On Safari: Wildlife Spotting

After a week on safari, we are developing our wildlife spotting skils.  Our guide has much better eye sight, ten years of formal experience, and a life-long interest in wildlife.  I’m still much better at finding rock, stumps, and shadows, but occasionally I can find the birds that she has pointed out.  Today, we had planned to drive through the Hluhluwe watershed to the iMfolozi River section of the park.  However, the high water still had many of the river crossings closed.  As the iMfolozi section is only dirt roads, we opted to spend our time in Hluhluwe.  During quiet times of our drive, we also added wildflowers to our viewing.  With all the rain over two nights, many flowers were opening up.

A few tips that we have learned about wildlife spotting include, not only looking, but listening and smelling.  We might smell a rhinoceros and elephant before we could see them.  We might hear a bird call that could lead us to its perch.  Keep those windows open.

When looking, notice signs of animals, such as foot prints in soft soil and scats.  You can’t miss a rhinoceros midden or elephant dung by the side of the road.  Neither will the dung beetles.  Having an idea of where to look for specific animals can guide your eye.  Antelope type grazers will be in the brush and fields.  Lions and cheetah prefer thick brush.  Leopards lounge in tree branches.  When looking in certain areas of the landscape, look for body parts such as ears, legs, and tails.  Movement is also helpful.  Catch a bird flying in the corner of your eye, then track it until it lands.  Animal tails swatting flies may be all that you see until your eye defines the outline.  Finally, see the whole landscape, without looking.  Then those other elements may fall together.  If you look too intently, you will most likely miss what you are looking for.

To give your the safari experience, I will post some photos here.  Start with the wide view and try to find the animals (sorry, no movement).  Then see the detail photo.  All of these were taken from the van, some with zoom lenses, but most were within 20 feet of the van.  Really!

Start with finding the rhinoceros in the bushes.

Can you find the giraffe?

Look for the elephant.

How many African buffalo can you count in this herd?

If you encounter a buffalo in the road, do not forget to notice the elephant that walks behind you.

Where is the lion?

Can you find the impala?

Try looking for the nyala.

Okay, you are getting good.  Find the leopard.

Now for birds, find the whydah.

How about this leopard tortoise?

I still specialize in rocks, stumps, and shadows.

Enjoy your virtual safari.

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About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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14 Responses to On Safari: Wildlife Spotting

  1. Chet says:

    So much fun! More pictures please!

  2. Barneysday says:

    Very interesting indeed. You must be having the time of your life.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Oh, yes. We filled one photobook (using Apature, which is Apples upgraded viersion of iPhoto) already withe safari portion of our trip. We are working on a Cape Town edition now. Enjoy the reads (I’m putting in some social commentary for my more politically minded readers).

  3. I was doing pretty good until the buffalo. Great pictures. Thanks for bringing us all along with you!

    • hermitsdoor says:

      It is amazing how a ton of animal can disappear behind a bush. One day a rhinoceros ran (funny to watch them run) across the road and into the bush. We coasted by less than half a minutes behind it. Had we not watched it cross the road, we would have no idea that it was just a dozen feet or so into the bushes. We often passed obvious pathways without sighting anything.

  4. also – great photo of you at the top of the page

  5. cindy knoke says:

    Fabulous and brings back great memories!

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