and the evening.




For those who like reptiles, there are a variety of snakes to be seen but as they were inside, they were rather difficult to photograph.

So I had to settle for these small Nile crocodiles that were in an outside enclosure. Who knew that they had eyelashes?

Spoiler alert…DAD JOKE…”How do you tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator”? “An alligator will see you later, and a crocodile will see you in a while”.

Can we do a collective GROAN?




“SURPRISE”…This pair of Yellow Mongoose (aka Red Meerkat) were caught in the act. There were dozens of them scuttling around with the squirrels in the parking lot at the day visitor centre.

Did you know? The Yellow Mongoose is an excellent digger, and its burrows are extensive, with about 40 different entrances, different chambers and tunnels, up to a depth of 1.5 meters.

The jury is still out on what word accurately represents the plural of this species…You can take your pick from any of the following; mongoose (yes singular can be plural), mongooses, mongeese or even perhaps mongaai.




Yes, this is a White Rhino, even though it looks red. The colouring on this particular animal is caused by a recent wallow and dust bath.

One of the Big 5, they are being poached, together with the more rare and elusive Black Rhino, on an almost daily basis. There are certain Asain cultures that are convinced that their horns can cure a variety of ailments including cancer. It is also seen as an aphrodisiac, yet neither claim could be further from the truth.

The horn is made from a substance that is similar to that of human fingernails, and as we know they have no special properties.




“Who is that behind you”? Two female ostriches go about their business. They too look red as they, together with one of the males in their flock had been enjoying a dust bath.




Not down and dirty, but down and dusty to get clean. Visitors watching these cleaning rituals might wonder if there is something wrong with the birds, but dust baths like this rid them of parasites and other unwanted hitch-hikers.




Time to stop and smell the flowers… This female Giraffe was taking a moment to do exactly that.




This cheetah is one of a coalition of three brothers that live in a large enclosure well away from the hustle and bustle of the main game drive routes. Visitors are able to drive into their enclosure and watch then do what cats normally do…nothing.

Until feeding time that is, when they are prepared to get active in order to collect some of the spoils. The numerous cars surrounding them did not seem to deter them from either coming to collect or eat the food.




Lunch is served… This pack of Wild Dogs made short work of the food that they were given.




While the cheetah and the wild dogs enjoyed their ‘free’ meal, this stunning White Bengal Tiger watched me with interest back at the wildlife centre. The tiger is not an albino as it has blue eyes, with an unusual white pigmentation that is caused by a recessive gene.




I seem to think that this leopard was laughing at my camera choice…I use one of the most established brands, Pentax, that seem to have given way to the Canon and Nikon brigade.

But, as I have used this brand for almost 50 years, I am happy to keep using it.

And as a result, I was able to capture this face and she awaited feeding time.

Love them or hate them, properties like Bothongo Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve are playing their part in both animal conservation and enabling the public the interact with species that they might not see in the wild in a game park or reserve in South Africa.

It is for this reason that I believe their work should be encouraged and supported. And the best thing? They are only 45 minutes from either Johannesburg or Pretoria.




To find out more about what the nature reserve has to offer, click on the logo above.






All images are the copyright property of

and may not be used without permission.