Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wild dogs and more pictures

Young elephant



Yeah, I thought it was a pretty early morning too!

Old bull elephant

Momma and baby

Steenbok, isn't it cute!

Impala at sunset


Giraffe at sunrise

Night adder!

So I didn't get any pictures because they were pretty far away and I was too excited, but I saw a pair of wild dogs this morning!!! I was up early for a birding drive and had gotten a little bored while they looked at some little brown bird. I was looking around and saw something moving on a slope a good bit away. Binoculars revealed a pair of wild dogs trotting along the hill. They have the most amazing coat patterns. I really hope we get to see them a bit closer, but it was definitely a great start to the morning!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Baboon baby!

This family of mongoose showed up while I was studying stats!

Baby Cape buffalo, very cute!

Zebra foal!

Need to look this guy up again, but cool colors!

She was getting irritated with the birds.


Hyena on the night drive!

African elephants!

I've been really busy working on projects, so I don't have many new pictures, but I still have a ton from the first 3 sites. Skukuza has been nice so far. I'm living in a huge room with like 12 other people, but at least we have air con here. We went on a game drive this morning and the big highlight was a troop of baboons playing in the road. They're not my favorite animal, but this troop had a couple of really young ones that were absolutely adorable. We saw some great birds, including a couple of raptors. We have a free day Sunday with a ton of options for activities and I think I'm opting for a full day game drive. Apparently in this area, we would have an excellent chance of seeing carnivores and I'm still waiting for a good lion sighting. Until next time, Cheers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This little girl has been the highlight of my trip.

The sunsets here are amazing.

A storm was rolling in and the lighting was incredible.

Besides the leopard, I think the zebra are my favorite.

A pair of waterbuck tussling.

The colors of these guys were pretty amazing.

Vervet monkeys are cute and incredibly mischievous.

I saw a bunch of these guys yesterday on the way to Skukuza.

The crocs here are pretty massive.

Black-backed jackals fussing over a scrap.

One of about 2-hundred vultures on an elephant carcass.

Cape buffalo

A family of ellies!

A monitor that was in our classroom.

Everything has babies right now. These guys are impala.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seeing Spots


The night game drive didn’t prove to be too spectacular, but we did see a pack of hyenas. They aren’t the evil creatures they’re made out to be in The Lion King. They’re very awkward looking and have a funny run, but they are kind of cute. We saw a couple geckos on the road and a lot of sun spiders that were about as big as my hand.

Two days ago I went birding again and saw some pretty cool stuff. The first thing we saw was a male Nyala. They are a type of really cool antelope. We saw a few interesting birds and as we were driving, we spotted where another car was stopped. Matt (senior game guard) got really excited and pointed out the leopard that was laying in the shade near the side of the road. She was beyond description. It was a very young female having an early morning nap. Matt said that he’d been keeping an eye on the leopards in the area and that this one had just been left by the mother to go it on her own. We sat there and watched her for 20 minutes before she wandered off. A pair of Franklins (birds) ran up in front of her and started cackling and you could see she was getting irritated, but didn’t want to chase them. Eventually she got disgusted and walked off. It was pretty funny to see a leopard get run off by a pair of birds. It was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And leopards are totally my favorite African animal!

I’ve also gotten to play a good bit of soccer. The employees of Shingwedzi have a soccer team and we’ve played them twice. The first time we lost badly, but last night it was a draw. I’m a bit sore today because I knocked heads with Matt when going up for a header. We’ll be playing them again soon and I think we can win. The temperature yesterday was around 103. Cheers!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Geckos, scorpions, and flying snakes!

I still can’t put pictures up, but I can give you a bit of an update. The past couple of days we’ve been working with a herpetologist on a project involving geckos! I spent most of Saturday turning over rocks looking for the little buggers. We caught a bunch of Speckled Geckos and saw a ton of scorpions. I even held one! We were told that with scorpions, big pincers and a small stinger were safe, but you better watch out for one with small pincers and a big stinger. We didn’t have any problems with them.

This morning I got up really early to go birding with the senior game guard at Shingwedzi. A couple of the professors really wanted to see a nightingale thrush and the guard said he knew where one hung out. We didn’t see the thrush, but we did see fish eagles, a really cool hornbill, a kite, and several other really neat birds. I wasn’t too keen on it to start with, but I may be slowly turning into a birder. We also saw a couple of buffalo and tons of impala. The impala are kind of like the white-tail deer of Africa.

After birding, a couple of us went back into the field to get some scorpions to help with our project. Of course I volunteered. While I was hunting scorpions, I walked under a low tree and was startled by a flying body and a loud thump. A snake dropped from the tree less than a meter from my head. After coming back to camp and consulting with the herpetologist, it was probably a species of sand snake, non-venomous. Tonight we’re going on a game drive, so hopefully I’ll have more exciting tales tomorrow!

Friday, February 13, 2009

South Africa!!!!!!!!!

I have been in South Africa for over 2 weeks now and am absolutely in love. First of all, the weather here is pretty awesome. Have fun with your snow because I got sunburnt last week! We started out at eZemvelo Reserve, an easy introduction to South Africa. Because there is no large game there, we were able to roam freely during the day. There are leopards, so we had to stay in camp at night. There we had a lot of introductory lectures and recovered from jet lag. The first morning I was up at 2:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. There was another girl who couldn’t sleep either so we watched moths for a couple hours and then went for a long walk as soon as it got light. At eZemvelo we saw Kudu, Waterbuck, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Black Wildebeest, Springbok, geckoes, scorpions, and the really weird looking Widowbird. I got to go horseback riding and it was probably the most amazing trail ride I’ve ever been on. The horses were really great, the guide let us canter, and there were zebra and wildebeest grazing on the side of the trail. Another highlight was when we went up into the hills and I discovered that flipping over rocks yielded geckoes and scorpions. Very cool! The other students on the trip are a really fun group and the professors are awesome. We stayed at eZemvelo for a little over a week before heading on.

The next stop was Witts Rural Facility. It focuses more on culture than ecology and was much smaller than eZemvelo. It didn’t have large game either, but it was bordered by reserves with large game so we could walk the game fences and keep an eye out for big stuff. I didn’t see any predators, but I did see my first giraffe! There were also several impala that grazed right in amongst the huts we were staying in. The focus of this stop was community outreach. We designed a lesson plan and then spent a day teaching in a local high school. It was a very rewarding experience as well as a lot of fun. After the school day ended, we played soccer against the school team. Apparently female players are rare in the rural villages and all of the guys were really surprised when I gave them a run for their money!

Yesterday we entered Kruger National Park for the first time and then drove for about 8 hours to get to the camp we’re staying at for the next 2 weeks –Shingwedzi. It was amazing. There was wildlife everywhere! As soon as we drove in we saw a huge herd of impala and a couple of wildebeest. There were zebra, kudu, waterbuck, steenbok, cape buffalo, hippos, giraffes, tortoises, fish eagles, tons of vultures, and lots and lots of elephants!!! We startled a young male and got trumpeted at! And best of all, because the seasons are opposite, everything has babies right now! I saw so may amazing critters that it’s really hard to say which one is my favorite. We missed the lions yesterday, but did see jackal and will be going on game drives in the next couple of days that will hopefully yield some big cats.

I am not including any pictures in this installment because the amount of data we can send over the net is limited. 2 weeks from now I will be changing camps and will have unlimited access so my awesome pics will have to wait. Until then,