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What Animals?

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    • 26 posts
    July 11, 2017 12:03 PM EDT

    When I got back from South Africa gushing about the Ecolife trip I was frequently asked about what animals we interacted with. The list is so long I decided to put it here. I am sure that I have left out many but you get the idea. It was so awesome to be in a place that puts such high value on wildlife conservation.

    • African Wild Cats – The two we met were rescued after their mother was hit by a car and they look, and act, like beautiful giant tabbies.

    • Antelopes – Of the 91 species of antelopes, Impala, Kudu, Nyala, Springbok, Eland, Sable, Klipspringer, Steenbok, and Bushbuck are a few that we saw. Some are very elusive and others are abundant in certain habitats. With long strong legs for alluding predators and reaching high foliage or adaptations for inhabiting rock koppies and crags, this diverse group of beautiful ruminants is an amazing example of nature in balance.

    • Baboons

    • Bateleur Eagle – endangered due to habitat destruction, a particular concern in Kruger due to Elephant overpopulation.

    • Bustard – large terrestrial bird.

    • Cape Buffalo – kill more hunters than any other SoAfr animal. I encountered these on a sunrise walking safari in Kruger. When we stopped for a snack I pulled out my binocs and focused on a group of Cape Buffalo in the direction we had just come from. We hadn’t seen them while walking which is not uncommon. These giant creatures hide quietly in brush. The rangers were able to hide their concern but I knew how dangerous these animals are. We made sure we stayed clear on the way back.

    • Cape Glossy Starling – amazing iridescent blue birds.

    • Cape Vulture – ever had a Cape Vulture land on your arm? Since I wasn’t dead meat I was pretty okay with it.

    • Cape Wag Tail – small passerine bird.

    • Cheetah

    • Elephants- got too scary close on occasion. Part of ranger training is to shoot to kill a charging elephant but that was not what was going through my mind at the time. See the VetVine video regarding the dilemma of elephants.

    • Giraffe – we learned how to assess a giraffe’s bone marrow. Not a skill I will likely ever use but cool none the less.

    • Grey heron

    • Guinea fowl

    • Hamerkop – large bird with a head shaped like a – you guessed it.

    • Hyena

    • Hedgehogs – are endangered and hunted for food. These docile little animals are thrown into a fire where they instinctively curl up into a ball and are cooked alive.

    • Hippos – kill more people than any other SoAfr animal. We actually made a vet house call for an orphaned baby hippo named Richie, house mate to the famous Jessica the hippo. Both were rescued as wee babies after local flooding. Our visit showed that Richie was thriving but he seemed very sad to me, much like a giant sad puppy.

    • Lions

    • Meerkats – One of the ranger stations where we stayed had various Meekats rescued from abusive situations. They are captured from the wild and sold as pets. So cute and sociable but definitely not cuddly house pets. They live in groups called mobs, hunt co-operatively, and display territorial dominance. The later comes in handy to humans living in the bush as they will chase Elephants and even Lions away from their borrows.

    • Mongoose – rescued from a storm drain almost dead and left with brain damage, he could probably never return to the wild but lives happily cared for by a kind ranger and his crew.

    • Rhinos – see the VetVine video for the plight of rhinos in Africa. The white rhino is an herbivore that is poached for their horns. There are only 2 Northern White Rhinos left in the world. They are incredibly docile and pet-like. We met many orphaned white rhinos cared for in dedicated sanctuaries.

    • Ostrich – one the game reserves needed help moving some of their ostriches. Despite our patience and ingenuity they eluded capture that day. Score: Evolution 1/Humans 0

    • Porcupine – Tuffy is another wild animal that made his appearance at one the ranger stations one night. They are nocturnal so most visitors never see them. Porcupines can’t actually throw their spines but knowing that was little comfort when trying to pass by him as he would impressively puff up in defense. Tuffy loves sweet potatoes and was last heard that night noisily dragging away a tray of leftovers from our meal.

    • Southern Ground Hornbill – so endangered that Kruger requests any sightings be reported.

    • Storks – I stumbled across what was probably 100 storks at the carcass of a dead zebra. I say stumbled across because I was on a walk into the bush after misunderstanding the house rules for walkabouts. Apparently I was very lucky as I had turned left instead of right where I would have certainly met up with hyenas or hippos. Best to stay in a vehicle or with a ranger with a gun lest you end up stork food.

    • Wild Dogs

    • Wildebeest – Haley is another orphan who lived at one of the ranger stations. She was abandoned at a few days of age and rescued due to a large open would. She is fed from a bottle but doesn’t let you forget she is a wild animal. She is known to lift and throw female humans especially. Lucky for me, the pointy horns curve backwards as they age. An experience to laugh about now but my bum definitely smarted for a few days afterward.

    • Zebras – injure more zoo workers than any other animal, they’re not like striped ponies.