As well as the single Hamerkop the day safari at a Private Game Reserve on our last full day in South Africa provided us with the opportunity to see ‘The Big Five’. Although I’d have preferred the opportunity to see truly wild animals the vast majority were far from captive. Most were free to roam a vast area of karoo habitat, and even the confined seven strong pride of African Lions had an entire section of hillside to roam. The majority of species were provided with a degree of additional food to augment their diet and all the animals observed, most in the vicinity of the feeding stations, appeared to be in very good condition. The African Lions (2 male and 5 female one heavily pregnant) showed particularly well after dropping down the hillside, as we were driven through their enclosure, to settle beside the fence line.
Other larger mammals seen included Burchell’s Zebra, Hippopotamus, Springbok, Oryx, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, Black Wildebeest and a single Water Buffalo.
At the lagoon I spent the majority of the time photographing a group of four White Rhinoceros that included one of two (possibly three) young. Also present were a couple of immature African Elephant both of which we had seen earlier from the visitor centre as they followed a couple of hundred yards behind a slow moving truck that had a person chucking food out of the window. No doubt a daily ploy to ensure the paying clients in the Game Reserve’s accommodation awoke to see elephant nearby from their bedroom windows.
Despite being far from a natural truly wild ecosystem the Game Reserve contained a wildlife sanctuary that during our visit housed two Cheetah and a single elusive Leopard, and apparently participates in wider conservation projects. The extremely enjoyable day certainly confirmed my desire to experience a full on African safari holiday within the next few years.
Good wildlife watching,
Tony T BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)