It was with great pleasure we learnt that during this festive season, the Park was again packed with wildlife enthusiasts. South Africans as usual drove in flocks to their favourite place to spend their school holidays, as well as people from other southern African countries, and of course visitors from all over the world who also came to enjoy one of the best wilderness sanctuaries on Earth.
This is great news for South African wildlife tourism and we take our hats off to everybody in Sanparks who, one way or another, has contributed to such tremendous success. This also includes the thirsty local tortoise we met between Satara Camp and Orpen gate putting on a show as it enjoyed drinking fresh rain water in the middle of the road.
We were lucky again in the southern area of the park. As we drove through Malelane gate and took the S114 dirt road, we noticed three vehicles parked just a couple of hundred metres ahead and by them a pack of wild dogs lying on the side of the road. It was our first time to meet these amazing African painted wolves in such a relaxed manner thus giving us a unique opportunity to get amazing photos and video footage.
We spent over an hour just watching the seven adults and five yearlings doing their thing like nobody was around. I assure you that anybody, with a simple digital or colour film camera, could have taken such amazing images as the one shown here. This was one of those magical shots that has taken a lifetime to get!
On our way to Orpen gate we sometimes take the dirt road through the beautiful Talamati bushveld camp. We enjoy driving through this unique savanna landscape, especially when the lilies are blooming during the early rainy season. On this particular trip we were extra lucky to find lions mating in the open, right by the water hole.
Again this was a fortunate encounter as they were just a few metres from our vehicle, therefore offering great photo and video opportunities. As we watched them for over an hour, we observed that they mated every 20 minutes or so.
Reading from a field book, we learned that for every cub that survives to be a year old, lions copulate an estimated 3000 times! We feel very grateful to have met "real" wild lions like these in the Kruger National Park. They have been in this pristine wilderness area since time immemorial, and we hope they will remain free, forever.
By Mwana Bermudes and Nelda Villines