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Less than fifty metres away a young female giraffe meanders from acacia to acacia…

Apr02

Less than fifty metres away a young female giraffe meanders from acacia to acacia…

Rangers Diary 0 comments

As dawn breaks on Thornhill Safari Lodge and the choral sounds of early morning birds ripple across the veldt, we head out to see what the new day has to offer – hoping to see a young female giraffe. Here in the lowveld, with winter rapidly approaching, the paths and surrounding vegetation has been scorched by the burning sun and the grass is brittle and turning yellow. As we stop to investigate the previous night’s activities in the sandy path, the baying of a distant zebra carries across the air and the guest’s eyes and ears immediately tune in to the possibility of an up-close encounter with probably the most photographed African mammal.

We move off again in a southerly direction, picking up recent tracks of wildebeest and the distant zebra. There’s a feeling of excitement as we make our way through the sickle bush, passing mountain aloes and time aged Marula trees. As we round the corner of a well-trodden animal path suddenly the swish of a tail on our left catches our attention.
Less than fifty metre away a young female giraffe meanders from acacia to acacia. She stops as we approach and wistfully watches us before gracefully moving away to catch up with the now visible remainder of her herd. The social group is made up of a young nursery herd with a young female giraffe, carefully overseen by a two grazing adult females and a huge bull giraffe that takes no notice of us whatsoever.

After much clicking of cameras and a deliberation about the pro and cons of being a giraffe we move on, stopping to discuss the merits of camouflage or better known as disruptive markings (spots over strips) having watched a young nyala break cover and bound away. Moments later we hear the distinctive call of the fork-tailed Drongo and then the alarm call of the Red-billed Oxpecker and we realise that we are actually closer than we thought. The slight pungent aroma of a stallion’s urine and a pile of fresh dung indicates that we are right on the zebra’s tails.

We momentarily stop as already the beetles are starting their clean-up operation and gleefully chatter about the whole dung beetle life cycle, watching a beetle busy rolling its newly made ball of dung. Our quarry is close now and the anticipation is quietening the guests and all eyes are scanning the nearby thicket. Will we see one of the Kruger National Park big 5…

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