Friday, March 13, 2009


Yes, that is a white rhino right behind me!

The bomas, so you can see where I took all my pictures from

This big guy obviously wasn't bothered by us

We went to the rhino bomas this afternoon. Kruger has a very healthy population of white rhino, so every year they sell a few to other reserves. It's a good source of revenue for the park. So the rhinos are rounded up and held in these 'bomas' or corrals until they are sold. We got to look at the four that are currently in residence. They just got in two new ones, but didn't want to agitate them. Two of them were really docile and I actually touched the horn of a rhino today! One of them was a bit grumpy and I also got charged by a rhino! No worries, the boma walls are really thick.

Heading out for a while

Green backed heron

These are the game drive vehicles we do most of our traveling in. And that's not the first time an elephant has come over say hello!

I held one of these guys!

Here are some more random pictures from the past couple of weeks. This may be the last time for a while that you hear from me. Tomorrow we leave Skukuza (and wireless internet) to drive to Johannesburg. We will stay there for a couple days then drive to Cape Town for spring break! I may have internet there, but after that, I will be unreachable until April 18 when I return to Skukuza. Then I'm sure I'll have a ton new pictures and adventures to share. Hopefully including shark diving in Cape Town! Love you guys!

March 14-16: Johannesburg
March 17: fly to Cape Town
March 18-22: spring break in Cape Town
March 23-April 2: De Hoop
April 3-4: Cape Town
April 5-16: Mapungubwe
April 17-May 4: Skukuza

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Big 5

Yesterday afternoon and the next couple of days are probably going to be quiet. They're giving us time to catch up on papers and projects (yes we actually do school work sometimes) so I don't have much new to post. I figured I'd put up a couple more pictures those. These are the Big 5: lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo, and elephant. The designations are pretty arbitrary, but they are all very impressive animals. The lion wasn't actually mad at us, I caught him at the end of a yawn. I think the big cats are a pretty lazy bunch.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kingfishers and hippos

Pied Kingfisher

Hyena we saw on the drive there, wearing a tracking collar

This morning I think I found a little piece of heaven on earth. I got up for a bird drive and we went to a bird blind that overlooks Lake Panic. Ironically, it’s incredibly tranquil place. The lilies were in full bloom and water birds skipped along over the lily pads. Hippos grunted in the background and one was sleeping under the bushes right in front of us. The lake was beautiful and we saw a lot of neat birds, including my favorite bird in South Africa so far: the Pied Kingfisher. We saw four different species of kingfisher this morning. I watched a green-backed heron feeding its two babies and kingfishers fighting over a fish. This is a very fast-paced program and it was nice just to sit for a while and marvel at God’s creation.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dung Beetles and some new pics

European Roller, very common, but very pretty bird.

A white rhino, the only one I've seen so far.

Black backed jackal, very cute little guys.

Another jackal

Carmine bee eater, another very pretty bird

I've seen millipedes here up to a foot long

Don't know what these guys are, but there were a lot of them

Me and Jess, the horse I rode at eZemvelo. I was really cool to go on a trail ride and see wildebeest and impala

Buffalo, one of the Big Five

A family of elephants

The Lilac-Breasted Roller

Grazing giraffe

Sunset from my tent

Weaver bird, they make really cool nests

Blue wildebeest among a herd of impala

So these are some random pictures from the past month. I don't have any awesome new pictures because the past couple of days have been lectures and projects. I spent most of the day today pulling wings off of dead dung beetles. It sounds horrible, but it's a pretty neat project. There are dung beetles that fly at night, dung beetles that fly during the day, dung beetles that roll balls, and dung beetles that tunnel. We are looking at how these different behaviors may be affected by wing size.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mouse adventures

Tiny leopard tortoise we found crossing the road

This little chameleon was also found crossing the road and decided he liked my hair.

He changed colors depending on who was holding him!

A gerbil we caught this morning. We're clipping a bit of the hair on his nose so we can tell if we catch the same mouse again tomorrow.

An itty bitty shrew we caught yesterday

Mouse trapping has been going very well. We caught 19 different rodents this morning. A majority of them are really cute gerbils, almost exactly like the ones you see in the pet store. We also saw a lot of wildlife on the drive to and from the site today. On the way there, we found a hornbill that had been hit by a car. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to help his broken wing. On the way back, we saw the chameleon, the tiny tortoise, and a dead boomslang. The boomslang is one of the most venomous snakes in Africa.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wild dog pictures!!!

So the reason I couldn't call or Skype on Sunday afternoon was because I was out on a game drive. And I have to say it was totally worth it because we stumbled upon a pack of wild dogs playing by the road. Apparently it is pretty rare to see them so close and for such a long period of time. It was a pack of 6. I think 4 were fairly young and the other pair was the alpha male and female. Definitely an awesome afternoon.

We have started our first independent project and I will be pretty busy for the next couple of days. I am doing a project with small mammal trapping. So hopefully I'll get to play with some really cute African mice!