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 Post subject: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 17th, 2012, 9:52 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 545
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
In January of 2012 I took a trip to South Africa with Kathy and Heather Smith. I’ve known them forever and we had a hell of a trip. We ended up seeing 72 species of mammals. 22 of them were lifers for me. We saw 6 of the 7 species of cats. This trip was planned using information from mammalwatching.com. That site covers ZA very well, and without it, we would not have seen quite as much.

Boulder Beach
We stayed at Boulder Beach mainly to see the Jackass Penguins. I did see a few Cape Fur Seals, and the next morning there were some Rock Hyraxes sunning themselves.
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De Hoop
We decided to stay here mainly for the coastal plants, but I also hoped to find a few mammals. Upon arrival, we quickly saw Bontebok, Rhebok, Eland, Chacma Baboons, and Mountain Zebra.
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We headed out to the beach soon after arriving. We stayed for about 2 hours and saw both Indo-pacific Bottlenose Dolphins and Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphins. There was also a Four-striped Grass Mouse on the boardwalk.
Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin(Photo by Heather Smith)
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Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins(Photo by Heather Smith)
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On the way back we saw our first mongoose of the trip, a Yellow Mongoose. After dark we took a short walk around the river. I caught an eyeshine in the distance and tried to track it down. It disappeared, only to reappear a ways away towards the river. I walked towards it, and it headed down the slope. I got close enough to see the tail end of a Caracal disappear into the brush. I tried to find it again, but only turned up a pair of Cape Porcupines. We then heard a noise that sounded like otters eating, so we followed it and found three African Clawless Otters on the rocks near where they keep the boat. After they swam off I tried to relocate the Caracal. After another few minutes, we were able to get good clear looks down on it from about 10 meters. All of that within 200 meters of our door.
The next morning we left, seeing most of the antelope and zebras again. On the drive to Karoo we saw more Yellow Mongoose and a couple Steenbok.

Karoo National Park
We spent 1 night in Karoo and did a night drive. The highlight of the stay was an African Wildcat at close range, killing and eating a mouse. We also saw Rock Hyrax, Cape Hare, Black-backed Jackal, Mountain Zebra, Burchell’s Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Steenbok, Klipspringer, Gemsbok, Rhebok, Greater Kudu, and Common Duiker.
Klipspringer
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Gray Rhebok
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Gemsbok
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Cape Mountain Zebra
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Red Hartebeest
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Scrub Hare
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Plains Zebra
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Marrick Safari Lodge
This place is great. The food was the best we had on the entire trip and the wildlife watching was beyond expectations. We went on the night drive and saw among other things an Aardvark, 2 Black-footed Cats, and 7 Aardwolves. We had great views of everything and even watched the 2nd Black-footed Cat pounce after a bird. We also saw Springhare, Scrub Hare, Cape Hare, Black Wildebeest, Cape Porcupine, Common Duiker, Springbok, and Warthog. I did not make an attempt for the Smith’s Red Rock Rabbit, as I was tired and saw it the last time I was there. Marrick should be a stop on any mammal watchers trip to South Africa.
Black-footed Cat
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Kruger National Park
Kruger. One of the best, cheap(relatively) mammal watching locations in the world. We had an excellent first day. We started out with some Giraffes, then a White Rhino, and some Lions.
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The first night was at Skukuza, which means Thick-tailed Bushbabies and Epauletted Fruit Bats.
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The next morning was slightly overcast, but nice enough.
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Then, there was the 10 year flood. We were out the gate of Olifants at 4:30 am. We headed north and were surprised by the number of turtles and hippos in the road. Then Kathy and Heather thought they heard Elephants feeding. I quickly realized it was the river flooding and snapping off trees and headed for high ground. We tried a couple more times to make it out, but with no luck. The road to the south was completely out, and the road to the north was flooded. We were trapped, but safe. I worked out with a couple new species of bats for me.
Mauritian Tomb Bat
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I believe this is Chaerephon pumilus.
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After a lot of hassle we were on our way and made it to southern Kruger, although not our destination. We had good wildlife sightings for the rest of our time in Kruger, but not in the areas we hoped.

Waterbuck
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Spotted Hyena
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White Rhinoceros
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Dwarf Mongoose
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African Elephant
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Leopard stalking an Impala.
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Bushbuck
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Black-backed Jackal
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Plains Zebra
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Lions
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Barberspan Bird Park
We stayed here to break up the drive from Kruger to Upington. It was not necessary, as that drive is very possible in one day, but it was a nice break. The housing was the cheapest of the trip and nice enough. We ended up seeing Spring Hare, Cape Hare, Steenbok, Black-backed Jackal, South African Ground Squirrel, Yellow Mongoose, and Warthogs. We also saw several species of birds we hadn’t seen before.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Kalahari. This place was great. There was little blocking vegetation, so we were able to observe wildlife much better here than elsewhere. We spent 3 nights at Nossob, 1 night at Mata Mata(not an awesome herp here), and 1 night at Twee Rivieron. Highlights were the 3 great sightings of Brown Hyena and the 20+ different Cheetahs we saw, including a full kill. Unbelievable.
Cheetahs
My lifers.
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The one that made the kill.
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Brown Hyena, these were great.
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Brant’s Whistling Rat
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Bat-eared Fox, we had over 50 sightings of these.
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Blue Wildebeest
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Springbok
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Red Hartebeest
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Yellow Mongoose
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Slender Mongoose
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South African Ground Squirrel
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Small-spotted Genet (photo by Kathy Smith)
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Lions
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Gemsbok
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Black-backed Jackal
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St Helena Bay
After Kgalagadi we drove 10 or so hours to the coast. We looked for a B&B on the coast and found A Breeze, which is in the developments west of St Helena Bay. The price was quite reasonable, and even though it is not right on the beach, I was able to see Heaviside’s Dolphins from bed. I went down to the beach and also saw a few Dusky Dolphins. According to one of the locals, this is the best beach in ZA for dolphins, and that the two species are here nearly daily. We spot lighted around 1 of the three nights we stayed here and turned up around 10 Steenbok, 3 Common Duikers, and finally, a lone Cape Grysbok in someone’s yard. We saw more Heaviside’s Dolphins on our last morning as well.
Heaviside’s Dolphin
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Dusky Dolphins
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West Coast National Park
This park was a let down after my last visit there. They have now clarified the rules and you are not allowed to drive after gate times even if you are staying in the park, which were 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Also, you are not supposed to get out of your vehicle, even though there are no large predators. We did end up seeing Southern Right Whales from the Atlantic view point and Cape Fur Seals on the island that is near the end of the road. We also saw Eland, Bontebok, Greater Kudu, Steenbok, Four-striped Grass Mouse, and Small Gray Mongoose.

Species seen

Aardvark - Marrick

Rock Hyrax - Boulder Beach, Karoo, S of WC NP

African Bush Elephant - Kruger

Southern Lesser Bushbaby - Kruger
Thick-tailed Bushbaby - Kruger
Chacma Baboon - De Hoop, along roads, Kruger,
Vervet Monkey - Kruger

South African Ground Squirrel - Barberspan, Kgalagadi
Smith's Bush Squirrel - Kruger
Four-striped Grass Mouse - De Hoop, West Coast, Kgalagadi
Black-tailed Tree-rat - Kgalagadi
Brant's Whistling Rat - Kgalagadi
South African Springhare - Marrick, Kruger, Barberspan, Kgalagadi
Cape Porcupine - De Hoop, Marrick

Cape Hare - Karoo, Barberspan
Scrub Hare - Karoo, Kruger, Kgalagadi

Mauritian Tomb Bat - Kruger
Little Free-tailed Bat - Kruger
Egyptian Free-tailed Bat - Kgalagadi
Epauletted Fruit Bat sp - Kruger

Caracal - De Hoop
African Wildcat - Karoo, Kgalagadi
Black-footed Cat - Marrick
Lion -Kruger, Kgalagadi
Leopard - Kruger
Cheetah - Kgalagadi

Common Genet - Kruger, Kgalagadi
Cape Gray Mongoose -West Coast
Yellow Mongoose - De Hoop, Barberspan, Kgalagadi
Egyptian Mongoose - Kruger
Slender Mongoose - Kruger, Kgalagadi
Banded Mongoose - Kruger
Dwarf Mongoose - Kruger
Meerkat - Kgalagadi

Spotted Hyena - Kruger
Aardwolf - Marrick
Brown Hyena - Kgalagadi

Cape Fur Seal - St Helena, Boulder Beach
Cape Clawless Otter - De Hoop

Side-striped Jackal - Kruger
Black-backed Jackal - Kruger, Barberspan, Marrick, Karoo, Kgalagadi
Cape Fox - Kgalagadi
Bat-eared Fox - Kgalagadi

Plains Zebra - Karoo, Kruger, Kgalagadi
Mountain Zebra - De Hoop, Karoo

White Rhino - Kruger

Hippo - Kruger

Warthog - Marrick, Kruger, Barberspan, Kgalagadi

Giraffe - Kruger, Kgalagadi

Impala - Kruger
Red Hartebeest - Karoo, Kgalagadi, Marrick
Black Wildebeest - Marrick
Blue Wildebeest - Kruger, Kgalagadi
Bontebok - De Hoop, West Coast
Klipspringer - Karoo, Kruger
Steenbok - Karoo, Kruger, Barberspan, Kalagadi, St Helena, West Coast
Cape Grysbok - St Helena
Cape Buffalo - Kruger
Eland - De Hoop, West Coast
Water Buck - Kruger
Bushbuck - Kruger
Common Duiker - Kruger, St Helena
Greater Kudu - Karoo, Kruger
Southern Reedbuck - Kruger
Gray Rhebok - De Hoop, Karoo
Springbok - Marrick, Kgalagadi, Karoo
Gemsbok - Karoo, Marrick, Kgalagadi

Southern Right Whale - West Coast
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin - De Hoop
Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin - De Hoop
Heaviside's Dolphin - St Helena Bay
Dusky Dolphin - St Helena Bay


Last edited by Curtis Hart on March 4th, 2012, 4:42 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 17th, 2012, 10:14 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Posts: 3318
Location: Illinois
Curtis I expect nothing less than a man without roots. You're awesome, and I can't wait to hear some stories in person. It's been too long. This was EPIC, and shows that this forum needed to happen.


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 18th, 2012, 5:44 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 11:30 am
Posts: 357
Location: U.K.
Wow, great shots and some total count.

Loved the two hyena photos. Thanks for posting these, Rags.


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 18th, 2012, 4:03 pm 

Joined: October 28th, 2010, 3:26 pm
Posts: 366
Now THAT is what I call a sweet trip! Take in the birds, herps, insects, scenery...why, I think my head might explode :crazyeyes:


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2012, 2:20 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 2965
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Unbelievable!!!! Thank you very much, Curtis!


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2012, 10:15 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Posts: 653
Location: Clifton, Arizona
Great set of pics!
I'm thankful to have a venue here to show them!


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2012, 5:18 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 880
Location: NE Ohio
While I know I will one day go to Africa and be in sheer awe, there were always other places I wanted to go first. I just finished reading an African hunting safari book and now this post... I think Africa just moved up a few notches!

Great post. I see you really liked that Black-backed Jackal picture. I really liked all the pictures.

Andy


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2012, 3:31 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 545
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
Thanks for the comments everyone.

Justin- It would be great to meet up again, however it will probably be a while as I have to work in TX during the entire spring migration season.

Andy- I was sorta the same, never thinking Africa was number one on my list. Then in '09 I found this $800 plane ticket from Detroit and decided maybe it was time to go. Now I think it is my favorite destination, due to ease of travel, cost, spectacular wildlife, and scenery.

Jared- It is quite mind blowing when you add in all the other stuff. That's kinda why I am splitting it up. I'll get to birds and herps sometime. I do have 1 insect pic and a few scenery as well.

Hans- I should be thanking you for the steady stream of quality posts from Borneo in the northern winter!

Reptilist- I am also thankful that there is now a mammal forum here. I'm hoping for many more great posts. I know I've saved a few more.

Rags- The Brown Hyena, while not the better photo, was probably the highlight of my trip. I wish I had video of them running. It looks like a mop bouncing along.


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 26th, 2012, 12:06 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:12 am
Posts: 122
Location: Yorkshire, England
Hi Curt

What an awesome mammal list. I must be the only person on earth to miss Aardvark at Marrick Safari! I tried two nights in a row but had to make do with Aardwolf, African Wildcat and Red Rock Rabbit. It's certainly a great place.

I still need Black-footed Cat so will be in the area again next time I visit South Africa. Hopefully I can't miss Aardvark twice!


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 26th, 2012, 2:38 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 545
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
I missed Aardvark at Marrick when I was there in May of '09. I was there for the first cold snap of winter and none of the nocturnal animals were out. I had seen in at Mountain Zebra NP a few days before, so I wasn't too bothered by the miss. Black-footed Cat was an unexpected bonus.


Curtis


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 27th, 2012, 11:50 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 4:12 am
Posts: 122
Location: Yorkshire, England
Curtis Hart wrote:
I missed Aardvark at Marrick when I was there in May of '09.

Curtis


I don't feel so bad now - thought I was the only one!

After such a successful trip it's a shame you found West Coast NP a letdown second time round. For me it was a highlight of the trip providing a daylight Caracal sighting together with African Pygmy Mouse, Karoo Rat and loads of herps.

We managed a brief night drive seeing a tonne of Spotted Eagle Owls but no interesting (or new) mammals. I didn't realise it's not permitted to leave the vehicle in the park. My friend lives in Cape Town and visits WCNP all the time and also didn't mention it. I wonder if it's a very new rule?


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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: February 27th, 2012, 2:10 pm 
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Joined: November 25th, 2010, 2:00 pm
Posts: 381
Location: Long Beach, CA
Awesome post. Looks like you got to travel a ton around the country. I was there in Oct of this past year but was just around the Kimberley area for a week, then drove to Kgalagadi for 5 days with my wife. I spent every morning from about 6-9am at Marrick just hiking before having to work while in Kimberley. Good stuff. I managed this poor photo of an Aardvark while at Marrick on our only night drive. I would've liked to shoot some Springhare photos and other stuff we saw, but they're too quick and the driver didn't seem too keen on slowing for them. Great place though.
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 Post subject: Re: South Africa, Jan '12
PostPosted: March 1st, 2012, 7:16 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 545
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
mrichardson wrote:
We managed a brief night drive seeing a tonne of Spotted Eagle Owls but no interesting (or new) mammals. I didn't realise it's not permitted to leave the vehicle in the park. My friend lives in Cape Town and visits WCNP all the time and also didn't mention it. I wonder if it's a very new rule?


I think it is a new rule, or at least newly printed in the map they give you. I'm guessing SANSPARK is making the rules the same at all of its parks even if they are not needed for a specific park. I do not know how strictly they enforce it.

Rothdigga - That is a great Aardvark picture. We saw a ton of Springhare as well, but never managed to get a decent picture. Marrick is a great place, everyone should go there.


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