Tracking and double tots at Samara

Rangers are like the cowboys of a game reserve with their game viewing vehicle as their steed, a cap rather than a cowboy hat and bino's at their side in the place of a revolver. But what about the dude sitting on the bonnet jump seat? Is he the Tonto to our Lone Ranger? Who is the guy with the thing in his hand that looks like a tv aerial? What is he supposed to do? Why does he get…

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Elephant and snowy mountain

One day when I'm big I would love to see elephants walking on the plains of Kenya with a snow capped Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. The closest I got to that scene so far was visiting Samara Private Game Reserve outside Graaff-Reinet recently after a cold front that brought snow to the mountains of the Karoo Heartland. At least I can say I've seen an elephant with a powder of snow on a mountain top in the background.

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Going on a game drive at Kuzuko Lodge

Over the Zuurberg mountains in the southern part of the Eastern Cape's Karoo Heartland lies a place of glory. That bit should actually be written with caps as Kuzuko Lodge's slogan is Place of Glory. Most game reserves are located in a part of the province where lush subtropical thicket vegetation is prevalent which makes Kuzuko different. Wide-open spaces, sparse vegetation, dry climate and often warmer temperatures. Due to this Kuzuko doesn't have big numbers of animals like the other…

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Addo roadblocks, big butts and all

Don't you just hate a road block? A lady or gent in uniform with a reflector jacket walking around your car and then asking you for your license. Or the "in thing" lately, the burning tires and throwing stones type roadblock. Or the pothole in the road roadblock where you have to wait for cars from the other side to pass before you can drive around it. Then there are the roadblocks you encounter on the roads in the old…

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Mamma elephant in the lead

A group of elephants is called a herd and is usually made up of females and youngsters. As soon as a young bull reaches sexual maturity he gets nudged out and joins other bulls in a bachelor herd of some sorts. Each herd is basically a family group led by a matriarch, an older and more experienced female, and is made up of her sisters, daughters and their calves. The matriarch needs to be a lady of wisdom, strong connections…

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Waterhole gatherings

The best places to watch elephants in the Addo Elephant National Parks are at the waterholes, most notably Hapoor, Domkrag, Gwarrie Pan, the Woodlands loop dam and Marion Bree. This is often where you see the biggest groups together as well as the most activity and interaction. So that it is possible to sit at a waterhole for literally hours observing and photographing them. Not that most people do. They enjoy the sighting and move on to see what else…

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Relaxing after a mud bath

Ellies love to cover themselves in water and mud. You will often see that they arrive at the waterholes in Addo, have a drink and and then start to spray water over their backs or roll around in the water and mud. I have to correct myself though. They don't literally spray themselves, but rather throw the water from their trunks with a swinging motion. Why do they do it though? The elephant's skin may look think and rough, but…

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Addo babies and a few elephant baby facts

I think one of visitors to Addo Elephant National Park's favorite parts is seeing baby elephants. They are cute and look cuddly, are very inquisitive and draws many ooohhh's and aaahhh's. Here are a couple of "Did you know" facts about baby elephants. An elephant's gestation period is 22 months. The longest pregnancy of all mammals. A baby elephant is called a calf When a calf is born it can weigh up to 90kg and stands about 1 meter high…

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I miss my ellie friends

Way back when I started working in the tourism industry I worked as a freelance tourist guide and one of the companies that used me had tours going to Addo Elephant National Park just about every day.  That means that I got to go to the park 5 or 6 times a week and I never got tired of it.  These days I don't get to visit Addo nearly as much as I would like to and when I had…

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Tuskless elephant

The majority of the female elephants in the Addo Elephant National Park are tuskless.  The general opinion amongst laymen is that it's because of selective hunting of the elephants with big tusks in the late 19th and early 20th century while others think it may be due to the vegetation (structure and/or nutrient composition) of the area.  Long term records have been used to assess trends and it has been found that although it could have played a roll, selective…

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