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Ranger Report - Kruger National Park - April 2016

I had the privilege to accompany 5 guests on a full day Safari to the world renowned Kruger National Park on the 14 April 2016. The early wake for departure at 05h30 was cold. Everyone snugged into the blankets on route to Crocodile Bridge Gate

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We entered the gate at about 06h20 and you could smell the bush. The excitement was building when a rhino walked out of the bush with his skin covered in mud. A hyena family made their den in the draining pipe on the S28. Suddenly; we heard a crunching sound, the powerful jaws from the female crashed through a bone.

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We took the turn-off to Nhlanganzwani from the S28. Two large, grey skin, mournful eyes elephants approached one another. I thought this is the opportunity to see the clash for dominance. The two bulls greeted each other with caution and grazed in to the bush. We drove 200 meters further on the dusty dirty road and saw the endangered rhinos on the move. Around 09h10 we stopped at Lower Sabie. The sound of chirping birds overwhelmed the picnic site. The packed breakfast was revealed! The fresh brewed coffee smell, surrounded us during breakfast.

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After breakfast we continued the quest searching for the well-known cats. Many game drive vehicles advised us to change our route, the bush had no sightings. We couldn’t be bothered and took the N’watimhiri Causeway road along the river. We came across fresh leopard tracks. Impalas were snorting. Our attention moved searching for the Leopard. Our mission failed… The leopard was nowhere to been seen. Less than 100 meters from the leopard tracks this dark maned male lion laid in shade approximately 200 meters away. We saw another male but he laid down behind the bush.

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Lunch approached and we stopped at Skukuza Rest Camp around 12h45. The guests took the opportunity to spend money at the curio shop, buying gifts for family and friends. This refreshment break gave our tired eyes time to rest. Everyone returned form lunch with two outstanding missions: Finding the leopard and buffaloes... I overheard rangers talking about a leopard which was founded about 10 minutes’ drive from Skukuza. At a bridge crossing we found two dagga-boys, buffalos surrounded with the Yellow billed Oxpecker irritating them. We arrived at the leopard sighting. The leopard moved away from the noisy vehicles and moved to where everyone could see her relaxing in the shade away from the warm African sun.

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The search for Africa’s Big 5 was completed, still we believe we can see more. This old territorial, dark maned male lion was marking his territory down the road. The sound of cracking leaves and grass surrounded the lion. The bush noises went silent with every paw inching closer to the bush line.

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Our final memory of the park will be, the small herd of elephants eating in the shade. The most fearsome mamals treasure a young calf in their midst. Everyone looking after the youngster of the herd, but at mom’s side was the safest place of them all.

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Our day came to an end, we departed the Kruger Park which was ones only a thought and now a reality to my guests. We arrived back at our accommodation and were welcomed by the manager. The guests viewed the African sunset from the pool deck. The haunting sounds of the African Fish Eagle and a cold cocktail will be remembered for years to come….

Ranger: Albert “Killer”