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Walking safaris in the Kruger Park

Neil’s encounters with wildlife while mostly on foot during his walking safaris in the Kruger Park

Elephant – cow herd – deliberate – 40 meters – on foot First noticed fresh feeding signs and dung. We were walking in an easterly direction with a drainage line on our right. Noticed the elephants about 60 meters from us – they were feeding in the drainage line, we were on the northern bank – wind direction north-east. We watched for about five minutes, matriarch got wind of us and moved the herd on – in a south-east direction – we moved north east – away and towards our vehicle.

Rhino – bull – deliberate – 20 meters – on foot Saw the rhino resting about 100 meters from us – ahead of us, and laying under a small acacia tree – out in an open area. Rhino was not aware of our presence – south east of us. Wind was not a factor. We moved south west and approached the rhino from the West. Rhino was alerted to our presence by approaching wildebeest south of us. The rhino got up, and scented the air – moved towards us – about 20 meters away. I warned the rhino by vocal whoa! The rhino then ran off in a circular direction (north to east)

Rhino – cow, sub adult and calf – deliberate 20 meters – on foot Unseen by the rhino and calves (one sub-adult) we saw the rhinos ahead of us – west of us – we were walking in a westerly direction. We moved passed the rhinos at about 40 meters on the north side – no wind factor – we then viewed the rhinos from behind some granite rocks – close, about 20 meters – moved off without the rhinos being made aware of our presence.

Elephant – 2 bulls – deliberate – 30 meters – on foot We saw two young bull elephants west of us – in the direction we were walking – towards a granite koppie which we were going to climb. They were about 100 meters away, no real wind to mention. The elephants got wind of us, and slowly started moving along the base of the granite hill in a southerly direction at right angles away from us. We climbed the base of the hill in a westerly direction getting a good view of the elephants – one flared his ears as he was moving off. No real danger as we were in a safe viewing position above the elephants about 30 meters away.

Lion – warning charge – unintentional – vehicle – 10 meters Young male lion with an adult lioness – typical mating pair, however, I noticed that the male was not actually mating – just going through the motions, and the lioness was tolerating (or in false estrus). A guest in the vehicle moved by leaning out of the side of the vehicle to move a piece of flapping canvass tie-down – the lion immediately reacted to the movement, growled and charged (more in fright than anything else) the lion jumped over the lioness in order to warn – and the lioness slapped the lion in retaliation. Guests were once again informed of the danger of sudden movements in a vehicle. Lion was approx. 10 meters from us when this happened.

Buffalo – 200 stampede – unintentional – 30 meters – on foot The presence of ox-peckers alerted me to the presence of large animals, walking in an easterly direction – towards my vehicle situated 100 meters from us – vision obscured by dense sickle-bush (no leaves) wind direction north easterly – the buffalo herd scented our presence, and one or two individuals came towards us for a closer look. The herd was agitated and showing signs of nervousness. We stood still – I decided to move directly downwind of the buffalo – walking in a northerly direction as the herd was moving in a south westerly direction – we would have to move downhill (gentle undulation). The herd stampeded as soon as we began to move – stampeded in a south west direction – away from us as we were walking in a north east direction. The noise and sounds of disturbed insects will stay with me for a long time. Thank goodness for tall termite mounds!

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