Saturday, May 1, 2010

Welgevonden - other animals

Welgevonden is a new reserve - created in 1993 - and is relatively large - 40,000 hectares - so in trade jargon it's "not yet at its carrying capacity", which means there aren't many animals for its size. This can be frustrating, as you sometimes drive for quite a long time without seeing anything except trees and bushes and a few examples of the disparagingly named "general game" (e.g. zebras, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck - all considered to be beneath comment back at the lodge). For example, the reserve has 120 elephants but we didn't see a single one.

On the other hand you never know what you will find - a fledgling black chested prinia flew into the land rover at one point and stunned itself - it flew off again a few minutes later. At one point we were hurtling along a track and I saw a large cat right next to the road, not moving- it took a moment for it to occur to me that this was actually an odd place for a cat to be - I shouted out, we stopped the vehicle and reversed - it was a caracal, a type of lynx, which was hunting some birds a few metres away. Cat and birds ignored us for a couple of minutes, then the caracal got bored and wandered away. I found out later that this sighting was extremely rare - the ranger had only ever seen one once before, and some of the South Africans at the lodge had never seen one in decades of visiting game reserves - and we'd nearly run over it.

Above: prinia, caracal, eagle owl, lions, giraffe, young exemplar of general game hardly worth noticing - but beautiful.

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