This week started of with a memorable experience for our Grietjie students (although not an entirely pleasant one). They were witness to three jackals killing a baby kudu and eating it, while mum was watching in the background. Jackals, like all dogs, are not known for killing quickly and this was the case here as the poor baby kept trying to stand up throughout our sighting. The vultures gathered amazingly soon also considering it was still fairly early in the morning.
Although not a pleasant experience, it was a stark reminder of how cruel nature can be, but without death there can be no life and the circle of life must go round. Other sightings during the week included a large herd of over a hundred elephant, or to be more precise three herds in close proximity.
Meanwhile, the Mahlahla students started the week off with Kruger National Park trips and bush walks. The aim of these trips to our famous National Park, was for an educational talk on the history and management of South Africa’s largest national park from SANParks staff. It was very insightful to be able to get some background and behind the scenes information on management techniques used in the Park – helping us to understand how everything fits in together and how just one species can alter or change a whole ecosystem. Of course, as an added bonus fantastic sightings of elephant and buffalo were had, as well as ground hornbill! These trips were alternated with full day game drives (including morning bush walks) for the remaining students.
Later on in the week, the Grietjie students had an oppourtunity to attend a reserve meeting where they could hear feedback from a well respected ecologist about the state of the vegetation and animal populations on the reserve and learn what he recommends as a way forward with respect to the management policy. This was after a sleep out where the highlight for most, was just being able to enjoy the wide open skies and all the stars (which is such a special bonus in the southern hemisphere!).
The Mahlahla students were focussed on Grass and Geology for the remainder of the week. As most of you might know, geology determines and affects the type of vegetation in an area and in turn dictates the animal species occurring in that specific area. So after a practical session of finding and identifying various samples of rocks, we moved on to identifying a few grass species. As per usual, when you’re not looking for game you are surprised and the sighting of a common reedbuck shortly followed by two male cheetahs and later on, a female with a cub, was a very pleasant surprise indeed!
Until Next Time,
The Bushwise Team
(Thanks to Tracey Bruton for the pics!)