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The Return to the Hunt in Madikwe, Klaserie, and Sabi Sands


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@@Terry - just caught back up. Madikwe was great for you and it does get good write ups from nearly everyone that visits. And the Klaserie is off to a good start with the giraffes and hyena. Great selection and variety of photos and I am enjoying the added tales about interaction with guides and guests - all part of the safari addiction for me.

 

And the Zebra thing...easy for me as my wife's name is Debra so that makes it idiot proof. We did have a guide explain to a new safari goer once that Zebra are white with black stripes and Zee-bra are black with white stripes. I don't know how he (or the rest of us) kept a straight face. The guide had obviously used that line many times and actually told us that a guest once told him "...ah yes...I can see it now that you mention it...".

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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The Return to the Hunt in Madikwe, Klaserie, and Sabi Sands   We cannot eat just one potato chip nor could we convince ourselves that just one safari to Africa was enough. The safari bug had bi

Our ranger for the first two days was Corinne. We had good sightings on our game drives even though the Bush House does not employ trackers. There is only one other lodge in the reserve that does. T

This rhino has a hunk of mud stuck on his horn. When we stopped for sundowners with the sun still high in the sky, Corinne told us her goal was to be driving into the Bush House

@@deano, I love that story, thanks so much for sharing it! Actually, on the safari I ended up saying Zeb-ras also, just because I felt I should sound like the people around me. I quickly reverted ze-bras once we left.

 

@@Alexander33. Our guide told us the the ground hornbills are rare enough in Klaserie that they have to chart every sighting. Actually the guide saw them twice with us, but the first time, they disappeared into the bush before I could spot them.

 

@@Atravelynn The latest post on Gomo Gomo's facebook page show an elephant visiting the lodge's waterhole and there is grass growing in it. Perhaps there are still deep holes with water, but there is nothing in the pictures to indicate that. None of the the lodge's recent wildlife sightings show green grass growing outsde of the waterhole. The impalas were overdue for the beginning of the birthing season when we were there, but were apparently holding the young waiting for the rains.

There have been no posts of baby impalas since we returned and we were told they would be born dead in December if there was no rain.

 

@@Marks @@Tom Kellie @@TonyQ Thanks to all of you who who took the time to write a comment. I do appreciate every one.

Edited by Terry
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Atravelynn

El Nino was to blame for the lack of rain I think. Your "hero" account is hilarious. And good for you driving around Egypt by yourselves. You're my heroes too! Hyena pups are indeed adorable.

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offshorebirder

Thanks very much for this trip report @@Terry, it is very helpful info. I am doing long-term research for a South African safari and I want good wildlife and guiding but not pointless luxurious trappings.

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The last of the three lodges of our safari was Idube in Sabi Sands, chosen for its waterhole and free hide and its promise of abundant leopards and lions. We no more than got out of the vehicle at the lodge, but we had our first antelope to photograph, a male nyala, relaxed, tail down, crest on the back of the neck down, concentrating on his work - mowing the grass for the lodge.

 

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Breakfast and lunch is served buffet style at Idube in an enclosure with low walls and here the Vervet monkeys have the IQ points the monkeys at Gomo Gomo are missing.

 

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The lodge staff place nets over the food in buffet line in an effort to safe guard it, but once the food is at the table the guests are on their own. The speed of those marauding monkeys was amazing; even the babies hanging on to the front of the mothers did not slow them down one bit. The staff had sling shots to shoot at them, but either no skill or no desire to actually hit their targets.

 

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This mother monkey carefully turned her back towards me and slid her backside over the edge of the fence railing where she was sitting, but I shifted my camera up because I did not want a picture of her “monkey business.”

 

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The hanging bridge which crosses the ravine to the hide at Idube begins by the lunch room so after we ate, we checked it out. The bridge was a swinger, besides bouncing up and down with every step we took. I could hang on to the railing along both the sides but DH was at a disadvantage with his cane. At the front door of the hide was a sign that warned us to keep the door closed because leopards like to sleep inside. Sleeping leopards was the one thing that the hide at Madikwe lacked, but the Idube hide just didn’t have any niceties about it, only unmovable benches inside, no chilled drinks, and no beanbags for the cameras.

 

For our efforts that time we got to photograph an Egyptian Goose-Duck.

 

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Our guide at Idube was Rob of the “Rob, the Ranger videos” which are posted on UTUBE and featured on the Facebook pages for the lodge. Rob has been a ranger at Idube for around twelve years and when he took off driving slowly enough so that the tracker could actually watch the road for tracks, rather than just hanging on to his seat on for dear life, we knew we had an experienced ranger behind the wheel.

 

Idube had loading ramps for the game vehicles near the lodge which made it easy for the guests to get in and out of at least the first two rows of seats. DH’s hip pain was letting up by then so we took the first row. He had found that the passenger seat was too low for shooting good video. With the ramps, he only needed help a little help getting in and out when we stopped for breaks on the game drives and that was not a problem.

 

Rob took us down to the sand bars of the Sand River and we fell in love with the place. Every game drive location will now be compared to the river area and most will fall short. If I had been allowed to vote, we would have returned to the Sand River area for every single drive.

 

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An elephant came up close to the vehicle and seemed to be quite inquisitive about our odor, giving us a our first chance to look inside his trunk.

 

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A female waterbuck in profile. I thought it was interesting view of her, but not her best angle.

 

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Our first sighting of the bushbucks. They apparently also love the Sand River area by how many of them were hanging out there.

 

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So dainty and oh so feminine.

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Then Rob took us to across the river to see Dewane, the dominant male leopard of that stretch of the Sand River. Dewane had been seriously injured a while back, so much so that he had been unable to do his own hunting. He survived by stealing kills from females leopards. Now he has healed and is doing well, but he still prefers to steal rather than hunt.

 

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Dewane was lying here along the river bank looking over his territory and lest any female leopard miss his scent, he was doing male-leopard roars to announce his presence and his dominance.

 

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In close-up situations, he is easy to identify by the indentation on the edge of his right ear and his spots near the right eye, a downward curl on the outside and three stripes above.

 

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Rob then took us across the river to the other bank where he planned we would get out for sundowners. As he drove up the bank he spotted this female leopard with eyes as big as saucers. Now it may have only been the spotlight, but I thought the male leopard’s calls had frightened her. She was leaving, but Rob still drove on to another spot for our break. The spotlight on the vehicle turned the picture of the leopard so orange that the only thing I could do was convert it to black and white.

 

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The hippo pod at sunset.

 

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Sand River at Sunset

 

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At Idube, we could not walk to and from our room to the boma where dinner was served in evening without the watchman accompanying us. I asked him once if he ever encountered a leopard or a lion while he was escorting guests. “No, he assured me, ‘the animals are scared of people. They run.” I thought he should have told his management, especially after the one night he forgot to come and get us until after 9 o’clock. We returned from the game drives usually by 7:30 and dinner was supposed to be served at 8:30 according to the printed schedule in the rooms. However, we never had food on the table much before 9:30 so we didn’t miss anything.

 

After dinner, the staff would put away all the food, completely clear the tables, except for the candles and people’s drinks. It would get to be past 10 and still they had not served dessert. We would just get up and leave. Morning game drives were a half hour earlier at Idube than at the other lodges – at 5:30 AM. Our alarm was set for 4:45. I love my desserts, but sleep was more important than dessert.

Edited by Terry
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@@offshorebirder I think it would be worth your time to look at Idube or the other lodges in Sabi Sands that border the Sand River. We have only been in the Kruger area during the late October and early November time frame, and have not seen of beauty of the summer like you had in Kenya for your last safari, but the Sand River area was green and beautiful in spring. Most of the lodges with adjoining property share traversing rights and contact each other with predator sightings.

 

Every area where we have been has a two-vehicle limit at a sighting and the rangers keep track of an informal waiting list and contact the next in line as they are leaving a sighting.

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Tom Kellie

@@offshorebirder I think it would be worth your time to look at Idube or the other lodges in Sabi Sands that border the Sand River. We have only been in the Kruger area during the late October and early November time frame, and have not seen of beauty of the summer like you had in Kenya for your last safari, but the Sand River area was green and beautiful in spring. Most of the lodges with adjoining property share traversing rights and contact each other with predator sightings.

 

Every area where we have been has a two-vehicle limit at a sighting and the rangers keep track of an informal waiting list and contact the next in line as they are leaving a sighting.

 

~ @@Terry and @@offshorebirder

 

May I please add my voice to @@Terry's, in full agreement of what she's written?

I've been there in both early October and in late January.

Absolutely lovely both times, without any downsides.

The predator sighting protocol @@Terry described is what I've experienced, in every instance.

The sighting quality and variety continues to astound me.

Thank you for posting the comments above.

Tom K.

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Hear Dewane, the king of leopards, announcing his presence and his dominance to all the female leopards within hearing distance of his bank of the Sand River.

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The next morning drive started with a hyena which was reported to be following a leopard.

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We soon caught up with the leopard, a three-year old female, Scotia, sitting on top of a termite mound, but she was not interested in the termites, but instead hoping a warthog might come out.

 

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Scotia was born under a building at the Idube lodge and grew up in and around the lodge. The warning sign about the leopard on the door of the hide was all about Scotia.

 

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Scotia left the mound and went looking for a tree to sharpen her claws.

 

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Then she came toward us, silently padding her way through the dark brush.

 

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Then Rob found a mother and baby rhino.

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Then we came upon a large bull elephant, relaxed and seemingly curious about us. We didn’t have a trained tracker that day, but a man who normally worked at the reception area took his place. As the elephant came up close to the vehicle, the fill-in tracker turned his back to the elephant and faced us.

 

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When he straightened back around, the elephant’s head was about in his lap. I half expected him to clamber back over the hood to sit on the folded-down front windshield, but he stayed put.

 

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We stopped for our morning coffee and there was a Red-billed Oxpecker at a waterhole – even an oxpecker has to get down and dirty to have a drink sometimes.

 

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In the trees overhead was a Marico Sunbird.

 

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White-bellied Sunbird and his grey mate.

 

Lilac-breasted Roller

 

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On the way back to the lodge Rob drove by a small heard of impala and found this female, yes, a female with deformed horns.

 

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Edited by Terry
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@@Terry

 

Really great close ups all around. There is no way I could ever be a tracker, I would be scrambling faster than Usain Bolt into the vehicle!

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On the mid-day break, we braved the swinging bridge and checked out the Idube lodge hide again. The small waterhole is far below the hide and is hidden from view so it is a surprise what is there until you actually walk up to the viewing slot. This day a male and several female waterbucks had just finished drinking and were leaving the area.

 

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Lining up for target practice.

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White-bellied Sunbird and his grey mate

 

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A male nyala was hiding out in the shade. Part of his crest up, his tail fluffed up on his rump, he was showing a little stress.

 

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The warthogs came in to mow their share of the lawn and were attempting to snooze on the job.

 

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The afternoon game drive started with three spotted hyenas lying on the road.

 

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They were foaming at the mouth, apparently in reaction to injuries they suffered when they lost a dispute with a pride of lions over ownership of a carcass.

 

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The lions were not far away, but it was a closed area and Rob could not take us there.

 

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The hyenas looked sufficiently chastised for crossing the boundary.

 

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We stopped at a leopard sighting, but our view was blocked by bushes. The perfect vantage point was already taken by another vehicle. So Rob drove down to the beautiful Sand River to wait our turn.

 

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Magpie Shrike

 

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Male Bushbuck

 

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Water Thick-knee

 

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Then we left the river area to find a young female leopard about six months old sitting on top of a large rock.

 

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She has already fed on an impala which her mother had killed and tucked behind the rock.

 

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Now it was her mother, Xihavi’s, turn to feed. In an attempt to see the mother leopard behind the rock, our “fill-in” tracker stood up on his seat for a better look, but Rob quickly put an end to that.

 

Xihavi is about six years old and has had several cubs, but none has lived to adulthood. This one has lived the longest. The cub went back in the bush and Xihavi came out in the open and started to clean herself up.

 

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Have to do the nose!

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Almost done. Just a little on the paw here.

 

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Nope, not done, more on the nose.

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OK, now I am ready. You can take my photograph now.

 

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Back to the river for sunset.

 

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Edited by Terry
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@@dlo Thanks for the kind words. Great to hear from you.

 

What would scare me the most about being in the tracker seat, is the fact there is no seat belt. A tracker is held on the seat only by how hard he can grasp the side bars.

 

On our previous safari, near the end of a game drive our guide was speeding back to the lodge after dark, when suddenly the headlights showed a large snake across the road in front of the vehicle. He slammed on the brakes to save the snake, but the tracker flew off his seat and, luckily for him, was able to land on his feet and run it out until he regained his balance. The snake slithered off unharmed, but the guide could not get the tracker to talk to him the rest of the drive.

 

I withdrew my application to be a tracker. B)

 

Terry

 

 

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Great pictures...good to see my favourite animal on top form slathered in it's own saliva.
Also really interesting to hear of the leopard born under a lodge. Very cool!

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Lots of good shots there and a great story about the tracker, I'm sure the guide purchased a few beverages for the tracker!

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@@Terry

 

WOW great great great photos!!!!!!! such incredible close-ups!!!

 

What camere and lens(es) are you using? I'm so green with envy -- omg, great great photos!

 

Thank you for sharing!

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Superb leopard video. I hear so much about their distinct vocalization, it's nice to be able to have such an excellent reference of it.

 

Re: the hypersalivating hyenas; did their altercation with the lions take place immediately before you saw them? I've seen domestic animals salivate like that in response to stress, but certainly never to that extent. Really interesting.

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@@Marks, The wounds on the hyenas looked fresh to me. The pictures of the hyenas were taken on the 4 P.M. drive on the way out of the lodge. The hyenas had not been there when we returned from the morning drive at 9:30 AM. That's the best I can do on the timing.

 

DH and I are happy you liked the video of the leopard. It's one of our favorites also.

 

@Big_Dog I am glad to know the hyenas have at least one fan. I was staying awake nights worrying that no one liked them. ^_^

 

@@Lala, I have a Nikon D5100 and a Nikor lens 18-300. That's enough weight for me to carry around.

 

 

Thanks to all of you for following along and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate every one.

 

 

Terry

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Your leopard photos are beautiful - and in particular the youngster.

I think I will also withdraw my application to be a tracker!

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@@Lala, I have a Nikon D5100 and a Nikor lens 18-300. That's enough weight for me to carry around.

 

 

Thanks to all of you for following along and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate every one.

 

 

Terry

@@Terry

 

wow - I'm impressed with the 18-300 - I have been stalling getting a longer telephoto - I have Nikons - D300, D700 - and the 80-200 f2.8 - fast, especially for action, but falls short on safari in terms of distance. I will have to re-look at the 18-300. I have been hoping to find the first version of the Nikon 80-400 - don't care about VR - bean bag or monopod work fine and I rarely shoot as slow speeds, but honestly, I'm blown away by the 18-300!!!!

Thanks for that information!!! really really really love your photos!

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Our game drive the next morning started with hyenas on back on the road again, but these were looking healthier than yesterday’s crew. Still keeping watch, hoping against hope, the lions would leave something for them.

 

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This baby looked too large to still be nursing to me.

 

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Grey Heron at a waterhole

 

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Our morning rhino looking none to smart to me. I think it is the small eye that makes appear that way to me.

 

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A herd of buffalo was in an open meadow, still in their tightly-packed sleeping circle formed for better protection against the hungry lions.

 

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Our presence disturbed them and they started to get up and went about their morning business.

 

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The young buffalos went to nurse and approached their mothers from behind. As the mother buffaloes felt the urge to do tend to their business, their calves got the business dumped on top of their heads. In dry season like it was when we were there, the stuff just bounced off the calves to the ground. In wet season, there is much more water in the grass and the nursing calves get to be a mess.

 

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Then Rob found Torchwood, a small, young, very relaxed male leopard, under a few bushes not far from a waterhole. Rob was concerned about Torchwood’s future because even though he is no match for older, larger, stronger leopards, he is roaming farther and farther from his home territory and encroaching upon other male leopards’ territories.

 

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Torchwood is beautiful enough that he rates the second picture even though he was being simply a contented leopard, half asleep and probably wishing we would leave.

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Back on Idube lawn, the lawn crew is in full force. The warthogs are down on their knees, doing their best to get the mowing done right.

 

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This time it is the male nyala lying down on the job, hiding under some bushes.

 

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A Smoky Orange-Tipped butterfly enjoying the moisture provided by the lawn sprinkler.

 

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Edited by Terry
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Alexander33

Terry, your safari has just been incredible so far. I've made no secret of being a fan of South Africa in the face of those who claim it's not wild enough or is otherwise lacking somehow. Your report helps prove the position I've taken. Enjoying this very much.

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elefromoz

@@Terry, loving the more unusual photos, the baby Rhino is, as always, just too cute, may he or she grow to be a big hulking beast one day."Our morning Rhino looking none to smart", bit harsh, very looksist. I agree, that young Hyena is far too big to be nursing, that mother needs to toughen up. The drooling, foaming Hyenas are really interesting, only ever seen racehorses foam like that. I'd be excited to see the Thick-knee in Africa, having seen our Bush Thick Knee (stone curlew) and the Indian Thick Knee, they have huge eyes. I'll be in Klasserie and Timbavati soon, so really enjoying all this.

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elefromoz

@@Terry, loving the more unusual photos, the baby Rhino is, as always, just too cute, may he or she grow to be a big hulking beast one day."Our morning Rhino looking none to smart", bit harsh, very looksist. The drooling, foaming Hyenas are really interesting, only ever seen racehorses foam like that. I'd be quite excited to see the Thick-knee in Africa, having seen our own Bush Thick Knee (stone curlew) and the Indian Thick Knee as well, they have such huge eyes. I'll be in Klasserie and Timbavati soon, so really enjoying all this.

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elefromoz

Oops, sorry, IPad playing tricks...

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@@Terry - Just caught up again. The pictures of Dewane and Scotia are fantastic. You can really see the difference between a bruiser of a male and a more delicate female. Love the eyes on them both.

 

kind regards

 

deano

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