Saturday, February 27, 2010

African Heat

You know you're in Africa when "the hills are alive with" ... wild animals (e.g. a large herd of buffalo in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve). You also know you're in Africa when the sun burns down relentlessly - and that's what we mostly experienced during the last tour, during which I guided yet another another group of German-speaking visitors through our beautiful country. At times the heat was excruciating but a mood of expectation was regularly rewarded with great wild animal sightings. [PS - I'm actually "under pressure" to post some of my photos from the last tour today because I promised 2 certain young ladies from the tour-group that by the time they return to Berlin in Germany, they'll "find" this entry on my blog!]

As I said it was very hot most of the time - which is "visible" from the way this magnificent male lion (in the Kruger National Park) pants.

Similarly most birds were gasping for air as this Purplecrested lourie (family: touraco) "displays" (= open beak).

A Ground hornbill also revealed the same signs (that it suffered from the heat) - this large bird tends to forage on the ground (hence its name) but roosts in trees.

In the same trend this leopard gasped whilst appearing to just "hang there" - what a sighting! The excitement to finally track down this often elusive member of the BIG 5 was great.

Then I started to worry - not because we were sitting in open safari vehicles & within "striking distance" of the leopard, but because only 2 of the 3 vehicles transporting our group had the pleasure of viewing this magnificent wild animal at such close quarters. Where was vehicle number 3?

All attempts to reach the remaining vehicle via "radio-contact" had failed so far. And then the leopard started to move! Was it on the verge of jumping down from the tree - only to disappear amongst the thickets on the ground?

I so much wished that everybody in the group could share the pleasure of this extraordinary sighting - but it looked as if the leopard wasn't about to "grant" me that wish. Finally there was a response to one more frantic call over the radio - the last vehicle was on its way. But would it join us before the leopard - definitely appearing ready to jump down by now - was still visible?

With a sigh of relief I noticed that somehow the leopard "got the message" - it "stayed put" so that the occupants of vehicle number 3 also had the chance to share in the pleasure & excitement of this magnificent sighting.

Here's another promise: during the next few days (since I'm home for about a week) I'll post more photos taken during the last tour.

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