Our AWE adventure continued bright and early in the morning at Addo Elephant National Park. We met up at Janine, Sarah, and Dan chalet for just a quick breakfast for some of those who aren’t big breakfast people or for a larger breakfast for those who desire a larger breakfast. This was our last morning in Addo and we packed up the van for our last drive through the exceptional Addo Elephant National Park where we’ve seen hundreds of elephants.
As we drove through the park we saw some species we hadn’t seen in the park on our previous drives. For example, the South African Shelduck with its beautiful colours was spotted as well as a male bushbuck that crossed the road in front of us. We came upon another watering hole along the dirt road and saw a beautiful parade of elephants come by close enough to see into their eyes. This family of elephants differed from the others we had seen because it had the youngest baby calf we had seen which was naturally quite adorable. We then came to the end of the road and the end of Addo Elephant National Park for us however, unforeseen problems have their way of disrupting careful planning.
As we came upon the gate Dan spoke to the security guard who informed him that we were not permitted to exit this gate of the park and we had to go back the entire way we came to exit another way. He did not offer an explanation as to why. This was a problem for three reasons: 1) The delay would have made us late for our arrival at Amahkala, 2) the van had a trailer with all our luggage making it impossible to turn the van around without removing the trailer which would violate the rule that you must stay in the vehicle at all times for safety reasons, and 3) Nikki was very nauseous due to motion sickness and would not be able to drive back the way we came without vomiting. The security guard told us flat out “no” and when questioned he called for his supervisor to come to the gate to speak to us which took 20 minutes. When the supervisor arrived he also told us explicitly “no”. Dan then, with some strategic rhetoric, told the guard that we were taking Nikki to the hospital. Once the guard confirmed there was someone in the car not feeling well he allowed us to continue our journey.
After a short drive the we arrived at Amahkala game reserve Woodbury tented camp, a private game reserve where we will be spending the rest of the course until we return to the great white north. Jennifer and Giles Gush run the Woodbury tented camp and they are one of four founding families of the Amahkala game reserve. We were checked in and shown our lovely tents which nice furniture, bathroom, and heated blanket for the cold nights. We were served a delicious chicken, ham, or vegetarian sandwich lunch with fruit before going on our first game drive in Amahkala.
This game drive was game changing so to speak. To begin, we quickly saw and moved fairly close to a southern white rhinoceros which was an incredible experience. Seeing the massive animals all one can think of is how much danger these animals are in from poachers looking to kill them for their horns worth more than gold. We then saw some kudu, impala, and other antelope. As the sun set on this already incredible game drive we saw Amahkala’s four lions; an adult male, adult female, and two sub-adult females. We saw them on a hillside lying in the sun and we all marveled at the incredible animals. At one point an impala was walking directly towards the lion in cover of some bushes and we were hopeful that we would be so fortunate to see a kill but the sun fully set and we had to move along.
Next, we had a wonderful supper with chicken in a delicious sauce over rice with a Greek salad and porridge cake with custard for dessert. The porridge cake with custard was new for most of the students but we were all eager to try new foods and the cake was delicious.
Dan Parker then gave a wonderful lecture on carnivores and how local farming operations kill the black backed jackals to manage their population in order to save their sheep and goat herds. However, the data suggests that this practice of culling the jackal actually increases breading in the animals therefore not reducing their numbers to the predicted levels. We then all went to bed promptly as we were all tired from the many full days of incredible South African wildlife sightings we’ve had.
This comes from David Mahoney