Wednesday, June 13, 2012

March 10, 2012: Wild Dogs in Kruger, Sam & Kiara Move and Wrestling Crocs

Hi All,
Life in South Africa continues to be quite an adventure. On Thursday we got a proper day off and went to visit Kruger National Park about an hour and a half drive away. We left Khulula at 4:00 and arrived at the Numbi Gate at 5:30 just at opening time. The first animals we encountered were 2 spotted hyena on the road. Being the end of the rainy season, the grass is quite long making wildlife viewing a challenge. We did manage to see Cape Buffalo, Zebra, Impala, Elephants, Nyala, Kudu, Lions and the highlight, 6 African wild dogs traveling along the road (photos 1 & 2).

There was a massive flood about a month and a half ago. The Sabie River swelled, twisting the metal rails on the bridge near Skukuza camp (photo 3). Rich and Sheri you probably went over this bridge back in October.

On Friday, we said goodbye to 2 lions Sam and Kiara. There were moved to a Game Farm about and hour and a half away. Fiara the wet arrived to prepare the tranquilizer and they were darted. Once immobilized, we carried they to wooden crates (photo 4) and loaded them on the the bucky (pickup truck) for the drive to Sebaka Reserve.

Figa was not so happy to see her mates go. She had to be tranquillized as well to calm her down. Petrolnel traveled to make sure Sam and Kiara were going away in their new home. She later reported that their new enclosure is very large and they strutted off side by side into the bush like true African lions.
Later in the day we went to visit a research project involving nile crocodiles. There was quite a gathering when we arrived, the vet, some locals from a reptile club and us. Louis who is running the project demonstrated how you throw a burlap bag over the croc's eyes, jump on it with your full body weight and grab it around the neck. We passed on the croc wrestling and left it to the guys in he reptile club - they were more than happy to prove their manhood. Louise and one of the other volunteers however took a shot at it. It took her a couple of tries but she finally subdued a croc. Once immobilized, you tape their months shut with duct tape and blood is drawn and the crocs weighed. The purpose the the project is to study a parasite that can be fatal to humans if the croc meat is consumed.

After the crocs were taped and somewhat subdued, I was brave enough to jump on a small one and pick it up to weigh it (photo 5). Since I did it Marc had to give it a go. He was given a larger and more feisty croc. He jumped on it but did not secure the head and was hit in the nose and lip by the threshing croc (photo 6). He only sustained a few small scratches but enough to draw a little blood. Of course all the local men teased him a bit.

That's it for now. Hope all is well back home. Has Spring arrived yet?

Marc and Peggy

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